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Three hundred new Norfolk jobs set to be created

PUBLISHED: 16:00 01 June 2010 | UPDATED: 16:59 01 July 2010

Stephanie Brooks

Up to 300 jobs could be created in south Norfolk as proposals to form one of the largest halal meat production operations in Europe take shape.

Up to 300 jobs could be created in south Norfolk as proposals to form one of the largest halal meat production operations in Europe take shape.

Plans are on the cards to expand the Simply Halal abattoir, at Moor Farm, near Banham, into a centre, which will also include a cutting plant, packaging department and training centre for staff.

The meat, which is slaughtered according to Islamic law, would be shipped around the UK and France.

The venture, to be called the European Halal Food Park, is being project-managed by meat industry consultants NPD Services, which received a boost last week when the scheme was awarded a British Retail Consortium accreditation.

This will kick-start the plans by allowing existing production on the site to be trebled, creating 16 new jobs straight away, which will be advertised within the next month.

Nigel Weaver, managing director of NPD Services, said “We have been looking at other sites around the country for a couple of years. Everywhere else we looked at needed planning permission, which is a lot of capital investment to begin with.

“When we came by Banham we realised that the facilities were already there. Only 20pc of the site is currently being used and it's all EU licensed.”

Although Mr Weaver said other companies had already shown interest in investing in the project, the next stage of the scheme will be to approach the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) for some financial backing.

The food park will then look to diversify its products on offer, for example producing items such as burgers, kebabs and marinades to supply the catering market.

If all goes to plan, the food park is expected to employ about 100 people within 12 months and up to 300 by the end of three years.

It will be the first 100pc halal meat operation in Europe, and although the products are aimed at Muslims, the new jobs will be on offer to people from all backgrounds.

Mr Weaver said: “We realise we could have a skills shortage because the workforce around here may not have worked in the meat industry. We will build a training centre because we want to invest in the local community by bringing in the young lads and training them up.”

Are you starting up a new business? Call reporter Sam Williams on 01603 772447 or email sam.williams@archant.co.uk

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