Council approves slaughterhouse expansion plan in Essex

Essex-based Cheale Meats has been given permission to expand its operations by building a new slaughterhouse on green belt land.

Brentwood Borough Council has approved the application from the family-owned business to build the additional 5,055sq m of floorspace across three separate buildings at Orchard Farm in West Horndon.

The new facility will consist of a meat processing building, a food storage building with roof-mounted solar panels, an HGV maintenance building, new access and staff parking, and enhanced landscaping

See also: Analysis: How can the small abattoir sector be saved?

The development will include a combined heat and power plant, which will provide energy for the whole facility and could cut carbon emissions by up to 30%.

Cheale Meats says the new facility will enable a “significant increase” in current production for UK wholesale. It will also help secure 120 jobs on the existing site and create a further 43 jobs.

The council’s decision is a massive boost for the company, which said it had faced “unprecedented challenges”. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, its energy costs to operate its abattoir had tripled from £35,000 a month in January 2021 to £106,000 a month in February 2022.

Cheale Meats has been operating in Brentwood for more than 30 years as a family-owned and run farm, producing Red Tractor-approved pork.

It currently supplies about 300t of meat a week for the UK market, in the form of carcasses, and 400t of meat a week for export to mainland Europe.

The 2001 outbreak of foot and mouth disease was first detected at the Cheale Meats abattoir when a worker noticed pigs limping and alerted a vet.