The Scottish Government is ready to invest in Campbeltown Creamery according to Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead.
The First Milk plant supports almost 40 dairy farms and 100 jobs on the Kintyre peninsula and during a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the future of Scotland’s dairy sector, Mr Lochhead confirmed that a revised bid for a Scottish Government grant is expected to be approved shortly – meaning the first instalment of funding could be paid within weeks.
The Scottish Government has previously offered financial assistance for works to the Campbeltown Creamery, which was not taken up due to changes in the business. Under EU state aid rules, the Scottish Government can provide a grant of up to 20 per cent of eligible costs. The eligible costs for the revised Campbeltown Creamery project have still to be agreed with First Milk, but the Scottish Government contribution is likely to be around £450,000 in total.
The Cabinet Secretary said:
“Dairy is hugely important to many of Scotland’s rural communities as well as the economy, which is why the Scottish Government is firmly committe to working with the sector to secure its future.
“A key strand of the Scottish Dairy Plan, which I published last week (http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Dairy-Plan-launched-17b5.aspx), is to support First Milk transform its business in Scotland. This includes upgrading the Campbeltown Creamery, which is a lifeline for producers on the Mull of Kintyre.
“The Scottish Government stands ready to invest in this important facility, and my officials continue to work closely with First Milk on their revised proposals for a new whey plant and various other improvements to the existing site.“I expect to be able to issue a new offer of financial support very shortly – likely to around £450,000 - which will enable the first instalment of the grant to be paid within weeks and safeguard 25 jobs at the plant.
“The Scottish Government is also continuing to consider the cost of ferry travel for dairy farmers on the islands. Transport Scotland is conducting a comprehensive review of freight fares across the whole ferry network, with the aim of delivering an overarching freight fares structure for all Scotland’s islands that is fair, transparent and straightforward, as well as delivering best value for taxpayers at a time of severe cuts to the Scottish Government budget.”