The UK's Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, and Devendra Mody, Industrial Director of Lafarge Tarmac, on Saturday signed an agreement allowing the use of waste-derived fuels at the company's Cookstown cement works, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.
The plant, which employs 86 people, currently uses coal for approximately 95 per cent of its fuel source. The Prosperity Agreement will see Lafarge Tarmac substitute up to 35 per cent of its coal fuel usage with waste derived fuels and replace non-renewable raw materials.
Mr Durkan commented: “The agreement will turn environment issues from barriers to business into economic growth opportunities. The deal is that the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) firmly regulates and reduces red tape. In turn, partner companies invest heavily in the environment.
“Lafarge Tarmac is committing significant investment in the environment. In addition to many environmental benefits it will reduce its carbon emissions from production by a minimum of 10 per cent, equivalent to taking 6500 cars off the road and will look at ways to reduce emissions from its transportation chain. It has also committed to improving public access to rare geological features found in the Ballysudden ASSI, located in its Cookstown quarry and to work with key stakeholders to develop a renewable energy strategy and examine options for reducing packaging.
“Other countries are showing keen interest in these Agreements. The government in Westminster has talked about red tape reduction since it was elected. It has produced lots of promises and reports. In DOE, we’re not talking about it but are getting on and doing it. We are creating a better environment and stronger economy.”
Highlighting the significance of the Agreement, Devendra Mody, Industrial Director at Lafarge Tarmac, said: “This Prosperity Agreement signifies a step-change in the way that our business interacts with NIEA. NIEA is the first UK regulator to facilitate the implementation of the MPA Code of Practice enabling our Cookstown operation to increase its fossil fuel substitution rates without the associated bureaucracy. As a result, our energy costs will reduce and we can commit to significantly lowering our CO2 emissions. To be sustainable, we need to be profitable and this innovative new approach will help ensure the economic prosperity and the future of the Cookstown site.”
The Minister was joined on his visit to Lafarge Tarmac by Lord Deben and Matthew Bell, Chair and Chief Executive of the UK Climate Change Committee.
Commending Lafarge Tarmac and the Minister, Matthew Hell, Chief Executive, UK Climate Change Committee, said: “Prosperity Agreements demonstrate how we can grow, while also reducing the risks of climate change. Industry plays an important role in helping to meet the UK target for an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. I welcome Lafarge Tarmac’s commitment. A reduction of 10 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions over the next four years builds on improved efficiency across the sector since 1990. I hope this agreement acts as a good example of joint working between regulators and industry and will be followed by others in Northern Ireland and around the UK.”