An article by Grŵp Llandrillo Menai

The next steps in a series of exciting new projects at Coleg Glynllifon have been unveiled by Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, as it seeks to build on its recent successes and consolidate its position at the cutting-edge of agricultural learning and the rural economy.

The three projects, earmarked for development at its site near Caernarfon, represent a further investment of £16million in the region’s economy including delivery of the Glynllifon Rural Economy Hub, which forms part of the North Wales Growth Deal’s Agri-food and Tourism programme.

In addition to providing a massive boost to the north Wales economy, the money is also a significant investment in the educational future of its students. The new projects will provide a range of modern facilities to help nurture greater learning, entrepreneurship, innovation, knowledge transfer and enterprise development.

The announcement of significant new investment follows recent successes for the college, including its farm winning the best medium-sized Procross herd in the UK, by Viking Genetics, and the forestry department winning the Education and Learning Excellence Awards by the Royal Society of Forestry. Furthermore, the recent £2.1million capital programme to sympathetically repurpose farm buildings built in 1850 to become a sector leading animal care centre was recognised at the Green Apple Environment Awards in London, picking up a series of accolades, including a Gold award in the conversion projects category.

Set over 750 acres of mixed agricultural land, the Coleg Glynllifon campus represents a unique resource providing a stimulating learning environment for young people and a comprehensive programme of courses to service the needs of the local land-based economy. Facilities include an innovation farm, educational facilities which teach over 600 learners every year and an established centre for enterprise, which delivers over 200 land-based industry short courses annually.

Building on these existing facilities are plans for a multi-million pound investment to develop dairy production and infrastructure, which will help promote animal welfare, sustainability and green growth.

With decarbonisation and the move to a net zero future at the heart of the Welsh Government’s recently published vision document for the food and drink industry, the project represents a fantastic opportunity for Coleg Glynllifon to be at the vanguard of low carbon dairy farming.

With plans including the use of technologies such as robotics, Artificial Intelligence enabled cameras and automated welfare and environment controls, both students and the wider agricultural industry will be able to make full use of the new facilities to find innovative solutions to future challenges facing the sector.

In addition to the new dairy production centre, there are also plans to develop a £1.3m sheep milking facility on the site.

Featuring a milking parlour and sheep handling units, the new facility will prove to be an invaluable asset to the sheep and dairy industry as it works with wider partners to drive knowledge transfer within the sector and establish a sustainable future for the production of sheep milk in Wales.

Underpinning the unveiling of the two new developments within the dairy and sheep industry is the proposed Glynllifon Rural Economy Hub, which represents a significant investment into the future economic prosperity of the entire north Wales economy.

An integral part of the North Wales Growth Deal, the project includes plans for Food Incubator Units, which will include flexible food grade units designed to attract start-ups and growth SMEs. In addition there will be a Knowledge Centre that will create a pool of “know-how” and practical experience to stimulate innovation, enterprise growth and rural development across all sectors, for example demonstrating sustainable energy, robotics and telecommunications.

The plans for a distinctive and world-class Rural Economy Hub provides a transformational opportunity for the region’s economy. It will help drive growth in the food and drink sector and wider industries by providing a platform for innovation and the increased investment in digital infrastructure.

Some of the key initial objectives of the project include generating up to £50million of additional GVA to the north Wales economy, creating over 100 new jobs and supporting 200 businesses every year to reduce their carbon footprint and respond to new opportunities.

However, it is not only the region’s economy that will benefit from the new cutting-edge facilities. The three new projects will also greatly enhance and enrich the experience of learners and staff at Coleg Glynllifon.

Speaking of his excitement at the opportunities for learners that will come with the new developments, Dafydd Evans, Chief Executive of Grŵp Llandrillo Menai said,

These projects represent a significant investment in our vision for Coleg Glynllifon to secure its role as the leading agricultural knowledge and education provider in Wales and the UK.

They will see Coleg Glynllifon not only continue to teach new skills to young people, but also provide a transformational opportunity for the whole rural economy in north Wales to come together and exchange knowledge, innovate, and access wider support.

The North Wales Growth Deal is a £1billion investment to the North Wales economy, £240m of which has been funded by both UK and Welsh Government. The investment will be used towards building a more vibrant, sustainable and resilient economy for the region. The aim is to build on existing strengths and boost productivity, while tackling long-term challenges and economic barriers to deliver inclusive growth across all sectors.

Speaking about its investment in the proposed Rural Economy Hub, Alwen Williams, Portfolio Director at Ambition North Wales said,

Coleg Glynllifon’s Rural Economy Hub is one of the first projects to progress through the Growth Deal, and the proposed development will bring significant and long-lasting benefits to the whole of north Wales.

As we all experience the rising cost of food, the importance of high-quality, sustainable and locally produced products has never been greater. The Hub represents a huge opportunity for the food and drink industry in north Wales, and will help drive growth through supporting new and developing food businesses, create new job opportunities, bolster the supply chain and bring increased private sector investment to the region.