First Milk’s new creamery faces potential delay

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Tesco

First Milk’s plan to build a new creamery in Campbeltown could be delayed as a contigent planning application from Tesco is held back.

Argyll & Bute Council has asked Tesco for more information on a linked planning application to build a new store on the dairy processor’s existing Scottish site.

Farmer-owned co-operative First Milk announced plans to replace its current Campbeltown creamery in July 2009, with an undisclosed proportion of funding contingent upon the sale of the site to Tesco.

Planning permission for the creamery was granted this July, but a spokeswoman for Argyll & Bute Council, which is overseeing the application process, told that Tesco had yet to secure approval for the new store:

“We can confirm that we received a planning application from Tesco, and were hoping that the report could move forward to committee stage for approval in September.

“However, there are a few issues that we wish to clarify with Tesco, and we’ve gone back to the company in order to do so. We need to do this before we proceed with the application, so the precise timeline is a little up in the air now.”

Planning consent

First Milk did not comment specifically on the potential delay, but communications manager Jill Coyle said that building of the new facility was contingent upon Tesco’s success: “Due to the linked nature of the applications, we cannot go ahead until Tesco receives planning consent for its new store on the site of the existing creamery.

“A decision on that application is expected from Argyll & Bute Council later this year. If granted, we will then work alongside Tesco and the council to determine timelines.”

Coyle said that First Milk specifically intended to increase production at the new facility to grow market share for its Mull of Kintyre brands, while Scottish Pride cheese will also be made at the new facility.

She added: “The new creamery will provide processing efficiencies which cannot be achieved at the current plant, and will also allow us to treat and process the whey from the cheese-making process, which is currently not utilised.”

Asked about the potential for new job creation, Coyle said: “We are continuing to work through the numbers of people who will be required to operate the new creamery.

“Unlike the existing facility, we will also be looking to process all of the cheese whey on site, as well as looking at other opportunities for processing flexibility and new product development.”

Struggling to cope

First Milk announced plans to replace the existing creamery, which has been producing cheese since the early 1900s, after it said in July 2009 that the current site was “struggling to cope with modern demands”.

Aside from the sale of the existing site to Tesco, the new creamery is being funded by the Scottish government (£3.9m), with First Milk funding the balance.

First Milk produces 16 per cent of all Great Britain’s liquid milk, as well as cheese and dairy ingredients. It also holds a 10 per cent stake in Robert Wiseman dairies.

Related topics: Markets, Fresh Milk

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