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13 Aug 2022

Local residents initiate High Court proceedings against proposed abattoir in Offaly

Local residents initiate High Court proceedings against proposed abattoir in Offaly

Local residents initiate High Court proceedings against proposed abattoir in Offaly

TWO local residents have initiated High Court proceedings in an attempt to reverse the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanála for a €40 million Chinese-backed meat factory a short distance from Banagher.

The residents lodging the appeal are Desmond Kampff and Gwen Wordingham. They have separate addresses in the Banagher area.

Speaking to The Midland Tribune, Mr Kampff said he is “critically concerned” about the potential environmental impacts of the proposed processing plant at the site three kilometres southeast of Banagher.

They say the facility will discharge its domestic and wastewater into the nearby Feeghroe stream (which runs along the western boundary of the 19.5 hectare site). They say this stream does not have the capacity to accommodate such discharges.

Mr Kampff, who describes himself as being active in local environmental protection, told the Tribune that the stream regularly floods during the winter. He showed us two photographs of this flooding, one in December 2019, the other in February 2020. He said he and Ms Wordingham (and other local residents) are concerned that during these flooding incidents the water table will become contaminated by run-off from the abattoir.

Last month, An Bord Pleanála granted permission for Banagher Chilling Limited to build a large expansion to a pre-existing, disused plant. This plant was built in the 1990s and was also an abattoir. It's been non-operational for several years. The proposed site is located beside Five Roads Cross which is the junction of the R438 Borrisokane to Cloghan road and a local road (the L3010 which connects Banagher with Kinnitty). The location is about three kilometres south-east of Banagher. Eliza Lodge nursing home is 120 metres to the west and the closest house is 400 metres away.

The new facility will have the capacity to slaughter 36,000 animals a year. Its inspector found the proposed development would “not be likely to have a significant negative environmental impact in terms of climate”.

Mr Kampff said he often walks beside the Feeghroe Stream and as he's walking he's often worrying about the possible pollution when the new plant opens. He said he has the support of people living in the vicinity for the High Court appeal.
He argues that during this era of Climate Change, opening a major abattoir which could possibly pollute the environment, is going against a lot of contemporary thinking about the kind of industries we should be operating.

He said he is not against the beef industry, “but I think they made a mistake not creating a co-operative structure. The dairy industry set up a co-operative structure but the beef industry failed to follow suit.”

The granting of permission by An Bord Pleanála came almost two years after Mr Kampff and Ms Wordingham lodged an appeal against Offaly County Council’s grant of permission.

Their High Court action against An Bord Pleanála, with the developer on notice, is grounded on a number of domestic and European legal points.

Mr Kampff and Ms Wordingham are claiming the grant of permission breaches a section of the Water Framework Directive and surface water regulations because the board allegedly did not ensure the development would not cause a deterioration in the status of a body of surface water or jeopardise the attainment of good status or potential.

And, or in the alternative, they say the board could not have arrived at its conclusion that there would be no significant environmental effect in circumstances where the adjacent Feeghroe stream has not been assigned a quality status by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The applicants say the board is precluded from granting consent for a development that may jeopardise the attainment of good water status and/or where no assessment was possible.

They further claim it was not open to the board to conclude there would be no significant environmental effects where the evidence demonstrates that the additional biochemical oxygen demand levels would be sufficient to render the Feeghroe stream incapable of attaining good status.

The discharge would also lead to significantly elevated nitrogen levels, they say.

The matter was briefly mentioned before Mr Justice Charles Meenan two weeks ago by John Kenny BL, instructed by Eoin Brady of FP Logue solicitors. The case will return before the court in November.

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