A RIBBLE Valley farmer behind plans for Britain’s largest dairy farm has withdrawn the application.

David Barnes, from Withgill Farm, Mitton, and his business partner Peter Willes, applied to set up a 3,770-cow farm in Nocton Heath, Lincolnshire, last year.

But the plans had been criticised by animal welfare, countryside and consumer groups.

The £34million ‘super dairy’ would have produced 215,000 pints of milk a day from super-size Holstein cows.

But critics claimed the dairy would be an ‘environmental disaster’ and threaten the livelihoods of small-scale farmers.

Now the application to North Kesteven District Council has been withdrawn after objections by the Government’s Environment Agency which feared waste from cattle slurry lagoons could pollute ground water.

In a statement, Mr Willes and Mr Barnes hit out at his critics: "The industry needs to stand up to those who would twist the facts about animal welfare, and highlight lack of investment as the issue, not scale or type of system.

"If our industry does not tell the public the facts and open its doors to show how we are great at farming in many different ways, then misinformed single interest pressure groups will fill the void with untruths to the eventual detriment of all.

"We challenge other farmers to pick up the baton and see where these concepts can take them."

Withgill Farm in the Ribble Valley started out with 450 cows and until recently housed 1,500 cows.

But it now boasts around 2,000 cows after Mr Barnes was given planning permission to create additional buildings for 540 cows in September last year.