An Taisce has confirmed that it intends to seek leave to appeal the recent High Court ruling, which granted Glanbia planning permission to construct a €140m cheese plant in Co. Kilkenny.
Having considered the High Court judgment “in detail”, An Taisce “believe it raises points of law of exceptional importance that should be appealed in the public interest”.
It said these go to the fundamental legal obligations for environmental assessment in planning matters, in particular in relation to dairy processing.
‘No room for increases’
“We are, therefore, compelled by our 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 requires it to engage with the planning system to promote human and ecosystem wellbeing and resilience for the benefit of the nation.”
“Were An Taisce not to challenge this decision, it would establish a precedent on which future decisions may legitimately rely. “
“In the first instance, we retain a fundamental concern for the way this specific development will add to the perilous state of Ireland’s carbon and pollution footprint.”
“Dairy production, and the supporting chain of industrial activity and animal husbandry, is 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 is required to reduce environmental impacts from current levels. There is no room for increases.”
“In that context, 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.
Expansion of intensive dairying ‘an existential threat’
An Taisce stressed it is “aware” of the scale and tone of public comment since it first sought a review of this planning decision.
“Contrary to some public commentary, we care deeply about the viability of Irish rural life. We want the long-term sustainability of Ireland’s agriculture and food sector to be assured, but the continued expansion of intensive dairying presents an existential threat to that possibility.”
“Science supports this view and we feel strongly that decision-makers and commercial interests must recognise the urgent need to bring us into compliance with our binding national and European legal obligations.”
“That means emphasising the need for a Just Transition model where all of the partners in society work in unison to plan and deliver a package of complementary interventions to secure livelihoods while shifting rapidly to sustainable methods of production.”
“We recognise that we are holding a position that differs from strong and vocal lobby groups who have a primary obligation to shareholder and contractual partners.”
“We are obliged to remain independent of political or commercial influences and are guided only by scientific intelligence including that supplied by expert European institutions and the competent state agencies here in Ireland.”
“Against that backdrop, we will be steadfast in our end focus, but we are 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 spokesperson concluded.