Greencore set to meet with County Council officials to discuss future uses for the site
The company that owns the former sugar factory in Mallow has indicated that it would be open to exploring future uses for the site, which could include redeveloping it into a regional hub for the bio-economy sector.
Following EU reforms on sugar production the factory controversially closed down in 2006 with the loss of 240 jobs after almost eight decades in operation and has remained idle ever since.
At the tail end of last year, on foot of a motion by Cllr John Paul O’Shea (FG), Cork County Council wrote to Greencore to ask about their plans for the site and if they would consider using it as a base for new bio-economy developments. The motion had the backing of his northern area colleagues and Council officials.
He pointed out that, earlier in the year, the government had signed a policy statement on the bio-economy and that as a country we needed to look at ways to encourage its growth and development.
The EU defines the bio-economy as ‘the production of renewable biological resources and the conversion of these resources and waste streams into value added products, such as food, feed, bio-based products and bio-energy’.
It has become a hot topic over recent years as governments look to renewable, ‘green’ production methods to address the issues of pollution from fossil fuels, create sustainable economies and tackle climate change.
In a two pronged approach, the authority also wrote to the ministers for agriculture and climate action, and the environment, requesting they lend their support to the redevelopment of the site.
At the time, Cllr O’Shea said, as it was unlikely the Mallow site would ever reopen as a sugar factory, it would be remiss of the council not to encourage Greencore and the government to explore other possibilities for its use.
“With the emphasis now on meeting national and international bio-economy targets, I think that as a country we need to utilise the best sites available. It would be great to see the Mallow site brought back to its former glory and just as importantly provide new jobs for the locality,” he said.
In a letter circulated to the committee’s March meeting the head of property with Greencore, Andy Beech, proposed the company meet with council officials in order to get an insight into the options open for the future use of the site and any issues relating to its zoning for planning purposes.
He wrote that Greencore had been working closely with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure the entire site was up to a standard where it could be reused.
“We are now at a stage where we can look at the options for the future of the site, including its development and/or sale,” wrote Mr Beach.
Welcoming the response, Cllr O’Shea said he believed the site was “ideally suited” for bio-economy use, particularly in light its proximity to key regional roads and the fact that it has a spur line to the rail network.
“I will be encouraging Council planning staff to meet with Greencore as soon as possible to progress development plans for the site,” said Cllr O’Shea.
“While these may or may not incorporate the bio-economy sector, it is critical that we as a local authority need to ensure we encourage development of some nature on this site in the near future,” he added.