Shetland Islands slaughterhouse consultation

The prospect of a new slaughterhouse being built on the Shetland Islands came one step nearer to reality this week as plans were put out for consultation by the local authority.

The plan to build Scotland's first community-owned abattoir still has to gain full planning permission but in the meantime representatives from the livestock industry and local people have until the end of the month to comment on the proposed £2.4m slaughterhouse, which the council wants to see up and running by July next year.

The plan is to site the abattoir at Staney Hill, at the back of the Shetland Marts, where most of Shetland's livestock is bought and sold.

Shetland Islands Council head of business development, Douglas Irvine, said the proposed abattoir was "a real 21st century facility" which would be able to meet industry needs well into the future.

Speaking about the consultation, Irvine said: "We are looking for vital industry and community input into our proposal location, site plans and equipment requirements for the new multi-user abattoir facility."

He added that the council hoped a new abattoir would help develop the Shetland meat industry to a sustainable level that could meet the demand from home and abroad for top quality product.

Shetland Livestock Marketing Group (SLMG) manager Karl Simpson welcomed the consultation, saying he had already drafted a letter outlining possible improvements on a number of minor items.

"It is good that the developers are engaging with the industry and letting us all have our views on it," Simpson said.

"I think Staney Hill is the perfect site for the abattoir. The exact location needs to be specified or worked on, but certainly in the vicinity is ideal because it is a rural centre we are trying to develop. It would be good if there was another agricultural business here."

He said island farmers were looking to push ahead with their beef provision which they had never been able to do before because of the lack of cattle processing facilities on the Shetland Islands.

"The new plant will give us scope to start slaughtering cattle to satisfy local production and we would also like to supply small quantities of premium product elsewhere for the discerning customer," Simpson said.

He said they were keen to increase availability of Shetland cattle because demand from tourists already existed and he added there was significant scope to increase Shetland lamb as well.

At the end of the summer, The Shetland Islands Council Economic Development Unit and Shetland Development Trust is going to merge and form the new Shetland Community Development Trust, which will own the new abattoir facility.

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