The backers of a proposed new micro-distillery on the Ring of Kerry have suffered a setback after being hit with an even higher development levy after appealing the original sum.
The owners of Skellig Distillers in Caherciveen had challenged the original ruling of Kerry County Council to require a development contribution of €52,650 as a condition for granting planning permission for the project.
The company claimed the correct size of the payment due was €10,614.
However, An Bord Pleanála ruled that the council’s calculations were wrong and the correct sum towards the cost of public infrastructure and facilities which would benefit the development is €56,767.50 — over €4,000 more than the original levy sought by the local authority.
An inspector with the board had recommended that the levy should be €37,305.
Skellig Distillers plans to convert the former Wilson’s sock factory on the IDA industrial estate in Caherciveen into a new production facility and visitor centre which would include a café/restaurant, gift shop, outdoor seating area, a tasting bar, function room and VIP lounge.
It is planned that the micro-distillery will have a production capacity of up to 500,000 litres per annum for its main brand, Skellig Six18 — a gin named after the 618 steps needed to climb to the monastery on Skellig Micheal.
The company also has plans to manufacture a single pot still Irish whiskey.
Skellig Distillers declined to comment on the ruling. However, it is understood the distillery is expected to go into production later this summer.
The company had questioned whether a contribution was required in the first place “for what is a change of use of a redundant industrial building that has been unused and dilapidated for a period of 15 years.” It also maintained there was no need to upgrade the council’s infrastructure.
It claimed the relevant national guidelines allow for the requirement to pay contribution to be set aside in the case redundant buildings and brownfield sites with developments that have regenerative benefits.