The Supreme Court has opted to reserve judgment until a later date in the case of Glanbia’s planned cheese plant in Belview, Co. Kilkenny, following proceedings this week.
It is not known at this time when a decision will be made by the court on the matter.
The case was taken by An Taisce, citing concerns over how the planning and approval process for the plant was undertaken.
This long-running affair began when An Taisce raised objections to the proposed plant with An Bord Pleanála, which the planning authority rejected.
Following that, An Taisce went down the courts route, taking the case to the High Court and now – after having been defeated there – to the Supreme Court.
The environmental group was granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court in September last, after the High Court’s decision to dismiss its challenge against An Bord Pleanála’s granting of planning permission.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision to take the case, Glanbia said it remained “totally committed” to the Belview cheese facility, despite the ongoing legal battle.
Glanbia Ireland chairperson John Murphy said at the time: “We remain totally committed to this project, which was granted planning approval by Kilkenny County Council in November of 2019”.
The proposed development is a joint venture between Glanbia and Dutch dairy processor Royal A-ware.
One of An Taisce’s stated concerns relates to the level of dairy production required to supply the plant, and any associated impact on the environment.
“The 450 million litres of milk needed to supply the plant represents 5.6% of the estimated national annual milk pool of eight billion litres. The production of that milk on its own will lead to a 2.5% increase in ammonia emissions,” the group has previously claimed.
According to Glanbia, the milk needed to supply the plant is already there, and an increase in production would not be required.
An Taisce has been roundly criticised by farm organisations concerned with the dairy sector, as well as some TDs and senators.
Following the confirmation in September that An Taisce had been granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) claimed that the group’s objections were “an abuse of the planning system”.
IFA president Tim Cullinan claimed that An Taisce was “abusing its position” as a prescribed body under the planning legislation by “continually objecting to the Glanbia cheese plant application in the courts”.