Editorial: Sugar beet should be revived

The clamour to resurrect the Irish sugar industry reached Laois County Council last week where, at their annual monthly meeting, councillors were vociferous in their calls on the Agriculture Minister to reinstate the industry.

The clamour to resurrect the Irish sugar industry reached Laois County Council last week where, at their annual monthly meeting, councillors were vociferous in their calls on the Agriculture Minister to reinstate the industry.

The loss of Irish sugar remains an open wound, and is a sombre reminder of how a viable domestic, even a flagship, enterprise can fall prey to a cocktail of global economic and geopolitical considerations.

Efforts to revive the Irish sugar beet industry are now well underway.

From numerous points of view, not least food security, it makes perfect sense for Ireland to have its won sugar industry.

Why import sugar at a huge cost afterall, when we could produce it ourselves.

Indeed, it was a shame, and extremely shortsighted, that it was lost in the first place.

Two weeks ago the Leinster Express reported that the Togher Inland Port at Portlaoise was emerging as the preferred location for a new biofuel plant, spearheaded by the Beet Ethanol Energy Teoranta (BEET) Ireland.

The group, consisting of former sugar beet growers, has made a very convincing case for its proposal.

Were it to be located in Laois, the 400 million state of the art facility would represent a massive investment in the county, with an attendant and much needed jobs boost.

2016 is the target year, set by BEET for the reintroduction of beet to Ireland.

The next four years and the reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy are absolutely critical factors.

Laois County Council has been proactive in their attempts to promote the county as theideal location for a new biofuel plant.

Every encouragement should be given to the proposal.

In terms of location, tradition and logistics, Portlaoise is ideal, and it’s time that its many advantages were recognised and exploited.