Tynwald has unanimously approved £1.6m funding for the refurbishment of the government-owned abattoir – in a move described as a fundamental step for the agriculture sector.
The revamp of the plant will come to just over £2.26m, with an extra £439,000 coming from the Agricultural Development Fund and £227,000 from Isle of Man Meats. Subvention payments have been agreed at £610,000 for 2014, £480,000 for 2015 and £380,000 for 2016.
A new 15-year lease has been agreed with Isle of Man Meats.
Agriculture Minister Phil Gawne told Tynwald the existing facility was now 18 years old and a large amount of its equipment needed replacing. ‘This is really quite a fundamental step for the agriculture sector.’
He said the meat plant provided an important route to market for farmers and without it, the alternative would be live exports.
Speaker Steve Rodan asked whether any consideration had been given to replacing the abattoir with a smaller plant geared just for the local market. Alfred Cannan (Michael) said he would support the move but pointed out it was not a cheap option for the taxpayer.
The Minister admitted the current plant was too big. He said the option of building a smaller replacement plant had been considered but this would have cost three times as much.
Graham Crowe, chairman of Isle of Man Meats, said: ‘This refurbishment is essential to ensure that the business can continue to operate.’
Brian Brumby, president of Manx National Farmers’ Union, said: ‘It is important that Manx farmers have the option of a local meat plant.’