We need our abattoirs

06 July 2006
We need our abattoirs

We are writing to express strong support for the proposals for a new abattoir at Eye, Suffolk, replacing the current outdated abattoir at Bungay. We are losing abattoirs at an alarming rate - over 1,000 closed in the last decade - and the recent closure of the abattoir at Stalham in Norfolk leaves only two large multi-species abattoirs serving local farmers, retailers and caterers in Suffolk and Norfolk.

If we were to lose another, there would be severe consequences for the area's livestock farming, rural economy, landscape, and, importantly for Caterer readers, the local food system.

The supply of locally produced meat at farmers' markets and through farm shops, traditional butchers, other retailers and caterers would be jeopardised. Recent work by East Anglia Food Link to provide meat of known regional provenance to schools would have been impossible without local abattoirs and meat processors.

The restricted site of the existing abattoir at Bungay prohibits further expansion and necessary improvement, leaving relocation as the only option. Meat processing is equally essential to the local meat supply chain. Co-location of C&K Meats' abattoir and processing operations is sensible and will eliminate transport between the two, reducing food miles.

However, any proposed site for a new abattoir will attract opposition. While unnecessary development of greenfield sites is to be discouraged, there is a paramount need in this case. Our countryside depends on it.

The proposed site between Eye and Yaxley has good access and fewer neighbours than most alternatives. Objections from neighbouring businesses and residents led to the refusal of permission for the previous application on a brownfield site. Of the 18-acre site, the proposed building will occupy just over two acres - over half the site will be left as open grass or planted with new hedgerow and trees.

The UK's abattoir industry is probably the most regulated in the world, with strict control of hygiene, animal welfare and provenance, disposal of waste products and pollution.

Nick Saltmarsh, director, East Anglia Food Link,
Julie West, deputy chief executive, Tastes of Anglia and Nicola Currie, regional director Country Land and Business Association

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