The number of Scottish pigs that can be transported to English slaughterhouses in the wake of the Brechin abattoir fire has been boosted to 12,000 a week following a Department of Transport extension to drivers’ hours.
There are no other large pig abattoirs in Scotland so around 6000 pigs have already been sent south to the Tulip UK plant at Ashton-Under-Lyne near Manchester since the blaze at Brechin in the early morning of August 5.
Grampian Pig Producers chief executive Andy McGowan said the relaxation in drivers hours would make a huge difference and allow hauliers to complete five or six journeys in a fortnight rather than the current limit of four.
“Hauliers have been putting in a colossal effort and this will add 50% capacity to the fleet. It means we will be able to get all pigs away and there will be no backlog,” he said.
The fire caused no major structural damage to the main pig production area of the Brechin plant and the clean up has already started. Mr McGowan said contractors had also been employed to do repairs which would begin soon.
He added: “We’re optimistic we’ll get back up and running quickly but in the meantime we’re very grateful for the speedy response by the Department of Transport and the Scottish Government.”
The temporary relaxation of drivers hours was welcomed by Rural Secretary Fergus Ewing.
“This measure is essential for the welfare of animals and the effective operation of the supply chain,” he said.
“We want to support the affected businesses and industry as best we can whilst repairs to the facility are carried out.
“This will still be a challenge for the industry, given the limited pool of authorised drivers and trucks, but we stand ready to offer further assistance where we can. In the longer term, the Scottish Government will continue to work with the industry to explore opportunities to boost resilience in the Scottish pig processing sector.”
The temporary relaxation to hours raises the fortnightly driving limit from 90 hours to 103 hours but the weekly limit will remain at 56 hours. The only deliveries included are those carrying live pigs from Scotland to England, from August 21 until September 17.
Enquiries are continuing into the cause of the fire.