The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has described the decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant planning for the Banagher Chilling meat processing plant in Co. Offaly as a “victory for common sense”.

This week, the higher planning authority granted planning permission for the contentious plan for the €40 million meat processing plant.

The appeals board granted planning permission after concluding that the proposal would be in accordance with national and regional policy on development in rural areas, and the promotion of the agricultural sector and rural economy.

The appeals board also found that the meat processing plant would not, pending the adoption of sectoral emissions plans, be contrary to the provisions of the Climate Action Plan 2021.

Banagher Chilling development

ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham said: “This planning process for this meat plant has dragged on for years now.

“Thankfully common sense has prevailed, and some badly needed competition can hopefully be introduced into the beef sector, albeit in a relatively small way.

“It is extremely frustrating that the planning process has taken so long. There is a real danger that other potential investors could be put off by the lengthy delays experienced by these particular investors,” he added.

Graham stressed that the Banagher Chilling factory should be up and running by this stage and that the original investment of €40 million may not now be enough to get the project off the ground due to rising construction costs over the past year.

“Lessons must be learned from this long-running saga,” he continued.

“The one thing we know for sure is that competition in the beef sector is badly needed.

“We simply cannot afford to let opportunities like this one get bogged down and delayed to the point where they may not ever get going,” he concluded.