Northern Ireland

David Dobbin: Dale Farm boss warns of energy cost threat to NI businesses

David Dobbin
Image caption Dale Farm's chief executive, David Dobbin, said unless Stormont lowers energy costs, other big manufacturing firms in Northern Ireland may have to close

Some of Northern Ireland's major manufacturing companies may not survive unless energy costs are lowered, a leading businessman has said.

The warning came from David Dobbin, the chief executive of Dale Farm, Northern Ireland's largest milk processor.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Inside Business programme, he said Stormont needed to put the economy at the centre of its next Programme for Government.

He also said he wanted to see a "more collective executive".

Dale Farm is part of the United Dairy Farmers Group, a UK dairy farmer co-operative.

In 2014, Mr Dobbin expressed frustration over delays in getting energy infrastructure to the west of Northern Ireland.

His firm had wanted to expand its plant at Cookstown, County Tyrone, but despite planning approval, correct electricity and gas facilities were not in place.

He told the programme that the next Northern Ireland Executive needed to get to grips with energy infrastructure.

"What we want to see this time round is an executive that is focused on bread and butter issues, not constitutional politics," he added.

"The political process here is pretty ugly to watch. It's almost a case of, we stumble forward, so the government needs to focus and set a target to bring energy costs down.

"We did lose Michelin and there are other big energy users that I think are going to struggle to survive in Northern Ireland if we don't address that."

Inside Business with Wendy Austin airs on BBC Radio Ulster on Sundays at 13:30 BST

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