Isles of Scilly - Capacity for Change

 

The Isles of Scilly Capacity for Change project has had a long gestation period but over the past few years a considerable amount of effort and work has been undertaken in order to bring it to a conclusion.  The following paragraphs will set this work in context and the relevance of the documents produced as part of the project will be explained.  Ideally they should be read in chronological order.  A steering group of local stakeholders has been involved throughout the process and are now working to deliver the recommendations outlined in the final report.

This may or may not result in an application for funding towards an abattoir but leaving that aside the following successes have already been achieved:-

  • A dedicated agri environment scheme for the Isles of Scilly specifically designed to improve the management of the landscape through the introduction of livestock.

  • A greater awareness of the local market opportunity for meat and meat products.

  • Improved communication between livestock producers and other users of land on the islands with a view to working together in the future.

  • An agreement from the Duchy of Cornwall to be flexible with tenancy agreements where possible in order to facilitate grazing opportunities across different holdings.

  • Increased awareness of the support available to farms from the RDPE. This will hopefully include inclusion of the islands in the activity of the Bodmin Moor Livestock Initiative that relates to the health of animals reared on the islands.

The body of work produced to date includes the following:

1.  Objective One application for the development of livestock production and processing on the Isles of Scilly.  - A business plan developed to meet the project objectives of funding the introduction of livestock and shared management and handling systems, and an abattoir and processing / marketing facility. This was used to support an application for funding from the Objective One Programme.

2.   Evaluation of the abattoir business plan on the Isles of Scilly  – Given the scale of the proposed investment, Government Office South West (as the managers of the Objective One Programme) instructed the Cornwall Agricultural Council to commission an independent review of the abattoir project as they had concerns about the viability of the project.  This was part of their due diligence process.  Following the results of this work is was decided to withdraw the abattoir application but further funds were approved to assist the proposers of the project to develop a stronger business case.

3.  Specific Project for Agriculture on Scilly.  Studies to investigate the capacity for change in farms on Scilly – previous work undertaken identified that considering the business case for an abattoir on St Mary’s in isolation to the wider benefit of increased livestock production on the islands i.e. land management benefits, rotational benefits, resilience of the meat supply chain, etc was not presenting the benefits to best effect.  This document is a culmination of farmer surveys, market research surveys, etc. Holistic in its approach, and funded by Objective One, the study was designed to assist better understanding of the complimentary nature of each of the many  agricultural/horticultural and land management practices on the islands, with an emphasis on livestock production and processing.

4.  Isles of Scilly Capacity for Change.  Abattoir Project – in order to bring some closure to the Capacity for Change project a final piece of work was commissioned that would build on all previous work.  This document was presented to the project steering group who accepted its findings and has now disbanded.  The recommendations are now being driven by a group of livestock producers in conjunction with the Duchy of Cornwall Land Steward.