Growing confidence that Banagher development will progress – Cowen

Laois-Offaly TD Barry Cowen has expressed confidence that there will be further progress in the development of a €40 million beef processing plant in Banagher, Co. Offaly.

Approval for the Banagher Chilling development was delayed following a decision by the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) in August to reject the application of residency for the plant’s financial backers, who are understood to be from China and Hong Kong.

This approval was apparently blocked after a submission to the IIP by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

However, the promoters of the development have since made a number of clarifications in response to the department’s submission which, according to former Minister for Agriculture Cowen, will allow the plant to progress.

“It is obviously not ideal that difficulties have been experienced in developing this project. At a time when the midlands is facing a difficult transition away from peat extraction, the provision of 250 construction jobs and 150 jobs thereafter is an important investment for the region,” the TD said today (Tuesday, October 6).

“This project offers a unique and welcome opportunity to create jobs in Offaly; provide direct access to Asian markets; and increase competition in the beef industry, raising the potential to improve prices for producers,” Cowen added.

He argued that the submission from the Department of Agriculture to the IIP “missed several important elements” of the project.

Having engaged with departmental officials on this project on foot of new submissions made by the promoter, I believe important clarifications have now been made.

“These include the nature of the offering to Chinese markets, the high standards to be implemented at the plant and the strategic value of the plant going forward.

“I have every confidence that there is now a greater understanding of the project and the benefits it can bring to both Offaly and at a national level,” Cowen concluded.