Activist and comedian Ricky Gervais has helped to save thousands of rabbits from potential death after getting plans for a rabbit meat farm shut down.

Ricky Gervais has won a battle against plans to build a rabbit meat farm that PETA claims would have seen 10,000 baby bunnies bred and killed for food every year.

The plans for the farm, with 250 rabbits to breed from, had been earmarked for development over the next three years in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Amersham, Buckinghamshire. However with After Life actor Gervais backing the campaign more than 87,000 people signed a petition opposing the plans – which were later refused permission by Buckinghamshire Council planning chiefs.

Animal rights charities PETA and Animal Aid are celebrating the victory, with the former pledging to send councillors vegan chocolate bunnies to say thank you.

The rabbit farm application by Phil Kerry, of T&S Nurseries, proposed a temporary rural worker’s house and agricultural building on the land, allowing a worker to be on-site as the rabbit production unit was developed. A further two worker’s houses on potential rabbit farm sites in Cornwall and Rutland have also been proposed by T&S Nurseries – where a further 20,000 rabbits would face death every year. After 41,478 signed a petition against the intensive rabbit farming the Cornwall site was refused permission. However the decision on the Rutland site has yet to be made public.

Refusing the Buckinghamshire site council planning officers concluded: ‘The applicant has not presented an adequate case to establish why the business must be located on this land, and why a more suitable, less-constrained site was not chosen. ‘Alternatively, it has not been demonstrated that there is a demand for this proposal in this location. Notwithstanding the economic benefits of the scheme, these are not considered to outweigh the harm identified.’

Referencing the Buckinghamshire plans and two other proposed rabbit farms elsewhere in the country, animal-lover Gervais previously said: ‘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.’ PETA director Elisa Allen said: ‘PETA commends the council’s compassionate decision.

This monstrous rabbit prison would see hundreds of female rabbits routinely forced to breed to produce around 10,000 babies per year. These sensitive, playful animals would endure a life of extreme confinement before being killed for their flesh and fur.

‘Tens of thousands of compassionate people have spoken – they want nothing to do with factory farms that, aside from being hideously cruel to animals, also harm public health by facilitating the spread of bacteria that can lead to deadly diseases like Covid-19, SARS, and MERS. ‘Vegan living is easier and more enjoyable than ever – it’s time to make the change, for the sake of both humans and other animals.’

The applicant Mr Kerry reportedly appeared on BBC Three Counties Radio in April, saying: ‘There’s a huge demand for rabbit meat. ‘Since the petition and the exposure we’ve had in the press in recent weeks, we’ve had more enquiries for rabbit meat than we’ve had in the past three or four years. ‘The rabbit you get in pet shops are completely different to those bred for meat. They were bred for meat going back to medieval times, in fact.’ He reportedly said there would be ‘plenty of space’ for the rabbits on the farm.

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