Pledge to continue abattoir fight

By David GreenA FIRM behind a scheme to create a £2million abattoir on a former airfield said it would lodge an appeal after councillors rejected the project.

By David Green

A FIRM behind a scheme to create a £2million abattoir on a former airfield said it would lodge an appeal after councillors rejected the project.

More than 650 letters of support for the scheme, many of them from farmers, were received by Mid Suffolk District Council, while 60 letters of objection were also sent to the authority.

But members of the council's area planning committee voted yesterday 6-1 to refuse planning permission after hearing a plea on behalf of existing companies on the proposed abattoir site at Eye Business Park.

They concluded there was a need to protect the viability of existing firms on the site.

C&K Meats, of Brome, was seeking planning permission to create a “state-of-the-art” abattoir and processing plant at Eye Business Park so it could move its operations and its existing abattoir from Earsham, near Bungay.

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The abattoir was built many years ago and, according to C&K Meats, it was not financially viable to improve it to meet tighter regulations from the Government and the EU.

It argued there was a strong need for a new and larger multi-species abattoir to protect the local economy and avoid farmers having to send livestock on long journeys for slaughter.

C&K Meats had voluntarily agreed to subject the new plant - to be created by converting a warehouse at the airfield - to the highest level of surveillance by the Environment Agency.

But food firms on the site, which already employs 500 people, expressed concern about the risk of flies, smell and wind-blown contaminants and the loss of customers who demanded strict hygiene conditions.

Heather Britton, representing the companies, told yesterday's planning meeting that the business park was the “wrong location” for a slaughterhouse and felt other sites should be examined.

She claimed many of the people who had signed a standard letter in support of the abattoir scheme were unaware of the proximity of other food producers.

But Peter Mortimer, a pig farmer from Metfield, told councillors: “A new abattoir is desperately needed within Suffolk to avoid farmers having to send their animals to north of Norwich or to Bedforshire.

“If you are concerned about the welfare of animals and the livelihoods of farmers, then this is the chance to do something about it.”

Norman Bagley, policy director of the Independent Association of Meat Suppliers, said the abattoir proposal satisfied Government policy on improving animal welfare and reducing food miles.

Speaking after the meeting, Chris and Kevin Burrows, proprietors of C&K Meats, said they would be lodging a formal appeal.

“We need to relocate to push forward in the future and Eye Airfield is the best place in terms of our suppliers, customers and staff,” added Kevin Burrows.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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