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25/09/2021

Taoiseach weighs in on Kilkenny cheese plant saga with An Taisce

'I would appeal that there be no further appeals against this project now' says Micheal Martin

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin

Taoiseach Micheal Martin

The Taoiseach has intervened in the ongoing saga over a cheesemaking plant proposed for Belview in South Kilkenny.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin spoke in the Dáil where he asked for no more appeals regarding the granting permission for the Glanbia plant.

“That project is of immense economic importance to the region and also to the expansion of the dairy industry,” said Mr Martin.

“It has gone through a very lengthy process already — it has gone through the judicial process. I would appeal that there be no further appeals against this project now, given the fact that the courts have ruled very clearly in relation to it and that many, many jobs depend on it. There has to be balance in terms of how we all behave in society.

"We can't all be absolutist in the pursuit of our own objectives to the exclusion of the wellbeing of others in society - and I think the balance has been tipped to the wrong scale here now completely."

DISAPPOINTED
Earlier in the week, Glanbia Ireland said it was deeply disappointed with An Taisce’s decision to seek leave to appeal the High Court decision to dismiss its challenge against An Bord Pleanála’s grant of planning permission for the cheese processing facility.

The High Court last month upheld the planning approval granted by An Bord Pleanála for a new continental cheese facility at Belview. It was previously given the go-ahead by Kilkenny County Council.

“We passionately believe in this project, which is critical to our market diversification post Brexit and will support Ireland’s post-Covid recovery,” said Glanbia Ireland chairman John Murphy said.

“The combined impact of An Taisce objections to this project has been a two-year delay to 2024, but an appeal could delay the project even further. This would be bad for farmers, bad for rural communities and would hurt Ireland’s reputation internationally as a location for much-needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

“As an organisation we are fully committed to sustainability best practice and are actively engaged in the consultation process on Government policies to secure a sustainable future for the agricultural sector, through AgClimatise and FoodWise 2030.

“As has always been the case, we remain available to meet with An Taisce to address their concerns through constructive dialogue.”

CRITICISED
Meanwhile, a group of six Fine Gael Oireachtas members, including Kilkenny TD John Paul Phelan strongly criticised An Taisce and said the decision to appeal would be a major blow to thousands of dairy farmers.

“This notice to appeal the decision made by Kilkenny County Council, An Bord Pleanala and now the High Court doesn’t cast Ireland in a good light locally, regionally or internationally – particularly at a time when we urgently need foreign direct investment and sustainable, well-paying jobs in our rural economy,” said the group in a statement.

“How An Taisce (funded by the taxpayer) are taking the planning system and Government policy to a second court is beyond comprehension, as is how they are also objecting to housing, and forestry up and down the country.”

The group described An Taisce as a threat to rural Ireland and called for the Government to look at its funding.

“In taking this further appeal An Taisce is alienating the main group involved in environmental protection across Ireland – our farmers and their families,” the statement said.

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