Saturday 21 October 2017

Dairy sector's green sheen tarnished by EPA findings

Ireland's dairy sector has traded on its image as being in a lush and green environment - with the assumption that it is green in every sense of the word. Stock photo
Ireland's dairy sector has traded on its image as being in a lush and green environment - with the assumption that it is green in every sense of the word. Stock photo
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Ireland's dairy sector has traded on its image as being in a lush and green environment - with the assumption that it is green in every sense of the word.

However, that green sheen has been tarnished in recent days when environmental agency the EPA named and shamed the country's worst polluters.

Among them were some of the stars of our dairy sector - Dairygold Co-op and Carbery Food ingredients in Cork and Arrabawn Co-op in Tipperary. French multinational Danone's baby formula business Nutricia, also in Cork, also was listed among the worst seven polluters for the six months between March and September.

Carbery told Ergo that its issues related to a mechanical failure. It "regrets the incident and has put steps in place to prevent a recurrence" and pointed to a "long tradition of championing environmental and sustainability issues".

Dairygold's issue related to odours and a spokeswoman said the EPA later acknowledged "a commitment to proactively pursuing further works in order to improve the situation further". Efforts to get comments from Danone were unsuccessful.

While the comments are on-message, other senior sources in the dairy sector were less contrite. One dubbed the EPA a quango and noted that the Government itself did not have a good reputation with environmental issues. He said that after Brexit "the darkest cloud for dairy farming is under the heading environment".

Nobody ever said it was easy being green.

Apartment plan for Cork GAA grounds still in play

If this year's Gaelic football championship proved anything it was that the match is definitely not over until the referee blows his whistle.

And so it goes too with the planning system. Plans by Cork based development company Dildar for a major housing development on the former hallowed grounds of Cork GAA kingpins Nemo Rangers had got the green light from Cork City Council in August.

The plans propose the construction of 204 units on the former playing fields and would include 52 three-storey detached, semi-detached and terraced houses and 153 apartments in five and six-storey blocks.

A creche and a private gym would also be included. But nearby neighbours are evidently not too pleased with the proposed development on the city's Douglas Road and have appealed it to An Bord Pleanala. Still all to play for.

CRH comes up against a familiar stumbling block

CRH may be a global corporation but it's a small world in the cement business.

It emerged on Friday that Summit Materials, a US construction materials company, has made a rival bid to buy supplier Ash Grove Cement. The move has put Summit head-to-head with a $3.5bn takeover play from CRH and at the moment Summit has a decent lead with its offer coming in at between $3.7bn and $3.8bn.

Summit is a familiar adversary for CRH. Its founder is Tom Hill, the former chief of CRH's US operations who had once been tipped for the top job at CRH. Running the US operations had been a well-trodden route to the role of chief executive of the group. But Hill left after CRH appointed its finance chief Myles Lee to the top job following a lengthy selection process. He brought a number of CRH executives with him and later went on to float Summit.

Hill has built up a business of scale and ambition and it will be fascinating to see if he continues to stonewall CRH's latest M&A plan.

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