DEAR EDITOR: There have been considerable pain and losses suffered by Irish malting barley growers in recent years in the battle to achieve the quality standards set by Boortmalt and Diageo.

We have all had serious rejections for the smallest of margins. Irish malting barley is likely the best in the world, grown to a gold standard of sustainability.

That achievement scored highly in London’s (Diageo HQ) decision to expand its brewing operation in Ireland. This is a serious vote of confidence in the Irish product.

Relationships between Diageo and farmers have occasionally been contentious, but always respectful.

The decision to build a new brewery is widely welcomed by growers at a time when the tillage industry is under serious pressure.

Expanding a market and creating more demand is always good news.

Planning permission for a project like this would have a lot of hurdles to overcome but it was successful.

However, something has since gone seriously wrong which, according to the article in last week’s Irish Farmers Journal, could have disastrous consequences.

The loss of this project to another country is a real possibility.

Not only would an extension to Boortmalt’s plant be unnecessary but there would be a drop in the present demand: a serious loss for growers and a big hit to employment in the Kildare area.

In my opinion, there does not appear to be any logic to the court action, which begs a bigger question, why? Why would anyone take the risk of massive economic damage to their own area?

On the issue of carbon footprint, how can a 20km truck drive to Newbridge bear any comparison to Dublin Airport or the M50 being full to capacity with people and traffic?

Planning system

The other big issue, of course, is the extent to which the investor is exposed within the Irish planning system. The media has repeatedly highlighted this, but there has been no Government response to date.

The one thing I’ve learned, however, through years of experience, is that there is far more incompetence in the world than conspiracy.

In my opinion, if this development fails, then this will be incompetence with a capital ‘I’. Malting barley growers will be very angry.