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Date: 6th March 2013

Construction work has now begun at Newton Rigg College to build a state of the art dairy unit at the College's Sewborwens Farm near Penrith.

The £2m project will see a modern and commercial unit for 250 cows, and is a significant milestone, not only for the College, but for Cumbria and the North West.

"The college lost its cows when Newton Rigg fell victim to the Foot and Mouth epidemic in 2001,"said Mrs Philip, Chief Executive, Askham Bryan College. " When Newton Rigg became part of the Askham Bryan College family back in August 2011, we promised to bring back the cows and return agriculture to the heart of the College so this is a hugely important day for the region's farmers as well as the College. Seeing the diggers here is a wonderful sight and is the culmination of months of anticipation, planning and sheer hard work."

The unit is part of a £3m development plan, which will also see the creation of the National Centre for the Uplands  at the College's hill farm, and a re-configuration and upgrade of the lecture rooms and administration offices on the campus. It will also benefit the College's agriculture students who will not only be able to see the unit being built but in due course will use it for their practical studies, with hands on involvement in milking, calving and care of the high health and welfare herd.

The dairy unit is based at the Sewborwens farmstead and comprises two buildings, one entirely of cubicles for the milking herd, with the other housing the parlour. The emphasis is on minimising endemic disease and ensuring maximum cattle health and comfort.  Observation galleries are included, plus there will be solar panels and rainwater collection will assist in the practical teaching of environmental studies. It is expected to be complete in time for the start of the academic year in September.

Governors Alan Bowe of the Carlisle based H & H Group and Cumbrian vet, David Black have played a major role in formulating the plans, working with Mrs Philip, Principal Wes Johnson and Farm Manager, Jonathan Fisher. Involving the local farming community has been important with their views being considered for the plans.

Cubby Construction, which is based in Carlisle are the main contractors, and Director Tommy Cubby was on hand to supervise the work underway.

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Newton Rigg College,
CA11 0AH
01768 893400