Border abattoir facing closure
Published:  29 January, 2007

Local butchers in the Scottish borders may be forced to buy their meat from outside the region if the Borders' last abattoir is closed in the wake of a Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) report.

Fears have been expressed that re-approval of the Scottish Borders Abattoir (SBA) in Galashiels, which is required under the new EU hygiene regulations introduced in January 2006, may not be forthcoming due to what critics have described as over-zealous implementation by the MHS.

Christine Grahame, member of the Scottish Parliament has called on Scottish ministers to intervene and to investigate precisely what has led to the threat of closure.

She said that if the abattoir closed it would result in the loss of 30 jobs and a significant impact on the region.

Her calls have been backed by Douglas Scott, the chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders Association, who has written to the Food Standards Agency in Aberdeen to highlight the organisation's concerns. "It is vitally important that an abattoir is situated in the centre of one of Scotland's main livestock producing regions," he said.

"If the Borders abattoir were to close the impact on the meat industry distribution base would be devastating."

He added it would mean animals being taken 41 miles north of Linlithgow for slaughter. "This flies in the face of food miles, animal welfare and concern for the environment."

Hamish Deans, chairman of SBA, said that Food Standards Agency Scotland had advised him to go to court so he could continue slaughtering as he had not been re-issued a licence. Deans said he would be using the subsequent eight weeks grace granted by the court to carry out the work required.

FSA Scotland said it could not comment as the case was subject to legal proceedings.