Waterford Chamber has welcomed the commencement of construction on the €59m upgrade to the Coillte Panel Products SmartPly manufacturing facility in Belview, Waterford Port.
Minister of State Tom Hayes TD marked the beginning of construction today (Friday, January 30), which includes the development of a new Coillte Panel Products Innovation Centre, will create over 300 jobs during construction, and will secure the plant as one of the South East region’s biggest exporters.
Speaking at the event Minister Hayes said: “SmartPly has been a hub of manufacturing activity for the South East region, constantly innovating, creating products that are used all over the world. The wood panel industry has a valuable role to play in Ireland’s export industry and this investment in both manufacturing and research and development will secure Coillte Panel Products as a major player in the European Panel products sector well into the future.”
Nick Donnelly, CEO Waterford Chamber said: “This is a welcome boost to the local construction industry and is hopefully a sign of things to come in the future. Smartply are significant employers in the region and they are showing confidence in the area by expanding their facility. The inclusion of an Innovation Centre is very exciting in terms of research, training and development and will certainly put the facility and the region firmly on the map.”
SmartPly, a Coillte company, currently employs over 160 people directly at the plant and 250 indirectly in the wider area. The plant uses trees, harvested mainly in the Southern part of the country, to manufacture innovative and sustainable wood products used by building companies in flooring, building frames, roofing, and many other applications. In 2014 SmartPly had total sales of approx 300,000 m3, of which over 90% represented products produced for export mainly through ports in the south east.
“This investment of €59m in our SmartPly manufacturing centre is part of a strategy to develop innovative new products and enable the company to increase sales in existing and new markets,” said Acting Coillte CEO Gerry Britchfield.
“For our suppliers, including farmers and private forestry growers, the new facility provides a long-term destination for pulp wood from forest thinning, as well as underpinning Coillte’s own supply to SmartPly in the region.”
Coillte’s forests have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) scheme since May 2001, which demonstrates that they are well managed in accordance with strict environmental, social and economic criteria. The certificate is issued for five years and in 2011 Coillte successfully retained its FSC certificate following a full audit of its forests. In 2014 Coillte also secured certification by PEFC, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes, another external validation of how we manage our forests. In 2013 Coillte won the Millicom Award for Environmental & Corporate Sustainability at the European Business Awards.