A full appeal hearing of An Taisce’s objection to Glanbia Ireland’s cheese plant in Belview, Co. Kilkenny is set to take place in the Supreme Court in January 2022.

That hearing will examine the environmental-impact information sought by planning authorities in advance of granting planning permission, and will afford An Taisce scope to raise all grounds in its appeal.

In September 2021, the Supreme Court had granted An Taisce leave to appeal the High Court decision to dismiss its challenge against An Bord Pleanála’s granting of planning permission for the facility.

This week, the Supreme Court announced that the full hearing will happen on January 12.

The proposed Kilkenny development is a joint venture between Glanbia and Dutch dairy processor Royal A-ware. 

One of An Taisce’s main concerns arising from this €140 million venture relates to the impact of the dairy production required to supply the plant on our environment.

“The 450 million litres of milk needed to supply the plant represents 5.6% of the estimated national annual milk pool of 8,000 million litres,” it has said.

“The production of that milk on its own will lead to a 2.5% increase in ammonia emissions – at a time when Ireland is already in breach of its commitments to limit ammonia emissions and has a legal obligation to meet lower limits in the future. There is no room for increases,” it said.

An Taisce has also raised concerns about the effects on water quality and protected habitats in the southeast.

In a statement from An Taisce in response to the Supreme Court decision this week, the environmental organisation said:

“An Taisce notes the direction given by the Supreme Court in respect of the management of its appeal against the granting of planning permission for a cheese plant at Belview, Co. Kilkenny.

“We note in particular the assertion of the court that the subject of the appeal raises a fundamental issue going to the very heart of environmental law.

“We progress now to the full hearing of that appeal in January, which will address the extent of evidence required by the planning authorities to understand the full and ongoing impacts for the environment that are attributable to a given development proposal before that development is granted approval.”