A cement factory will be able to use waste tyres as an alternative source of energy after an agreement was signed with an environment agency today.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) announced that Lafarge Tarmac will replace around a third of its fossil fuel consumption with old tyres as it will produce fewer emissions.
The cement factory in Cookstown, Co Tyrone employs 86 people and currently uses coal for about 95 per cent of its fuel, but with long-term burning of coal seen as harmful for the environment the move makes business sense for the company.
A Prosperity Agreement was signed with NIEA that allows Lafarge Tarmac to substitute up to 35 per cent of its coal usage with waste-derived fuels, with a promise from the NIEA to reduce the associated bureaucracy that comes with the swap.
Devendra Mody, industrial director at Lafarge Tarmac, said the agreement would help secure jobs and prosperity while delivering better environmental outcomes in Cookstown.
Prosperity Agreements are voluntary agreements through which NIEA and a company can explore opportunities for reducing environment and heritage impacts.
“As a result, our energy costs will reduce and we can commit to significantly reduce 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,” said Mody.
Stormont environment minister Mark H Durkan, said such partnerships turned environmental issues from "barriers to business into economic growth opportunities”.
“In addition to many environmental benefits it will reduce its carbon emissions from production by a minimum of 10 per cent, equivalent to taking 6,500 cars off the road, and will look at ways to reduce emissions from its transportation chain.”
The company also committed to improving public access to rare geological features found in the Ballysudden area at its Cookstown quarry and to work with stakeholders to develop a renewable energy strategy and examine options for reducing packaging.
Matthew Bell, chairman and chief executive of the UK Climate Change Committee, also in Cookstown for the announcement, said the industry plays an important role in meeting the 80 per cent pollution reduction target by 2050 in the UK.
“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.”