Council gives green light to $4bn Intel plan - in spite of farmer's objection

Thomas Reid of Hedsor House, Leixlip, Co. Kildare pictured outside the Four Courts
Thomas Reid of Hedsor House, Leixlip, Co. Kildare pictured outside the Four Courts

Gordon Deegan

Kildare County Council has given the green light to plans by Intel for its planned new $4 billion (€3.53bn) manufacturing fabrication (FAB) facility at its Leixlip plant.

The planning authority has given the chip giant the go-ahead in spite of a small number of objections against the proposal including one from long time planning opponent of Intel at Leixlip, local farmer, Thomas Reid.

The 10 year permission to Intel will provide a windfall of €9.723 million for Kildare County Council - if work on the project proceeds.

The follows the Council, in response to the scale of the project, including in one of the 34 conditions attached to the permission a requirement that Intel Ireland Ltd pay the Council €9.723 million in development contributions.

The planning permission follows three years on after Intel secured planning permission for the first phase of the ‘fab’ facility valued at $4 billion.

In total, the two planning permissions represent a $8 billion (€7 billion) investment which will employ 6,000 construction workers at peak and 1,600 full time jobs on completion.

The projects represent the largest single private investment in the history of the State on one project if given the go-ahead by Intel globally.

Consultants for Intel have told the Council that the firm has already invested $12.5 billion on its site at Leixlip.

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The Council gave the plan the go-ahead after concluding that the proposal accords with national, regional and local planning policy and would not be injurious to the general amenity of the area and would be in proper accordance with the planning and sustainable development of the area.

In giving the project the go-ahead, the Council had regard to the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 National Planning Framework and the planning history of the site.

However, the Council’s grant of planning permission is almost certainly to be appealed to An Bord Pleanála by objectors.

This would result in a planning permission - if granted by the appeals board - towards the end of the year.

Even before the Council granted planning, well known environmentalist Peter Sweetman wrote to the Council last month to say that he would be appealing any decision to grant planning to the appeals board or to the High Court.

Mr Sweetman - who had lodged an earlier submission with the Council on the Intel plan - told the planning authority that he failed to understand why it did not inform him of the significant further information submitted by Intel on the application.

He wrote: “The fact that Kildare County Council have excluded me from participating in the Environmental Impact and HabtitatsAssessment leaves me no alternative but to appeal any decision to grant permission to An Bord Pleanála or to the High Court.”

Local farmer, Thomas Reid of Hedsor House, Blakestown, Carton, Maynooth has also lodged an objection against the plan - the current application is the seventh Intel Leixlip application the farmer has objected to since 2012  with six previous Intel applications brought before An Bord Pleanála by Mr Reid.

Mr Reid unsuccessfully opposed the $4 billion first phase of the ‘fab’ plan in 2017 when lodging an objection against the application and then appealing the Council decision to An Bord Pleanála.

In 2015, Mr Reid emerged victorious in his battle with the IDA where a unanimous Supreme Court found that the IDA making of a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for Mr Reid’s 72 acre farm adjacent to the Intel campus had been in excess of the IDA’s powers.

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