Switching its Cookstown plant from heavy-duty oil to natural gas is expected to lower carbon emissions from combustion at Dale Farm by almost a third (28%).

The change is already effective at the cheese and powder processing facility in Cookstown, which manufactures 55,000t of cheese annually, and supplies customers throughout Europe.

The cooperative, which also operates a custom-built solar farm at Dunmanbridge, says the switch 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 heavy fuel oil 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 the decision.

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.”