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2m Abattoir For Caithness

31st January 2007

A brand new abattoir is set to open in Caithness following grant approval by HIE Caithness and Sutherland.

Local businessman John Sutherland plans to develop a 2.3million purpose-built abattoir on the outskirts of Keiss, eight miles north of Wick.

Mr Sutherland bought Wick's existing slaughtering facility in 2003 but as it has been in operation since 1874 and the building no longer meets the legislative standards required by the local authority.

Consequently Mr Sutherland has developed an ambitious plan to build modern premises outwith the town and establish a new company, Caithness Beef and Lamb Ltd. He proposes to launch a range of 'Caithness' branded meat products and forge links with other local producers.

As well as providing around 15 full-time jobs the facility has the potential to encourage more Caithness farmers to finish animals locally, adding value to the product within the local economy. Around 70 per cent of all cattle and sheep are transported out of the Highlands for finishing but it's estimated that farmers have spare stocking capacity which could be used for finishing locally. The new premises will also provide a local slaughtering option, reducing the need for animals to be transported longer distances with advantages for quality, health and wealth.

The proposal, has already secured grant approval of 802,200 from the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD) under the Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme and the grant support from HIE Caithness and Sutherland of 343,500 completes the necessary funding package.

Carroll Buxton, Area Director of HIE Caithness and Sutherland said: "We are pleased to support this proposal which will modernise a key service for the agricultural industry and provide new jobs. It holds excellent potential for the area's food and drink sector by adding value through meat processing, portioning and pre-packing.

"It will bring immediate benefits and offers long-term economic opportunities that HIE Caithness and Sutherland and SEERAD is keen to see fully explored."

Mr Sutherland commented: "This new factory will provide me with an increased ability to fulfil and supply my present customer base with a complete range of services which are not available at the moment. The added value side of the business will be completely new to Caithness and following two years of research, my staff and I are confident we can provide a broad and exciting range of quality consumable products.

"I very much wish to thank SEERAD and HIE Caithness and Sutherland for supporting this project and for supporting the county of Caithness. Local farmers will have an added advantage for their future buying, breeding and finishing by using my special viewing area to see their product being graded and weighed.

"I will endeavour to liaise closely with the whole supply chain to bring Caithness together as one in creating a good future for our community."

The business plan also includes provision for a slaughter and processing service to local pig producers. Their nearest provision is currently at West Lothian.

It's hoped the facility will be operational by August this year.