Bruton cheese-makers have gone green
WYKE Farms has become the UK’s first national cheddar brand to become completely self-sufficient in green energy, following the launch of its biogas plant in Bruton.
The UK’s largest independent cheese producer and milk processor hosted a launch event, together with journalist and political commentator Jonathan Dimbleby. Attended by local dignitaries, major retail supporters and key stakeholders, the event saw hundreds visit Bruton - the home of Wyke Farms, the largest family-owned cheese maker in Britain.
The impressive biogas plant, which took five years to plan and construct, consists of three 4,600 cubic metre digester vessels. It will convert 75,000 tonnes of biodegradable waste materials from the farm and dairy per year, predominantly cow manure, into energy.
The plant will deliver significant environmental benefits: specifically reducing and managing waste as well as producing energy and enabling Wyke Farms to save over 4 million kilos of carbon dioxide per year. It will also give Wyke Farms the capacity to source its entire electricity and gas usage from both solar and biogas, as well as exporting power back to the National Grid.
Richard Clothier, Managing Director and third generation family member at Wyke Farms, commented today: “We aim to operate our business in a way that has minimal impact on the Somerset environment, and create a truly symbiotic relationship with the countryside. We’re committed to energy efficiency and we’re proud to be one of the first national food brands to be self-sufficient.
“Sustainability and environmental issues are increasing in importance to each and every consumer in the UK and green energy makes both emotional and practical sense. It simply completes a cycle. We can now take the cow waste (which has inherently been a problem) and turn it into pure, clean, energy to drive all our own needs and more. This, in turn, leaves a natural fertiliser that we can plough back into the land to invest in the future health and wellbeing of our cattle – and so the cycle starts again.”
Prime Minister David Cameron, who visited the site earlier this summer in support of the initiative, said: “It’s great to see a family farming business like Wyke Farms investing in such an innovative green energy scheme. Making use of their waste products in order to become 100 per cent self-sufficient in green energy will make them more efficient and help the environment.”
British journalist and political commentator Jonathan Dimbleby said: “I think this is a really exciting project. It is pioneering and it is path finding. If we are to achieve a sustainable agriculture in the future this defines the way it should be approached.”
The £4 million investment in biogas technology is part of the cheese brand’s £10 million green energy venture, which includes solar power and water re-usage across its family owned farms and cheese dairy.