A TD has warmly welcomed the decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission for the €40 million Banagher Chilling meat processing plant in Co. Offaly.

The decision came almost two years after Desmond Kampff and co-appellant, Gwen Wordingham lodged an appeal against Offaly County Council’s decision to grant planning permission for the proposed development.

The appeals board ruled 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.

It 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

Plans were first lodged in July 2019 for the meat processing facility which will have the capacity to process 40t of meat per day and will cater for 140 cattle per day.

Independent TD for Laois-Offaly Carol Nolan, who had repeatedly engaged with An Bord Pleanála over the past two years, had been informed in January 2021 that the inspector’s report would be completed “within the next two weeks”.

“At long last a decision has now been made that is capable of opening up the beef market in Ireland and offering increased competition and better prices for farmers,” Deputy Nolan said.

“It is a pity it took so long to get to this point, but finally, after what appeared to be an inability to arrive at any kind of decision, and interminable environmental due diligence, we are now in a position to move forward and ensure that Offaly and indeed the wider region can be seen as open to large-scale inward investment,” the TD concluded.

An Bord Pleanála decisions

Meanwhile, fellow Laois-Offaly TD, Barry Cowen, who is a long-time supporter of the proposed development, also welcomed the decision to grant planning permission.

“This development will be most welcome for the community and region in the first instance with the job creation associated with its construction but also of course as a competitive outlet for farming sector.

“New competition ensures markets can be filled creating new opportunities thus allowing farm families get fair prices for quality produce,” Cowen commented.

“I intend now to engage with the promoters of Banagher Chilling project, review the grant of permission and any conditions attached with a view to progressing and proceeding to its construction,” he added.

However, the Fianna Fáil representative called on government to take action to reduce the time it takes for An Bord Pleanála to make decisions.

“It is not good enough that proposed developments, which meet all the necessary criteria and receive planning permission from the relevant local authority, can be delayed by an An Bord Pleanála appeal for two years,” Cowen said.

The TD claimed that such delays have curtailed the response to the housing crisis and led to the loss of some commercial developments.

“It’s essential that government prescribe amendments to Planning and Development Act to unblock this serious impediment,” Cowen concluded.