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Environmentalist objections to €140m cheese factory overruled


Success: Glanbia at Belview

Success: Glanbia at Belview

Success: Glanbia at Belview

PLANS by Glanbia Ireland for a €140m new cheese manufacturing facility in Co Kilkenny have been approved by An Bord Pleanála following an appeal against the development by An Taisce.

The board upheld Kilkenny County Council's planning permission for the country's largest milk processor to build a continental cheese manufacturing plant in the IDA's Belview Science and Technology Park near the Port of Waterford.

The project is being developed by JHOK Ltd, a joint venture between Glanbia Ireland and Dutch dairy group Royal A-Ware.

The company plans to develop a Dutch-style cheese production facility on a 10-hectare site next to an existing Glanbia milk processing plant in Belview.

An Taisce had objected to the development on the basis of the impact of the proposed plant on milk supply given the adverse environmental impacts of bovine agriculture.

The organisation claimed any increase in Irish dairy production was untenable as it would affect water quality and result in a loss of biodiversity.

An Taisce said an increase in the national dairy herd to facilitate the supply of the 450 million litres of milk needed annually to serve the proposed development would also have a negative impact on greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

An Bord Pleanála said the indirect impact on climate from the production of 450 million litres of milk was expected to be offset by the increased efficiency of the existing dairy herd.

An inspector with An Bord Pleanála noted it was national policy to allow a modest increase in dairy farming.

The board was also satisfied that the proposed factory would not adversely affect the integrity of protected EU habitats once mitigation measures were followed.

It acknowledged the development also had potential positive impacts for regional employment and the economy.

Glanbia Ireland is a joint venture 60pc owned by a co-op of farmers and 40pc owned by Glanbia .

Welcoming the An Bord Pleanála ruling, Glanbia Ireland said it would create a new route to market for the milk from its network of 4,500 family farms and diversify its portfolio of consumer products and ingredients as part of a Brexit mitigation strategy.

JHOK expects the plant, which will employ about 80 people, will produce approximately 40,000 tonnes of continental cheeses in "Euro blocks" (13-15 kg) annually as well as 11,500 tonnes of value added cheeses in sizes varying from 250g to 3kg across two production lines.

The company hopes that the plant will open by the end of 2022. It expects around 400 jobs to be created during its construction.

The plant will operate on a 24/7 basis across three shifts for 40 weeks of the year, closing down for 12 weeks during the winter months.

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