THE world's best known animal welfare campaign group has weighed into the row over plans to build a farm dubbed "chicken city" in the Worcestershire countryside.
PETA, the international organisation of people for the ethical treatment of animals, has called for the planned new chicken farm, which would be able to house up to 160,000 birds at a time, to be "killed and buried".
Currently the broiler farm planned for Upton Snodsbury already has permission for two chicken units, each housing 40,000 chickens, on land north east of Froghall Bungalow, Naunton Road, which was granted at the appeal stage in January.
But a new application, already facing local opposition, would see that double.
Now PETA has backed those fighting the plans by submitting a petition with more than 26,000 signatures from local residents and other concerned members of the public urging the council to reject the application by Edward Davies.
Mimi Bekhechi, PETA UK associate director, said: "The district council did the right thing last year in pushing to keep Wychavon free from cruel factory farms by rejecting the original application, and PETA is calling on council members to stick to their guns and make exactly the same decision this year.
"From the smell to the traffic to the knowledge that tens of thousands of sensitive birds are suffering inside filthy sheds, Mr Davies' facility would be a blight on Wychavon's landscape as well as its reputation."
PETA warns in its letter that factory farms are extremely cruel to the chickens who are confined there, unable to engage in any natural behaviour and bred to grow so large so fast that many of them become crippled under their own weight and experience organ failure.
The group claims these facilities also represent a hazard to the environment, with waste contaminating local water sources, and the stench of ammonia adversely affecting residents.
The new application, which local campaigners belonging to the Wychavon Parishes Action Group said would become a "chicken city", will appear before Wychavon District Council's planning committee at a date to be decided.
For more information on the campaign visit no-chicken-farm.org.