Compassion in World Farming was alerted to an application for an intensive rabbit farm on 1st October.
From the limited information available in the application, it was suggestive of an intensive rabbit farming system: with the rabbits being housed in suspended wire cages. With no mention of enrichment materials for the rabbits, the proposed system appeared to be a barren battery cage system.
There are very serious welfare issues affecting rabbits in barren-cage farming systems. The floor space and height is often so restricted that caged rabbits are frequently unable to move normally and adopt normal postures such as lying stretched out, sitting and standing with their ears erect, rearing up, turning around comfortably and hopping.
Not only was this shocking due to the animal welfare implications, but it was also indicative of the way in which UK farming could slip.
The application had implications for the future direction of farming in the UK, public health, and the impact on Derbyshire and access to the site.
It suggested that it may be necessary to cull wild rabbits in order to prevent an outbreak of myxomatosis. In addition, rat infestations would be more likely, given the amount of rabbit food and waste that would be accessible to them.
On 5th October a formal objection was sent to the Derbyshire District Council alerting the council to seven key areas of concern:
The retrograde step in farming practices that the proposal represented, including welfare concerns
The dependence of the proposed farming system on high levels of antibiotic treatment
Potential public health issues as a result of the proposal
The impact on the local wild rabbit population
The damage to the public image of Derbyshire and the resulting impact on local businesses and residents
Insufficient access to the site and increased traffic
The lack of essential information within the submitted plans; specifically regarding the farming system for fattening rabbits and the intended slaughter method.
On 10th October the news broke that Compassion and all our supporters had been successful in our objection: The planning application has now been withdrawn!
Emma Slawinski, Compassion's Senior Campaigns Manager says: "Animal welfare prevailed on this occasion. It is a reason to celebrate and to thank all our supporters: together, we have saved up to 46,000 rabbits every year from a life in small metal cages."