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Cheese Plant Row Set To Spread Further

by Edited by Jimmy Rhatigan

An Taisce is to seek leave to appeal the recent decision of the High Court dismissing its challenge against the decision of An Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission for the development of a cheese processing plant.
The proposal is a joint venture between Glanbia and Dutch company Royal A-Ware at Belview Science and Technology Park, Slieverue, County Kilkenny.
An Taisce is a charity that works to promote environmental awareness and action in the context of the climate and biodiversity emergencies.
It had a prescribed role as a statutory consultee on planning and environmental matters under Irish planning legislation.
Having considered the High Court judgment in detail, An Taisce told Kilkenny Press that it believed it raised points of law of exceptional importance that should be appealed in the public interest.
These went to the fundamental legal obligations for environmental assessment in planning matters, in particular in relation to dairy processing.

An Taisce said that it was therefore compelled by its statutory role to seek an appeal based on concerns about the specific project, and the precedent this judgment might set in relation to other similar or comparable projects in the future.

In addition to the specific concerns for intensification of the dairy sector, An Taisce’s mandate required it to engage with the planning system to promote human and ecosystem wellbeing and resilience for the benefit of the nation, Kilkenny Press was told.
Were An Taisce not to challenge this decision, it would establish a precedent on which future decisions may legitimately rely, a statement continued.
In the first instance, it retained a fundamental concern for the way this specific development would add to the perilous state of Ireland’s carbon and pollution footprint.
Dairy production, and the supporting chain of industrial activity and animal husbandry, it was claimed, was a substantial contributor to Ireland already breaching key European metrics for emissions and environmental controls.

To align with its own national Climate Action Plans and with EU Directives on water quality, biodiversity and ammonia emissions, Ireland was required to reduce environmental impacts from current levels.
There was no room for increases.
In that context, An Taisce said it would be unconscionable to ignore the impact of the increased production required for this development and the inevitable added negative impact on the environmental performance of the Irish dairy industry.
An Taisce was aware of the scale and tone of public comment since it first sought a review of this planning decision. Contrary to some public commentary, it cared deeply about the viability of Irish rural life.
An Taisce wanted the long-term sustainability of Ireland’s agriculture and food sector to be assured, but the continued expansion of intensive dairying presented an existential threat to that possibility.
Science supported this view and An Taisce felt strongly that decision makers and commercial interests must recognise the urgent need to bring the country into compliance with binding national and European legal obligations.

That meant emphasising the need for a Just Transition model where all of the partners in society worked in unison to plan and deliver a package of complementary interventions to secure livelihoods while shifting rapidly to sustainable \methods of production.
An Taisce recognised that it was holding a position that differed from strong and vocal lobby groups that had a primary obligation to shareholder and contractual partners.
It was obliged to remain independent of political or commercial influences and was guided only by scientific intelligence including that supplied by expert European institutions and the competent State agencies in Ireland.
Against that backdrop An Taisce would be steadfast in its end focus, but it is open also to discussion at all times in the interest of finding alternate ways by which the Irish environment can be protected for current and future generations, both rural and urban, the statement concluded.

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