ICOS welcomes the clear Supreme Court judgement in the case of Glanbia’s joint venture cheese factory.
The Supreme Court considered whether the upstream consequences of the proposed factory, specifically the milk that is necessary to supply the factory should be assessed under the environmental impact assessment under the EIA Directive or an appropriate assessment under the Habitats Directive. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court by An Taisce, following a decision by the High Court to reject their case and earlier decisions by An Bord Pleanala and Kilkenny County Council to grant planning for the factory.
The judgement also dealt with matters related to the Habitats Directive and the Water Framework Directive, which were rejected by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court in their judgement noted that “Ireland has many advantages when it comes to milk production because, along with New Zealand, we have perhaps the most ideal climate for the grass fed and largely outdoor, pasture-based dairy production which results in a bountiful supply of high-quality milk”
The Court agreed with the High Court judgement that the wider indirect environmental consequences of milk production and the dairy sector must be assessed at a programmatic level by national or sectoral measures. The effects of the upstream milk production are too remote from the project that they cannot be realistically regarded as falling within the scope of the EIA Directive.
The decisive judgement is welcome news for Glanbia Ireland and the wider dairy industry and it must be acknowledged that in referencing the case presented by Glanbia Ireland, specifically the Environmental Impact Assessment Report, the Supreme Court said “It is only proper to say that all these documents are extraordinarily comprehensive and detailed.”
The Supreme Court ruled that the substance of the case related to the application of EU law, rather than any question of its interpretation, therefore the matter cannot be appealed further to the European Court of Justice.
The full judgement by the Supreme Court is available here
Eamonn Farrell – Agri-Food Policy Executive
24 Nov 2022