An animal rights campaign group has slammed plans for a rabbit meat farm in a Bucks village saying people are “repulsed at the thought of consuming it”.

Animal Aid says it is “very concerned” about the plans, which could see the farm built on land in Magpie Lane, in Coleshill, near Amersham – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Campaign manager Tor Bailey said: “Any new plans for animal farming are unacceptable during the current pandemic, which has been caused by an animal-to-human virus, with new variants emerging.

“It should be noted that rabbits can be a reservoir for the Covid virus.

“Also, the proposed area is a known home for protected wildlife, including badgers, water voles and many bats.

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“Rabbits are exceptional diggers and so some of them are likely to escape into the local area.”

He added: “We should be clear about what the farm is for. It is to breed rabbits to be slaughtered at a very young age for their meat and fur.

“We understand that fur could likely be produced as a ‘by-product’ which is highly distasteful and ‘fur farming by the back door’.

“There is huge public sentiment against real fur in the UK and a great many people refuse to wear this cruel product and would like to see a fur-free Britain.

“There is also little demand for rabbit meat in the UK, and most people are repulsed at the thought of consuming it.

“Rabbits are mostly considered to be companion or wild animals.”

The plans prompted fury among residents, with tens of thousands of people signing a petition calling for the proposals to be refused and dozens of people objecting to the formal application.

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The rabbit farm will occupy around two acres of the site, with the applicant saying demand for the products has been “extremely strong and increasing over many years”, with “surprising new routes to market” emerging during the pandemic.

See the plans online at the planning portal, using the reference PL/21/0130/FA.