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Plans for whiskey storage warehouse in Kilcurry officially dead in the water

Plans for whiskey storage warehouse in Kilcurry officially dead in the water

Plans by the Great Northern Distillery for a whiskey storage warehouse in Kilcurry would appear to be dead in the water after councillors opted not to materially contravene the Louth County Development Plan to allow it to proceed at a meeting last night.

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.

However hopes of that happening were killed off even before the commencement of last night’s meeting as the Great Northern Distillery would have needed 22 votes in their favour to rezone the land which they bought for a seven figure sum in 2016.

Just 18 councillors were present at the meeting though, with all 18 voting not to change the County Development Plan.

It brings to an end a saga that has been ongoing since last October when the Carrick Road-based firm 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 on a 45 hectare site (111 acres) near to St Brigid’s Church.

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

A decision on the matter was due last November but the application was put on hold in order to seek further information before the local authority issued a notice of a plan to make a material contravention to the County Development Plan as part of the ongoing planning process. Now that that has been defeated, there appears no future for a project which had been met by stern opposition from local residents in the Kilcurry area.

The outcome comes as no surprise with Great Northern Distillery boss John Teeling telling The Irish Times last week that the facility would not be in Co Louth.

An overhead view of the proposed site map for the 111 acre site which the Great Northern Distillery bought last year

Reacting to last night’s vote, Dundalk Councillor John McGahon said the right decision had been made in voting against the re-zoning of land.

Speaking during the debate Cllr McGahon said “I don’t even see the need even for this meeting. Seven days ago John Teeling announced via the Irish Times that he would be pulling out of this proposed development however he declined to withdraw the planning application and as a result this meeting was required to go ahead. He could have saved everyone a lot of time by simply withdrawing the application.

John Teeling at the Great Northern Distillery in Dundalk

“I think we need to be quite clear about what we are being asked to do here. We are being asked to re-zone agricultural land into industrial zoned land in order for a whiskey warehouse to be built. Agricultural land is valued at a substantially lesser price that land zoned as industrial. I don’t buy the argument put forward by Teeling that this was the only land in all of County Louth that was suitable.

“I also had a number of issues with his recent article in The Irish Times, in which he mentioned how in hindsight ‘we should have had a public meeting the day before we put in the planning application, by giving them (the locals) a chance to see what was there, we gave them a chance or organise and make objections’.

“I think that quote alone is very telling, he was acknowledging he should have pulled a ‘fast one’. He had little or no concern for the impact that such a substantial development would have on the people of Kilcurry.

“Equally, he mentioned how ‘We were directed by Louth County Council who thought it would be a good place to go’. People regularly meet with the council to discuss possible planning permission and this is par for the course. However it would be extremely unusual for any Local Authority to direct a developer towards any particularly piece of land, particularly land that was not zoned for the development that was envisioned. I know this is not the case with Louth County Council and making such a throwaway remark is an insult to the staff in the planning office.”

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