A Scottish meat processing plant has been given the green light for construction in Aberdeenshire by the local council.
The project is expected to cost £17 million, and will be owned by Scotbeef.
Challenge to planning permission
The project almost got off to a tumultuous start, after planning permission was first given for the site on Thainstone Business Park, outside Inverurie. The original permission stipulation that the firm would have to improve roundabouts near the site in order to go ahead with the construction.
However, the manufacturer was not happy with this demand, and threatened that they would abandon the idea entirely if they did not remove the stipulations. They argued that the improvements would not be necessary and that it was an unfair ask. Subsequently, councillors in the Garioch area committee voted on the issue, and they decided unanimously to back the plans.
This means that the project can now go ahead as intended. The Director of Infrastructure Services, Stephen Archer, said that the site was a suitable location for this kind of food recruitment development. This meant that the development was acceptable to go ahead in terms of both employment and business land, two key areas that needed to be met
He added: “In addition, it is considered that this proposal complies with all other relevant policies, in that it is unlikely that this development will cause any adverse amenity impacts on the surrounding area nor will [it] impact the character or landscape of the area.”
New site movement
Now that the way is clear, construction will go ahead. After it is completed, Scotbeef will be moving their production from their existing site in the town’s North Street area. They will move to a new 8,856m2 facility, which is based on 7.5 acres of land. The company have revealed that they will be able to double their capacity as a result of moving to the new site, and that they will also create up to 30 new food jobs for the local area.
The plan is sadly far behind schedule already, however, as a result of the delays. Scotbeef had first announced plans for their new plant back in October last year. They originally wanted to begin construction in April 2018, with April 2019 then suggested as the date for the completion of the project.
These plans were ambitious and secure enough to get them a £4 million grant through the Scottish Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation Fund, which has now been waiting for eight months to come to fruition.
The National Farmers Union Scotland had also put out statements urging the Aberdeenshire Council to rethink their decision and approve the construction of the site. They called it a “huge opportunity for investment in the north east, which will bring jobs and a modern, state of the art food processing site”.
Everyone on both sides will be happy that the protests have now been heard, and that the project is back on track. The manufacturer has not released a new start and end date for the construction plans, but it feels certain that they will not be able to move into the new site this side of 2020. That will be very disappointing for the company, who obviously felt that they would be able to improve their profits and capacity at the new site – and for locals who could have been enjoying the benefits of the construction work and the new permanent roles within the factory.
Stay tuned to find out when the roles when become available, closer to the opening date of the site.