Challenge brought against EPA's decision to grant Limerick chicken rearing facility emissions licence

A High Court challenge has been brought over a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to grant an industrial emissions licence to a chicken rearing plant in Co Limerick.

Challenge brought against EPA's decision to grant Limerick chicken rearing facility emissions licence

A High Court challenge has been brought over a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to grant an industrial emissions licence to a chicken rearing plant in Co Limerick.

The action has been taken by environmental activist Peter Sweetman in respect of the EPA decision of February 6 last to grant the licence to Mr Michael Noel O'Connor to operate a facility that rears 74,000 broiler chickens at Rathcahill West, Templeglantine, Newcastlewest, Co Limerick.

At the High Court James Devlin SC for Mr Sweetman said it is his client's case that the EPA decision is flawed and should be set aside.

The EPA failed to consider relevant matters, lacked jurisdiction to make the decision and failed to properly take into account the EU Habitats, Waste Water and Environmental Impact Directives when it decided to award the licence.

Counsel said his client has concerns about 'poultry litter' from the facility which produces broiler chickens, which are chickens that are used as meat.

This litter is cleared from the sheds every six to eight weeks when straw bedding is removed and the shed floors are washed down with water, counsel said.

These emissions, counsel said, is then used as compost at a mushroom facility, but most of it is spread on land.

Counsel said the licence was granted by the EPA, which does not know the location of the land where the litter is being spread.

It is also his client's case that the EPA finding that the spreading of the litter will not affect the integrity of any protected site is not a justified conclusion.

In his action against the EPA, Ireland and the Attorney General Mr Sweetman seeks an order quashing the decision to award the licence.

He also seeks various declarations including that the EPA erred in law and acted contrary to the EU Directive on waste by failing to quantify or make provision for the proper management of waste from the operation.

He further seeks a declaration that the decision was based on an assessment that does not contain complete, precise or definitive findings capable of removing all doubt to the effect of the site on protected sites.

Mr O'Connor is a notice party to the proceedings.

Permission to bring the challenge was granted, on an ex-parte basis, by Mr Justice Seamus Noonan.

The case will come back before the court in June.

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