Glanbia’s proposed €140m cheese plant in Belview will now proceed, following a two-year delay.
This morning (Wednesday, February 16th, 2022), the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal An Taisce took against planning permission granted for the cheese plant.
The planned continental cheese production facility is a joint venture between Glanbia Ireland and international dairy firm, Royal A-ware.
The Kilkenny Cheese joint venture was announced in January 2019 with the intention to enter production in 2022.
Kilkenny County Council granted planning for the new cheese facility at Belview in November 2019.
However, An Bord Pleanála refused an appeal and granted permission in June 2020. On April 20th, 2021, the High Court upheld the planning approval An Bord Pleanála granted.
After an unsuccessful application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal in July 2021, An Taisce subsequently brought the matter to the Supreme Court, which heard the case in January 2022.
Speaking following the decision, Glanbia Ireland Chief Executive Jim Bergin said:
“We are pleased that we can now bring this project to fruition in conjunction with our partners, Royal A-ware.”
“This project is in line with Government policy and is critical to our market diversification post-Brexit.”
He said that getting the plant into production as soon as possible is now of “huge” importance to its 4,500 farm families.
He said the project was due to commence production in March of this year; however, the delay is causing “very negative” impacts for its farm families.
“Our team is now focused on getting the plant into production for the 2024 season. We are extremely grateful to our joint venture partners, Royal A-ware, for their patience over the past two years as this project successfully progressed through the planning and legal processes.”
End to uncertainty
Glanbia Ireland chairman John Murphy said:
“We are hopeful that today’s ruling brings an end to uncertainty for farm families and to the significant extra costs, including income foregone by farmers, construction cost inflation, legal costs and business disruption that the delay has caused.”
As well as supporting the incomes of 4,500 farm families, the partners expect the new Enterprise Ireland-supported cheese production facility to create 85 full-time jobs and support 400 construction jobs in the south-east.
An Taisce reacts
An Taisce has released a statement outlining that it made the appeal in the belief that the tests and structures in place were “insufficient”.
A spokesperson for An Taisce said it “notes and respects” today’s decision.
“We appreciate the attention the Supreme Court gave to what was clearly recognised as an issue at the heart of environmental law.”
The spokesperson acknowledged that whilst its appeal may have been dismissed, it has nevertheless raised “important and practical” issues regarding the development consent process.
“Regrettably, the issues raised by this case have not gone away. We fully acknowledge the difficulties this important case presented for the developers, their investors and, in particular, their suppliers.”
“An Taisce very much supports a just transition to a sustainable system of food production that guarantees a viable agriculture sector in the context of our adaptation to climate change.”
“We value the opportunity to engage in the planning process and. We will continue in our vital role as an environmental watchdog.”
The spokesperson said An Taisce will “continue to study” the full judgement.