OPERATORS Dairy Crest have applied to Cornwall Council for a number of proposed upgrades to its Davidstow Creamery site.

The planning application proposes the following: “proposed upgrades to Davidstow creamery to include: new rapid chill store, new laboratory, 5 x 3.8 dia silos, chiller unit, pallet store building, barn building, rip and tip building, protein standardisation silos, attenuation tank, freezer packaging building and steam accumulator building, 3no temporary tent structures and new overflow car park”

Similar plans had been applied for and approved pursuant to a previous application in 2019 (PA19/01034), however in the design and access statement, Saputo, owners of Dairy Crest, explain why this had not been fully implemented. They stated: “The context of the present proposal is that modifications and investment which were approved pursuant to an application in 2019, made prior to the acquisition of Dairy Crest Ltd by Saputo Inc., were not fully implemented.

“This was principally due to the change of ownership. Upon acquiring the business, SDUK evaluated the original proposals in the context of a wider review of the site’s capacity and the business as a whole. As a result, SDUK seek to implement a related, but modified, set of proposals which will grow the business, reduce the need to tanker by-products off-site and will reduce the site’s overall need for waste water processing.

"In this application, SDUK seeks permission for new investment and development and also seeks to regularise the planning context of prior development, relating to the 2019 application and other work on site which was undertaken prior to their acquisition of the business. In doing so, this proposal brings all development on the creamery site within the scope of a single application and approval.”

Saputo also argue that planning application for the upgrades will bring economic benefits for the area, stating: “As a result of this planning proposal, there will be immediate short-term benefits for the local construction industry associated with the upgrade works. The investment and upgrade program provides job security for over 200 people currently employed at the site and the additional whey processing capacity will generate further full-time jobs, in an area where seasonal work associated with the tourism industry is a substantial employer. When the upgrade work is complete and the site is running at full capacity, it is anticipated that the creamery will employ an additional 6 staff and 6 additional drivers per shift.

“As part of their investment program and wider strategy for the business, SDUK has been expanding the number of farms which supply milk to the creamery. At present, over 350 farms currently supply the creamery.

“This represents over 50% of all milk produced in Cornwall. These farmers will directly benefit from this investment as SDUK is able to extract additional value from the milk that they supply. SDUK spends over £300 million a year buying milk from farmers in the South West. As SDUK and Davidstow continue to grow, it will first look to work with its existing farmers to increase production, but will also look beyond its current milk pool to other farms in the South West.

“The viability of SDUK’s investment program provides farmers with the much-needed confidence to invest in their own businesses during a period where the regulatory and economic environment for farming is uncertain. These benefits will also be felt by those who support the farming industry, including vets, feed manufacturers and agricultural contractors. Indirectly, the impact of SDUK’s investment and expansion program therefore has a substantial, and not readily quantifiable, beneficial impact to hundreds of small businesses in the region, including farms, helping to secure thousands of jobs.”

Saputo concluded: “We trust that the information given within this report and the attached plans demonstrate that SDUK is committed to a strategic investment and upgrade program that increases efficiency and productivity at the Davidstow creamery. As part of this effort, this application seeks to regularise the planning context of the entire site, ensuring that the site is operating in a manner which is fully consistent with all relevant permissions. The present proposals include the ability to process whey on-site, reducing the need to remove this by-product via road haulage and adding value within the production chain, making the entire business more viable and robust.

“This proposal represents a substantial investment and upgrade in a rural business which helps to support hundreds of other small businesses, particularly farms, and secures jobs across all of those businesses. We have endeavoured to take account of all the relevant planning policy and carried out extensive survey work in order to address any potential issues which could be associated with this application.

“The new elements of the proposal are situated within the existing developed form of the creamery and will not materially impact on how the creamery appears in the landscape, nor will they have any impact on any sites of ecological significance. The proposed development will keep the creamery’s production levels within current EA permit conditions.”