Jersey's abattoir is to remain closed until the middle of December after suffering extensive damage during Storm Ciaran, in what the Infrastructure Minister has admitted is a "massive blow" to the island's farming industry.
Deputy Tom Binet said the repairs 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.
Express understands that the abattoir had already been out of action before the storm, resulting in a backlog of cattle for some farmers. The Government communicated this to farmers at the end of last week.
Following questions from Express, Deputy Binet confirmed that Storm Ciarán had dealt extensive damage to the building's roof and main structure, as well as its equipment.
Pictured: Panigot Farm in St Peter was among the local farms affected.
He 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."
Deputy Binet 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.”
Pictured: Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet.
President of the Jersey Farmers Union, Peter Le Maistre, agreed that it was "a big blow" for the industry.
"November is usually a busy time, obviously it is coming up to Christmas and, as I understand it, there was a backlog of cattle."
Kristina Le Feuvre was among those to be told of the issue by a local supplier, and took to X (the app formerly known as Twitter) to share her surprise and frustration.
"Jersey Farmers unable to sell their produce during the busiest selling month of the year. A tragedy when food security / food miles / farm security are top of the agenda," she wrote.
Lots of emails and Facebook posts, cancelling crucial meat sales for the festive period.— Kristina Le Feuvre (@Krislefeuvre) November 17, 2023
Jersey Farmers unable to sell their produce during the busiest selling month of the year.
A tragedy when food security / food miles / farm security are top of the agenda. pic.twitter.com/LUEvL0gVOm
She was among those to suggest that temporary facilities – such as modular abattoir units brought in from the UK - could offer a solution, while others have queried whether compensation will be offered to the affected suppliers for the disruption at what is typically one of their busiest times of year.
Express posed both of these questions to Government over the weekend – and again following receipt of Deputy Binet's statement – but has not yet received a response.
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