The Supreme Court will hear the appeal against the planning decision
AN TAISCE Has been allowed to appeal to the Supreme Court a High Court decision which dismissed his appeal against the granting of a building permit for a multi-million euro cheese factory in Kilkenny.
The environmental NGO voiced concerns about the plant’s environmental impact assessment and challenged An Bord Pleanála’s decision to allow it.
He took the initial challenge to the High Court – but that case was overturned by the court earlier this year. In July, the High Court also dismissed An Taisce’s challenge to seek leave to appeal the decision.
Last month, An Taisce’s board unanimously agreed to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. This has now been approved, paving the way for the group to take the challenge to Ireland’s highest court.
The proposed cheese factory would be located at Belview in Kilkenny, near the Waterford border, and would make edam and gouda cheese.
This is a joint venture between Glanbia and the Dutch company Royal A-ware, as part of a strategy to diversify the Irish export market.
Responding to today’s development, Glanbia Ireland Chairman John Murphy said the company remains “fully committed to this project”.
“This project is essential to our market diversification after Brexit,” Murphy said in a statement.
The Irish Farmers Association criticized An Taisce for his call, saying he is “likely to block the project for another six months”.
“Each time, the process proved the application right. To oppose for fun is an abuse of the system, ”said IFA President Tim Cullinan.
Kilkenny County Council granted a building permit in November 2019 for the development of the Belview Industrial Park cheese factory in Kilkenny.
An Taisce lodged an appeal in December of the same year with An Bord Pleanála against the granting of an authorization on the basis of an environmental impact assessment. However, he gave the green light to the project in July 2020.
Then, in November last year, An Taisce was allowed by the High Court to seek judicial review of the planning process.
In April of this year, the High Court dismissed this request and An Taisce’s subsequent request to appeal the decision was also dismissed.
Now, the organization has been allowed to appeal the High Court’s decision to dismiss its case against An Bord Pleanála’s July 2020 ruling to the Supreme Court.
In May of this year, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin had demanded that no further appeal be brought against the project which he described as being “of immense economic importance”.
“I would appeal so that there are no more appeals against this project now, since the courts have ruled very clearly on it and many jobs depend on it,” Martin said in the Dáil.
Glanbia previously said the cheese factory is “essential” infrastructure and will help support the local rural economy.
It aims to create 100 permanent jobs in the plant, and up to 400 jobs during construction. Glanbia said they are “completely satisfied” with the merit of the project and are happy to work with any stakeholders on their concerns.
In today’s Supreme Court statement seen by The newspaper, the court said the opinions filed and the High Court ruling show the issue concerns questions of evidence in cases where a development project may impact areas protected under the Habitats Directive. .
The court said it considered providing more clarity as to the appropriate approach to evidence or arguments regarding relevant scientific issues in judicial review proceedings to be a “matter of general public importance”.
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Tim Cullinan of the IFA said in a statement in July that the proposal should “go ahead without delay” after An Taisce’s appeal was denied to the High Court.
“As the most exposed sector in the country, it is unwise of any organization to hamper a worthy initiative designed to protect the livelihoods of farm families and the rural economy of the southeast,” Cullinan said.
An Taisce said he was “very aware” of concerns within the farming community and elsewhere regarding the welfare of farmers who have invested heavily in the sector.
But he argued that the implications of the expansion of this sector for ecosystems and rural communities are “huge and irreversible”.
In a statement last month, An Taisce said it would be “irresponsible” for the organization not to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.
The cheese factory is expected to diversify Irish cheese production as part of a post-Brexit strategy.
Ireland and the UK are the only consumers of cheddar cheese in significant quantities, so plans are underway to produce cheeses on the island of Ireland for export to the EU.
Additional reporting by Niall Sargent and Gráinne Ní Aodha.