Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has today signed a Prosperity Agreement with John Thompson and Sons Ltd (Thompsons), North Belfast.
Thompsons, already one of the most carbon efficient feed mills in the UK, will invest £2.5million in efficiencies which will reduce its CO2 emissions by more than 10%, the equivalent of removing approximately 350 cars a year from our roads and will work collaboratively with NIEA regulators on wider environmental priorities.
The agreement seeks to turn environment issues into business growth opportunities rather than being barriers to growth.
Thompsons will also accelerate their research with key partners to reduce the environmental footprint of the agri food industry, through improved animal nutrition and better production efficiencies. It will work with NIEA to develop sector wide training on management of key environmental issues.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency, whilst regulating firmly, will work to make regulation better directed, with an increased focus on delivering better environmental and economic outcomes in partnership with Thompsons and the sector.
Speaking at the Thompsons site in Belfast, Mark H Durkan said: “This groundbreaking voluntary public private partnership will see compliance standards exceeded at lower costs. It will substantially reduce impact on our environment, provide greater transparency and access, stronger financial results for business and economic growth for Northern Ireland.
“Thompsons is an innovative and progressive company and a key environmental influencer in the Agri-Food sector and an outstanding example that ‘good for the environment, good for business’ can be achieved through cooperation, innovation and strong leadership.
“Last year I outlined my vision for the environment agenda in Northern Ireland: ‘A Better Environment – A Stronger Economy’. My message was clear, long term economic prosperity and well-being is only possible through the responsible management of the environment. This is a genuine step change in how businesses and regulators should work together.
“This is not just about reduced CO2 emissions from Thompsons’ plant. More nutritious animal food produced by it means less harmful emissions into the environment from farm livestock. Better awareness of environmental responsibilities on farms will further demonstrate that Northern Ireland is serious about creating a world-class clean, green agri-food sector.”
Commenting on the significance of the agreement Declan Billington, Chief Executive of Thompsons, said: “The signing of this agreement affirms Thompsons belief that improving on-farm production efficiencies through nutrition will also improve the environmental footprints of farms and will profit both rural communities and the environment as a result. The most profitable way to expand the Agri-Food sector is by improving the production efficiencies of our products and processes thereby reducing our environmental impact and improving knowledge across the sector. This is exactly what we are doing through this agreement.”