Animal welfare activists march on Derbyshire Dales district council over rabbit slaughterhouse plans

Animal welfare activists staged a demonstration in Matlock this week, calling on Derbyshire Dales District Council to permanently block the possibility of a rabbit slaughterhouse in Atlow.

By Ed Dingwall
Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 11:08 am

T&S Rabbits has been seeking planning permission to build a ‘food production building’ and workers’ accommodation off Turlowfield Lane, provoking outcry from activist groups and members of the public.

The council rejected the proposals last year on the grounds that the any previous agricultural use for the land had been negligible and so the buildings would therefore intrude on open countryside.

The company initiated an appeal in April, then withdrew it – but protesters took to the streets on Tuesday, June 14, to demand the site be completely cleared to limit the prospects for a new application. Temporary structures were permitted in 2017, but have since been found to breach planning conditions.

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The protesters began with a public demonstration in Crown Square before marching on the town hall.

A spokesperson from campaign group Stop T&S Rabbits said: “We are pleased that Phil Kerry, T&S owner, has decided against holding a planning hearing. We hope this means he has given up on his Atlow site, making this the second site he has stopped farming rabbits on in the last month. Though we must be on the lookout for a new appeal.”

They added: “Derbyshire Dales council must now ensure that all rabbit farming equipment and the temporary workers dwelling is removed from the site for good, as per planning law.

“We thank everyone who has been involved in resisting the farmand invite everyone to join our campaign.”

T&S Rabbits farms for meat and fur at several sites across the country, each a regular target for activists who have reported evidence of poor welfare practices and animals with serious health problems.

However Mr Kerry insists the decision to withdraw the Atlow appeal was not due to any outside pressure.

He said: “Our barrister advised us to withdraw the appeal because specific circumstances with the farm’s previous manager meant we had to remove all livestock for a time. The activists don’t make much difference. Their claims about our welfare standards are absolute fabricated rubbish and they are just an inconvenience to the industry.

“We’re looking at a new application for the site with a different business model, and we hope the authority will give us space to do that.”

A spokesperson for the council said: “This is a live enforcement matter, but we are expecting an application to regularise the use of the temporary dwelling, which will then be dealt with through the usual planning application process.”