It remains unclear whether Partners in Cheese has scrapped plans to build a cheese factory in Cumbria.

Sources close to the Dutch-backed consortium said they understood that the initiative was dead in the water, although venture MD Ronald Akkerman, declined to discuss the matter.

The scheme was to be funded by farmers and regional grants. However, sufficient finance from milk producers proved impossible to secure.

Akkerman said earlier that PiC would decide in the spring whether to go ahead with the plant as a standalone business.

NFU chief dairy adviser Tom Hind said he was disappointed. "We saw value in investing in modern cheese production in that part of the country."