05/08/2021

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Court cheese plant ruling a win for 'ordinary farming families' insists Laois TD

Enviornment group oppose project questioning its viability for famers

Lakeland Dairies

Glanbia has big plans for milk at proposed chees plant but An Taisce say it takes no account of the environment

A High Court rejection of an appeal against huge new Glanbia chees plant is a "win for ordinary farming families", according to Laois Offaly Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagn.

He is one of four TDs and two Senators from who his party who have issued a joint statement in response to the High Court decision to dismiss An Taisce’s application to apply to the Court of Appeal against the €140m cheese plant.

An Taisce says it works to promote environmental awareness and action in the context of the climate and biodiversity emergencies. It has said that it is not against farming but opposes the development because of  the climate impacts or environmental consequences. 

Dep Flanagan and the other politicians said court's decision the continental cheese plant by Glanbia at Waterford Port in Belview, Co Kilkenny was a “win for ordinary farming families and a positive day for rural Ireland”.

They said previously that An Taisce's attempt to block decisions made by Kilkenny County Council, An Bord Pleanala and now the High Court doesn’t cast Ireland in a good light when Foreign Direct Investment and jobs are needed in rural areas.

The Fine Gael representatives issued a joint statement following the failed High Court challenge by An Taisce, t

“This decision is a positive decision for rural Ireland and a win for ordinary farming families across our constituencies. We welcome and respect the judgement and call on An Taisce to do likewise.

“It is time now for meaningful engagement between all parties. This can and should be done outside of the court room and we would ask An Taisce to engage with Glanbia and farming organisations, who represent farming families across this country, to address the any concerns which they have.

“In taking any further action, An Taisce would further alienate the main group involved in environmental protection across Ireland – our farmers and their families. An Bord Pleanala, the High Court and Mr Justice Humphreys have all now determined that the awarding of permission for this cheese plant which is a key element of diversification post Brexit is lawful and should proceed.

“This plant will support the lives and livelihoods of 4,500 farm families across the South East and beyond and create hundreds of jobs during construction. Our farmers are the custodians of our environment and they are constantly working to protect it and improve sustainability.”

The other FG representatives to support the court decision are Senators John Cummins (Waterford) and Garret Ahearn (Tipperary) Deputies Paul Kehoe (Wexford), John Paul Phelan (Carlow/Kilkenny) and David Stanton (Cork East). More below link.

An Taisce issued a detailed statement in May as to why it opposed the project. It insists that its priority is viability.

"Very little of that comment has addressed the substantive issue - the sustainability of an industry that everybody acknowledges as being of great importance and value to Ireland and Irish life.  The arguments have been based solely on the need to maintain jobs and increase growth often without reference to the climate impacts or environmental consequences.  

"The request for a judicial review and the subsequent request for an appeal is not a case taken against farmers - it was a case taken for the environment and for the future viability of Irish farming which is currently endangered by planning decisions that are not compliant with our environmental legal obligations.

"Contrary to the thrust of some recent public commentary, An Taisce cares deeply about the viability of Irish rural life. We want Ireland’s agriculture and food sector to be strong and assured long into the future, as the anchor for a vibrant rural economy and society based around family farms that are sustainable and profitable in the medium term.

"In our understanding and judgement of what is possible however, the continued expansion of intensive dairying of the type that is embodied in the proposal for this factory presents an existential threat to that possibility.  In that scenario there will be some (short-term) winners – mainly industrial-scale producers and food processors – and many losers in both the short and the longer term.

"Decision makers and commercial interests in the agriculture and food production sectors must recognise the urgent need to bring Ireland into compliance with its binding national and European legal obligations and frame policy and investment for the future in that context. 

"We recognise that we are holding a position that differs from strong and vocal lobby groups who see themselves as having a primary obligation to shareholder and contractual partners. Science supports our position, and we believe that it would lead also to better long-term outcomes for all other partners also," they said.

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