Appeal lodged against Banagher Chilling development

By Gordon Deegan

Plans for a €40 million beef processing plant for Banagher, Co. Offaly, have been put on hold after an appeal was lodged against the proposed development.

This follows Banagher man Desmond Kampff and others lodging an appeal to An Bord Pleanála against the decision by Offaly County Council to give the project the green light to the Chinese-backed Banagher Chilling Ltd last month.

88-year-old Kampff lives around 1km from the proposed development.

Self described as a “lifelong environmentalist”, Kampff has told An Bord Pleanala: “We are a group of concerned local people who fundamentally believe there is no justification for the development of a facility of this scale at this location.”

Kampff has lodged the appeal along with Gwen Wordingham, with support from co-signatories.

The appeal states that existing meat processing plants in the region are currently operating at or under capacity, and the objectors state:

“If this plant was to operate at a viable capacity, it would lead to the failure of one or more of the existing plants under current conditions.”

It continues:

“Considering international pressure to decrease the production of beef as a driver of climate change, the herd is likely to continue to decrease in numbers locally and nationally, rendering plants such as this one highly likely to fail.

“We are also extremely concerned about the potential impact of this proposed development on the environment, both in terms of carbon emissions and climate change, and in relation to biodiversity.”

Decision due on the appeal in January

Last month, after Banagher Chilling Ltd secured planning permission for the development, it emerged that a government evaluation committee refused an Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) application to one of the Chinese investors behind the Banagher plan.

According to TD Barry Cowen, the application was refused after the committee concluded the project does not align with government policy on the beef processing industry, having regard to the fact it is not currently policy to pursue the development of additional plants where there is no established deficit in capacity.

Deputy Cowen stated that the application was refused due “to my utter dismay and disbelief”.

However, in the appeal, Kampff stated that the appellants have been unable to find any information that gives them an indication that Banagher Chilling Ltd “is a company with the necessary experience or competence to run the proposed large-scale plant”.

The appeal states: “We consider that as part of the planning process, any company which applies to develop a facility that poses a high risk to the environment, should be able to demonstrate their experience, competence and track record in the relevant sector, and to the community where they intend to operate.”

A decision is due on the appeal in January of next year (2021).