Dairy farmers supplying two First Milk creameries in some of the more fragile areas of Scotland have been dealt a hammer blow by news of the closure of the Arran creamery and the intention to scale back operations at Campbeltown.

Though it still hopes to sell the Kintyre creamery to local farmers, the outlook is bleak for dairy farmers on Arran and unsettling for those in the peninsula, where it is ideal for milk production.

First Milk has already entered into employee consultation with employees at the small Arran facility, but it confirmed that it is in discussions with Kintyre farmer members, with the active involvement of the Scottish Government, 'which will hopefully conclude with the Campbeltown Creamery being owned by the local farmers'.

First Milk hopes the farmers will form a new co-operative to operate the creamery independently of First Milk, though it has already begun to scale back its operations.

James Barbour, chairman of the Kintyre milk producers working group, said: “First Milk has worked hard to secure a sustainable future for the Campbeltown Creamery over the last 12 months. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to secure an external buyer and yet we believe that it is important to retain processing capacity on Kintyre for the long-term security of the dairy farmers here.

"As a result, we are working together to try to secure the site for the future, although there is still considerable work to do to bring this to a conclusion.”

Off the back of the announcement NFU Scotland's milk committee chair, John Smith – who supplies the creamery in Kintyre – said: “The news coming out of Arran and Campbeltown is extremely disappointing, especially for the staff and dairy farmers who will be affected by the decision. There has been a cloud of doubt hanging over both factories for the past 15 months since First Milk announced their intention to offload the creameries in April, 2018. This decision is unfortunately the outcome.

“NFU Scotland has been involved and offered support to the communities over the past year, with several of our members certain to be affected. Being a dairy farmer from Campbeltown I am well aware of the implications this announcement will have on the dairy supply chain and the wider community.

“The lack of dairy processing in Scotland is a serious concern for our industry, especially with the uncertainty of Brexit looming, and loses like these only make the dairy supply chain that little bit more vulnerable.

“Despite the scaling down of production in Campbeltown, we welcome the news that First Milk has confirmed it is in discussions with local Kintyre farming members, with the active involvement of the Scottish Government, which will hopefully conclude with the Campbeltown Creamery being owned by the local farmers. It is vital that both milk and cheese productions continue in an area which plays a vital role in the dairy sector in Scotland.”

The creameries were put up for sale in April, 2018, when First Milk announced that its Campbeltown and Arran Creameries were not core to its business strategy for the future.