Major UK cheesemaker becomes 100% self-sufficient in green energy

Britain's largest family owned cheese maker Wyke Farms has today become the UK's first national cheddar brand to become 100% self-sufficient in green energy, following the launch of its biogas plant in Bruton, Somerset.

The new plant, which took five years to plan and construct, consists of three 4,600 cubic metre digester vessels and will convert 75,000 tonnes of biodegradable waste materials from the farm and dairy per year, predominantly cow manure, into energy.

In addition, the plant will enable Wyke Farms to save more than four million kilos of carbon dioxide per annum and provide 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.

Speaking exclusively to edie, Wyke Farms managing director and third generation family member, Richard Clothier said that the plant is a milestone in the business’s journey to becoming “100% green”.

“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,” he said.

“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,” added Clothier.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who visited the site earlier this summer, 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% self-sufficient in green energy will make them more efficient and help the environment.”

The £4m investment in biogas technology is part of the cheese brand’s £10m green energy venture, which includes solar power and water re-usage across its farms and cheese dairy.

Leigh Stringer

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