I wish to confirm that in 2011 I met with two separate groups which had conducted feasibility studies into the possibility of establishing a new sugar/bioethanol facility in the country. I understand from figures published by the interested groups who are investigating the possibility of building a new facility, that the overall capital costs involved could range from €250 million to €400 million, depending on what type of facility will be constructed.
I informed both groups at the time and many times since, that any venture to develop a combined sugar/bioethanol production facility would have to be a viable commercial proposition, and supported by a business case which is sufficiently robust to attract the funding from investors for the very substantial capital investment required. I also informed both groups that it was my job to look for agreement at EU level to allow for the growing of sugar beet for the manufacture of sugar, at the earliest possible date.
In this connection, at the last meeting of the Council of Agriculture Ministers in June 2013, which I chaired under Ireland's EU Presidency, I secured agreement as part of the overall CAP reform package, to abolish all sugar quotas by 30 September 2017. This agreement removes, with effect from 1 October 2017, the current quota barrier for operators in Ireland or other Member States, wishing to re-establish a sugar industry. I am glad to note that this agreement has been welcomed by those parties who are interested in seeking to re-establish a sugar industry here.