Isle of Man Creamery has been given two years to find a solution to a problem with waste.
Douglas Council has given the dairy producer a 24-month extension to continue the disposal of whey into Douglas bay once the current agreement ends in October 2019.
The Creamery had sought a rolling five-year extension of the agreement in order to allow sufficient time for identification and implementation of alternative methods of disposing of whey.
However, councillors rejected allowing the continued use of the Manx Utilities’ pipe that runs out under the beach from the bottom of Broadway.
The issue united councillors at their meeting last week.
Councillor Ritchie McNicholl said: ’The whey that is discharged into Douglas bay is a problem, it was supposed to be a short term deal.
’It depletes the oxygen and nutrients in the water, which affects marine life and feeds the sea weed. The committee stuck at two years, let’s hope it focuses minds.’
Mr McNicholl was supported in the council with council leader David Christian saying ’the committee will not budge’ and other councillors reaffirming this stance.
Findlay Macleod, managing director of Isle of Man Creamery, said: ’When Isle of Man Creamery began to use the whey pipe for disposal of excess whey liquid 15 years ago, studies were undertaken which found that there are no adverse effects to the marine environment and this continues to be the case.
’Virtually all small or remote creameries dispose of whey into the sea including, Orkney and Stranraer.
’Over the years we have continued to review how we dispose of our excess whey and have investigated a number of options including drying the whey liquid to form whey protein powder, concentrating the liquid into whey protein concentrate (a common ingredient in ready meals and confectionery) and using the whey liquid as an energy source.
’Unfortunately, none of these options has proven to be financially viable for the Creamery to progress. We are hopeful that in the future we will be able to find a solution for the disposal of our whey that is more beneficial to the island’s dairy farming community.’
Despite this, a June 2017 Manx Utilities report into water quality that covers Douglas Bay said: ’It is believed that the key polluter originates from the discharge of creamery whey into the bay and whilst intermittent rather than continuous, it should be noted that it does discharge on a daily basis.’
When the decision was made to allow the disposal in Douglas bay by Tynwald, then Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, John Rimington, said there had been a plan to build an effluent treatment plant which would have cost £4m with running costs of £500,000 a year.
But this was felt to be ’an unacceptable financial burden which the industry could not shoulder’.
Alternative uses for whey that have been developed include use as a fertiliser, being reused for the production of dairy products, feeding pigs and making vodka.