By RYAN TAYLOR
RESIDENTS in Scalloway have launched a petition against controversial plans for a new slaughterhouse in the village.
Over 80 signatures have been put on the list since it was placed in both shops – the Checkout and Scalloway Meat Company – as well as the local post office over the festive period.
It follows a public meeting before Christmas where members of Shetland Abattoir Co-operative Limited (SACL) – the body hoping to set up the slaughter house in the former No Catch building in Blydoit – were grilled by residents against the plans.
They say the building lies too close to East Voe’s burgeoning residential schemes which have been built up in recent years.
Some fear the value of their houses would suffer, while others maintain increased traffic of farm vehicles to the abattoir could pose a danger to children playing in the area.
However, one of the men behind the proposal said he would be “concerned for democracy” if the petition did not set out its concerns and objections.
SACL spokesman Ronnie Eunson said he feared people could sign their names without fully understanding what the complaints are in the first place.
The petition gives no reasons for the objections, simply reading: “We the undersigned are totally against the proposed slaughterhouse at Blydoit, East Voe, Scalloway.”
The application is expected to be heard by the planning committee in the spring.
East Voe resident Arthur Williamson, a former owner of several fish factories in the isles, is behind the petition.
He said it was an ideal way for residents to put across their views on the issue.
Mr Williamson said: “Other than speaking to the council how do people voice their opinions?
“There are certainly a lot of signatures, as the petition has been left at the two shops and the post office.
“Hopefully that will mean common sense will prevail.”
He added the old fish factory was in an unsuitable location for the abattoir.
“My view is a slaughterhouse may be essential for crofters and farmers of Shetland, but for residents of Scalloway it’s not the place to set up a killing house alongside a brand new housing scheme.
“To say there will be no smell, and no noise, that just doesn’t happen. And animals do escape from time to time.
“SACL also made the point there would be much less traffic, but that’s not correct at all. There was traffic when No Catch was here.”
Mr Eunson said the slaughterhouse would be no closer to people’s houses than any other industrial premises.
“An abattoir operation is no different from any other industrial process, and it’s one that is absolutely critical to the food industry,” he said.
“The process we’re proposing will be less obtrusive than most other industrial operations taking place.”
Asked whether he thought the abattoir would impact on the value of people’s houses, Mr Eunson said there was little evidence to prove that was the case.
“All I can say is the existing abattoir at Laxfirth there are a number of new houses being built in close proximity to it and I’ve not been aware of any difficulties.”
Mr Eunson said having the proposals put to the council would give opponents the opportunity to bring forward their concerns and objections.
“That’s the time to comment on it. We’ve never tried to run away from any criticisms and we are there to answer whatever folk ask of us.
“I would be concerned for democracy if someone has started a petition that says, ‘We’re against an abattoir, please sign below’.
“I would want to see something straightforward and measured. If there was a petition that said ‘XYZ’ and gave a clear outline of what the problem is, such as ‘It would bring down the value of my house’, that would be better.
“If there is a petition let’s hear what it’s a petition about so folk are not misinformed.