Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) has been working closely with representatives of Tulip Ltd, Scottish Pig Producers (SSP) and Scotlean following the recent fire at the QPL Brechin pig processing plant.
The Brechin abattoir run by QPL – a collaboration involving Tulip, SPP and Scotlean – is currently unable to operate while repairs to the buildings are undertaken.
“Clearly this is a blow for the Scottish pig industry and it is particularly galling that this damage has occurred soon after the opening of the increased capacity at the site following a period of significant investment,” said Jim McLaren, Chairman of QMS
“The processing capacity at Brechin accounts for around two-thirds of the pigs slaughtered in Scotland and QMS is keen to support the Scottish pig and pork industry to limit the impact of the temporary closure of this abattoir, including any animal welfare implications.”
Following consultation with the companies involved, the Scottish SPCA and wider industry representatives, QMS has decided to grant a temporary derogation. This will allow pigs eligible for the Specially Selected Pork brand, which would have been slaughtered at Brechin, to be slaughtered in an abattoir run by Tulip at Ashton.
The derogation has been offered following an inspection visit this week to Tulip’s Ashton processing plant by QMS, the Scottish SPCA and QMS’s quality assurance certification provider, Acoura.
The derogation is subject to stringent conditions and will be reviewed weekly.
“QMS has very carefully considered the wider implications of this decision and also sought advice relating to animal welfare from the Scottish SPCA,” said Mr McLaren.
“The fire at the QPL premises at Brechin – which is responsible for over 60% of the Scottish pig slaughter capacity – has created an exceptional set of circumstances.
“Our decision to grant a temporary derogation reflects that exceptional situation and has been taken in the best interests of the Scottish pig industry and the Specially Selected Pork brand.”
The government has also responded to the specific circumstances of the fire and the Department for Transport has agreed to a temporary and limited, emergency relaxation of the enforcement of EU drivers’ hours rules for drivers involved in the transport of live pigs from farms in Scotland to abattoirs in England.
This temporary relaxation applies from Monday 21 August and will run until Sunday 17 September. It will apply only to livestock transporters holding a Long Journey Transporter authorisation (Type 2) and drivers holding a Certificate of Professional Competence specifically for pigs and who are involved in the delivery of live pigs from Scottish farms to abattoirs in England. The department reserves the right to withdraw the relaxation earlier if circumstances change.
The department said driver safety must not be compromised. Drivers should not be expected to drive whilst tired – employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users.
For the drivers and work in question, the EU drivers’ hours rules will be temporarily relaxed as follows:
Raising the fortnightly driving limit from 90 hours to 103 hours.
All other requirements remain unchanged and will continue to be rigorously enforced.
The practical implementation of the temporary relaxation should be through agreement between employers and employees and/or driver representatives.
The drivers in question must note on the back of their tachograph charts or printouts the reasons why they are exceeding the normally permitted limits. This is usual practice in emergencies and is, of course, essential for enforcement purposes.
The temporary relaxation of the rules described above reflects the exceptional circumstances of the closure of operations at the Brechin Abattoir as a result of a fire on 5 August. The department wishes to emphasise that, as a general rule, we expect business to plan for and manage the risks of disruption to supply chains.