A PETITION against building a "chicken prison" which would slaughter about 760,000 birds a year has been signed by thousands of animal activists.

More than 17,000 people have signed a petition against plans to build an intensive chicken farm in Wix which would hold as many as 100,000 chickens at a time in intensive confinement before they are slaughtered.

The planning application was lodged to Tendring Council by AH Brown Farms, and is set to be build on land west of Redhouse Farm, in Oakley Road.

And now, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has sent the petition to the council urging it to reject the plans, citing the farm would cause the chickens immense suffering as they can feel pain and distress.

About 50,000 of the gentle birds would be crammed into each of the two proposed buildings and denied the chance to do anything which comes naturally to them.

PETA highlighted in the petition that - in addition to causing cruelty to animals on a massive scale - a farm of this scale would be likely to have many negative effects on the local area, including diminishing the character of the landscape.

Ammonia from the chickens' waste would also have a negative impact on air quality, human health, the environment, and wildlife, PETA also stated.

More than 40 local residents, who opposed to the plans on Tendring Council's planning website, also raised concerned that the farm would "be awfully smelly" and increase HGV traffic on the rural roads.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Elisa Allen, PETA director, said: "Thousands of compassionate people have spoken, and Tendring Council should heed their concerns for animal welfare, the environment, and the health of the community.

"PETA is calling for this plan to be scrapped, sparing thousands of birds a lifetime of suffering and an agonising death."

The animal protection group also noted that chickens are curious, active animal who, in nature, spend their time foraging, exploring and taking dust baths.

They live for up to 11 years naturally, but on this proposed farm they would be sent to the abattoir when they are about 33 days old.

The birds would either be gassed, electrocuted or their throats would be slit.

Tendring Council was unable to comment on the planning application or the petition.

AH Brown Farms has been contacted for comment.

For more information, visit PETA.org.uk.