DEAR EDITOR: Reflecting on Pat O’Toole’s article ‘Diageo’s brewery plan at the mercy of the planning system’, I am reminded of the phrase ‘the only thing we learn from history is nothing at all’.

Four years ago, Tirlán’s Belview cheese plant found itself at the mercy of the planning system, leaving a €140m investment in rural Ireland and Irish agriculture in jeopardy.

Now, Diageo’s plan for a new €200m brewery in Newbridge faces the same limbo. Timelines will ultimately be the enemy.

Tillage farmers are currently battling horrific weather conditions trying to salvage spring plantings. Malting barley has proved to be a reliable premium crop for many farmers and on the back of this brewery, Boortmalt in Athy has plans to expand its malting capacity. It’s a win-win for farmers, the processing sector and the wider economy.

As a local farmer, I want to see this brewery built, as a public representative for Kildare south I want to see it built, and as a Minister in the Department of Agriculture I want to see it built. I represent both the towns of Newbridge and Athy, and both stand to gain from this investment. On the flip side, losing this brewery would be hugely damaging. It means not only foregoing the chance to expand the sector but also endangering current levels of demand.

In contrast to Tirlán’s plant, the raw material in this case is not necessarily tied to Ireland. It means this brewery will be built in Newbridge, or nowhere in Ireland. If it goes abroad, its demand for malting barley will go with it.