Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill (FF)
The State funded body is using the legal system and a judicial review application to prevent the development of a Glanbia cheese plant in County Kilkenny.
The Chairman of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee has hit out at An Taisce this week for what he views as a cynical move to frustrate a major development for the South East and rural Ireland into a state of unviability.
An Taisce is largely funded by the State and, according to Deputy Cahill, it is using the legal system and a judicial review application to prevent the development of a Glanbia cheese plant in County Kilkenny.
This plant has been widely welcomed by farming families, rural communities and the region more generally as it sees major investment, increased production capacity of cheese for export to mainland Europe, and would be a major economic boost to rural areas in the South East.
The Belview plant was approved for planning permission by Kilkenny County Council in November 2019. Following an appeal by An Taisce against that decision, An Bord Pleanála granted final permission on 30 June 2020. An Taisce then sought a Judicial Review of that decision and a finding by the courts on this is currently awaited.
Speaking in relation to An Taisce’s actions against the Belview plant in Co Kilkenny, the Tipperary Fianna Fáil T.D. and dairy farmer said: “This cheese plant is due to come on stream in 2022 and would have the capacity to produce 50,000 tonnes of gouda cheese annually for export to the continent. This is a vital step that the agri-food sector must make in order to diversify our exports so that we, as a country, are not so dependent on the cheddar cheese market that is almost exclusively British, in light of Brexit. This is being blocked in court by An Taisce
“This is not just a farming issue and I cannot make that point strongly enough. Glanbia has total milk payments to dairy farmers annually of over €1 billion. Ireland’s dairy growth post milk quotas has seen exports increase from €2 billion to €5 billion annually and the annual spend in the Irish economy by the dairy sector has doubled from €1.8 billion to €3.6 billion in the same timeframe. Farming is the backbone of rural economies and these figures are proof of just how much rural Ireland benefits financially from a strong dairy sector. This money is made locally, spent locally, and stays locally. The local construction worker, the local village shop, the local pub, the local restaurant, the local hardware store, the local clothing shops, they all benefit from this spending. This level of income has a knock-on effect far in excess of the farming community.
“An Taisce is an organization that receives some two-thirds of its funding from Government – from the Irish taxpayer – and they are using this money to target 4,500 farm families across the South East of Ireland. This proposed new continental cheese plant is a joint venture with a Dutch family business, Royal A-ware, a 150 year old cheese marketing and trading company with a ready market for cheese in the EU and global markets. This is a vital project for Brexit mitigation, where we could start producing a new product (continental cheese) for new markets, therefore replacing the UK cheddar market.
“This project will potentially generate 500 construction jobs in rural Ireland. The Dutch company will simply take their investment elsewhere if we do not get moving on this development. If An Taisce continue with this campaign against this major investment into rural Ireland, we will end up with another Apple scenario in Athenry. I do not think rural people will thank them for this”, Cahill concluded.