An Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Tuesday called on An Taisce to reverse its decision to appeal the High Court judgement on planning permission for the Glanbia cheese plant at Belview, Co Kilkenny.

The Taoiseach described the project as being of immense economic importance to the region, but also to the expansion of the industry.

“It's gone through a very lengthy process already. I would appeal that there'll be no further appeals against this project now, given the fact that the courts have ruled very clearly in relation to it, and that many jobs depend on it,” he said.

“There has to be balance in terms of how we all behave in society. We can't all be absolutist in pursuit of our own objectives to the exclusion of the wellbeing of others in society.

“I think the balance has been tipped in the wrong scale here now, completely. It will create unnecessary tensions and division.”

The Taoiseach made his comments following questions by Independent TD Mattie McGrath during a Dáil debate on Tuesday. McGrath warned that the appeal could cost hundreds of jobs at the plant.

Announcing its intention to appeal the High Court decision last Friday, An Taisce said the judgement raised “points of law of exceptional importance that should be appealed in the public interest”.

It said it would be “unconscionable to ignore the impact of the increased [dairy] production required for this development and the inevitable added negative impact on the environmental performance of the Irish dairy industry.”

“We want the long-term sustainability of Ireland’s agriculture and food sector to be assured, but the continued expansion of intensive dairying presents an existential threat to that possibility,” it said.

Last month, Justice Richard Humphreys ruled that An Taisce’s real grievance was with Government policy and found that there was no scientific evidence put before the planning authority to contradict the natura impact statement for the Belview plant.