The High Court has today upheld the decision by An Bord Pleanála granting Glanbia planning permission for the construction of a cheese manufacturing plant in Belview, Co. Kilkenny. The Kilkenny plant is being promoted by the large Dutch dairy processor Royal A-ware, in partnership with Glanbia, which is to supply the milk.

In November 2020 An Taisce brought a legal challenge against the granting of planning permission on several grounds including that the environmental impact of the agricultural activity arising from the production of the estimated 450 million litres of milk per year needed to supply the plant should have been assessed by An Bord Pleanála, particularly the impact from the resulting ammonia and greenhouse gas emissions and the likely deterioration in water quality.

An Taisce is now considering the judgment to determine if there are grounds which warrant an application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal or for an application to the Supreme Court. 

Dr. Elaine McGoff, Natural Environment Officer with An Taisce, said:

In this case the judge did not find in our favour, but this does not alter the validity of our concerns. As consistently confirmed by the EPA, all our environmental indicators are going in the wrong direction, with a drastic loss of water quality and biodiversity, and rising greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions. Our case was that these impacts simply must be taken into account for any large dairy processing facility of the huge scale proposed. Sooner or later Ireland is going to have to face up to its legal obligations and take the necessary action. Failure to do so will result in large costs to the State.

Public participation in the planning process is a cornerstone of Irish democracy, and a legal right under the Aarhus Convention, and it is imperative that environmental non-governmental organisations like An Taisce have access to a review process for problematic planning decisions. An Taisce has, however, very significant concerns in relation to what appears to have been a highly coordinated and high-profile media campaign mounted in order to attempt to influence the outcome of the case after the hearing had concluded.

Dr. McGoff continued 

Ultimately this was not a case taken against farmers - it was a case taken for our environment and the future viability of Irish farming which is currently endangered by planning decisions that are not compliant with our environmental legal obligations. We need to move towards a Just Transition for our farmers and also achieve strong environmental legal compliance in the planning process.