SHETLAND’S independent food and drink sector is urging local politicians to fully assess and understand the likely impact of two new Co-op stores being built in Shetland’s larger villages of Scalloway and Sandwick.
The proposal by the Manchester based national retailer was this week discussed by the member businesses of Shetland Food and Drink.
The organisation represents 85 local food and drink businesses ranging from small producers, independent shops, farming and crofting businesses, wholesalers, the local dairy to tour guides, hotels and B&Bs.
The Co-op has lodged plans to invest £1.2 million into creating two new convenience stores with the local planning authority. The company said this would create 30 new jobs.
But last week, local wholesalers said rather than creating new jobs the move had the potential to destroy more than 100 jobs in small businesses across the isles.
On Thursday, Shetland Food and Drink added its voice to the growing controversy.
Manager Claire White said the group expects the planning department to explore the extent to which the Co-op’s proposed developments comply with principles set out in the Shetland Local Development Plan and other relevant policy before reaching a decision on planning consent.
“As a collective, our primary concern is for Shetland’s fragile food and drink sector. Our dairy, abattoir, independent shops, bakeries, farms, wholesalers and other suppliers operate symbiotically,” she said.
“This finely-tuned food ecosystem has evolved locally over many years in an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable way, yet the ecosystem remains precarious and needs active support.
“Developments of the type proposed by the Co-op in smaller population centres such as Scalloway and Sandwick represent a significant change to the status quo which will negatively affect many of our member businesses and the wider community, environment and economy.
“We feel it is essential that all impacts of these proposed developments are fully investigated and evaluated before significant external change is introduced into an already vulnerable local food and drink landscape.”
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