About CALFe

Campaign Against Leighton Farm expansion (CALFe):

Has been set up by concerned villagers and parents to fight the proposals to build a mega-dairy for over 1000 cows at Lower Leighton Farm, next to the local primary school. A super dairy of this size and scale, placed in a small village right next to a school, is unprecedented in the UK. It is clear that it will have a very detrimental effect on the landscape, environment and the local community. CALFe believe the mega-dairy could threaten to close the school and village hall, swamp the village and put children’s and villagers’ health at risk. CALFe represents the overwhelming majority of Leighton villagers who are against the expansion.

It is too big and too near!

CALFe is not an anti-farming lobby, we fully support Welsh dairy farmers in their desire to competitively produce milk. However, this is not a normal dairy farm, it is a mega-dairy, it is nine times bigger than the UK average. The farmer concerned has our full support to modernise his existing facilities but the scale proposed is totally inappropriate. This mega-dairy is a large-scale industrial-agricultural development.

View of Lower Leighton farm from the main road. Leighton school is to the right hand side.

View of Lower Leighton farm from the main road. Leighton school is to the right hand side.

Leighton, Welshpool, Wales

Is a small village on the Mid-Wales border, within the county of Powys. There are many Victorian listed buildings within the Village. Offas Dyke is close by and Powis Castle is on the opposite side of the valley, overlooking the proposed farm site.


For reference the planning application number is P/2010/0836, extension of Lower Leighton Farm, Leighton, Welshpool.




Lower Leighton farm planning application
To read the full planning application (there are many documents) please visit here.

26 Responses to About CALFe

  1. T Ruth says:

    No view about this development either way, but 300metres isn’t “just to the Right hand side”. Looking at the aerial photograph there is a substantial gap between the farm (as it currently stands) and the village school – come on CALFe, you can’t twist the truth to suit your aims.

  2. Jane Jones says:

    Well said T Ruth, thats what Calfe are good at “twisting the truth for their own aims” They have done it since they started their campaign.

  3. Dave McCourt says:

    T Ruth you seem to be a bit confused. The current farm is about 300m away from the school as you rightly state. No one is objecting to the current farm.

    You clearly haven’t looked at the plans for the proposed development (there is a link above), which is what people are concerned about. If built, the boundary of the new development will be less than 100m from the village hall (which is where the school children have their lunch). There will be internal roads and a 11m high soil bund as well, which makes the actual development about 70m from the village hall building and 40m from the school car park.

    I’m not a member of CALFe but I am against the development. I can’t see how you can accuse CALFe of twisting anything. The measurements are facts. Have a look at the plans and see for yourself. What I’ve found is most people who are for the development (or indifferent) haven’t looked at the plans and have no idea of the scale of it.

  4. T Ruth says:

    @ Dave – I understand what you are saying (I did look at the planning app before commenting) but the caption is on a picture of the existing farm. Credibility comes from accuracy in my opinion and there is far too much inaccuracy in these type of “discussions”. Ultimately the school is not “just to the Right hand side” of the existing farm gate. Maybe a copy of the plan or a photomontage or a drawing would convey the situation better…

  5. Calfe says:

    CALFe have changed the caption to the picture as they would hate to mislead people as to the extent of the current farm.

  6. davemccourt says:

    T Ruth, there is a link to the planning documents above, for all to see. CALFe (nor anyone else) can not put the plans on their site as the plans are copyright of the owner/author. You will notice on the site plan, that the applicant has not included an overall scale: this has to be questioned why? Perhaps because it would show just too clearly the size of the development and its proximity to houses, the village hall and the school. The applicant had included an ‘artist’s impression’ of the development in the revised proposal but this was discounted by the planning officer as ‘worthless’ because it did not convey the true visual impact and scale of the development. It would not be appropriate for CALFe to produce something like this as it would no doubt be thought of as inaccurate or misleading.

  7. Jane Jones says:

    Dave, you state you are not a member of CALFe but you are against the development. I just wonder why you are not a member of CALFe????? Another inaccuracy I think!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. davemccourt says:

    You seem to equate opposition to the development to membership of CALFe. CALFe is a volunteer-run committee of 10 or so members who are organising the campaign against the proposed development. Opposing large developments like this is a complicated business – CALFe was set-up to help people understand the issues and what can be done to oppose it.

    Anyone can be against the development and not have to be on the CALFe committee. I’m not a member of the committee as I have young children, run my own business and basically don’t have much spare time that I can commit. I do however help out by running this website. My partner is on the CALFe committee.

    I hope that clears that up for you.

  9. Pugwash says:

    This morning on Farming Today Welsh hill farmers were talking about a subsidy that is going to disappear this year and which will reduce their income by as much as 60%. Dairy farmers can’t make money because the supermarkets have the whip hand and won’t pay them sufficient for them to make money.

    The only way dairy farmers can reduce their cost base is to increase the size of their units and go for economies of scale. A similar campaign to this in Lower Leighton seems to have won the day over in Lincolnshire which is a pity because very soon the dam of logic is going to break and we sill see the development of large dairies in Britain.

    A 1000 cow unit is actually quite small when you consider the 30,000 cow units that exist in America.

    According to Farming Today there is an industrial estate only a mile from Leighton so what is the local’s attitude to this?

    It seems a great pity the farmer is being stopped from making the progress the dairy industry has to make.

  10. davemccourt says:

    Thanks Pugwash for your comment. It is important to have an open debate about this.

    Firstly the main objection to this development is its scale and its location. It is huge and will vastly dominate this rural area. As way of example, the village hall will fit three times into just one of the slurry tanks. There are two of these and these are tiny in comparison with the fodder stores and cow sheds. One local objector has created a scale model of the proposed farm which shows just how big it is. Many people who have been in favour of the farm or ambivalent have been very surprised when they’ve seen this. In fact I’ve found most people who support this development haven’t even looked at the plans.

    Your point about its size in comparison to American farms is somewhat false. America is a much bigger and more spacious country than ours and even there, there are strict rules about location: these mega farms cannot be near dwellings or populated areas. In Leighton there are 30 houses nearby, a village hall and the primary school. The village hall where the schoolchildren have lunch is just 70 metres away. Slurry will be sluiced and hoovered up twice daily and will be spread on the surrounding land, which is in fact a flood plain and unsurprisingly floods frequently.

    The local campaign is not against improving the current farm and is certainly not against farming. The campaign is about its scale and location.

    The industrial area you refer too is in fact just that, industrial. It is on the edge of the town of Welshpool. This farm is in a rural area. There are different rules for these two types of planning zones. Leighton has many Grade II listed buildings, Lower Leighton farm house itself is listed and the nearby Offa’s Dyke path is an ancient scheduled monument. This is why the planning department have opposed the plans twice.

    Secondly, your point about the economics of these types of developments is also somewhat false. These are very expensive developments to build and require a lot of money to do so. The farmer at Leighton has recently bought a £4.85m farm at auction (auctions require a 20 per cent deposit paid there and then) which suggests his business is doing quite well. Even with funding they would be out of the reach of most dairy farmers. If this development goes ahead and it produces cheap milk, what effect does that have on smaller diary farms? It will only increase the pressure on them to reduce their prices, possibly to the extent that they go out of business.

    It has been estimated that there would only need to be 250 of these mega diaries (of different sizes) in the whole of the UK to replace the current UK herd. What would happen to the other diary farmers? Personally, I cannot see how developments like this are good for the farming industry as a whole. They will only benefit some (already well-off) individuals.

    And finally if developments like this go ahead and produce milk more profitably, do you think the supermarkets won’t pressure farmers to reduce prices? Producing ever cheaper milk is not going to alleviate the problems diary farmers are having. What is needed is legislation to enforce a basic price for milk. Consumers have become too used to cheap food which has been driven by the supermarkets. Only a legal framework can ensure the future of UK diary farming, not a race to the bottom of ever cheaper milk. It’s just not sustainable.

  11. rpowell says:

    I didnt realise until reading this weeks local paper that this project still had any legs.
    I am neither for or againgst the proposals, it does seem like, Mr frazer “the hellraiser” Jones does like a bit of controvesy to his operation, seems a real coincidence that this mans visions for the furture for 2 of his units, both have headline controvesy.

    However if the future of our dairy production does lie in fewer but larger units, and mr Frazer is visionary about this then he should find a more suitable site than leighton farm, ….Leighton farm would sell for a good price, (dont lets have this family farm generations claptrap) if the man wants to fulfill his vision he should take it were it best fits.

  12. CHRIS says:

    I dont live in the area but recently watched the tv program THE PLANNERS.A Gloucestershire farmer was fighting a plan to build houses on his tenanted farm which he had managed for about 30 years.He lost and now there will be a large housing estate there and all his knowledge and expertise wasted.I guess the question is “a thousand houses or a thousand cows?”I know my children loved to see the cows going up and down the country lane where we used to live and when a study recently stated that so many children dont know where milk comes from perhaps a 1000 cows might be the better option.

  13. Ceris Jones says:

    What’s the latest on the application? Everything seems to have gone quiet since early March?

  14. Calfe says:

    Yes everything has gone quiet! The inspector who sat on the public inquiry said she will have her report ready to present to the minister seven weeks after the end of the inquiry. The minister then has to deliberate and come to a decision himself. This could take another few months so I don’t think in reality a decision will be made before the summer. Obviously we will update the site as soon as there is any news so keep checking in.

  15. Eve says:

    Any sign of a date for a decision from the inquiry yet? We have been put off buying a property in Leighton until we know the dairy won’t go ahead.

  16. Calfe says:

    at the moment it is a waiting game i’m afraid. we are expecting an answer sometime in september though, so keep checking the site where it will be updated as soon as we have any news.

  17. Cynic says:

    They are even building an 11 m high soil bund to screen it and STILL you complain. Og come on

  18. Llinos Blaber says:

    Today I heard on the BBC News the appalling news that Mr Sargent has approved planning for this expansion at Leighton Farm near Welshpool. This is terrible for Leighton but also for the animals involved. This farmer as I understand already farms 300 cows, 1,000 cows is surely factory farming?? Chris, it won’t be cows wandering down lanes…….. I hope the people of Leighton and the National Trust continue to protest.

  19. Dave McCourt says:

    Cynic, the 11m bund will only be on the side facing the school: the road side will be open. In the planning inspector’s report, which I’m sure you have read, it states that the bund will not screen the view from many vantage points and as the proposed planting scheme is mostly deciduous it will not be effective in winter.

  20. Will there be an appeal? says:

    Am interested as a member of the Welsh historic Gardens Trust who supported the National Trust in opposing this development.

  21. Calfe says:

    There were a number of organisations who were opposed to the development who spoke at the Public Inquiry, WSPA, CALFe, the National Trust, Countryside Council for Wales and Powys County Council. More organisations were against the development and wrote letters against it but did not speak at the inquiry PETA and CIWF for example. hope that helps.

  22. aj_davies says:

    Glad to see this decision has gone to the High Court, its about time the corruption that is rife is this Assembley Government is highlighted.

    To those in favour of Leighton case I would suggest that they try living within a 3 mile radius of Cwrt Malle in Carmarthensire. They would then see the disaster that is unfolding from trying to house 2500 cows in a zero grazing dairy unit. Mr Richards has more slurry than his already over slurried land can cope with. He has in the space of a few years degraded good pasture land by over slurrying and compaction to where it will take years to recover. This model of dairy production is simply not sustainable and I think if we go down this road the social and environmental impacts will be felt for many years.

  23. r howells says:

    Well said aj davies.
    The supporters of Cwrt Malle are those making money out of it. Try living in the area.
    Proper farmers don’t treat their land like this. He is an embarrasment to the local farming community.
    Visitors to the farm do not realise the impact on the local environment and communities and that it has all been built using the loophole of “retrospective planning”. It has never had an environmental impact assessment. The cynical amongst us are beginning to ask why.
    At least Fraser Jones has gone about things in the correct manner ie applying for planning permission.
    Unfortunately for the rest of the farming community looking to expand in the future Mr Richards actions will probably be to their detrement.

  24. jes says:

    I have read the book Farmageddon and the truth about mega dairies are depressing. Lets not go down the American route please. Those dairies benefit no one, not the farmer, the cows or the unfortunate people who live locally.

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