Animal rights activists have launched a campaign to prevent a livestock research centre being created just outside Canterbury.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) says it fears the proposed facility in Stodmarsh Road would carry out “cruel experiments” on animals.
Canterbury City Council has received a planning application for a change of use of land from a nursery at Mount View to “animal research and development”.
In a letter to planners, Peta said: “Animal experiments cause intense suffering.
“Animals held at the facility would be used to test vaccines and drugs, which could have dangerous and potentially lethal effects on their health, and would undergo regular blood draws.
“There is overwhelming evidence that they can feel pain and fear just as we do, and their fundamental natural instincts – like ours – are to be free and to protect their own lives.
“We do not have the right to manipulate and experiment on them for our own purposes.”
In a press release Peta added that it fears “cruel experiments would be carried out on cows, pigs, and sheep”.
As well as moral reasons to reject the scheme, Peta says there are planning issues the authority should note.
It said any structures built on the site would affect the rural character of the area and that there would be an increase traffic to and from the facility.
City council papers show that a firm called Vetquest based in Whitstable Road, Canterbury, is behind the application to turn a former nursery and grazing land into the centre.
It applied for “change of use of the land to animal research and development; erection of two polytunnels, elevational changes and conversion of existing store to hay store, stationing of a mobile building for meeting space and laboratory, creation of hardsurfacing areas and parking”.
Canterbury City Council’s property and regeneration unit says planners should approve the application.
The department’s Nick Churchill said: “From a local economic development perspective, we would support this planning application.
“It would find a productive quasi-agricultural use for otherwise under-utilised agricultural land and buildings perhaps even improving the existing site with only minimal impact on the locality in terms of new development.
“Moreover, a small, animal health-related research and development facility such as that proposed in reality has to be located in a rural setting and therefore the location appears to be well-suited to the purpose of housing livestock.
“At the same time the proposal can support rural economic development generally with its scope for employment provision in that experienced and skilled staff including veterinarians would be required as well as a stockman and administration assistant.”
The regeneration added that the council should seek to support business start-ups such as Vetquest and should promote research and development centres.
Mr Churchill added: “Alongside other research and development activities carried out through both the public and private sector in healthcare and other fields this type of proposed venture can help to complement Canterbury and east Kent’s growing reputation as a centre for knowledge, research, science and technology.”
Documents relating to the application can be viewed here.