Owner of 1,000-acre estate fails in challenge to expansion of nearby factory

Judge dismisses application for leave to bring judicial review proceedings over planning permission

The owner of a historic Palladian house and 1,000-acre estate in Co Monaghan has failed to bring a challenge to planning permission for an extension of a factory producing milk products for infants next to the estate.

John Morehart, owner of Bellamont House, near Cootehill, sought to judicially review the decision of Monaghan County Council to grant permission for an extension to Abbott Ireland, whose facility is about 1km from the Morehart property.

Along with the expansion of its production facility, Abbott plans to relocate existing water tanks and install four powder silos and a new wastewater treatment plant.

Mr Morehart claimed, among other things, that the council failed to take account of the visual impact of the proposed development on views from the Bellamont Forest Demesne. He said the permission is “seriously flawed”.


He claimed the permission should be set aside on grounds including that an Environmental Impact Assessment report concerning the proposed development failed to consider the impacts on emissions, climate change, cultural heritage, local development plans and hydrology.

He also claimed a part of the proposed works, relating to the extraction of water from local waterways, requires the use of lands he owns, and that he has not given any consent for work on his property.

He claimed he was never asked for, nor has he given, his consent for any of these proposed works to be carried out on his property.

The council argued he had failed to exhaust his alternative remedy as he was already participating in a separate appeal to An Bord Pleanála brought by An Taisce. Abbott, as a notice party, also opposed his application.

Mr Justice Richard Humphreys in the High Court dismissed Mr Morehart’s application for leave to bring judicial review proceedings over the permission.

He said Mr Morehart had argued that he and his family spent a significant amount of time outside the jurisdiction, but the caretakers of his estate regularly monitored Abbott applications as there had been a history of them.

While the perimeters of his property were routinely inspected, Mr Morehart also said no site notice about this application was legible from the public road.

The judge said that failing to avail of a remedy (of appeal to An Bord Pleanála) because one is abroad “is still failing to avail of a remedy”.

The evidence fell short of showing to the substantial grounds threshold that he was incapable of appealing himself, he said.

Mr Morehart was not without a remedy however, the judge said. He has separate proceedings pending against An Bord Pleanála’s refusal to allow him to seek to appeal the council’s decision. He will also be involved in the An Taisce appeal against the decision, he said.

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