Brian May and Downton Abbey star Peter Egan call on government to block planning permission to breed beagle dogs for experiments

More than 3,500 dogs a year are experimented on in the UK

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Queen guitarist Brian May and Peter Egan, a star of Downton Abbey and 80s sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles, have called on the government to block planning permission to breed beagle dogs for experiments.

Medical dog breeder Yorkshire Evergreen launched an appeal against a council decision to block its expansion plans in Grimston, East Yorkshire, last year. Ministers were expected to make a decision by 18 June, but it is understood this is now likely to be announced this week.

Mr May, who has previously campaigned against badger culling, said: “There is no justification for forcing dogs to suffer in experiments. Please do the right thing and reject these cruel plans.”

Mr Egan added: “The fate of hundreds of dogs hangs in the balance. With science moving away from crude animal tests, it makes no sense to approve these plans and consign man’s best friend to a life of suffering in the laboratory.”

The plans would see a farm built in Grimston, where dogs and other animals would be bred and sold to laboratories. Yorkshire Evergreen is owned by US animal supplier Marshall BioResources.

A spokesman for B&K Universal which is part of the Marshall BioResources group, said that Yorkshire Evergreen had stopped breeding dogs at Grimston five years ago, as it wanted to update the existing accommodation.

They have since been brought in from overseas and sent to Home Office-approved studies in the UK. The company argues that it is trying to raise welfare standards.

The spokesman added: "While the old breeding unit exceeded the UK's high legislative requirements, which are the most demanding in the world, it didn't meet our own and we closed it.

“The proposed replacement will be as good as any on the planet and better than most. It will massively reduce the amount of travel for dogs and we hope to lower the need for them in medicine by breeding study-specific strains."

“It will also secure jobs and create new ones in East Yorkshire, one of the regions worst hit by unemployment in the country.”

National Anti-Vivisection Society chairman Jan Creamer said: ““Brian May and Peter Egan’s support comes at a crucial time, as Yorkshire Evergreen’s unwanted and unnecessary plans are considered once again. The NAVS urges the Secretary of State to dismiss these deadly plans and do the right thing in the name of science, the public and the animals who will be destined to suffer if the facility goes ahead.”

More than 3,500 dogs a year are experimented on in the UK. A government source said that ministers had yet to decide on whether to refuse planning permission.