September 23, 2023
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Taoiseach hits out at An Taisce’s stance over Glanbia’s €140m manufacturing facility in Kilkenny

The Government is coming under pressure from within to act to save a €140 million manufacturing facility due to be built in county Kilkenny.

Plans to build a European cheese facility at Belview Port in south Kilkenny that would create up to 80 new jobs are in doubt after An Taisce, the non-governmental environmental agency, launched a legal challenge to the project last November.

Permission was initially granted by Kilkenny County Council and that decision was upheld by An Bord Pleanála.

Kilkenny TD John Paul Phelan is among four current Fine Gael TDs and former Ministers – Charlie Flanagan (Laois/Offaly), Paul Kehoe (Wexford), and David Stanton (Cork East), who have strongly criticised An Taisce and accused the body of delaying the €140 million investment in South Kilkenny.

In a statement released by the group, Deputy Phelan said: “The decision by the state-funded nongovernmental organisation, An Taisce, is a serious blow to dairy farmers.

“The proposed new Cheese plant is fully in line with government policy on dairy production and recognises the need for the dairy industry to diversify and mitigate against the damage caused by Brexit.

“It is clear to me that the Court action taken by An Taisce chose a clear anti-rural economy bias and is vexatious.

“An Taisce should withdraw this divisive Court Action,” Deputy Phelan concluded.

His sentiments and that of the group of former ministers was backed up in the Dáil, where three TDs, Deputies Mattie McGrath, Jackie Cahill (both Tipperary) and Carol Nolan (Laois/Offaly) asked the Taoiseach to intervene.

Deputy McGrath was furious at the stance An Taisce is taking and said: “It (the plant) has gone through the county council and An Bord Pleanála planning processes but now An Taisce is on its back like a monkey.

“It is in the High Court for judicial review and is threatening to go to the European court,” Deputy McGrath concluded.

An Taoiseach Michéal Martin agreed with the Deputy’s sentiments saying the issue is “problematic” and admitted the system of judicial review needs to be looked at.

Speaking in the Dáil, the Taoiseach said: “There is a balance to be struck in terms of objecting to significant facilities.

“People have rights to object but on the other hand the increasing use of judicial review is something on which we, as a society, will have to reflect.

“There is an independent planning process. It is rigorous and it should be respected.

“There is a growing sense that the judicial review is becoming a new mechanism to frustrate and delay projects hoping that they may not develop.

“That is creating challenges on the investment side and in terms of the creation of jobs,” An Taoiseach concluded.

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