Belfast Telegraph

Exporters' deals help to re-energise the economy

By David Elliot

Blessed are the cheese and concrete makers," is the slightly bastardised line stolen from Monty Python's Life of Brian which neatly sums up a couple of stories catching our attention today.

Firstly, the good people of Fivemiletown Creamery have taken on board the Executive's "export like there's no tomorrow" mantra and tied down a deal with a company which sells its products in Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam among other markets.

This cheese to China route isn't a new one for our local dairies - Dale Farm also sends its cheddar to the Far East while Newtownards-based Pritchetts, now owned by Lakeland Dairies, has been sending milk in the form of ice cream powder and the like to the region for many years now - but it is great to see our reputation as the world's dairy being cemented.

That brings us on nicely to the next story of note, in a sector which hasn't had much to cheer about for some time.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster was off visiting Moore Concrete Products yesterday to see how it has managed to keep itself insulated from the chill winds of the downturn.

In combination with its range of agricultural products, it also makes concrete products for the railway and roads industries and many other sectors including its new focus in the world of biogas.

In fact, it apparently commissioned the "first commercial on-farm anaerobic digestion biogas system in Northern Ireland" last year.

After the success of capturing tidal energy through the Seagen project in Strangford Lough and a growing speciality in wind turbines through the likes of the DONG Energy project in Belfast docks, Northern Ireland is now managing to turn its hand to biogas in a serious way.

That can only be a good thing, whether or not the still-contentious issue of shale gas extraction is given the go-ahead.

The figures released yesterday by Australian company Tamboran Resources in relation to the gas field they have discovered in Fermanagh are hugely impressive and demonstrate the potential benefits of the latest technology.

Certainly fracking now can't be ignored and its potential needs to be thoroughly investigated because no matter how you look at it, the prospect of being energy efficient for 50 years would be the panacea the Northern Ireland economy could do with.