An Taisce seeks to overturn permission for Co Kilkenny cheese plant

National trust highlights environmental effects of milk production in court action

The grounds of challenge include claims the environmental effects of the milk inputs for the cheese plant were not properly taken into account. Photograph: iStock

The grounds of challenge include claims the environmental effects of the milk inputs for the cheese plant were not properly taken into account. Photograph: iStock

 

An Taisce has taken a legal action against An Bord Pleanála and the State aimed at overturning planning permission for a continental cheese manufacturing plant in Co Kilkenny.

The grounds of challenge include claims the environmental effects of the milk inputs for the cheese plant were not properly taken into account for the purposes of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Habitats Directives.

An EIA report submitted by the developer, Kilkenny Cheese Ltd, had noted the dairy herd is expected to increase from 1.4 million to 1.7 million cows by 2025 and that each cow was projected to produce more milk in that time, giving a projected increase of about 1.6 billion litres of milk by 2025, An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, says.

The report also noted, of the 450 million litres of milk required each year for the proposed plant from 2022, about 20 per cent is already in circulation and it will equate in total to about 4.5 per cent of the milk pool projected to be available in Ireland in 2025.

It is claimed the environmental effects of the milk production necessary for the plant’s operation is a “direct or indirect” effect of the plant with the terms of the EIA Directive and that it also requires assessment for the purposes of the Habitats Directive.

The waste effluent generated by the plant, An Taisce claims, was not adequately assessed for the purpose of those two directives and the Water Framework Directive.

Other claims include that the ammonia generated by the milk production is inconsistent with the statutory “National Emissions Reduction Commitment” set down by the EU.

Ireland, it is claimed, has a legally binding obligation under EU law to limit annual emissions of ammonia to set figures for the years up to 2030 and beyond. The limit up to December 2019 was 116 kilotonnes annually and Ireland’s annual emissions for 2018 were 119.339kt, the group says.

At the High Court on Monday, Mr Justice Garrett Simons granted an ex parte (one side only represented) application by An Taisce, represented by Neil Steen SC and John Kenny BL, instructed by FP Logue Solicitors, for leave to bring the judicial review proceedings.

The case is aimed at overturning a seven year planning permission granted by the board last June for a continental cheese manufacturing plant and other works at Belview Science and Technology Park, Gorteens, Slieverue, Co Kilkenny.

It is against the board, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Ireland and the Attorney General with the developer as a notice party. A hearing date will be fixed at a later stage.