An Taisce's latest challenge to Glanbia cheese plant to be heard next month

An Taisce's latest challenge to Glanbia cheese plant to be heard next month

An Taisce’s application for leave to appeal the High Court’s rejection of its challenge to permission for a controversial Glanbia continental cheese manufacturing plant in Kilkenny will be heard next month.

Following a case management hearing on Monday, Mr Justice Richard Humphreys fixed June 15th to hear the leave application.

A certificate of leave to appeal will be granted only if the judge is satisfied the grounds of appeal identify points of law of exceptional public importance arising from the court’s judgment last April dismissing An Taisce’s case against An Bord Pleanála and the State. The developer, Kilkenny Cheese Ltd, is a notice party.

On Monday, John Kenny BL, for An Taisce, told the judge his side would need a minimum two weeks to finalise its submissions seeking a certificate of leave to appeal. The developer had suggested a “completely unrealistic ” timetable for exchange of submissions for the hearing of his application, counsel said.

Rory Mulcahy SC, for the developer, said the matter is urgent for his client and it will tie in with the earliest date the court could offer.

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His side was not being unreasonable concerning when submissions should be filed as An Taisce has had several weeks since formal orders were made arising from the court’s judgment, he said. An Taisce seems to have decided to appeal without identifying the grounds of appeal which seemed “contrary to logic”, he added.

In response, Mr Kenny said, since judgment was delivered there has been “a campaign by persons unknown” against An Taisce, which has been played out in Dáil Eireann and the media. That campaign, which challenged An Taisce’s very existence, had plagued his client over the past number of weeks, he said.

Fintan Valentine BL, for the board, said it could provide its submissions in time for a June 15th hearing.

The judge made directions for exchange of submissions and fixed June 15th for the hearing.

Environmetnal effects

In challenging the planning permission, An Taisce claimed the environmental effects of the milk inputs for the cheese plant at Belview, Kilkenny - being developed under a joint venture agreement with Glanbia's Dutch partner Royal-A-Ware - were not properly taken into account for the purposes of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Habitats Directives.

Meeting the State’s climate targets requires reducing the national herd of cows, not increasing it, and the dairy industry overall is unsustainable due to the adverse environmental impacts created by it, it claimed.

An EIA report for the developer noted the dairy herd is expected to increase from 1.4 million to 1.7 million cows by 2025 with each cow projected to produce more milk in that time, giving a projected increase of about 1.6 billion litres of milk by 2025, the court heard.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Humphreys said An Taisce’s real grievance is with government policy and the issues raised were not a basis for challenging this permission under the planning code. General programmatic polices are not capable of being subject to the same sort of site-specific regulation as individual planning applications, he said.

The government’s objective seems to be to meet existing Paris Agreement targets on emissions at the lowest possible cost, reasonable people could disagree about these objectives, but the fact there might be a medley of views does not in itself suggest the official policy is incorrect, he said.

Such policy questions have to be left to the electoral process and the political system in the absence of a much more explicit basis for review, he said.

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