IN A WEEK of outstanding economic news for Montrose (see front page), the new Angus Cereals store and grain drying facilities were opened on Wednesday by Richard Lochhead, rural affairs secretary at Holyrood.
There is capacity for 23,500 tonnes of barley in the highly distinctive storage bins, which are clearly visible at the harbour on the Ferryden side of the South Esk. The driers have a combined capacity of 300 tonnes per hour.
Two full-time jobs have been created, and there will be four more seasonal jobs.
Mr Lochhead praised the 46 members of Angus Cereals Co-operative for taking the initiative in building the store and added: “It has been delivered on target and on time, unlike other projects I could mention such as the Edinburgh trams!”
A member of the co-operative, David Fairlie, Balmirmer, told the Review that the contractors had done very well indeed.
The contract was awarded to Banchory Contractors, and a great deal of the work was sub-contracted to Geddes Group, Swirlburn, Arbroath.
Mr Fairlie explained that some of the barley will be exported by sea to countries such as France or Germany for brewing beer, whilst lower nitrogen varieties will be delivered to Scottish distilleries.
At one point there was a proposal to build the facility at Hillside, which Mr Fairlie described as: “The best thing that didn’t happen!”
In fact, the grain stores are no more than 50 or 60 metres away from the new quay at the harbour.
Deliveries of grain are to be exclusively by bulk lorry, and no longer will there be long queues of tractors and bogies. One reason for this is that each load has to have a sample taken from it, which takes the same amount of time whether the load is 30 tonnes or three, and in any case farmers are likely to find it more economical to hire in a lorry to do the work.
The new facility cost £8.3 million, of which £2.26 million was grant aid.
But the development does not stop there, because phase two is going to be built for next year’s harvest, almost doubling the storage capacity, and phase three is planned for the year after that.
Marketing partner in the venture is Openfield, and the Montrose depot gives them a total capacity of one million tonnes.