Scilly Abattoir Still Possible

A Scilly abattoir remains a possibility but the the plan needs to be completed by 2013 to access European cash.

That’s what 35 producers and farmers heard on Friday at a meeting at Mainland Marketing who have commisioned a report into the project.

Planning permission and private finance may remain a hurdle. Up to 50% of the the cash could come from European match-funding but support won’t be available from the Local Action Group because this is an agricultural project and these are exempt. The rest of the money must come from the private sector.

Strict health and safety controls will mean the building will cost around £450,000 meaning a shortfall of around £250,000 to find from private sources.

The project bill would include special drainage and a separate incinerator as material could not be transported to the mainland. The meeting heard that a Council official was asked whether the Local Authority incinerator could be used but they were told that there was ‘not enough capacity’ which brought laughter from the attendees when one farmer suggested which officer would make such a comment.

The projections are based on six cattle and a greater number of pigs or sheep being slaughtered each week and the facility would operate one day a year for around 35 weeks of the year. There were suggestions that a tie-in with a retailer of meat with shop space would be desirable so a Scilly meat brand could be a established.

English Nature has backed the plan as they believe in maintaining grazing animals as a land management policy.

The site would be at the foot of Jacksons Hail on the Porthmellon side of the refuse dump. That was previously granted planning permission but any potential complaints over noise and smell may need to be addressed as it’s likely that some animals would be housed there overnight if the project takes place.

Alison guy has been a vocal supporter of the need for an abattoir because of the beef she produces at Longstone. She says she planned to  provide between 16 and 20 cattle a year when the slaughter house plan was originally tabled.

Alison says she had concerns about meeting running costs with a relatively light use facility . It’s thought there may be an option for funding to underwrite the first year of operation. In her view, an abbatoir is vital in reducing our islands’ carbon footprint and becoming more self-sufficient.

Chris Gregory, Duchy Land Steward for the Isles of Scilly said having a local abattoir could provide visitors with a sought-after Scillonian product but justifying the economics of having an abattoir on the islands is always going to be difficult and how we afford it will take some lateral thought. He added that he hoped the Duchy can have a part to play in that.

Another meeting will be called within the next month when the report will be circulated.