West Lakes Dairy Park begins milk collection

West Lakes Dairy Park collected milk from its suppliers for the first time this weekend (September 29).

Over 150 Cumbrian farmers have signed up to supply the company, which is the long-awaited brainchild of Dutch entrepreneur Ronald Akkerman.

Mr Akkerman has been striving to build a cheese factory in the county for years and is now a step closer to achieving his dream.

Milk shortage

The £50m plant, which will be built at Kingmoor Park, near Carlisle, is set for completion in Spring 2009.

Milk from the farmers who have already signed up to the project will be sold on the open market until then.

A general shortage of milk means Mr Akkerman should have no problem finding a home for everything his farmers can supply.

‘Emotional’

Kate Willard, chief executive of West Lakes Dairy Park, said: “Today is a real watershed for us and watching the tankers roll out last night was very emotional. 

“It’s great to get on the road and start collecting milk from our farmers – they have been brilliant to work with so far and we are looking forward to working with them.

New farmers are signing every day, to build this world-class cheese-making facility in Cumbria.”

‘Transformational project’

Richard Greenwood, chief executive of Cumbria Vision – the organisation leading on economic development in Cumbria – said: “This is a really transformational project for dairy farmers and our rural environment in Cumbria.

“Cumbria Vision’s continued support for this key strategic project underpins our core aim to deliver lasting economic benefits across all communities we serve.

“Cumbria produces in excess of 800m litres of milk each year. Around 200m litres of this will go to West Lakes Dairy Park, which has made long-term commitments to pay the best possible price for the milk they receive.

“This will underpin not only the dairy industry but reach out into all of our rural communities.”

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