Major expansion planned at Chinese-backed beef plant
PLANS are in train for a significant expansion of an Offaly meat processing facility understood to be backed by Chinese investors.
A planning application by Banagher Chilling Ltd - is set to be ruled on by Offaly Co Council this week provides for the building of ancillary facilities that will enable the slaughtering and processing of beef cattle.
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If it gets the go-ahead, it's understood at least 250 people will be employed in the plant's construction, with over 200 jobs across the factory and abattoir once it is fully operational.
A planning notice for the project appeared in the local media in recent weeks.
Once up and running, it is expected that the plant will process up to 140 cattle per day, primarily for export to China.
The size of the operation has been likened to the ABP meat-processing plant in Nenagh.
To achieve this, the existing slaughter line will be modified and lengthened within the existing abattoir building.
Additional cattle chills will be constructed, along with offices and staff facilities. The existing lairage will be extended and the livestock yard increased in size.
In addition, the development will see the construction of a meat cutting, packing, blast freezing and cold storage facility with an output of approximately 40 tonnes per day.
Local Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen has welcomed the plans, which he said demonstrates the opportunity the Chinese market offers Irish beef farmers.
"I have been liaising with personnel from the company together with my brother Brian since they first indicated to us their interest in exploring the possibility of developing the existing abattoir after acquiring adjacent lands at Boheradurrow," he said.
"The preparation of all necessary documentation has been ongoing during the course of the past year and is the subject of a proposed investment by Chinese partners in addition to the promoters themselves.
"It is now a matter for the planning authority in Offaly County Council.
"I welcome the significant economic benefit that this proposed development can bring to the west Offaly area in terms of its construction and subsequent employment opportunities at the meat plant.
"The need to identify alternative employment opportunities in the area given the transition taking place in Bord an Mona and the ESB is a pressing one."
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