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NFU Scotland pledges support for Orkney abattoir
Published:  18 January, 2018

NFU Scotland has pledged its commitment to finding a solution to the closure of Orkney’s only abattoir. 

The Haston-based abattoir had been run by a local butchers’ consortium, Orkney Meat Processors, but was shut down last week after Orkney Islands Council withdrew access to the premises.

The slaughterhouse, which had been leased and operated on a reduced basis since 2012, was too big for current throughput and in need of significant reinvestment, according to the council, which had spent almost £1m over the last five years in a bid to keep it open.

 NFU Scotland Livestock committee chairman Charlie Adam described the sudden closure of the abattoir as a “disappointing development”.

“Without an abattoir operating on the island the Orkney Beef PDO (Protected Designation of Origin status) and Orkney Lamb PDO cannot be used,” he said. “The closure also causes a major difficulty in the production of North Ronaldsay mutton, which is vital to the small community.”

The union said it was looking to work with stakeholders and authorities, both locally and at national level, in a hope to find both short- and long-term solutions to the issue.

In December, the council said it would make up to £50,000 available to encourage the private sector to become directly involved in developing a solution to the challenge of providing sustainable abattoir services in Orkney.

 The funds would be made available to support a range of pre-project development costs, including market research, feasibility studies, business planning, and succession planning, it said.

 Adam added: “Clearly, all parties must get around the table to explore market opportunities and to assess available options. The abattoir has at times provided a necessary service for farmers and crofters on Orkney and it is only sensible that discussions take place between farmers, local butchers, Orkney Islands Council, the Scottish government and other relevant stakeholders on the future of production on the islands. While the majority of livestock already leaves Orkney for further finishing or slaughter, the abattoir provided a convenient destination, and provided PDO-backed local provenance, which is of particular importance to the tourist trade.”