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Ice-cream giant feeds new anaerobic digestion plant

Waste from one of the world’s biggest ice-cream manufacturers is being processed at the Leeming biogas plant in North Yorkshire, which was officially opened on 1 July.

The £18m plant will take up to 80,000 tonnes a year following the completion of the partnership between JFS & Associates and Iona Capital.

Among the local businesses sending organic waste to the plant is R&R Ice Cream – the result of a 2006 merger between Richmond Foods in the UK and Roncadin in Germany.

Richmond began as Richmond Ice Cream in 1985, when Yorkshire farmer Jonathan Ropner and businessman James Lambert took over a local manufacturer. The group employs more than 3,500 people with UK headquarters at Leeming Bar.

It is the biggest project undertaken by anaerobic digestion (AD) developer JFS & Associates, which was established in North Yorkshire in 2011 and is backed by Tata Steel subsidiary UK Steel Enterprise.

The company develops partnerships with landowners and farmers to provide AD solutions. It already owns and maintains 10 plants in North Yorkshire and Cumbria and plans to extend that to 20 plants within five years.

Director and co-founder Matt Flint said: “The project is a real example of how renewable technology, local resources and businesses can collaborate with City investors to develop a sustainable and environmentally friendly commercial enterprise.“

Leeming is the 12th renewable energy facility funded by Iona Capital, with investment from local authority pension funds in Tameside, Merseyside , Strathclyde and London.

Iona director Mike Dunn said: “This could not have been achieved without the support of some of the largest UK local authority pension funds, who remain committed to investing in environmental infrastructure projects that help our environment and create jobs.”

Lord Kerslake (right in picture), former head of the Home Civil Service and chief executive of Sheffield City Council, formally opened the plant. On the left is Iona chairman John Kutner.

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