Legal challenge to planning for McDonald’s near Wicklow schools

A secondary school has launched a legal challenge to planning approval for a McDonald’s restaurant located less than 100 metres from its front entrance and two other schools.

Temple Carraig secondary school, Greystones, Co Wicklow, claims McDonald’s Restaurants Ireland Ltd chose the location for its planned drive-through restaurant at Blacklion Neighbourhood Centre because it is close to three schools which expect to cater for 1,800 students.

The decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant approval for the restaurant fails to take account of national policy concerning the health of children and to reduce childhood obesity, it is alleged.

The Government had in March 2013 published a strategy entitled Healthy Ireland, a Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013-2025 which identified childhood obesity as a major public health issue, the school claims. Part of the remit of a special action group on obesity is an examination of how schools can influence healthy eating and responsible food choices.

A healthy eating policy is in force in the school which features the importance of food choices and applies criteria for food choice within the school involving more fruit and vegetables, and less fat, sugar and salt and other additives, the High Court heard.

Mr Justice Richard Humphreys granted leave for judicial review of the September 30, 2015, decision by the board to grant permission for a development comprising the McDonald’s restaurant, a health and fitness studio and a commercial unit at the Blacklion Neighbourhood Centre.

The proposed development is close to three schools on the Blacklion campus — Temple Carraig secondary school, Gaelscoil na gCloch Liatha and Greystones Educate Together.

The action is by the Temple Carraig Secondary School Board of Management, Jarlath Fitzsimons SC, for the school, told the court.

After Wicklow County Council granted permission for the development subject to various conditions, the school and others appealed to An Bord Pleanála. Their appeal failed and the board granted approval subject to 11 conditions.

Among other grounds of challenge it is claimed the board failed to itself carry out an appropriate assessment concerning whether the proposed development was likely to have a significant effect on a European site.

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