Northern Ireland's largest milk processing plant in Dunmanbridge, Cookstown, Co Tyrone is now partly powered by its own 4.9MW solar farm.

Dale Farm opened the development this week on 37ac of grassland just 350m away from the factory and will use the electricity to power its cheese plant. The co-op expects that the solar farm will reduce its carbon footprint by 20% and deliver several million pounds in savings on energy costs over 20 years.

“This approach is about doing the right thing for the environment and ultimately making our business as lean as it can be, so we can pay our farmer owners the best possible price for their milk," said Dale Farm group operations director Chris McAlinden.

Dublin-based engineering firm CES Energy built the solar farm. The investment "makes business-sense, as retailers are strengthening their demands on producers and suppliers like Dale Farm, calling for them to be carbon neutral," said CES Energy chief executive Tom Marren.