New abattoir opening is hailed ‘vital’

THE opening of a new �5million abattoir at Eye has been hailed as “a great day for Suffolk” and “vital” for its meat and livestock industry.

The plant has been created by brothers Chris and Kevin Burrows, who bought Lamberts, an ageing 1960s abattoir at Bungay, in 2000, and spent eight years working towards opening a 40,000sq ft modern facility at Eye, creating around 35 new jobs.

Saturday’s launch of the site, which combines Lamberts, a medium-sized abattoir, and meat processing plant C & K Meats, marks what its supporters view as a welcome reversal in a widespread trend towards abattoir closures.

Local food campaigner Lady Caroline Cranbrook performed the opening ceremony in front of an audience which included representatives of the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), which supported the project with �1.4million in grant aid, and representatives from the farming and livestock industries. Welcoming its arrival as “a great day for Suffolk”, she described it as a “one of the most modern, welfare-friendly, environmentally-sustainable abattoirs in Britain”.

With the closure of eight local abattoirs in recent years, Lamberts was the only medium-sized abattoir in Suffolk, she pointed out, although another small abattoir still operates in the west of the county.

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“It could not continue on the previous site and had to move,” she said. “If it had closed it would have been catastrophic. Medium-sized, multi-species abattoirs, such as Lamberts, are critically important for the meat and livestock industry.”

The plant, based at Potash Lane, includes carbon reduction features such as rainwater harvesting and refrigeration heat recovery systems.

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Kevin Burrows, who went into business with his brother in 1994 and lives close to him at nearby Brome, said they had been beset by teething problems with the pig slaughtering side when operations started at the abattoir four weeks ago, but most of these, including some computer-based issues, had been sorted out. They were still working on some problems which were preventing them from slaughtering sows, he said.

He admitted that the long struggle to set up the plant, which faced opposition from some local people, and the operational issues had made it a roller-coaster ride.

“I have never been through emotional turmoil like it – the highs and the lows of what I have tried to create have been huge,” he said. “Joy and tears from one day to the next.”

But he had been amazed by the “sheer mass” of phone calls and inquiries from livestock owners wanting to use the new facility.

“I have always believed this is a necessity but you do get to a point in the process where you do doubt yourself,” he said. “But that was the right decision. That’s how I feel at the moment. My head and my heart tell me it’s the right decision.”

The opening was welcomed by livestock farmers. Suffolk pig farmer Peter Mortimer said: “This is the best thing that has happened in the last 20 years for the East Anglian livestock community because all we get is closures, which means we have to go further.”

Lord Iveagh, who owns a large estate including a livestock operation at Elveden and is a member of the EEDA board, said it was “a happy day”. Chris Knock, EEDA’s rural development manager, had worked “flat out” of the project, he added.

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