Ricky Gervais has joined thousands of people calling for plans for a rabbit meat farm in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to be scrapped.

The actor, who has a home in Marlow and is a well-known animal lover, has slammed plans for an intensive, free-range rabbit farm in Coleshill, near Amersham.

It comes amid backlash from residents after Phil Kerry, who owns T&S Nurseries, submitted a proposal to build a temporary rural worker’s house and agricultural building on land in Magpie Lane.

The house will allow a worker to be on site as a 250-doe, free-range rabbit production unit is developed over the next three years.

The rabbit farm will occupy around two acres of the site.

According to national reports, Mr Gervais is thought to be among tens of thousands of people who have signed a petition calling for the “inhumane” plans to be refused.

He told The Mirror: “If these plans go ahead it will mean thousands of baby rabbits bred and taken from hundreds of mother rabbits who are treated like breeding machines.”

Almost 150 objections have been submitted to the formal plans, including by campaign group Animal Aid and the Beaconsfield Society.

An Animal Aid spokesman said: “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.

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

Speaking to The Mirror, Mr Gervais added: “Britain banned fur farming two decades ago because it’s cruel, so allowing these would bring back fur farming by the back door.

“That’s outrageous and I hope the councils listen.”

In his application, Mr Kerry said demand for the products has been “extremely strong and increasing over many years”, with “surprising new routes to market” emerging during the pandemic.

He also told The Mirror welfare of animals “is a priority” and that they “used to throw pelts away but it doesn’t make financial sense as they have a value”.

ALSO READ: 'Unacceptable': Animal rights group slams plans for rabbit meat farm in village

He added: “I know there’s opposition but, in my view, it’s hollow and doesn’t really mean much.”

See the plans online at www.chiltern.gov.uk/viewplanningapplications using the reference PL/21/0130/FA.

The petition can be found at www.change.org/p/rabbit-farm-resistance-uk-refuse-planning-for-intensive-rabbit-meat-farm-in-amersham.