ISLANDERS are facing a lack of local meat products this Christmas after Storm Ciarán caused “extensive damage” to the abattoir – which will remain closed until the middle of December.
Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet described the situation as a “massive blow” to the Island’s farming industry, while a farmer has warned that customers will be left with “what we can get through the UK” heading into the Christmas holidays.
Deputy Binet said that repair efforts had also been “complicated” by the presence of asbestos in the facility’s roof – and that a deep clean would be required before electrical issues could be addressed.
The JEP understands that the abattoir was out of action before the storm, resulting in a backlog of cattle for some farmers.
Deputy Binet said: “I’m pleased we’ve now been given clearance to begin repairs to the roof, which is complicated by the presence of asbestos, and we can now begin to make the building watertight again.
“We’ll then need to do a deep clean of the building to make sure any potential asbestos fibres are removed before we can sort the electrics, as we also had water coming in through the light fittings.
“The chillers have suffered from water damage too as they were under the worst-hit section of roof.”
He continued: “There is, unfortunately, a large amount of work that needs to be done before we can open again. The department wrote to farmers at the end of last week to explain the situation, and to outline that we hope to reopen the facility in the middle of December.
“I have real sympathy with the industry for what is, understandably, a massive blow for them, particularly at this time of year. I can reassure all those affected that the team are working their hardest to get the abattoir back up and running as quickly as possible following the storm damage.”
Kate Hackett, of Brooklands Farm, said the situation had “come at a bad time” and warned that customers seeking local meat products this Christmas would find “nothing”.
She continued: “I’ve spent the day ringing customers. You’re not going to get any Jersey beef or pork as the abattoir reopens on the 18th, we close our books on the 2nd so we know what’s going in.
“It’s really what we can get through the UK – that’s where we are [at the moment].”
The president of the Jersey Farmers Union, Peter Le Maistre, agreed that it was “a big blow” for the industry.
He added: “November is usually a busy time, obviously it is coming up to Christmas and, as I understand it, there was a backlog of cattle.”