A food park which will be a first for Europe and create up to 300 jobs is planned for south Norfolk.
Within a year, the European Halal Food Park will create about 100 jobs at Moor Farm, to the north west of Banham.
It will build on a small-scale, 100 per cent Halal meat abattoir and cutting plant currently running called Simply Halal, where meat is slaughtered according to Islamic law.
The site is being project-managed by meat industry consultants NPD Services.
Its managing director Nigel Weaver said: “This is going to be the first 100 per cent Halal food park in Europe,
“We have been looking at other sites in the country, but other sites meant planning permission which could take several years. We were surprised that all the facilities are here and the plant has an EU licence.
“The site is only 20 per cent in use.”
The first stage according to Mr Weaver is to get British Retail Consortium accreditation, which should happen within weeks, which will allow the doubling of production and attract more customers.
Within the coming weeks, about 16 people are planned to be taken on to cope with increased production.
Mr Weaver said: “We realise there may be skill shortages in the area in areas like slaughtering.
“We will put a training school on site to train individuals.
“One thing we are conscious of is the need to create jobs for local people and invest in local staff – they do not have to be Muslims.”
The next stage of the site, which has 10,000 sq ft of unused units, will be a production to “add value” to the meat processed, which is currently beef, mutton and lamb, by making items such as burgers and kebabs.
The third stage would be to create a retail packaging operation, within about three years, which could see the extra 200 staff taken on.
Mr Weaver said he has a number of interested parties willing to invest in the site, and is in talks with the East of England Development Agency about putting capital into the food park.
Mr Weaver said the site would target the large Muslim population in the UK and in Europe and said local farmers would be used.
District councillor for Banham Steven Askew had not heard about the plans, but said: “Anything that creates jobs in a community will be looked upon favourably.”
Source: Diss Express