Nocton Lessons

Yesterday’s announcement of the backer’s withdrawal of the proposed mega-dairy is a victory. But this issue will resurface elsewhere in another form. Vigilance is needed. The dairy industry must be closely monitored. We need to be ready to act again.

But who is “we”?

We, in this case, were national animal welfare organisations (e.g., CIWF, WSPA, Animal Aid, VIVA), national environmental organisations (e.g., Campaign to Protect Rural England, Friends of the Earth, Soil Association), progressive political organisations (e.g., 38 Degrees) and local residents associations (e.g., Campaign Against Factory Farming Operations). This coalition mobilised support from Parliament and the entertainment industry. Further, the campaign was emboldened by reports challenging the application from the Environment Agency and Anglian Water. And, of course, tens of thousands of people who added their voice in a variety of ways.

This impressive coalition of diverse interests demonstrated why the proposed mega-dairy had to be opposed for various reasons (e.g., animal welfare, environmental protection, sustainable farming practices).

This is the lesson to be learned from Nocton. When the case for animal welfare is framed within a progressive agenda of interests there will be increased chances of success.

The challenge to establishing moral and legal rights for animals will not be found in a fundamentalist, moral crusade espousing vegan absolutism.

It will be achieved when animal advocates position animal interests as a natural fit alongside those of the environment and human well-being.

Comprehensive and progressive agendas of social change, as demonstrated by yesterday’s decision to withdraw plans for the mega-dairy, will propel animal issues into the public mainstream and establish moral and legal rights for animals as a public policy issue.