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Great Northern Distillery’s plans for whiskey warehouse in Kilcurry rejected by An Bord Pleanála

Great Northern Distillery’s plans for whiskey warehouse in Kilcurry rejected by An Bord Pleanála

The Great Northern Distillery’s plans for a whiskey storage warehouse in Kilcurry appear to be dead and buried once and for all.

An Bord Pleanála in recent days have rejected the Carrick Road firm’s final bid to build the facility on a 45 hectare site closed to St Brigid’s Church.

It had looked like the Great Northern Distillery’s hopes of building the warehouse were over last June when councillors opted not to materially contravene the Louth County Development Plan to allow it to proceed. As the land proposed for the 13 maturation warehouses was zoned mainly agricultural, it would have needed to be rezoned as industrial in order for the development to proceed.

Nevertheless the distillery, headed up by John Teeling, appealed the decision to An Bord Pleanála arguing at the time that it was of “strategic national importance to the rapidly growing Irish whiskey sector.” They further added that they had “demonstrated conclusively that it could be accommodated at the Kilcurry location without resulting in undue impacts to the receiving environment.”

An Bord Pleanála have now decided to reject the proposals on three counts.

An image of how the proposed warehouses would have looked on the landscape

They said the site for the proposed facility is located within Development Zone 4 of the Louth County Development Plan 2015-2021 which is ‘to provide for a greenbelt area around the urban centres of Dundalk, Drogheda and Ardee’. They said: “The Board considered that the proposed development, which it considered to be industrial/commercial in character, would materially contravene the zoning objective relation to Development Zone 4 and its associated policies RD37 and RD38.”

They further found that the proposed development was partially located within the settlement boundary of Kilcurry village which is a Level 4 village within the county settlement hierarchy of the Louth County Development Plan 2015-2021 where the role of the Level 4 villages is to serve a smaller rural catchment, provide local services with some smaller scale rural enterprises. They said: “Policy SS1 seeks to maintain the settlement hierarchy within the county. The Board consider that the proposed development, which it considered to be industrial/commercial in character, would materially contravene the county settlement hierarchy and the associated policy SS1 and would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

Finally, they had concerns over the development’s impact on the landscape locally. They said: “Having regard to the undulating nature of the landscape, the level of cut and fill of soil and rock required to accommodate the proposed development, in addition to the scale of the development and the proposed berm, it is considered that the proposed development would form a discordant and obtrusive feature on the landscape at this location, and would militate against the preservation of the rural environment and natural landscape, contrary to policy HER 10 of the Louth County Development Plan 2015-2021, and would set an undesirable precedent for other developments within the greenbelt zoned area. The proposed development would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

The saga over the proposed warehouse has been ongoing since October 2017 when the Distillery submitted a 10 year planning application for the development of a whiskey warehouse facility consisting of 13 maturation warehouses, ancillary buildings, structures and all ancillary site developments works.

A decision on the matter was due that November but the application was put on hold in order to seek further information before last June’s vote on whether or not to contravene the County Development Plan.

The project was met with opposition from day one by local residents.

Great Northern Distillery had appeared to have thrown in the towel on the plans even before the vote of councillors when its boss John Teeling told The Irish Times in May last year that the facility would not be in Co Louth.

The decision to appeal the matter to An Bord Pleanála was one last throw of the dice by the entrepreneur to push through his proposals but those plans now appear to be dead in the water.

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