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Business / Meat company warns of future supply chain impact following Co-op decision

The Co-op store would be built in East Voe on land pictured at the left hand side of this image. The pathway which runs through the site will be re-routed. Photo: Shetland News

THE SHAREHOLDERS behind one of Scalloway’s local shops say they are “disappointed” that a new Co-op store at East Voe has been given planning consent.

Scalloway Meat Company believes it will result in a “negative impact on the local supply chain”.

The £1.2 million store near the junction to East Voe was given the go-ahead by Shetland Islands Council’s planning committee on Monday.

Planning officers recommended that the application be approved as they said it complied with relevant policy and would provide employment, enhance shopping provision and “contribute to the viability” of Scalloway.

They reiterated that the “planning system in Scotland does not protect the interests of individual businesses that are likely to be in competition with one another”.

It came after a similar sized Co-op store in Sandwick received planning permission from officers in October.

The proposals, which could generate 40 part-time and full-time jobs between them, have received a decidedly mixed response in the community – with some concerned they will have a negative impact on the existing Shetland business eco-system.

Worries have been raised that not only will it affect local shops, but it will also in turn impact the supply chain.

Speaking after Monday’s decision, the directors of the Scalloway Meat Company said: “We are disappointed that, despite significant opposition within the local community to this development, the planning committee has approved the application.

“This project will without doubt have a negative impact on the local supply chain, from wholesalers and producers to retailers, and will ultimately result in a reduction in choice for consumers, longer supply chains and reduced community resilience.

“This appears to run counter to the Scottish Government’s stated aims of increasing availability of local food for all and creating short circular supply chains.”

The new Scalloway Meat Company directors, from left to right: Sarah Kerr, Eric Graham, John Alex Cromarty, Margaret Roberts. Ross Keith is not present.

Earlier this year John Alex Cromarty, Eric Graham, Ross Keith, Sarah Kerr and Margaret Roberts became shareholders in the company after buying the business.

Meanwhile Shetland Food and Drink manager Claire White also expressed concern at both Co-ops getting the go-ahead.

“I think beyond all the current talk of material planning considerations, we as a collective are asking ourselves: who is looking out for Shetland long-term – our producers, dairy, abattoir, wholesalers, retailers, small businesses,” she said.

“It’s their livelihoods that are going to be affected directly imminently.”

But some on responding on social media to Monday’s decision say they are pleased with the prospect of a Co-op nearby – with increased choice and less need to travel to Lerwick two bonuses.

Alastair Ness of the Co-op property developer Seamount said the company consulted with the community and pointed to increased consumer choice as well as job creation.

Construction is due to begin in the middle of 2022.

After Monday’s meeting Shetland Central Moraig Lyall resigned from the planning committee amid concerns over the role elected members play in decision making.

But chair Emma Macdonald reiterated to Shetland News that the committee “is not based on opinion – it is based on planning law and legislation”.