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So about that giant dog breeding establishment: Here are our objections

Updated: Jul 18, 2022


OK this is the general wording of our objection:


Dear Planning Officer


Re: Planning Application LA10/2022/0707/F – Application for the erection of kennel buildings and external exercise runs and all associated works at 83 Clabby Road, Furnish, BT75 0QY (“the Planning Application”)


We write to object to the Planning Application sought by The UK Dog Breeding Academy Limited (“the Applicant”).


Our primary concern is that there is insufficient information about the proposed development to enable the Local Authority to make an informed determination as to the nature and impact of this development. On the basis of what is presently known, we consider that this application impacts matters that are considered material planning considerations, and consequently far greater detail and scrutiny are required.


1. Previous permissions and conditions granted

To detail our concerns, it is necessary to outline planning applications that have previously been made at this site and the permissions that have been granted. We note that the Applicant is a company, and that for some of the applications referred to below, the applicant was Mr David Hamilton. Our comments as regards Mr Hamilton's representations, his knowledge of the planning permission, and the conditions attaching, are relevant to the Planning Application as Mr Hamilton is both a director and a person with significant control of the Applicant company.


a. L/2009/0963/F 23 September 2009 – There is little documentation available. This was a retrospective application for the retention of a shed that had been erected for use for dog breeding and kennelling. The drawings show 92 kennels on site. Permission was granted on 19 April 2010 and there were no conditions attaching.


b. L/2014/0142/F 3 April 2014 – The applicant sought permission to extend an existing building to provide a vermin-proof area to store dog food, prepare food, and store packaging waste. Granted.


c. L/2014/0304/F 18 June 2014 – The applicant sought permission to develop staff welfare facilities, biomass boiler house and fuel store, and a veterinarian treatment building for the dog breeding establishment. Granted.


d. LA10/2016/0636/F 16 June 2016 – The applicant sought permission to erect kennel buildings and external exercise runs and all associated siteworks. The Council sought further information from the applicant as regards:

i. The number of dogs kept on site;

ii. When the dogs are fed;

iii. How waste is dealt with.


In response, the applicant advised that there were approximately 600 dogs on site and that “the development will not result in any increase in the number of dogs on the premises” (emphasis mine). The applicant detailed the feed times. As regard waste, the applicant advised “dog wastes, soiled bedding and dog grooming wastes are incinerated via an existing incinerator on site”.


The noise impact assessment was premised on the basis there would be a maximum of 600 dogs on site.


Staffing numbers and vehicle access was premised on the numbers of dogs kept at the facility being 600.


Permission was granted but the facility was limited to keeping 600 dogs including pups to protect the amenity of nearby dwellings (emphasis mine).


e. LA10/2018/0750/F 2018 – The applicant sought permission for the erection of kennel buildings, associated exercise runs, and all associated siteworks.

The design statement set out that the new kennels were being developed to replace the original main kennel building. The “development is required to provide welfare enhanced housing to animals currently housed on the site. No additional dogs will be housed on this site as a result of this development” (emphasis mine). The noise impact assessment submitted in 2016 was provided as the applicant maintained “there is no resultant increase in dog numbers on site”.

Permission was granted with conditions.


f. LA10/2019/0753/F July 2019 – The applicant sought permission for the erection of a whelping shed.

The design statement set out that “the UK Dog Breeding Academy have been working with a number of veterinary and other experts, undertaken a comprehensive audit of their business in order to both maximise the efficiency of the business operations and ensure the best possible animal welfare practises can be put in place…as part of this application it is proposed to remove an existing whelping shed on the site as indicated on the site layout drawing. This whelping shed is considered sub-standard in terms of its capacity to provide the best possible animal welfare standard…the development is required to provide welfare-enhanced housing to animals currently housed on the site. No additional dogs will be housed on the site as a result of the development” (emphasis mine).

Permission was granted with conditions.


g. LA10/2019/1105/F October 2019 – The applicant sought permission to extend kennel buildings including external exercise runs.

The design statement set out that “the UK Dog Breeding Academy have been working with a number of veterinary and other experts, undertaken a comprehensive audit of their business in order to both maximise the efficiency of the business operations and ensure the best possible animal welfare practises can be put in place…the development is required to provide enhanced housing to animals currently housed on the site. No additional dogs will be housed on the site as a result of this development” (emphasis mine).


In respect of the noise impact assessment, the applicant set out that the report submitted in 2016 could be relied on as “there is no resultant increase in dog numbers on site” (emphasis mine).


Permission was granted with conditions.


h. LA10/2021/0757/F 2021 – The applicant sought permission to develop an assisted whelping facility and socialisation building. The applicant appended to the application the “General Population Kennel Noise Management Plan” that was developed for the 2016 application, based on a population of 600 dogs.

The application did not have a design statement and very little information was provided about the proposed development, but it was evidently not intended to house additional dogs; rather, it was an ancillary building for use of the dogs on site who were whelping.


Permission was granted.


2. Previous permissions are relevant to this application

It is clear from the correspondence and information requested previously that the Council was concerned about the impact on amenity caused by the barking of the dogs on site. It was for this reason that the number was limited to 600 dogs and pups. Other matters considered relevant in 2016 related to the disposal of waste. These are both material planning considerations.


In all the subsequent applications, where the Applicant was either seeking permission for buildings that were ancillary to service the dogs already on site, or were seeking to develop new facilities, they advised that these were to replace existing facilities that were no longer fit for purpose in order to improve welfare. The applicant assured the Council on numerous occasions that there would be no increase in dog numbers on site. This assurance was given as a reason why it was not necessary to update information submitted in 2016 that was premised on a maximum number of dogs and puppies being 600.


Since at least 2021[1] this facility appears to have been operating in breach of planning permission. The Council will be aware of its own granting of the license to this facility to keep 900 dogs on site. This number does not include puppies. The licenses are as follows:


a. Kelly’s Kennels granted a license for 300 bitches on 10 March 2022 by Fermanagh and Omagh Council.

b. Eric Lancaster granted a license for 250 bitches on 13 December 2021 by Fermanagh and Omagh Council.

c. David Hamilton granted a license for 250 bitches and 100 dogs on 1 April 2022 by Fermanagh and Omagh Council.


We do not intend to deal with the intersection between licensing and planning at any length in this objection, save to note that it is an established principle that where there is a conflict between a license and a planning permission, the more restrictive set of permissions will prevail. This position accounts for the fact that the Council followed a process in 2016 that determined this site should not have more than 600 dogs and pups. At no stage has the applicant, through the planning process, sought to keep more dogs on site when seeking permission to develop, and consequently no consideration has been given to the impact that the increase in numbers would have in relation to the use of the land.


We note that in response to complaints about the breach of the planning permission by our organisation and others, the Council’s response was:


(i) that the limitation on 600 dogs and pups only applied to the buildings granted permission in 2016;

(ii) the Planning Department is not concerned with the intensity of a development unless it has a bearing on material planning consideration.


The information detailed above makes it plain that it was considered that the limitation on 600 dogs and pups applied to the site, not one building. The intensity is clearly relevant here as it has a bearing on material planning considerations which is why the Council considered the numbers on site previously.


3. The Planning Application

The Applicant seeks to erect further kennel buildings and external exercise runs. The Transport Assessment Statement sets out that the new development is to replace existing buildings (but does not detail which buildings). Consequently, there is no additional dog housing capacity being proposed.


On the face of it, the position is that the Applicant intends to house 900 dogs and anywhere up to 3200 puppies[2] (or possibly more) within facilities designed for 600 dogs and puppies.


The Applicant needs to clarify how many dogs and pups are kept/proposed to be kept on site. Until this information is provided, the supporting documents are not of any assistance to the planning department for the following reasons:


a. Noise - Acoustic report dated 8 March 2021, which was prepared over a year before this application was submitted, makes no reference to the number of dogs on site. The report sets out that new measurements were carried out for the application, but does not state when this was done, whether this was done by way of a site visit, how many dogs were on the premises, and what the conditions were. Without further information, the report as to the noise generated is meaningless.

We note amenity is a material planning consideration.


b. Transport movements – In the 2016 application, the Applicant advised there would be 7 staff members and consequently 7 vehicles on site[3]. These numbers were premised on the numbers of dogs on site being limited to 600 dogs including puppies.


This Application[4] sets out that there are an average of 7 staff vehicles at the premises each day based on the facility employing 7 staff. The Applicant advises there will be no increase in number of journeys to the site[5].


Whilst we accept that the Applicant may not have increased the staffing numbers since 2016 and that his statement may be accurate, the applicant should not benefit in a planning application from what we consider to clearly be serious under staffing of this facility.


The Welfare of Animals (Dog Breeding Establishments and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013 regulates dog breeding establishments, and its purpose is to protects the welfare of dogs within these facilities. The regulations need to be read alongside The Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011, the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs and Dog Breeding Establishment Licence Conditions and Guidance for Council Enforcement Officers. This legislation and guidance requires facilities to be adequately staffed to ensure that the dogs within them are cared for and the facilities kept clean.

It is accepted that Northern Ireland does not stipulate minimum staffing numbers, but the overriding objective is that the operator must show that staffing levels are sufficient to ensure dogs are looked after. The English guidance for staff to animal ratios in dog breeding facilities is a maximum of 1:20[6]. On the basis that this facility will have anywhere between 900 adult dogs and 3200 puppies, the staffing ratio varies between 1:128 to 1:585. Plainly, the staffing levels are entirely unrealistic. At a minimum, the Applicant should be employing 45 staff to care for the potential 900 dogs on site, which does not even take account of the puppies. Our submission is that even 45 staff is not sufficient, and the applicant should provide details of the average number of puppies bred on site to determine appropriate staffing levels.

The consequence of having an adequately staffed facility means that the transport movements will increase at least 6 fold, as will the parking requirements.

We note the Council has consulted with DFI Roads, who at this stage have not responded. Our submission is that any response from them will be premised on information from the Applicant that should not be relied upon. The Applicant must be required to reconsider staffing levels and resubmit the Transport Assessment Statement for DFI Roads to consider.


c. Solid Waste – The disposal of waste is a material planning consideration. The application form[7] requires the Applicant to provide details of the nature, volume and proposed means of disposal of any trade effluents or trade refuse. The Applicant responded “[d]og wastes (faeces, soiled bedding) and grooming wastes (dog hair) are incinerated on site”.


The Applicant did not provide details of the volume of the waste, which is a matter that relates directly to the number of dogs kept. The Applicant also does not state what bedding substrate the dogs are kept on and how frequently this is changed - this is an issue that goes to the volume of waste produced and the kinds of emissions that may be produced when burned.


To give some context to why this issue is of such importance, it is relevant to consider the volume of dog faeces that will produced on this site each day. An average dog produces around 0.4kg of faeces[8] (we don’t know the breed types). That amounts to 360kg of faeces each day (not including puppies’ faeces, or bedding, or fur) that will need to be incinerated. That is at least 131 tons of dog faeces to be incinerated every year.

There is no information to detail how the ash from the incinerator is disposed of.

Emissions from incinerators are material planning considerations as set out under Planning Policy Statement 11 Planning and Waste[9]. Given the increase in numbers and the consequent volume of waste, the burning of this may impact air quality. Further investigation and possibly experts reports may be necessary.

The Applicant must provide further information about the waste produced together with evidence to substantiate the submissions in order to allow the Planning Department to assess the impact of this operation.


d. Wastewater – We note again that the disposal of waste is a material planning consideration.


"Amount of water used as this goes to the amount of waste water generated: The applicant advises that the anticipated daily water requirement of the facility is 2 cubic metres."


It is usual for dog breeding establishments to use water to wash down kennels and runs, clean food vessels, for grooming, and for the use of the facility’s employees. Information about water consumption in facilities housing animals[10] advises allowing for a minimum of 45 litres per employee and 36 litres per dog per day. On the basis of 7 employees and 900 dogs (excluding puppies), the water consumption in this facility should be in the region of 32 cubic metres per day. This is notwithstanding our comments about staffing levels and the need to make provision for puppies who generally require facilities to be cleaned far more frequently.


Our position is that the Applicant’s assessment of the anticipated daily water requirement, which has a direct bearing on the wastewater generated, is entirely unrealistic. Further information together with supporting evidence must be sought from the applicant.


We also note that increased staffing numbers (see section on transport above) will have a bearing on the facilities requirements and impact on matters such as sewerage/septic tanks etc.


Collection and disposal of wastewater: The Applicant is required to ensure the facilities are kept clean. The wastewater produced from the washdown of kennels will be contaminated with dog faeces and bodily fluids. The Applicant acknowledges that this runoff cannot be discharged into the environment and must discharge into a holding tank[11]. No information has been provided about the size of this holding tank to determine whether it is adequate, nor has any information been provided about how this waste water will be treated/disposed of. If this is done by way of a truck collecting the wastewater, then this must be factored into the traffic movements.


Without further information, it is impossible to assess the adequacy of the proposal made by the Applicant.


e. Impact on the environment, nature and wildlife – The cumulative effect of this facility, housing 900 dogs and potentially thousands of puppies, has not been considered as regards the impact on the local environment, nature and wildlife. Intensive dog breeding on this scale is a relatively new industry, and the long-term impacts of it have not been studied in Northern Ireland. There is, however, a growing body of research that details the detrimental impact that dog waste, both urine and faeces, has on the natural environment. The Guardian[12] has recently reported on this, and there has been a study published this year by academics at Ghent University[13], who detailed the significant level of Nitrogen and Phosphorous in dog waste and the potential to cause great environmental harm.


Our position is that this application cannot be considered until substantial further information is provided by the Applicant.



[1] We refer to our letter to the Fermanagh and Omagh Planning Department in March 2021 that cites our sources [2] On the basis that 800 bitches produce 1 litter of 4 puppies. Litter sizes vary depending on breed, but no information is provided about breed types. [3] See question 25 from Form P1 for LA/2016/0636/F [4] See question 25 of Form P1 [5] We note this is on the basis that the proposed building is to replace one that is being decommissioned, but the applicant does not detail which building is being decommissioned. [6]See 4.0 “Staffing” – “Each member of staff should have 20 dogs or less to care for” - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/animal-activities-licensing-guidance-for-local-authorities/dog-breeding-licensing-statutory-guidance-for-local-authorities [7] See question 23 [8]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2771205/ [9] S McKay & M Murray. Planning Law and Practice in Northern Ireland. 2017. Routledge. P93. [10]https://www.dvm360.com/view/determining-water-consumption-animal-care-facilities [11] See 7.1 of JKB Consulting Engineers Report dated May 2022 [12] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/feb/07/dog-pee-and-poo-harming-nature-reserves-study [13] https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2688-8319.12128



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