“The Sugar Beet industry must be restored in Ireland and the factory should be based in South Kildare,” That is according to Cllr. Martin Heydon who was speaking ahead of the December meeting of Kildare County Council (December 20th) where he has a motion calling for the local authority to conduct a feasibility study for the construction of a state of the art sugar beet processing plant in the county. This follows on from a recent report from the EU court of auditors which acknowledged that the policy decision to end sugar production in Ireland was an error and creates an opportunity for the construction of a new sugar beet plant in Ireland.
“For the re establishment of the sugar beet industry in Ireland, the new factory would need to be centrally based with a good roads/rail infrastructure, which we have with the M9/M7. The Barrow could provide the water needed. The plant needs to be surrounded by quality farmland capable of growing sufficient quantities of beet and farmers who have the expertise to grow the crop, all of which we have in abundance,” Cllr. Heydon stated. South Kildare is located in an ideal catchment area easily accessible to neighbouring counties which traditionally supplied Sugar Beet to the now demolished Carlow Factory.
Cllr. Heydon has met with farmers and potential growers who are determined that South Kildare is the right location, close to the site of the first Sugar Beet Factory in Ireland. “I am calling on Kildare County Council to conduct this feasibility study so that the county is well placed to fight for this plant and the vital jobs that it would bring to Kildare,” Heydon continued.
It is believed that a national sugar beet plant would create 300 permanent jobs, 300 additional seasonal jobs and thousands of spin off jobs in the local rural communities. It would also provide a huge boost to the construction industry during the construction phase of the project. “The EU ruling proves that the then minister for Agriculture, Mary Coughlin was asleep at the wheel when she allowed the sugar industry in Ireland to be closed by Europe, a decision that was made as we now know on incorrect data. We must now fight to re establish this industry for Ireland and make sure that we in Kildare are well placed as a location when the time comes. Former Sugar Growers and the wider community are very keen that in the event of the E.U. deciding to allow the return of sugar production to Ireland that there are no obstacles to having the factory located in our region and that we are active in having the ground work in place to fight for the factory to be located here in South Kildare,” Cllr. Heydon concluded.
Cllr. Heydon’s motion to the December meeting of Kildare County Council reads as follows;
Given the established suitability of lands in Kildare for beet growing, the vast experience of farmers in the county with beet production and the strategic central location of south Kildare to the beet growing areas in South Leinster and North Munster will Kildare County Council consider funding a feasibility study for the construction of a state of the art sugar beet processing plant in the county. Any such study should include the possibility of ethanol and beet pulp production as value added processes, and a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) energy plant as part of the development. Such a plant would create significant direct employment in South Kildare and give a welcome boost to agriculture employment and incomes in the wider area.