Ballyrashane is set to ­become the first dairy in Northern Ireland to build an anaerobic digester.

Ballyrashane a dairy co-operative that supplies all of M&S’s liquid milk requirement in Northern and the Republic of Ireland hopes the digester will be operational by next spring.

The digester, which will cost £2.5m to build, will generate 750kw of energy a year, most of which will be used by Ballyrashane’s processor at Coleraine. A small excess will be sold to the National Grid.

The project would help drive cost out of running the business, allowing the company to remain competitive, said general manager Nigel Kemps. “With the cost of oil and electricity, we feel it makes sense to go down this route.”

Ballyrashane will use heat from the plant to pasteurise milk and to heat water. Digestate will also be made available for the co-operative’s farmer members to use as fertiliser.