Kildare South Fine Gael TD and Chairman of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, Martin Heydon, has said the purchase of a large land holding in Ballyburn, Castledermot by Beet Ireland is a very significant potential jobs boost for South Kildare.

“Having worked with Michael Hoey of Country Crest and the Beet Ireland team since before I was a TD, to fight to re-establish a sugar beet industry in Ireland, I have consistently made the point that Kildare was a natural basis for such a factory. The site now purchased in Ballyburn outside Castledermot is ideally located surrounded by excellent arable land but also adjacent to the M9 motorway junction which would link the factory to other traditional Beet growing areas.

“As an island nation Ireland should return to sugar beet production, it was an industry we should have never lost when the then Fianna Fáil Government facilitated its closure in 2006, a decision that the EU Court of Auditors found was unlawful in 2010. A study by Beet Ireland in 2011 showed that it would be feasible for Ireland to return to sugar beet production.

“The return of the sugar beet industry could potentially see hundreds of jobs created in Kildare South not just in agriculture but in many of the associated industry’s that benefited in the past such as machinery production, transportation and logistics as well as factory based jobs. There are also ancillary industries that could be developed alongside a sugar beet factory making this site in Castledermot a potential hub for food based innovation, research and development.

“Previously as Chairman of the Fine Gael Agricultural Committee I travelled to Brussels to meet with senior EU officials about the abolition of sugar quotas, a battle we won in 2015 which paved the way for Ireland to re-commence sugar production and re-enter the markets. I also engaged with many former Beet growers from Kildare and beyond who were very keen to revive this industry, I have often spoken about the merits of sugar beet production and I want to see the Government support the ongoing efforts to re-establish this valuable industry.

“While the business model will need to stand on its own merits to be successful, there is much structural and technical support that can be provided by the departments of Enterprise and Agriculture as well as Enterprise Ireland. I am now organising a meeting between the new owners of this site and senior officials in Kildare County Council to look at the next steps and Beet Ireland’s plans for South Kildare.”


Notes to the Editor

The 2011 study was commissioned by Beet Ireland chaired by Mr Michael Hoey of Country Crest Foods.  Beet Ireland (Beet Ethanol Energy Teoranta Ireland) is the steering group which has led this initiative.  It also includes representatives of former beet growers related businesses.

The feasibility study was produced by world renowned Project Management Group.  The associated business plan was thoroughly vetted by Ernst & Young.

The successful negotiation of the CAP by the then Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney TD, secured the hard fought for abolition of sugar beet quotas by 2017.

Ireland exited the production of sugar beet in 2006 following a decision by the then Government which was later found by the EU Court of Auditors to be flawed and based on out of date information.