A deal just signed between a Cookstown cement company and the Environment Minister will see the operation substitute 35 per cent of the coal it uses with waste-derived fuels such as tyres.
Aptly dubbed a Prosperity Agreement, the move will put Lafarge Tarmac well on the way to reducing its carbon footprint whilst securing jobs and lessening the environmental impact of the Cookstown factory and quarry.
As well as the fuel swap, the company has also agreed to reduce carbon emissions by 10% over the life of the agreement, and will look at ways to reduce transportation emissions.
Lafarge has also vowed to develop a renewable energy strategy and examine options for reducing packaging and replacing non-renewable materials. And will improve public access to rare geological features located in the Cookstown quarry.
Lafarge Tarmac’s cement operation in Cookstown, which employs 86 people, currently uses coal for around 95% of its fuel - an unsustainable source in terms climate impact and commercial viability.
But, waste tyres can be used as an alternative energy source, and cement kilns are well suited to their use, as the high temperature and long processing time ensures no harmful by-products are created during the combustion process.
Visiting Lafarge Tarmac’s Cookstown site on Thursday, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: “The agreement will turn environmental issues from barriers to business, into economic growth opportunities.
“The deal is that the NIEA firmly regulates and reduces red tape. In turn partner companies invest heavily in the environment.
“Progressive companies like Lafarge, Linden foods and Linergy Ltd who signed the first Prosperity Agreement, are leading the way to grow, educate and adapt new ways to contribute to a more prosperous and healthier way of doing business.
“They are investing time and effort to ensure they are market leaders in their respective sectors and above all responsible businesses.”
Commenting on the Agreement, Devendra Mody, Industrial Director at Lafarge Tarmac said: “NIEA is the first UK regulator to facilitate the implementation of the MPA Code of Practice enabling our Cookstown operations 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 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.”
The Minister was joined on his visit by Lord Deben and Matthew Bell, Chair and Chief Executive of the UK Climate Change Committee.
Commending the agreement, Matthew Bell from 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% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
“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.”