Representatives from Glenbia Co-op, international dairy producer Royal A-Ware and the Irish government today participated in the turning of sod on the site of a new continental cheese facility being built at Bellevue in Colcanie.
The development comes after a two-year planning saga that sparked much debate over the environmental impact of dairy farming and the planning process itself.
The new facility will produce the continental type of cheese and is expected to be operational in early 2024.
The facility, being built by Kilkenny Cheese Ltd., a joint venture between family-owned Dutch dairy producer Royal A-Ware and Glenbia Co-op, will have a footprint of 18,000 square metres.
It will produce over 50,000 tonnes of continental cheese per year, including varieties of Edam, Gouda and Emmental cheese, which will be brought to market by Royal A-Ware through their established channels.
The production facility will use approximately 450 million liters of milk from Glenbia milk suppliers each year.
Progress in the development of the new plant comes as milk prices hit an all-time high this year due to worldwide demand and lower production.
Notably, however, milk production by Glanbia suppliers has also come down due to a sharp jump in input prices in recent months.
Glenbia Co-op currently ships some milk for processing by third parties during peak months of milk supply; The company said the new facility will allow this milk to be brought in-house for processing.
First announced in January 2019, the two-year plan for the war plant concluded in February when the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by N Tas aimed at overturning planning permission for the project.
The project came under scrutiny five times: by Kilkenny Co-Council, En Board Planla, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
Opposing the project, En Tas argued that the upstream consequences of the proposed factory operation – that is, the potential environmental impact from milk produced on about 4,500 farms – should have been assessed by planning authorities under various EU regulations.
Today’s sod-turning was done by Taniste and Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar and Minister of Agriculture, Food and Marine Charlie McConaughey.
Welcoming the new development project in the southeast, Tanist said it was an honor to commission Watan at the new facility and described it as a huge boost for the southeast.
“The UK’s decision to leave the EU was a seismic event for Ireland’s agricultural food sector and employs over 163,000 people.
“Seven years after the decision took effect and two years after it took effect, the picture is more hopeful than we could have ever imagined. Employment has been relatively stable and the dairy sector is doing relatively well. The industry has responded successfully to what was potentially disastrous.
“Our business owners and farmers have risen to every challenge over the years, and there are many, and have worked incredibly hard to protect jobs and even grow the business. I believe I think this facility is a perfect example of that resilience and determination. Thanks to Glenbia Co-op and Royal A-Ware for bringing this vision to life and I want everyone to join in.
Minister McConaughey welcomed the progress of the new plant, describing it as a ‘great day’ for the 4,500 Glenbia Farm family suppliers as well as the wider Irish agricultural sector and Irish farmers as a whole.
“Due to its profound importance to farming in the South-East, both I and the Government have supported this project. It is also heartening to learn that Glenbia Co-op is fully committed to a sustainable future for the dairy sector. partnership with the government through the Food Vision 2030 strategy. I look forward to continued engagement through these initiatives in the future.”