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High Court upholds cheese plant planning permission despite environmental impact argument

High Court upholds cheese plant planning permission despite environmental impact argument

The High Court has upheld the planning permission decision for the construction of a controversial cheese manufacturing plant in County Kilkenny. The plant is being promoted by the Dutch dairy processor Royal A-ware in partnership with Glanbia, who is slated to supply the milk for the operation.   An Taisce brought a legal challenge against the plant being granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanála in November and argued that the environmental impact of the site should have been assessed in the decision-making process.  The plant is estimated to require 450 million litres of milk each year and will result in higher ammonia and greenhouse gas emissions as well as further deterioration in water quality, according to An Taisce. The organisation is now considering the judgment to see if there are grounds to take the case to the Court of Appeal or to the Supreme Court.

In reaction to today’s ruling, Natural Environment Officer with An Taisce Elaine McGoff said that while the judge did not rule in An Taisce’s favour, the validity of An Taisce’s concerns remain unaltered.  “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,” Dr. McGoff said.

Given its legal obligations, Ireland will have to take the necessary action and “failure to do so will result in large costs to the State,” she added.   Dr. McGoff also stressed that the case was not one “taken against farmers” and that rather it was advanced “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.”

Agriculture remains the largest emitting sector in Ireland, accounting for 37.7 per cent of total emissions according to the latest EPA data.  The current model has also resulted in the pollution of almost half of Irish rivers, lakes, so much so that they are considered to be in an unhealthy state.

Ireland has also exceeded its ammonia limits under the National Emission Ceiling Directive since 2016, and current projections anticipate it will continue to do so beyond the end of the decade.  Ammonia is a toxic gas that is a major by-product of animal-based agriculture and is one of the most lethal forms of air pollution.

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