A guillotine needs to be applied to judicial reviews on planning permission applications, Former Minister for Agriculture and Laois-Offaly TD Barry Cowen has said.

The Fianna Fáil TD's comments are on the back of an application that has been made in the High Court seeking permission for a judicial review into the granting of planning permission for the Banagher Chilling Limited meat factory in Banagher, Co Offaly.

The controversial €40m processing plant was granted planning permission in June by An Bord Pleanála, subject to 15 conditions.

It came almost two years after an initial appeal from two locals.

Desmond Kampff and Gwen Wordingham from Banagher, raised a number of concerns relating to the project with An Bord Pleanála.

They said it was an “unsustainable and unsuitable” development for the area and that the plant “poses grave risk to the local environment and offers very little benefit to the local economy".

Uncertainty of Irish planning laws

Cowen said that Ireland’s international reputation as a centre for business is being brought into disrepute by the uncertainty of its planning laws.

He argued that investors and multinationals can have no confidence about when a project will come to fruition due to the country's out-dated and anarchic planning laws.

"The last Government and this one has been promising reform but the country waits like Godot for actual change.

“A review being done by the Attorney General should be published immediately and the Government should indicate how it intends to proceed," he said.


It should be, he said, a matter of extreme urgency once the Dáil resumes in September or sooner if needs be to have the time and space to process legislation vital to the country’s reputation.

“This saga with the Banagher meat plant follows the two-year planning battle on the Glanbia plant that continued until the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal after another prolonged process. Planning needs reform.

"It has been talked about endlessly and the time for action has come," he said.