It is up to commercial interests to move forward plans to reestablish sugar production in Ireland, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed.
It comes as the new Programme for a Partnership Government makes clear that “State enterprise bodies will be asked to examine any substantial business plans related to rebuilding the industry with a view to considering appropriate State supports”.
The Minister said that prior to the last CAP reform negotiations my predecessor met with two separate groups which had conducted feasibility studies into the possibility of establishing a new sugar/bioethanol processing facility in the country.
He said the figures published by the interested groups who are investigating the possibility of building a new facility, indicated that the overall capital costs involved could range from €250 million to €400 million, depending on what type of facility would be constructed.
Both groups were informed at the time that any venture to develop a combined sugar/bioethanol production facility in Ireland, would have to be a viable commercial proposition, and supported by a business case which is sufficiently robust to attract the funding from investors for the very substantial capital investment required.
An agreement was reached as part of the overall CAP reform in June 2013, to abolish all sugar quotas by 30 September 2017. This agreement removes, with effect from 1 October 2017, the current EU quota barrier for operators in Ireland or other Member States, wishing to re-establish a sugar industry.
According to the Minister, at the time, this agreement was welcomed by those parties who are interested in seeking to re-establish a sugar industry here.
“It is now up to any commercial interests who wish to establish a sugar plant to move the project forward and to garner sufficient commercial and financial support to turn their plans into a viable reality,” he said.
The Minister confirmed that officials in his Department have met with the interested parties a number of times since 2011 to hear from them how the projects are developing and to give assistance and advice that has been sought by the interested parties. The location of any new sugar beet processing facility is a matter for the interested parties.
“The location of any new sugar beet processing facility is a matter for the interested parties,” he said.