Friday, December 24, 2010

Lough Neagh Ice - the fog lifts!

Lough Shore pensioners Dan Moore (on the quad) and Eamon Moore with Drew Moore out on Lough Neagh in front of 1 Ingrams Road, early afternoon, December 23rd, 2010.
The area around the proposed Moy Park Incinerator site experienced a period of unprecedented frost in the week before Christmas 2010.  At the time of writing (6pm on Christmas Eve) the temperature has already been well below freezing for eight days straight.  Minimum temperatures were between -10C and -14C, with daytime temperatures generally below -5C.  There was dense freezing fog Mon-Wed with an incredible maximum temperature of just -8C on Tuesday.  All the while the land was covered in 10 inches of powder snow.

On Thursday December 23rd the fog lifted to reveal the full extent of ice cover on Lough Neagh, which is at its most extensive since at least 1963.

The picture above shows pensioners Eamon Moore and my dad (on the quad) along with my brother Drew on the ice in front of One Ingrams Road.  The water is quite shallow, under four feet deep for a few hundred yards from the shore, so its a lot safer than it looks!

The ice extends for three miles to Langford Lodge point in the background.

I rode the quad out on the water from Ingrams Road to the mouth of the Crumlin River one and a half miles to the North earlier in the day.

The picture below shows the winter sunset over the ice, which extends for three to four miles to the southwest.

These pictures serve to remind us of two aspects of the CALNI objection to the Moy Park Incinerator.

Firstly, our part of Lough Neagh is very shallow which has created unique spawning grounds for many cold water fish species.  These same conditions create what are probably the largest expanses of "safe" ice in Ireland when there is a big freeze.  The warm water discharged from the Incinerator would threaten this whole ecosystem, not to mention almost certainly preventing the Lough from freezing again.

Second, our area is extremely beautiful, and is a designated area of high scenic value.  The incinerator buildings will destroy one of the gems in the Northern Ireland countryside.  It will be visible from 80% of the surface area of Lough Neagh and five out of the six counties in Ulster.
Sunset over the ice, 28 Shore Road, 23rd December, 2010.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Glenavy River Ice - Thank You Angling Club

View from ice on the middle of the Glenavy River, looking out towards Lough Neagh and Langford Lodge.  Early afternoon, December 8th 2010.

We're now in the middle of the second blast of Arctic air of the winter and its only December 20th!

The area around Glenavy and the Lough Shore has had two heavy snow falls in December and there was light snow cover from November 28th.  Highly unusual!  On both occasions there was significantly more snow around the Lough than over the mountain at Hannahstown, or in Belfast.  Ten inches of "powder" snow fell on Friday.

For me, the first big environmental story of the winter was the lower stretch of the Glenavy River freezing from December 6th to 10th.

Through the severe winters in the 1980s the lower stretch of the Glenavy River seemed to be frozen every year, culminating in January 1987 when the ice was 4-6 inches thick.  However, there hadn't been enough ice to walk on at any time since, including last January, when the river remained open long after many of the bays on Lough Neagh had frozen.  Our assumption was that pollution and the severely dregadated state of the river was fending off the frosts.[1]

This run was broken in early December after a series of brutal frosts over a five day period, with lows reportedly reaching -12C to -13C early on the evening of December 7th.  A few light snow showers passed through after 10pm lifting the temperature and most likely preventing an all time record low.

The ice on the river was very solid on December 8th, even though the river was ice free on the 6th.  This allowed me to get some great photos from the river.  Do note that the water is 3-4 ft deep at most, so no real danger of drowning!

I can't help but think that all the great work done by the Glenavy River Angling and Conservation club over the last few years ant the resulting transformation in water quality was as big a factor as the severe frosts in the river freezing.[2]  The ice was another strong sign of recovery in the ecosystem.

Amazingly, the shallow bay at the mouth of the Glenavy River was also frozen on December 8th and I got some photos out there also.  It had to have been the earliest there was ever strong ice on the Lough!

Now the freeze has returned with a vengeance it looks like I may have to eat my words on January 2010 being the last time our part of Lough Neagh would freeze.[3]  Watch this space!


[1]  Details of the severe pollution in the lower stretch of the Glenavy River up to 2008 can be provided on request.  See also:
[2]  The Glenavy River Angling and Conservation club was founded in 2008.  They have been actively restocking the river and fighting pollution over the last two and a half years.  See:
[3]  See the earlier blog post:

Rams Island, taken from the ice on Hillis's bay a hundred meters North of the mouth of the Glenavy River.  Early afternoon, December 8th 2010.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Most people can't just move out of the area!

Container falls of UFBP lorry near bus stop, November 22nd 2010.
A few weeks ago we received a reminder of the dangers of commercial traffic on winding country roads.  A lorry shed its load coming from Glenfarm subsidiary UFBP fifty yards from a bus stop.  The incident provides a sharp illustration of the fears of residents along the proposed routes to and from the incinerator, not least as it leaves people wondering about the basic failures in health and safety processes and procedures that would allow a container to fall off the back of a lorry!

In Lisburn last year Jeffrey Donaldson, the MP for the area until the last election, highlighted that he had already made dozens of complaints to DOE Roads Services on behalf of local residents, stemming from issues with existing HGV traffic to and from the Ulster Farm By-Products plant.  There is already a problem with lorries on narrow country roads as illustrated by this week's incident.  Without doubt a step change in the volume of traffic will make it much worse.

Back in October I had dinner with a prominent Northern Ireland businessman, who was originally from Belfast, but now lives in Glenavy.  His companies employ over 1000 people in Northern Ireland.  He made it clear that he didn't feel strongly about some of the issues the community was concerned about (I emphasized he was a "blow-in" so didn't feel the same connection with Lough Neagh, etc, as us indigenous folks).  However, he thought that CALNI was grossly understating the roads aspect of the Moy Park Incinerator proposal, i.e. the danger and inconvenience posed by hundreds of HGVs trundling down country roads and busy village main streets each day.

In particular, he highlighted that he had made an offer on a house along one of the transport routes to the plant; but swiftly backed out of it and bought a house in a different part Glenavy once he learned about the proposal.  We both lamented that most home owners along the routes can't move and most likely won't be able to do so for the foreseeable future.

For me there are a number of aspects to the roads issue, over and above the fact that the local roads aren't even adequate for the current traffic.

The first is that locating a plant of this nature, way off the beaten track, down winding country roads, in what has become a key commuter area is just a plain dumb idea!

There are lots of sites and industrial areas with world class transport links in Northern Ireland.   Is the plan for us to leave these vacant, forget about all the great road infrastructure and start diverting industrial traffic down winding country roads?

Next, and equally significant, the Northern route into the plant passes through Crumlin main Street, past the new TESCO store, a mini-roundabout beside the Ulster Bank, etc. Crumlin Main Street is busy seven days a week and congestion is already a problem and has been for decades.

Why divert HGV traffic through the town centre? Seems like a really dumb idea?

As highlighted by this week's incident, the locals are very concerned as there are a number of bus stops, either for school buses or general commuters along the routes, including right beside the scene of this week's problems and at the junction of the Ballyvannon Road itself.  Parents are rightly concerned for the safety of their children.  Having a steady stream of HGV traffic to and fro past school bus stops on winding country roads is not a good idea; even more so when there is already a history of issues in the area.

CALNI commissioned a professional road and traffic report on the incinerator proposal, by Kelvin Clarke and Co.  Their conclusion was that while transport issues were most probably not a knock-out for the proposal, it was a poor choice of site given the amount of HGV traffic.  However, critically after driving the route they identified a number of issues that needed to be remedied to make the roads acceptable, including widening the Ballyvannon Road junction with the Lurgan Road.

Planning Services and the DOE Roads Division completely brushed aside the issues raised in this report and suggested remedies.

Candidly, this left me with the impression that the people who carried out the work for the DOE did their initial work as a "desk exercise" and never drove the route.  They also seem to be oblivious to the existing issues in the area.  Rather than admit their oversight and accept what were reasonable suggestions from a credible firm, they brushed them aside to save face.

Is this how we want our government department's to act when children's lives could be at stake?

From my perspective, in circumventing the process by not calling a Public Inquiry, Minister Poots has denied our community the opportunity to raise simple questions, including the roads issue, and demand reasonable remedies.


t:  dannymoore_ni

CALNI Press Release
24 November 2010


Another accident near Glenavy has convinced residents that school children and families are in real danger if hundreds of additional lorries are allowed to travel their roads every day to service the proposed Moy Park Incinerator.

At midday yesterday a lorry delivering to Ulster Farm By-Products was turning from the main Lurgan Road onto the Station Road at the Horse Shoe Inn, when one of the two containers on the rear fell off the lorry and landed on the road in-front of oncoming traffic.

According to local man, Damian Horner, it is not the first time this has happened. “A container came off about a mile further up this same road over a year ago and when a friend of mine came upon it, a field was covered in bits of rotting chicken.”

“This time the container was lying on the wrong side of the road narrowly missing cars which could have been coming the other way. Even more frightening is the danger to school children who could have been waiting on a bus at the junction, they would have been dead.”

Speaking on behalf of the community, CALNI Chairman Ray Clarke, said this was just one of many accidents that routinely happen on the roads around Ulster Farm By-Products, one of the partners in the Moy Park Incinerator.

“Thankfully this time someone had the presence of mind to record the very real danger we face daily on these small rural roads.  It is inconceivable that the Roads Service believe these roads are suitable to handle hundreds of additional lorries every day.

“This Incinerator must be stopped and we call on Edwin Poots to reconsider his decision rather than force the community to continue with court action.”


For further information contact Sheila Davidson on 07785793672

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lignite - environmental triple whammy for Glenavy!

As some of you may be aware the community around Glenavy and Crumlin is now trying to juggle with three environmental hot potatoes.

-  Firstly there is the existing UFBP plant with its horrendous track record for water and odor pollution.  It has racked up close to 1000 complaints for nuisance odor over the last five years and numerous prosecutions for water pollution.
-  Then there is the proposed Moy Park Incinerator, the primary focus for CALNI.
-  Finally over the last few months the issue of open cast lignite mining has come back to the fore.

There are strong suspicions that all three projects are linked.  UFBP is owned by Glenfam who are Moy Park's partner in the incinerator project.  Glenfarm also have an investment in a local mining technology company.  The underlying technology in poultry litter incinerators was originally designed to burn lignite.  Oh yes, and the proposed incinerator site is only a few hundred meters from the original open cast lignite mine!! ...

The Antrim Coal Company is presenting to the Antrim Council planning committee tomorrow afternoon to take them through their plan to re-open the mine.  A delegation from CALNI will be attending.

A friend was doing some research into the ownership of Antrim Coal, some of which can be traced back to Peabody Coal, a listed US company.  He emailed me through details of their environmental record (below).  Based on the Newsweek results they have the worst record of all 500 public companies included in the 2009 & 2010 studies, scoring "1" out of a possible "100"!

It really begs the question of whether Glenavy and Crumlin will soon be Northern Ireland's Sellafield.  We already have the worst odor pollution in the province.  If Moy Park have their way we'll have a large scale incinerator.  If we're lucky we'll also have a Peabody Coal venture up and running before the decade is out!

All fifteen miles from Belfast City Centre as the crow flies, not to mention adjacent to the drinking water supply for hundreds of thousands of people.



Environmental track record
Peabody Energy has been tagged as a major offender of environmental degradation en route to becoming the worldwide leader in low cost energy. It has a long history of opposing efforts to mitigate the negative environmental effects of coal production and combustion. It was an active opponent of efforts to enact a strong Clean Air Act in 1970, of acid rain provisions in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, and throughout the current efforts to significantly strengthen mercury provisions.[12] In a recent report from the National Coal Council, headed by many major executives of Peabody Energy, they called for more than doubling U.S. coal consumption by 2025.[13] Although Peabody Energy’s production has shown negative impacts on the environment, they are taking steps to restore the American Chestnut tree population in Kentucky impacted by formercoal mines. They have been recognized for innovative approaches to stewardship that aim at restoring rangeland, wildlife preserves, wetlands, and hardwood forests.[14] InNewsweek's 2009 Green Rankings, Peabody Energy was ranked #500 out of the top 500 largest US companies based on their environmental impact - they received a environmental impact score a score of 1 out of a possible 100.[15]
And the Newsweek results from 2010, top 500 US companies - bottom 2 0  (ie from 481 - 500)
481Tyson Foods»Food and Beverage51.564.5639.0427.56
482Ralcorp Holdings»Food and Beverage51.438.9223.4513.71
483J. M. Smucker»Food and Beverage51.076.3530.2914.67
484Edison International»Utilities50.973.1838.9051.11
485Smithfield Foods»Food and Beverage50.443.3834.9748.84
486Duke Energy»Utilities49.672.3953.7452.84
487Vulcan Materials»General Industrials48.557.539.3548.28
491Cliffs Natural Resources»Basic Materials43.232.9829.1335.42
492NRG Energy»Utilities37.762.7822.0340.65
493Archer-Daniels-Midland»Food and Beverage33.982.5819.5121.54
495American Electric Power»Utilities30.291.4037.8948.32
496CONSOL Energy»Basic Materials28.782.193.1951.01
497Monsanto»Food and Beverage28.191.997.5546.47
499Bunge»Food and Beverage18.821.2019.4920.10
500Peabody Energy»Basic Materials1.001.0028.4654.46

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Derogation extended to 2014 - Sky continues not to fall

The sky continues not to fall for Marfrig and the Northern Ireland Poultry industry with the announcement of the renewal of the Nitrates Directive Derogation to 2014.

From the outside it appears that Moy Park has had an exceptional year.  It returned to strong profit and acquired O'Kane Poultry giving the merged group a very strong hold over the local industry.  Last week's big news was that the O'Kane turkey processing business which was under severe threat due to a change in EU legislation is back with a vengeance; with a new multi million pound plant supported by InvestNI and the European Development fund commissioned in time for Christmas!!

All of this is great news for the Northern Ireland economy and everyone at CALNI welcomes it wholeheartedly.

It does of course further undermine the notion that the sky is falling and the local industry could fold at any moment!!


t:  dannymoore_ni


23 November 2010

Ministers announce renewal of the Nitrates Derogation to 2014

Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA and Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA have announced that the Nitrates Directive derogation has been renewed for a further four years. 

Approval of the local derogation application has been secured in Brussels following a positive vote by the EU Nitrates Committee. The nitrates derogation enables intensive grassland farms to operate at higher than average stocking rates in return for undertaking additional measures to manage manures and chemical fertilisers.

Announcing the derogation renewal, Minister Gildernew commented: “Operating under a derogation makes good economic sense and is good for the environment. It enables grassland cattle farms to maximise the efficient use of manures for grass production. This EU approval is the conclusion of a lengthy application process and detailed scrutiny by the EU Commission of the scientific case we put forward to support our application.

“DARD advisers will be providing information workshops for farmers who are considering applying or reapplying for a derogation next year. I would encourage those farmers to attend these meetings as they will get advice on whether the derogation is the best option for their farm business to take.”

Also commenting on the nitrates derogation renewal, Minister Poots said: “Renewal of the derogation is good news for local farmers and the environment. Some 150 grassland farmers currently benefit from the derogation. The derogation is important as it allows the sustainable use of grazing livestock manures to meet the higher crop nutrient requirements on these intensively stocked cattle farms.”

“As the derogation helps to protect water quality and promotes best farming practice, I would encourage more farmers to consider applying next year to benefit from the provision which has been secured by the Departments.” 

Notes to editors: 

1. The EC Nitrates Directive (91/676/EEC) requires Member States to introduce action programmes to reduce nitrates from agricultural sources entering the water environment and to review their action programmes every four years. 

2. One key measure of the Nitrates Action Programme is an upper farm limit of 170kg nitrogen per hectare per year (N/ha/year) from livestock manure.

3. The Nitrates Directive allows farmers with intensive grassland farms and higher than average stocking rates to apply to operate under a derogation and extend this limit to a maximum of 250kg N/ha/year.

4. NI was successful in its application to the EU for renewal of the Nitrates Derogation for the period 2011 – 2014.

5. Farms operating under the nitrates derogation must undertake additional nutrient management measures which include:
· preparing a fertilisation plan by 1 March each year;
· preparing an annual fertilisation account and submitting it to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) by 1 March the following year. 
· having at least 80% of the agricultural area in grassland; and 
· having a farm phosphorus balance of no more than 10kg phosphorus per hectare per year.

6. Anyone wishing to obtain derogation for 2011 must submit a completed application form to the NIEA on or before 1 March 2011. Application forms will be available from the or by telephoning 028 9262 3189.

7. DARD Countryside Management Delivery staff at your local DARD Office can provide more information on the Nitrates Directive Derogation. 

8. All media enquiries DARD Press Office, Tel: 028 9052 4619. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lough Neagh Ice - the last time?

January 2010 saw the whole bay from our house out to Rams Island and Langford Lodge Point frozen and snow covered, giving probably the largest extent of ice anywhere in Ireland - perhaps even in the UK.   The picture shows yours truly out on the ice near the mouth of the Glenavy River at sunset.  Scott's of Sandy Bay can be seen almost two miles in the distance.

The bay is covered with a sheet of ice a little more often than most people realize, every 10 years or so; and it's generally possible to walk out on some of the shallow inlets where the water is two to three feet deep, making it relatively safe.  There are stories of my Grandfather falling through the ice on a horse and cart in 1947; my dad plunged into the water when riding a bicycle across the mouth of the Glenavy River in 1963 (to a barbecue in front of Hillis's shore);  I've had a few near misses over the years; but thankfully we all lived to tell the tale.

However, it is much rarer for the main bay to be frozen strong enough to walk on; notably it is effectively open water so needs dead-calm conditions for 3-4 days for ice to build to sufficient thickness.  The last time we were out on the ice between our house and Rams Island was in February 1986 when it was frozen on and off for a month!!.

Before that, the most amazing "frost fair" of my lifetime was a week of hard frost in January 1982 when we also had 5ft snow drifts.  There were hundreds of people out on the ice.  The older generation were quick to mobilize, driven by memories of the winters of 1947 and 1963, when the Lough was frozen for six to eight weeks - events deeply embedded in our folklore.

Quite a few people of that generation walked the two miles from Sandy Bay out to Rams Island on the ice; a feat I've never managed in my lifetime.

Sadly, if the Moy Park Incinerator were to go ahead the thermal pollution would ensure that the bay never freezes again; and that part of our heritage would be lost forever.  It seems like a little thing, but it means a lot to all the people from around the shore.

The ill-informed suggest that the heat would offer wildlife relief during severe cold spells.  This isn't really a factor.  First, Lough Neagh is only 15 miles form the coast so respite is always nearby; and the open water in the middle of the Lough never freezes anyway.  More important though, there are unique cold-water-fish spawning grounds in our part of Lough Neagh, including for protected species like "Pollen."  They need low water temperatures (<5C) to breed.  Those same factors that allow the bay to freeze from time to time are an essential part of the ecosystem.

Destroy them and the whole Lough Neagh ecosystem will be impacted, not just the heritage of a few families around the shore!


t:  dannymoore_ni

Monday, November 8, 2010

Not in anyone's back yard - NIMBY Series Part 2

Time to come back to the second update in the series on the emotional challenges of being a NiMBY and standing up to 'The Man'.  I had planned to finish the series with a post focussed on the idea of "not in anyone's back yard" but pulled it forward by popular demand.

Over the last three years Moy Park and the Poultry Industry have excelled at planning the idea than an incinerator is vital for the survival of the industry into the Northern Ireland psyche.  Seven thousand jobs depend on it - or so the story goes.  The recurring rhetoric has been that there is "No Plan B" and there are "No Alternatives."  If you've read my other posts you'll appreciate that I think this is scaremongering of the worst kind, there are alternatives and if either investors or industry analysts thought that the Moy Park business was hurtling towards the precipice Marfrig shareholders would be charging for the exits.

All that said, the rhetoric has been very sticky within political, business and government circles in Northern Ireland.  I've met with senior members of the assembly, NIO, InvestNI and the business community on other issues over the last few months.  The CALNI campaign has reached the level where it inevitably comes up in conversation.  Without fail the retort is that "well, it has to go somewhere!"  There have even been times when it has got quite nasty, with people accusing me of just trying to pass the problem onto someone else, muttering expletives about NiMBY's under their breath, and being emphatic that if it has to go somewhere it might as well be Glenavy!

All the scientific, planning, business and technical factors some to zero and the discussion degenerates into playground politics; why are CALNI trying to push this onto someone else!!??

Let me make my position and the position of everyone involved with CALNI completely clear.  We think incineration is the wrong technology to solve the problem and we would not wish the Moy Park Incinerator on any community in Northern Ireland. 

We are out and out NiABYs, "Not in Anyone's Back Yard!"

Early in our campaign we came across a quote from Michelle Gildernew, now agriculture Minister, where she emphatically stated that she wouldn't bring up a family within ten miles of one of these plants. I'm firmly of the same view having digested all the information available.

Stepping back, at the most basic level incineration is a very contentious issue in Northern Ireland as in many other parts of the world.  Three of the five major parties in the assembly are firmly against it in their manifesto (Sinn Fein, the SDLP & the Alliance).  The others appear to be pro incineration at the party level (so long as it is in someone else's back yard); but anti at the local level.  Diane Dodds MEP of the DUP is case and point; she praised the decision to progress the Glenavy Incinerator, but led the fight against the Incinerator on the North Foreshore!

Through 2009 we had a rather strange situation which set the local councils in Lisburn and Ballymena at loggerheads.  Ballymena took the position that they were pro Incineration ("in Glenavy"), within the Lisburn Council area.  They began to actively lobby other councils beginning with Carrickfergus, asking that they throw their weight behind Incineration ("in Glenavy").  This came to an abrupt halt once someone pointed out that after a formal site selection survey the top ranking site to locate a poultry litter incinerator in NI was the vacant Mitchilen Plant (in Ballymena), with the site ranked second at Kilroot, in the Carrickfergus council area!

From my perspective, all this stress and conflict stems from the strategic direction chosen by the Moy Park executive team.  The simple truth is that they have put the full weight of their commercial and political machine behind a solution that splits the political parties in Northern Ireland; and more specifically no community wants in their locality or should have to bear.  The proposed plant is not acceptable in anyone's back yard!

My suggestion is that they acknowledge that no community in Northern Ireland wants this solution; and focus their energy on developing some alternatives that are palatable across our society.  They have the power to shape the future of Northern Ireland in a positive way and could set a great example to all of industry by choosing a path to litter disposal that reflected local opinion.

There are plenty of great alternatives out there, as you'll see in my "What there are alternatives!!??" series of posts.  Most of the successful ones initiate virtuous circles where everyone wins.


t:  dannymoore_ni

Sunday, November 7, 2010

On Conspiracy Theories

Over the last week we got a lot of positive feedback on the blog.  However, one or two people accused me of scaremongering or peddling conspiracy theories.

Having the benefit of working in multinational public companies earlier in my career and more recently at a senior level I can assure you that every CEO and executive team of note either has a "five year plan" or is in the process of developing one.

Quite simply there is almost always a strategic plan; it will have been agreed with the company board, and generally where there is significant debt by the banks funding the business.

In the case of Marfrig, they have been exceptionally active in the M&A market in the last three years.  They almost certainly have a clear driving vision, Moy Park appears to be a cornerstone of their plans, and the plan is much bigger than just dominating the Northern Ireland market!!

Worth remembering that one man's conspiracy theory is another man's strategic plan.... and where billions of dollars of investment is involved there is always a plan!


t:  dannymoore_ni

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Marfrig, Competition and the Environment

Quite a number of people have contacted me over the last few days in response to my first two posts on "Standing up to 'The Man'"; where of course Marfrig is The Man.

The feedback has concentrated on three areas, (i) the threat posed by monopolies to our local beef and poultry farmers, the people who see the threat fear for their livelihoods;  (ii) InvestNI's apparent predisposition to throwing huge amounts of money at foreign companies like Marfrig; while legitimate local firms are shunned;  (iii) environmental issues in other parts of the World, including the problems raised in the article below where Marfrig and other South American beef processors are linked to the destruction of the Amazon.

It is great to know that the company is already on Greenpeace's radar.  We will reach out to them over the coming weeks.

At the same time, it has to be said that the threat to our environment and drinking water supply stemming from discharge of large volumes of warm water into Lough Neagh seems uniquely pointless.

Even if the incineration was the desired route, the plant could be located somewhere where the waste heat is put to good use, as in last week's article on alternatives.  Dumping all that heat is an economic crime as well as environmental vandalism.


t:  dannymoore_ni

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Is Dunbia (Dungannon Meats) next for 'The Man'?

A member of the CALNI protest team from the Sial food expo in Paris drew my attention to the similarities between the new Moy Park logo and the logo for Brazilian beef.

It raises the question whether Moy Park is the centerpiece of a strategy to channel South American beef and poultry into the European market?

... and what would it mean for our local producers if they are?

One learns that its always good to explore all the options in business.  Very often rivals signal one strategy to confuse the competition, while aggressively working to a different plan behind the scenes.  Could this be what Marfrig (a.k.a 'The Man') and CEO Marcos Antonio are doing in Northern Ireland?

Could all the fuss over the Moy Park Incinerator really be a distraction drawing attention away from the real agenda?

Lets compare the rhetoric with the facts.

Over the last few years the rhetoric has been clear:  seven thousand jobs are in immediate peril if the Moy Park Incinerator is not given planning permission immediately.  The industry has been in this state of immediate peril since January 2008 and probably before.  Obviously it's almost three years on and the sky hasn't fallen in yet.  But anyone listening to the rhetoric would be forgiven for thinking that Moy Park could collapse at any moment; Marfrig share holders should be running for the exits!

The Marfrig Group's annual reports and analyst coverage of the company paint a different picture.  Moy Park is the centerpiece of the group's European business and poultry segment.  Returns in beef have been a bit depressed recently, and in 2010 the analysts see poultry as the leading part of the business.  Curiously while the rhetoric in Northern Ireland has been all doom and gloom, step up a level and poultry is presented as a great business!... which is it to be?

Similarly, from an investment standpoint, Marfrig have spent circa $1bn in the last few years to take control of their Northern Ireland based European centerpiece and transfer the debt offshore to HQ.  They made further strides this year, acquiring O'Kane Poultry and in doing so creating an effective monopoly over the NI poultry growers.  Not really the actions of a company who thinks the core Moy Park business could hurtle over the precipice at any moment.  It does, however, fit the profile of a business trying to aggressively penetrate the European market.

This apparent contradiction between the rhetoric and the facts should put both the politicians and InvestNI in a very difficult predicament; but they seem oblivious.

For example, InvestNI can justify robust action to protect jobs but the business case would wear very thin indeed if it was actually just subsidizing Marfrig's efforts to create a monopoly.  The problem with a monopoly over the growers is that it will inevitably lead to a significant reduction in the price per bird paid to the farmer; thereafter erosion of margins, inability to cover finance payments, destruction of businesses, bankruptcy, and the loss of family farms long held dear. 

Then there is the issue of import vs export.  InvestNI rightly gives priority to supporting export businesses.   What happens if the real strategy is to build a beach head to deliver South American beef and poultry into the UK and European Union? 

If it is inevitable that the monopoly over the growers will lead to a collapse in prices per bird; we can also infer that a conduit to channel South American beef into Europe via Northern Ireland could be the death knell for our beef farmers. 

Unfortunately, I'm not privy to Marfrig board room discussions, so I can only guess at what 'The Man' is actually thinking.  Perhaps he got sold a 'pup': the Moy Park business is in peril, and he's trying to make the most of a bad deal.  

Alternatively, Moy Park is the centerpiece of a his strategy to dominate Europe with imported South American beef and poultry. 

For me, the ultimate proof point would be if Marfrig were to acquire one of our leading beef processors to extend the European channel.  Dunbia (formerly Dungannon meats) would seem like the natural fit.  It is a high quality outfit located close to the center of gravity of the existing Moy Park business.  Could they be the next acquisition?

Watch this space!!

t: dannymoore_ni


1)  The National Farmers' Union (NFU) has previously expressed fears that Marfrig's acquisition of Moy Park would 'turn out to be a "Trojan Horse" for cheap Brazilian poultry imports'?  (Poultry International, 4 September 2008).
2)  For more information on Dunbia see: 
3)  For more information on CALNI including the Paris protest see:
4)  Brazilan Beef home page: 
5)  Moy Park logo:
6)  There are a number of online references to NFU fears that the Marfrig acquisition makes Moy Park "Trojan Horse" to channel Brazilian beef and poultry into Europe.   For example;

'the deal provoked a protest from the National Farmers' Union in Britain, which gave warning that the purchase of Moy Park should not become a "Trojan Horse" for the import of Latin American carcases into Europe.'

Friday, October 29, 2010

What! There are alternatives!?? (1)


Over the last few years the rhetoric from 'The Man' or at least Moy Park and some of our politicians is that there are no alternatives to large scale incineration, and often no alternatives to locating the plant in a designated beauty spot beside Lough Neagh with all its scientific designations.

We've heard over again that there are "No Alternatives" and "No Plan B."

For any readers not familiar with Northern Ireland, we were masters of simple rhetoric through the troubles, "Ulster says No!," "No Surrender!," etc.  My fear is that some people in the industry have become infected and blinkered in the dark days and don't seem to be able to comprehend the approach to big challenges taken by successful public companies the world over; namely putting in some thought up front and developing a few alternatives.

I'm not normally a fan of MBAs, but this could be one situation where an injection of new blood would really freshen up the thinking....  perhaps we should get a few management trainees over from Brazil to help??

The "What! There are alternatives!??" theme in this blog will keep you up to date with the alternative methods of chicken litter disposal being proposed for NI, or currently being used across Europe and the US.

To begin with there was a great article in the Guardian yesterday describing a digester based biogas CHP solution fed by poultry litter and delivering town heating to 350 homes in Cirencester, Gloucestershire.

Yes!  There are alternatives!


t:  dannymoore_ni

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Standing up to 'The Man' - NIMBY Series Part 1

To begin with I've drafted a series of posts exploring the difficulties faced by communities objecting to even the most controversial of developments and the emotional struggles of being labelled a 'NIMBY' (Not in My Back Yard). 
The posts will centre on our experiences in setting up and running the CALNI (Communities Against the Lough Neagh Incinerator) campaign over the last three years.  We expect that our tussle with 'The Man' will continue for at least another three to four years - so expect a running commentary going forwards!
CALNI is objecting to the construction of what has been dubbed 'The Moy Park Incinerator' at a designated beauty spot on the shores of Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland.  In our case 'The Man' is the Marfrig Group, a Brazilian multinational headed by Marcos Antonio Molina dos Santos.  Marfrig are expanding rapidly, having acquired some thirty eight companies globally through the credit crunch over the last three years, including local companies Moy Park Ltd and O'Kane Poultry[1].  If they aren't the dominant beef and poultry processor on the planet today, they soon will be.  McDonalds is one of their biggest customers.  
It is ironic that our struggle pits a rural Northern Ireland community, including indigenous Lough Neagh eel fishermen, against a South American company, but c'est la vie.  Changing times.....US & European multinationals pillaging the Amazon rain forest is so 1990!
So why focus on the emotions of being labelled a NIMBY? 
Firstly, objecting to developments and being branded a NIMBY is difficult.  Nothing ruins the mood at a business dinner, meeting, or party like the mention of an environmental issue such as the CALNI campaign.  I've lost friends over it, significant business opportunities, and it has created rifts within my extended family (though not those living in the area).  
Objectors are immediately branded as NIMBYs and there's no point denying it.  The term was undoubtedly coined by a well paid PR agency on behalf of a 'multinational' walking over a local community at some point in the past.  Objecting is a dirty business, and ordinary hard working citizens who care about the value of their homes, the health of their grand children, or just the environment are transformed into freaks and pariah simply by raising valid concerns.  The implication is that people who object to developments are 'anti business', 'anti job creation', 'anti progress', 'aren't doing their bit for society' and would rather that 'someone else carried the load'. 
That said, the encouraging thing has been that while mention of the environment or the CALNI campaign brings a certain stigma, some of the top business people I've had the pleasure of knowing over the years have been supportive of my position.  These included Duncan Niederauer, CEO of NYSE Euronext, who supported my position while I worked there (though it has to be said he did not know the specifics of the proposed incinerator or CALNI campaign - just that I wouldn't take a stance against it without good reason).  Peter Fitzgerald of Randox, a former winner of the Irish Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the year and South Antrim's biggest employer, has been outspoken on this issue.  The late Sir Allen McClay, probably Northern Ireland's most prodigious entrepreneur, objected to an earlier waste management planning application for similar reasons to Peter's.  
Over the years the CALNI campaign has also been propelled forward by the efforts of Professor Sir George Bain, who ran the London BusinessSchool for a decade and sat on several dozen boards over the years, including 'Electra Investment Trust Plc', a leading private equity firm[2].
The series is intended to help communities across the world at loggerheads with 'multinationals' come to terms with being labelled a NIMBY.  Hopefully in doing so it will provide some useful insight to help you prevail against all the odds. 
t:  dannymoore_ni 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Slugger update on 'Lough Neagh Incinerator'


To give some background I've added a link to a recent Slugger O'Toole blog entry giving an update on the CALNI campaign.

There is a three minute video interview with yours truly embedded in the entry!  ... Enjoy!–-update-on-the-process/

Note, I never watch myself on screen, but got a lot of positive feedback so I assume it gives some useful perspective.


t:  dannymoore_ni

CALNI President's Blog

I'm kicking off this blog as the next step in taking the CALNI campaign to stop the incinerator planned in Glenavy truly global and virtual.

The team has just completed the migration to a the new website and consolidated content originally split across three sites into one.  The site is also based on a modern web publishing technology ('wordpress'), giving a lot more flexibility.  Refreshing our technology platform lays the foundation for the next three years of the campaign.   We realise that we must get our message to a much broader audience and compete with a rival with infinitely greater resources than we can muster.

Over the last few months I've become critically aware of the difficultly of trying to communicate the complex issues around the campaign to stop what has now been labelled "The Moy Park Incinerator," while simultaneously structuring a message in the simple sound bites required to get picked up by the press.  My intent is to use the blog to dig to the next levels of detail.

Apologies if there are some 'verbose' posts over the next few months!


t:  dannymoore_ni