Further details emerge of department’s submission to IIP on Banagher

Further details have emerged on a submission to the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on a proposed development of a meat processor plant in Co. Offaly.

AgriLand reported on September 22 last that the department had expressed doubts to the IIP’s evaluation committee over the strategic value of the Banagher Chilling development, in its submission in December of last year.

A communication from the Department of Justice (which the IIP comes under), had noted that the Department of Agriculture’s submission stated: “The proposed plant does not meet an identified strategic requirement for additional processing capacity, and there are no guarantees at this stage that it would meet the high standards required for EU and Chinese approval.”

Further detail from the department’s submission show the reasoning behind the Department of Agriculture’s conclusion.

The department noted that the site would “require very significant investment to bring it to the standard necessary for EU approval”.

Even if EU approval was secured, the department said, the plant would still need to apply for approval to export to the Chinese market, which the department noted is a “lengthy and onerous process”, adding that there was no guarantee that the plant would be granted approval to export to China.

The department also pointed out that Enterprise Ireland does not currently grant aid investment in additional slaughtering capacity in the meat processing industry, as there is “no established deficit in slaughtering capacity”.

The department outlined these points after it was asked to “provide observations on the economic viability of this project and whether it is line with government strategy”.

The department did note in its submission to the IIP that “the economic viability of a project depends on a range of criteria which the department is not in a position to assess”.

‘State of play at the time’

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue recently said that the submission by the department to the IIP’s evaluation committee “reflected the state of play at that time, in December 2019”.

He added, though, that the department has, within the last number of weeks, received the full application for approval in relation to the Banagher Chilling development (the department approves slaughter plants in line with EU regulations).

He said the department is assessing the documentation and will be in contact with the plant operators regarding the outcome.