A district court judge has dismissed all charges brought against a Kilkenny-headquartered pig farm, Hermitage Farms, by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In November 2020, the EPA issued 22 summonses against Hermitage Farms stating that the farm did not comply with the odour emission provisions of its licence.
The summonses resulted from complaints made by a small group of local residents and an individual from another county to the EPA.
Hermitage Farms is fully licensed, with the licence handed into the court
Last week at Kilkenny district court, Judge Marie Keane stated that the matters before the court required the EPA to meet a criminal threshold on all charges before the court, that the EPA performs an important function, but the considerations of the licensee must be taken into account.
Hermitage Farms is fully licensed, with the licence handed into the court. It was represented by Michael Lanigan of Poe Kiely Hogan Lanigan in Kilkenny.
The judge noted that measuring odour was stated by the EPA to be via a subjective sniff test. She referred on a number of occasions to the lack of scientific explanation and analysis of the odour in the assessments.
The judge was critical of the lack of adherence by the EPA to their own policy document
The judge looked at the EPA inspection protocol outlined in the record sheets that must be followed, but noted that same was not subject to independent verification.
The judge was critical of the lack of adherence by the EPA to their own policy document and the EPA’s failure to abide by any principles of fair procedure, in most cases no inspections took place on complaint dates.
She said she was extremely concerned about the level of bias by the EPA in this case.
Ned Nolan, on behalf of Hermitage Farms, welcomed the decision of the court proceedings
She stated that it “beggars belief” that no other regulatory authority such as the Department of Agriculture or the Health and Safety Authority had any issues with Hermitage; yet the EPA has such an issue.
The judge stated that the manner in which the EPA conducted themselves “left a lot to be desired”.
Ned Nolan, on behalf of Hermitage Farms, welcomed the decision of the court proceedings.
Hermitage is a family-owned pig business, with a principal breeding farm in Freneystown, Co Kilkenny.