Downton Abbey star backs anti-pig farm campaign

The Facebook page against plans for a pig farm on the outskirts of Limavady.
The Facebook page against plans for a pig farm on the outskirts of Limavady.

A campaign to prevent the development of an industrial scale pig farm in the Limavady area has gained the backing of Downton Abbey star Peter Egan.

The actor, who starred in the comedy Ever Decreasing Circles, plays the Marquess of Flintshire, known as ‘Shrimpie’, in the popular ITV programme and is a prominent animal rights activist. He has thrown his weight behind a campaign, started by people living in the Limavady area, against plans for what could be the largest pig farm anywhere in the United Kingdom.

The industrial-scale pig farm proposal, which could be exponentially larger than the next largest pig farm in Northern Ireland, is currently in the hands of the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and would produce as many as 49,000 pigs.

A campaign started by locals has quickly gained huge numbers of supporters from all over the world, including the backing of TV star and prominent animal rights campaigner Peter Egan.

He said: “Please support a community in their efforts to stop a proposed development to intensively farm 40,000 pigs per year. They have a petition and need our help.”

James Chissel, who started the online petition which has gained around 2,000 supporters in just three days, lives near the proposed area for the pig farm.

“People don’t really understand the scale of this. The smell is going to be unbelievable. They have these sort of pig farms in the USA and they have them on their own, in the middle of nowhere, and you can still smell them from miles away.

“Basically, the community has got together because we are all very worried about several aspects of this proposal. The scale of the operation is huge. Northern Ireland has only experienced anything approaching this scale with a pig farm that would be about five times as small as this one.

“We are concerned about potential health risks and the spread of disease.

“We’ve been receiving a lot of support from animal rights activists. I’m a keen outdoorsman myself and a keen fisherman and I have to say that I don’t agree with this type of farming.

“The campaign has already attracted international support - we’ve had people from the USA, from Canada, from South America, from Australia, from all over Europe. The petition has attracted something like 2,000 people in just a few days.

“When you look at the location - you’ve got the River Roe close by and there is a stream that passes just by this site that runs into the Roe.

“You’ve got the Roe Valley Country Park nearby, one of the main tourist attractions in the area, you’ve got the Roe Park Resort.

“People just don’t understand the sheer scale of this proposal.”

The planning application has been submitted by farmer Tommy Simpson who said that, if approved, it would mean approximately 2,200 sows would be in the units, with around 40,000 pigs going through the farm. He said there would be no more than 20,000 pigs on site at any stage because once they reach the stage where they weigh 30kg they would be moved to one of the other farms involved in the venture. He said there would be no more than 20,000 pigs on site at any stage because once they reach the stage where they weigh 30kg they would be moved to one of the other farms involved in the venture.

Mr Simpson said the venture could create up to one dozen jobs.