Monday 14 October 2019

Farmer in bid to stop Intel's new €3.5bn chip factory that would create 1,600 jobs

Serial objector: Thomas Reid won his battle against CPO of his land. Photo: Courtpix
Serial objector: Thomas Reid won his battle against CPO of his land. Photo: Courtpix

Gordon Deegan

A farmer who took on the IDA - and won - is now seeking to prevent the go-ahead for a planned new €3.54bn facility at Intel's plant in Co Kildare.

Lexlip farmer Thomas Reid has lodged an objection with Kildare County Council against the new application by the US microchip giant for an extended and revised manufacturing fabrication facility, known as a 'fab'.

Mr Reid has long been a thorn in the side of the US multinational in the planning arena and this 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.

In 2016, Intel secured planning permission for the first phase of the 'fab' facility valued at €3.54bn and the new application, which is an extension of the original plan, represents an additional investment of €3.54bn.

In total, the more than €7bn investment, which would employ 6,000 construction workers at peak and 1,600 full-time jobs on completion, would represent the largest private investment in the history of the State on one project if given the go-ahead by Intel.

Consultants for Intel have told Kildare County Council the firm has already invested €11bn on its site at Leixlip and the firm is seeking a 10-year planning permission for its new application.

However, Mr Reid of Hedsor House, Blakestown, Carton, Maynooth, is seeking to frustrate the multinational's plans after lodging a two-page hand-written objection against the new application.

The objection will now entitle Mr Reid to appeal any decision to grant permission by Kildare County Council to An Bord Pleanála. In his objection, Mr Reid claims the planning application is contrary to the proper planning and development of the area.

In the objection, Mr Reid - subject of an award-winning documentary last year over his successful Supreme Court battle with the IDA - stated he is calling on Kildare County Council to refuse the application outright.

Former Labour TD Emmet Stagg has lodged a submission in favour of the Intel application, saying the proposed development would reinforce the Leixlip site as a centre of world-class excellence.

Mr Reid unsuccessfully opposed the €3.54bn 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 when 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.

The five-judge court overturned an earlier High Court decision, which would have cleared the way for IDA to buy the site for development, against Reid's wishes.

The costs associated with the case left the IDA with a bill of €1.375m. Kildare County Council is due to make a decision on the Intel application before the end of this month.

Irish Independent

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