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VIDEO: New €40m factory to provide ‘direct access’ for beef to Asian markets

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Planning permission has been granted for the extension and development of a meat processing plant in Co. Offaly.

Banagher Chilling LTD’s application for the factory, which is believed to be worth some €40 million, was approved by Offaly County Council earlier this week.

The firm claims that the plant will provide employment for some 150 people once in operation, with some 250 positions during construction.

A decision on the large-scale extension was delayed after the authority requested further information.

The factory sought a single-storey extension to existing abattoir of 1061 square meters to include processing rooms, staff changing rooms, offices, increase roof height by 2 meters, extend existing lairage and elevation alterations.

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In addition, it applied for the construction of a  food processing factory of 4925 square meters with a part first floor of 2299 square meters to include processing rooms, cold store, loading bay, chill rooms, plant rooms, staff changing rooms, staff canteen and administration offices. 

“External works, consisting of staff car parking, service yards, new public road entrance, widening of existing public road, effluent treatment compound, water storage tank, gas storage tanks, truck wash bay, integrated constructed wetlands, security hut of 23 square meters, electrical room of 168 square meters, water treatment building of 72 square meters, effluent treatment control house of 30 square meters, all associated site works and landscaping works on a site of 19.60 hectares.” its application also stated.

Asian markets

Speaking in Dáil Éireann, Barry Cowen TD, said that over the past 12-18 months, he has worked with investors, led by a Hong Kong national and an investment company, to identify a site to progress a planning application for a meat processing plant at Banagher, County Offaly.

“The project offers a unique and welcome opportunity to create jobs in Offaly and provide direct access and routes to markets in Asia and increased competition in the beef industry, raising the potential to improve prices for producers, thus helping to boost incomes for farm families.”

“All told, the project is an example of the alternative job prospects needed in Offaly and the midlands region in response to ongoing employment losses in Bord na Móna and the ESB.”

“Beef and suckler farmers crave new markets and greater competition in the processing sector. Most of all, they crave opportunities, initiatives, programmes and Government policy that maintain and improve incomes for farm families.” the TD added.

Concerns 

He warned that a decision from the Immigrant Investor Programme to reject applications from investors involved in the project will put it in jeopardy.

“Some of the investors in this project made applications under the Immigrant Investor Programmes (IIP) open to applicants that invest over €1m.”

“To my utter dismay and disbelief an evaluation committee, which assesses these applications, made up of senior officials from government departments and state agencies, has rejected the applications. They conclude the project would appear ‘not appropriate for project approval’.” 

“The local authority, the support of the community, assistance from the Department of Agriculture, Bord Bia, and others have backed this project.”

“Yet, a nameless committee deciding on an IIP application has brought the entire project into doubt. This decision needs to be reconsidered and their decision process outlined in full,” concluded Deputy Cowen.

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