A millennium of milling set to end? Folic acid proposals threat to Otterton Mill
PUBLISHED: 10:18 24 July 2019 | UPDATED: 10:18 24 July 2019
A millennium of milling in Otterton could grind to a halt if government plans get the green light.
Chris Wright, who runs Otterton Mill, has warned it is not 'financially or commercially' viable to make changes to the Grade II listed building to include folic acid in its flour production.
The government is consulting on proposals to make it mandatory for folic acid to be added to flour in a bid to reduce birth imperfections of the brain or spinal cord, also known as neural tube defects (NTDs).
Mr Wright is backing a petition launched by the Traditional Cornmillers Guild calling for smaller mills like the one in Otterton to be exempt.
The petition, addressed to MP Seema Kennedy, the parliamentary under-secretary for health and social care, has been signed by more than 1,700 people.
Mr Wright said there has been traditional milling in the village for more than 1,000 years and it is one of the oldest businesses in the world.
He said: "We just feel it's going to cause problems - it could stop us from producing our flour.
"From our point of view, it is important that we can continue that tradition of milling.
"I am not sure it is commercially or financially viable to make the changes needed - that's the problem.
"The working hasn't changed at Otterton Mill in 100 years so changing something of historical value would be very difficult.
"It's a Grade II listed building - we cannot just start knocking walls down and putting in modern equipment."
Mr Wright, who is also a recently-elected district councillor, said the government's solution to the problem of NTDs is a 'catch all' answer.
He wants to see smaller mills like Otterton, which produces around 25 tonnes of flour a year, given exemption.
Mr Wright said: "We can see why people are talking about folic acid but you have got to look at it on a case by case basis."
To take part in the government's consultation, which ends on September 9, this year, can click here
Anyone who wants to sign the Traditional Cornmiller's Guild petition can go click here