Glanbia said it notes with “deep disappointment” An Taisce’s intention to appeal the High Court’s decision to grant planning permission for the development of a cheese processing plant at Belview Science and Technology Park, Kilkenny.
The planning authority said it believed there were “points of law of exceptional importance” - in respect of the decision - that needed to be appealed in the public interest.
“These go to the fundamental legal obligations for environmental assessment in planning matters, in particular in relation to dairy processing,” An Taisce continued.
“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.”
The public body went on to say that its mandate requires it to engage with the planning system to promote human and ecosystem wellbeing and resilience for the benefit of the nation and if it failed to challenge the decision, a precedent on which future decisions may legitimately rely, would be set.
“We retain a fundamental concern for how this specific development will add to the perilous state of Ireland’s carbon and pollution footprint,” it added.
“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 for the environmental performance of the Irish dairy industry.”
Meanwhile, Glanbia Ireland’s chairman, John Murphy, pointed to the “passion” that the co-op had in respect of the cheese processing facility, which he added, “is critical to our market diversification post Brexit and will support Ireland’s post-Covid recovery”.
“We passionately believe in this project and an appeal could delay the project even further,” he added.
“This would be bad for farmers, bad for rural communities and would hurt Ireland’s reputation internationally as a location for much-needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
“As an organisation we are fully committed to sustainability best practice and are actively engaged in the consultation process on Government policies to secure a sustainable future for the agricultural sector, through AgClimatise and FoodWise 2030.
“As has always been the case, we remain available to meet with An Taisce to address their concerns through constructive dialogue.”
In a statement, ICOS pointed out that, while it acknowledged the challenges facing Irish agriculture in respect of climate change, water quality, biodiversity and ammonia, the dairy sector was prepared to respond to the challenges and “determined to meet its responsibilities”.
“The Irish dairy sector is substantially owned and controlled by family farmers and is built upon over a century and a quarter of co-operation,” the statement added.
“What An Taisce overlooks in its public commentary relating to the dairy sector, is that unlike the FDI economy such as IT and data centres, the dairy sector makes a deeper contribution to the local economy, as every €1 of dairy sector exports represents a 90c spend in the Irish economy.
“In contrast, to the multinational sector, which has a corresponding figure of 10c spent in the Irish economy for every €1 exported.
“As Ireland’s largest indigenous economic sector, we will continue to positively contribute to the future development of the Irish and rural economy, furthering its economic, social and environmental viability and prosperity.
“Equally, it is essential that the Government continues to support the strategic importance of the Irish dairy industry into the future.”