Plans by Glanbia for a €140m cheese manufacturing facility in Kilkenny have to be put on hold following objections against the development by two leading environmental groups.
An Taisce and Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) have both lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála against the recent decision of Kilkenny County Council to grant permission to the global nutrition group for a continental cheese manufacturing plant in the IDA’s Belview Science and Technology Park near the Port of Waterford.
The project is being developed by JHOK Ltd — a joint venture between Glanbia and Dutch dairy group, Royal A-Ware.
The company plans to develop a Dutch-style cheese production facility on a 10-hectare site next to an existing Glanbia milk processing plant in Belview.
It expects the plant, which will employ around 80 people, will produce approximately 40,000 tonnes of continental cheeses in 13kg-15kg so-called ‘euro blocks’ per year, as well as 11,500 tonnes of value added cheeses in sizes varying from 250g to 3kg across two production lines.
The company had hoped to begin construction work on the project next year with the plant becoming operational by the end of 2022.
The plant will operate on a 24/7 basis across three shifts for 40 weeks of the year, closing down for 12 weeks during the winter months.
In its appeal, FIE claimed the project was being made possible by the Government-supported Foodwise 2025 strategy which aimed to increase the production and export of dairy goods.
However, FIE said the intensification of the Irish dairy sector was having multiple adverse impacts in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, the deterioration of water quality and ammonia levels.
FIE director Tony Lowes said such a level of impacts had not been foreseen by Foodwise 2025 so that corrective action was now required, including the destocking of Ireland’s bovine herd.
He claimed an environmental impact assessment submitted by JHOK did not contain sufficient information about the impact of the increase in milk production required for the plant.
An Taisce claimed the application by the company was “premature” ahead of the details of CAP reform due to be published in 2020.
The organisation claimed the processing and export targets for the dairy sector in Foodwise 2025 needed to be reviewed.
An Taisce said the issues it was raising were not only relevant to Ireland but to the future of food production in Europe and all around the world, particularly given what it claimed was “the unsustainable expansion of the Dutch dairy industry”.
It said the same issues may also arise in a similar arrangement between Dairygold and the Norwegian company TILE for a new cheese factory in Mogeely, Co Cork.
An Taisce claimed Glanbia had failed to address the upstream impact of the additional bovine herd numbers required to provide the 450 million litres of milk needed annually to serve the proposed development in Belview.
A local residents association has also expressed concern about the proposed new plant, saying there were already issues with noise, traffic and odour from the existing Glanbia factory in the area.
An Bord Pleanála is expected to issue a ruling in the case by late April.