The High Court has dismissed a challenge against Abbott Ireland following a decision to grant planning permission to expand its infant formula manufacturing facility in Cootehill, Co Cavan.

John Morehart, owner of the neighbouring 1,000ac Bellamont Forest House estate, challenged via judicial review the decision by Monaghan County Council to grant planning permission for the development.

Abbott applied for planning permission on 29 November 2022 and on 1 February 2023, Monaghan County Council granted permission following the five-week notice period.

Morehart alleged that the plan by Abbott to expand the facility and the granting of permission by the council failed to comply with planning regulations, and in his challenge stated that there was no detail from Abbott as to where water for the plant was abstracted from and any effect of said abstraction on the river system.

Environmental impact assessment

He also alleged that there were errors relating to the environmental impact assessment for the development.

In response, Abbott stated that the court should refuse to grant Morehart leave to apply for judicial review to challenge the county council decision on the basis of the existence of an alternative remedy, namely a right of statutory appeal to the planning permission. This remedy has been invoked by An Taisce and which Morehart is an observer to, the judgment notes. A decision on the An Taisce appeal is due in July.

In the judgment by Justice Richard Humphreys, he said that an applicant should normally avail of a more appropriate remedy first, such as an appeal, rather than a challenge by judicial review and dismissed the case.

Abbott’s planning permission submission was for the expansion of the existing facility, additional storage capacity, laboratory areas and office space of up to four storeys.

Water treatment plant

Four five-storey powder silos and a standalone water treatment plant are also among the developments planned for the site.

Morehart's property lies along the Monaghan-Cavan county boundary and is located just 1km from Abbott's facility in Co Monaghan.

The house on the property is one of the one of the earlier examples of a Palladian villa in Ireland and runs along the Dromore River.

The judgment notes that Morehart has “something of a history with the notice party and has contested some of its previous permissions”.

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