An Bord Pleanála has overturned a decision by Kildare County Council and refused planning permission for a new dairy farm in the county.

The proposed development located in Rathcoffey consisted of a rotary milking parlour; dairy; plant room; collecting yard; drafting facilities and an external milk tank.

Permission had also been sought for a cubicle shed, an underground slatted tank, lined slurry lagoon, meal bins, a water storage tank and a silage pit on the site covering over 3.3ha.


The site of the proposed development is located within Rathcoffey Demesne which includes Rathcoffey Castle, which is a protected structure, along with a gatehouse, formal garden and ring fort, all of which are recorded monuments.

It had been assumed by Kildare County Council that access to the site would have been via the existing entrance to the castle and demesne.

However, following a request for further information, the applicant proposed an alternative entrance using an existing agricultural entrance.

The council had concerns in relation to the impact the proposed development on the setting and character of the monuments and on potential archaeology.

The applicant then submitted an archaeological report and an architectural heritage assessment.

In January 2023, Kildare County Council granted planning permission for the proposed development, subject to 13 conditions, including that details of the proposed access road be submitted prior to work commencing on site.


This decision was appealed by locals who said that converting the land currently used for tillage into a dairy farm would go against the aims and objectives of policies introduced to mitigate the impact of climate change.

They claimed that intensive bovine farming is directly linked to the increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and atmospheric concentrations.

Concerns were also raised about potential water quality impacts, slurry storage capacity and the monuments within Rathcoffey Demesne.

A submission on the appeal was made to An Bord Pleanála by An Taisce which provided information on the historical significance of the site.

An Taisce also said that the application is “predicated on continuing and increasing levels of bovine milk production in Ireland, which faces multiple sustainability incompatibilities”.

The board was told that the applicant is a young trained farmer who is dependent on the success of this application to progress in her farming career.

In a submission lodged on behalf of the applicant, it was noted that the proposed development has been designed to comply with the relevant legislation and all facilities will be constructed to Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) specification.

It added that an Architectural Heritage Impact Assessment concluded that there would be no direct impact to the architectural heritage of the Rathcoffey complex.

The submission said that further details on the access road could be furnished to An Bord Pleanála and Kildare County Council “within a specified reasonable timeframe”.

An Bord Pleanála

In refusing permission for the dairy farm development, An Bord Pleanála said that access to the site would require the construction of a 1.2km internal road through lands which are “highly sensitive”.

However, the board said that an indicative route for the road had not been identified in submitted documentation.

“It is evident that any route from this entrance would be highly visible in the foreground of the protected structure and monuments in the vicinity when view from the L5046,” it said.

In the absence of a suggested route and a detailed architectural and archaeological appraisal of its potential impact on the wider lands, An Bord Pleanála said that the proposed development would be contrary to the Kildare County Development Plan.

That plan requires the preservation of the context, amenity, visual integrity and connection of the setting of archaeological monuments.

The board also cited a lack of detail in relation to the original proposal to access the site from the existing entrance and avenue to Rathcoffey Castle.