Grain growers express concerns over land use change in Athy

The Irish Grain Growers’ Group (IGGG) has made a submission to Kildare County Council in relation to a change to the Athy Town Development Plan.

The contravention to the plan was to change 3.4ha of zoned land at Woodstock South, Athy, Co. Kildare, from ‘retail and commercial’ to ‘enterprise and employment’.

The change to the area of land is thought to have been requested ahead of an application for planning by Boortmalt to expand the capacity of its maltings facility by 50,000t.

The report states: “The reasons for the proposed variation is to provide for the appropriate sequential expansion of existing industrial facilities in Athy and to strengthen the employment base of the town, which are in the interests of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

Submissions

Written submissions or observations on the proposed change were received by the council as part of the public consultation process.

Nine submissions were made in regard to the contravention. Eight of these supported the proposed variation to the plan. Submissions were received from the Department of Housing, the Environmental Protection Agency and Transport Infrastructure Ireland.

The IGGG submission

The IGGG expressed concerns about the change to the plan and requested some details to be clarified.

In its lengthy submission, the IGGG stated: “We wish to make a submission to Kildare County Council as the recognised farmer group for malting barley growers in the south-east region, encompassing all the traditional malting growing areas of the greater Leinster area.”

Points made in the submission:
  • The reason for the proposed variation was noted;
  • The group requested clarification to indicate more details on the proposed variation;
  • The group questioned the number of jobs that will be created;
  • It stated that farmers are reluctant to commit to growing malting barley under the present structure;
  • The group queried the acceptance of additional grain;
  • It also queried the additional traffic impacts on the town;
  • The group raised concerns over the environmental impact of grain drying on the environment;
  • It questioned whether or not the extra capacity will be available for imported grain from the UK and France.

Chief executive’s response

The chief executive’s response stated: “The issues raised in this submission are noted. The proposed variation is an amendment to the Land Use Zoning Objective for the subject lands only and does not address specific details for future development proposals for the lands.

Furthermore, as the town development plan is a land use plan it does not address specifics regarding tonnage intake, environmental impacts and traffic movements. These issues will be considered on their merits at development management (planning application) stage.

“In addition, it should be noted that Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), Appropriate Assessment (AA) and Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) were carried out in tandem with the ‘Variation Process’ to assess potential environmental impact (including flood risk) associated with the proposed variation, which concluded that SEA and AA were not required.

“An addendum to the SFRA also accompanied the proposed variation which was on public display.”

Decision

The chief executive’s report on ‘Proposed Variation Number Two’ of the Athy Town Development Plan was discussed at a meeting of Athy Municipal District on February 19. Submissions had been accepted on the variation from January 15 to February 12.

Opportunities for employment and traffic management were discussed at the meeting.

The members agreed unanimously to the variation to the Athy Town Development Plan.

The chair thanked the elected members for supporting industrial development in Athy and stated that it was essential that anyone willing to invest in Athy was supported by the elected members and the council.

The chair also proposed that a meeting in relation to the ‘Draft Athy Local Area Plan’ should be arranged for April in Monasterevin.

Next step planning permission

The way is now clear for Boortmalt to go ahead with a planning application for expansion.

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