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A CGI image of the planned facility Diageo

Diageo gets green light to construct €200 million brewery in Co Kildare

The new facility is to brew lagers and ales including Rockshore, Harp, Hop House 13, Smithwick’s, Kilkenny and Carlsberg.

LAST UPDATE | 11 Dec 2023

AN BORD PLEANÁLA has given the green light to drinks giant Diageo to construct its planned €200 million brewery for Newbridge, Co Kildare.

With the appeals board granting planning permission to the project today, the new brewery for Littleconnell is to provide a major jobs boost to the Kildare area providing up to 1,000 jobs during the 20-month construction period and will lead to the creation of a further 70 jobs when operational.

The new facility, which will operate 24 hours per day, 365 days a year, is to brew lagers and ales including Rockshore, Harp, Hop House 13, Smithwick’s, Kilkenny and Carlsberg.

In a statement today, Diageo state that it expects to commence construction work on the project “in early 2024”.

A Diageo spokeswoman said that Diageo welcome the decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission for Ireland’s first purpose built, carbon neutral brewery in Kildare.

“This €200 million investment by Diageo in Ireland will support the growth of our beer brands while meeting our targets to be net zero by 2030,” she said. 

“The benefits of this project are compelling and we expect to commence work to commence in early 2024.”

Kildare County Council had granted planning permission for the project back in March but the brewery plan was stalled after a man at the centre of RTÉ Investigates allegations concerning payoffs to objectors in the planning system John Callaghan through his Sustainability 2050 entity appealed the decision while a separate appeal by a John Lynch from Athy, Co Kildare was also lodged with the appeals board.

Callaghan withdrew his appeal on 23 November and confirmed last week that no financial inducement was sought or offered in connection with the withdrawal of his appeal.

In an interview, Callaghan said that he never had a meeting with Diageo or anyone representing Diageo concerning the Sustainability 2050 appeal in connection with the brewery plan.

This was confirmed by a spokeswoman for Diageo who said last week “we have not had contact of any kind with the individuals behind Sustainability 2050 either directly or indirectly.”

The appeal remained ‘live’ with the John Lynch appeal.

An Bord Pleanála has twice deferred a decision on the appeal due to the backlog in cases it is currently dealing with.

In September, Diageo warned that the project is time sensitive “and further delays will jeopardise the rationale for this €200 million investment in Ireland”.

The brewery is to be built on a 21.36 hectare site at the IDA Newbridge Business and Technology Park to the east of a Lidl Distribution Centre.

The state-of-the-art brewery is to be powered with 100% renewable energy and will harness the latest process technology to minimise overall energy and water consumption.

As the production of lagers and ales is transferred to the new facility it will enable St James’s Gate to increase the production of Guinness to meet global demand.

In his appeal, Lynch of Cloney, Athy stated that the proposal for Littleconnell should be rejected and be built instead in Athy on environmental grounds.

In the opening sentence in his original objection lodged with the Council, Lynch stated that he wished on behalf of all the grandchildren of the world and all the babies in the womb of pregnant women to object in the strongest possible way to the proposed brewery at Littleconnell.

Lynch said that if there was ever a competition for a future brewery site of this scale in this country, Athy “would win out by miles from a financial point of view”.

The appeals board granted planning permission for the Diageo proposal after concluding that it would not give rise to a risk of serious pollution given its regulation under licence from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Attaching 19 conditions to the planning permission, the appeals board also concluded that the scheme “would not seriously injure the amenities of the area of or property in the vicinity and would not have a negative impact on archaeological or cultural heritage”.

The appeals board also concluded that the proposal is in accordance with the planned industrial expansion of Newbridge Business and Technology Park and would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and convenience.