Abattoir plans given go-ahead
CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new £1.5million abattoir have been given the go-ahead following a week-long public inquiry.Inquiry inspector, Laura Graham, has rejected arguments put forward by Mid Suffolk District Council and existing food firms on the Eye Business Park and has granted full planning permission for the development, which may now start within two or three months.
By David Green
CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new £1.5million abattoir have been given the go-ahead following a week-long public inquiry.
Inquiry inspector, Laura Graham, has rejected arguments put forward by Mid Suffolk District Council and existing food firms on the Eye Business Park and has granted full planning permission for the development, which may now start within two or three months.
C & K Meats, which lodged an appeal against the district council's refusal of planning permission, said the decision would secure the firm's future and the jobs of nearly 100 people currently working at Brome and at Earsham, near Bungay where an outdated abattoir is reaching the end of its lifetime.
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Farmers within a 25-mile radius also welcomed the go-ahead for the new abattoir, which will avoid them having to send livestock on long, uneconomic journeys to slaughterhouses elsewhere.
The inquiry decision was greeted with relief in Yaxley where residents had been opposing even more controversial “alternative” plans put forward by the abattoir firm - to use a greenfield site in the village.
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However, existing food firms on Eye Business Park said they were bitterly disappointed and would have to consider their future on the site.
The firms claimed at the inquiry that there would be a real or perceived risk of airborne contamination from the plant and a consequent loss of confidence among customers.
But Miss Graham has concluded that the development would not have any adverse impact on the vitality and viability of the business park.
Stephen Appleby, boss of Brown and May, which employs 55 people in the production of ready-cooked food for the catering industry, said the firm had invested £3.8million in its premises over the past five years but was now likely to re-locate to another area because of the appeal decision.
“This business park has high class firms and had the potential to develop further along these lines but it will now become a dumping ground for businesses that can't get permission elsewhere,” he said.
Paul Greenhalgh of P. G. Horticulture, which imports products for distribution to nurseries and growers, said the inquiry decision “flies in the face of common sense”.
Mr Greenhalgh said use of land at the Eye Business Park was restricted by covenant: “C & K Meats may have got planning permission but they will not be able to implement it unless the district council removes the covenants. If it does so we will issue a lawsuit.”
Chris Burrows, joint owner of C & K Meats, thanked those who had gone to the inquiry to support the firm.
“Our future has been under a cloud for the past three and a half years but now we can go ahead,” he said.
“It is a huge decision for us and one which will enable us to push this company forward and give this area what it has always needed - a modern abattoir which will be among the best in Europe.”
Mr Burrows, whose firm will also operate a ready-cooked food business from the airfield site, said he was confident the fears of existing food firms would be dispelled once the new abattoir was in operation.
He added that once the company was “100% certain” there would be no further obstacles to development at Eye Business park it would withdraw the Yaxley application.
Dominic Richards, spokesman for the residents' group opposing plans to locate the abattoir at Yaxley, said: “We now urge the Burrows brothers to withdraw the application at Yaxley and end the uncertainty and stress of the past 12 months once and for all.”
Philip Isbell , the district council's principle planning officer, said: “We are disappointed the inspector chose not to agree with our concern that there would be a significant impact on existing employees and firms at the business park.”
He added that compliance with the covenants affecting the site was a matter for the council's legal team.
Nicola Currie, eastern region director for the Country Land and Business Association, said the inquiry decision had been greeted with “huge relief”.