Arla’s £150m super-dairy in Aylesbury was officially opened this morning by Defra secretary of state Owen Paterson.

The dairy has the capacity to produce 1.5 million bottles of milk a day and will be supplied by 900 farmers. It represents Arla’s largest ever single investment, the company said today, and was believed to be the world’s largest fresh milk processing site.

The Aylesbury plant set “new environmental standards”, the dairy co-operative added, and was aiming to be zero-carbon; it has already achieved zero waste to landfill.

“The size and scale of our new dairy reinforces Arla’s leadership within the UK dairy industry and we have drawn a line in the sand when it comes to next-generation fresh milk processing,” said Arla Foods UK CEO Peter Lauritzen.

“Aylesbury has taken advantage of previously untapped technologies and an investment of this scale sends a compelling message to our farmer owners, customers and employees that we have made a long-term commitment to the UK.”  

Owen Paterson added: “Britain’s dairy industry contributes £3.7bn to our economy and Arla’s new facility, the world’s largest fresh milk dairy, is powering economic growth by creating 700 regional jobs, including 90 apprenticeships. This is a major investment.”

The Grocer was given an exclusive tour of the dairy in November 2013, including a first look at the site’s light wells, anaerobic digestion (AD) plants and automated vehicles – or ‘Daleks – un-manned, guided small vehicles that pick up milk trolleys from one part of the milk hall and deliver them to another.

Arla Foods UK has a turnover of £2.2bn and produces dairy brands including Anchor, Cravendale and Lactofree.