Councillors due to give go-ahead to rodent breeding in Clifton

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Hundreds of rodents in 740 cages are being bred at a farm in Clifton - and Rugby councillors are due to give it the OK to carry on.

A retrospective planning application to change the use of existing farm buildings for the purpose of rodent breeding is due to be discussed at a Town Hall meeting tonight (Wednesday).

Clifton farmer Robert Spencer has submitted the application for permission for the breeding at Magpie Lodge Farmyard in Lilbourne Road, just outside the village.

According to the planning application, Mr Spencer says that the breeding of rodents is for the personal use of the tenants who want a reliable and affordable supply of food for reptiles and for three other snake breeders, who have a combined total of 700 snakes.

Currently there are around 740 cages at the farm which house approximately 1,900 breeding female rats and 39 males. Each female could on average breed a litter of six to ten babies every six to eight weeks.

Three neighbours have complained about the planning application with a number of concerns raised.

Neighbours say they don’t want breeding rodents close to their home and there could be health implications. They have also said that the building is unsuitable for use which leads to rodents escaping.

Rugby Borough Council received a letter from the Park Veterinary Group outlining its concerns about the spreading of disease.

Clifton-upon-Dunsmore Parish Council has raised concerns about the security of the building and said it suspects this may be a commercial operation. The parish council also said there are health and environmental issues.

Despite the complaints, planning officers at the borough council recommended the application for approval.

In a report officers said: “Whilst concerns have been expressed relating to the spread of disease such as leptospirosis, Environmental Services do not consider that the health of occupiers of adjacent properties would be put at risk by the use. In addition to this the rodents are kept in cages that are cleaned on a regular basis and the rodents are monitored for signs of illnesses.”

Officers said the application should be approved by councillors subject to conditions.