Mobile abattoirs - viability and sustainability: report

The findings of a study carried out to determine whether or not mobile slaughter units (MSUs) would be viable in Scotland.

7.0 Regulatory Review

Box 5. Key Findings from the Regulatory Review

There are no restrictions stated within the regulations that would prohibit the establishment of an MSU in Scotland. In terms of regulatory compliance and associated fees for OVs and MHI small throughput MSUs would be able to claim discounts in the same way as other abattoirs currently operating in the country.

7.1 Overview

Recent abattoir closures in Scotland have been considered in the context of the extent to which regulations impacted on these. Through conversations with many different stakeholders there are varying degrees of influence in terms of how regulations do, and could impact on viability of MSUs. This section of the report considers the impacts, opportunities and areas of uncertainty in terms of how existing regulations may impact on the viability of mobile abattoir infrastructure operating in Scotland in the future.

The regulatory review is split into two steps:

  • Desk-based research to identify questions/matters to be subsequently covered with the key stakeholders.
  • Engagement with the key stakeholders responsible for implementing regulations, policy and developing this in the future.

The outcomes of the Regulatory Review are shown in detail in Appendix 4, and are summarised here.

7.2 Desk-based Review

The FSS website provides a full list of the pertinent legislation with respect to relevant regulations[26] which do not need to be repeated here, but for indicative purposes the following represents a significant body of these regulations with respect to MSU operations:

  • Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995.
  • EU Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 laying down specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin.
  • Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006.
  • Food Hygiene (Scotland) Regulations 2006.
  • Cattle Identification (Scotland) Regulations 2007.
  • EU Regulation (EC) No 1069/2009 laying down health rules as regards animal by-products and derived products not intended for human consumption (Animal by-products Regulation).
  • EU Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing.
  • Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (Scotland) Regulations 2010.
  • Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (Scotland) Regulations 2012.
  • Animal By-Products (Enforcement) (Scotland) Regulations 2013.

It should be noted that Regulation (EC) 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing which came into force across Europe on 1 January 2013 involved some measures in relation to layout, construction and equipment in existing slaughterhouses which did not come into effect until December 2019. Although written for England, the DEFRA Information Note “Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing in England” has a summary of the implications. For illustrative purposes, some of the areas impacted by this include stunning methods, lairage facilities, restraining equipment, slaughterhouse approvals, etc.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and Veterinary Public Health Association (VPHA) made a joint response to the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) abattoir provision enquiry (in March 2019). In this it mentions that the role of mobile abattoirs should be further explored to create more opportunities for on-farm slaughter. The compliance requirements referred to in this response are very much related to the operational aspects of a future MSU service, and the desk-based review therefore considers these in detail, structured in terms of the following:

  • Animal health and welfare at slaughter
  • Biosecurity
  • Food safety
  • Safe lairage
  • Potable supply of water
  • Facilities for the disposal of animal by-products
  • Suitable facilities for the dressing and movement of carcases

The findings from researcing the above are summarised in the appendix and where applicable, discussed with the key stakeholders identified in the next section. Where available the requirements from schemes operated by QMS, the Soil Association and the Scottish Organic Producers Association (SOPA) are also considered with respect to the above.

7.3 Engagement with Stakeholders

Through the desk-based research and discussions with the Scottish Government (SG) Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services (RESAS), the wider Animal Health and Welfare teams, and FSS, a number of key stakeholders were discussed and confirmed as targets for engagement.

Meetings and telephone discussions with individuals within the following organisations were held to gain an insight into the regulatory landscape that influences the potential operation of future MSUs, covering the potential issues, opportunities and any areas of uncertainty identified from the desk-based work:

  • SG Animal Health and Welfare
  • Food Standards Scotland (FSS)
  • Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA)
  • Local Authority Planning Department
  • Local Authority Animal Welfare
  • Environmental Health
  • Building Standards
  • Council Roads Department
  • SEPA
  • QMS

As mentioned previously the detailed consultation responses for the other stakeholders mentioned above are provided in the appendix, with a number of extracts from this shown in the following table for indicative purposes. A number of the comments selected for the table are those with particular relevance to the feasibility of MSUs, considered in the cost benefit analysis later.
At a meeting with SG RESAS it was commented that with regards to the regulation of any future MSU the key regulatory bodies are national and therefore there would be no local variations or issues associated with its operations.

Table 3. Extracts of key stakeholder feedback
Stakeholder Comments
FSS For a small throughput MSU operation the OV and MHI charges would be discounted, in the same way as currenly applies to operational, small throughput, fixed abattoirs:

“The discount is applied accumulatively to LSU levels: an FBO producing 6,000 LSU would receive 85% discount for the first 1,000, 70% discount for the next 4,000 and 21% discount for the remaining 1,000.”

The application assessment process, in terms of authorising an MSU service, could be made on the basis of both the tractor/trailer unit and the docking station locations being considered together, with this accompanied by the appropriate methodologies, risk assessments etc.
LA Planning An MSU will not require full planning permission unless it is to be located at a site for more than 28 days within a year.
LA Animal Welfare & Env. Health FSS are the main regulators, however the local authority may be the competent authority for small-scale poultry facilities. The officer felt that an MSU would be relatively low-risk.
LA Building Standards An MSU would not be covered by Building Standards. If the MSU was to utilise the existing drainage network for example, at a docking station, then they may have some input, however it would be in relation to the fixed infrastructure.
LA Roads There may be some restrictions on movements dependent upon the size and weight of the MSU, and this may influence potential routes that can be taken. All local authorities have details of the various restrictions and permits/ exemption maps and procedures for information.
SEPA SEPA would not have a role in the regulation of an MSU from a waste management perspective. There may be other requirements, site specific, if there are emissions, nuisance etc.
APHA The APHA is responsible for regulating the control of ABPs. There were no obstacles or barriers identified in terms of establishing an MSU and a view that indicated the fees and compliance requirements would be considered in the same way that any other process, service etc generated ABPs.
Scottish Water Effluent from a mobile slaughter unit would be deemed to be trade effluent and as such each site at which the unit would be operated would need to apply for consent, the granting of which will be dependent on the local capacity.
QMS The development of docking stations was believed to be the most practical and economic method of operating an MSU. There were some concerns raised about the availability of slaughtermen and vets, but QMS believe that there should be no issues that are insurmountable.



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