A long-running series of objections and court actions by An Taisce against a planned Glanbia cheese manufacturing facility in Belview, Co. Kilkenny is an “abuse of the planning system”, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has claimed.

Glanbia confirmed today (Friday, September 24) that An Taisce had been granted leave to appeal by the Supreme Court in a bid to overturn a High Court judicial review which found no issue with the planning process for the cheese plant.

IFA president Tim Cullinan claimed that An Taisce was “abusing its position” as a prescribed body under the planning legislation by “continually objecting to the Glanbia cheese plant application in the courts”.

A prescribed body is one which is entitled to make observations and submissions on planning decisions.

“The latest appeal to the Supreme Court is likely to stall the project for a further six months,” Cullinan warned.

He added: “An Taisce has a prescribed role in the planning system, yet they are bringing the statutory planning body An Bord Pleanála through the courts because they won’t accept their decision, or indeed a decision of the High Court.”

Various farm organisations and public representatives have highlighted the importance of the Glanbia plant in diversifying Ireland’s cheese production to suit various other international markets rather than the UK (where cheddar cheese predominates), following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

“Agriculture is the most exposed sector in the country. It’s irresponsible of An Taisce to continually obstruct a valid initiative that is designed to safeguard the livelihoods of farm families and the rural economy in the south east,” Cullinan argued.

Earlier today Glanbia Ireland said it remains “totally committed” to the Belview cheese facility project despite the Supreme Court decision.

Glanbia Ireland chairperson John Murphy said: “We remain totally committed to this project, which was granted planning approval by Kilkenny County Council in November of 2019.

“This project is critical to our market diversification post-Brexit,” Murphy added.