Dale Farm, the largest UK farmer-owned dairy cooperative, has announced that its cheese and powder processing facility in Cookstown is now powered by natural gas. A key industrial connection to the new SGN Natural Gas network in the west of Northern Ireland, the Dunmanbridge plant manufactures 55,000 tons of cheese annually, supplying customers throughout the UK and Europe.
The cooperative, which also operates a custom-built solar farm at Dunmanbridge, says strengthening sustainability is at the core of its production processes, and the switch from heavy duty oil to natural gas will help drive energy efficiencies and reduce its carbon footprint.
Jonathan McDowell, General Manager, Dale Farm Dunmanbridge said: “Dale Farm is committed to leading the way in sustainability, with an environmental strategy that ensures we constantly assess our processes and facilities to identify how we can reduce our carbon footprint.”
“Switching to natural gas from HFO has enabled us to lower our carbon emissions from combustion activity on site by 28% and improve our overall energy efficiency, building on environmental and efficiency gains we have already made since launching our solar farm nearby in 2018.”
Danny O’Malley, Director of SGN Natural Gas, welcomed Dale Farm’s decision to switch to natural gas as a further vote of confidence in the new natural gas network in the west.
He said: “Dale Farm is among a number of key industrial connections to natural gas in our network which is now at an advanced stage in the initial eight towns. SGN Natural Gas is committed to working closely with businesses and domestic consumers to meet the exceptional demand for natural gas in the western area.”
“A number of key manufacturers and commercial users have made the switch to natural gas and these will be closely followed by connections in the domestic market. SGN Natural Gas will be delivering natural gas mains, services and meters to nearly 40,000 customers over the next 40 years in Artigarvan, Coalisland, Cookstown, Derrylin, Dungannon, Enniskillen, Magherafelt, Omagh and Strabane.”
Tanya Hedley, the Utility Regulator’s Director of Networks added: “The Utility Regulator welcomes the significant progress achieved in bringing natural gas to the west. Dale Farm is the latest business to connect to gas and shows the continuing confidence in Northern Ireland’s natural gas industry.
“Our role is to promote the development of Northern Ireland’s natural gas industry while protecting the interests of consumers, and over the past 10 years, we have approved three-quarters of a billion pounds of investment in our gas industry. More consumers than ever can now choose natural gas, which provides an affordable, cleaner and convenient form of energy.”