Wexford farmer must remove unauthorised milking parlour by September, court rules

Wexford farmer must remove unauthorised milking parlour by September, court rules
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A farmer has been ordered by the High Court to remove a milking parlour he built without planning permission by September 19.

Patrick Furlong must cease milking operations by July 21st, and in the meantime, his herd must be moved to another farm with “a lawful milking facility”, Mr Justice Garret Simons ruled.

Mr Furlong built the parlour and associated works, including slurry storage and parlour washing tanks, at his 24.7-acre farm in  Gurteen, Templeshambo, Co Wexford in 2020.  It had been a dry stock farm prior to this.

Enforcement notices

Wexford Co Council served warning and enforcement notices in 2020 requiring him to cease the unauthorised development and restore the lands to their previous condition.


Mr Furlong then made a retention application but it was refused on grounds including that he had not demonstrated there was sufficient effluent storage capacity on the site and it was not clear the development would comply with the Nitrates Directive which is aimed at protecting water from pollution from agricultural sources.

The council also refused it on the grounds that the entrance created a traffic hazard on a county road and would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

Mr Furlong's neighbour Stephen McCann lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála arguing there were additional reasons the retention application should have been refused.   Mr McCann later withdrew his appeal after there was no other appeal from Mr Furlong himself.

Retention application

He put in a second retention application which was also refused on the same grounds along with an additional ground relating to the assessment of the effects of the development on the environment.


Mr Furlong did not appeal that decision but instead put in a third retention application.

This, however, was rejected by the council as invalid as it said the application would have triggered the requirement for an appropriate assessment for the purposes of the Habitats Directive.

Mr Furlong brought High Court judicial review proceedings over the decision 13 months ago, but these are still pending.

His neighbour, Mr McCann, then brought enforcement proceedings in the Circuit Court which in April last year ordered the cessation of the unauthorised development and reinstatement of the lands.  The court placed a stay of 12 months on the order.


Mr Furlong appealed that decision to the High Court which on Tuesday dismissed the appeal.

Mr Justice Simons said it would be inappropriate to put a stay on the orders to allow Mr Furlong an opportunity to make what would be a fourth attempt to obtain a form of retrospective development consent through what is known as substitute consent. "With respect, no developer is entitled to this level of indulgence," he said.

'Unauthorised development'

This was "a clear-cut case of unauthorised development", he said.

The public interest in upholding the integrity of the planning and development system demanded that “flagrant breaches” of the planning legislation not be allowed to continue unrestrained for years after enforcement proceedings have been instituted, he said.

While the fact that the orders will have "negative financial implications" for Mr Furlong was unfortunate, it cannot be a reason to defer making the orders, he said.

Those implications were the inevitable consequence of his own failure to comply with planning legislation and "his reckless decision to press on" in the teeth of the warning letter from the planning authority.

The cessation of the use and operation of the milking parlour and of other structures, as well as the cleaning out of the tanks, is to be done by midnight on July 21st next, he said.

This will allow time for the dairy herd to be transferred.

The removal of unauthorised structures and reinstatement of the lands is to be done by midnight on September 19th, he said.

As Mr Furlong had represented himself in court, the judge said it should be explained to him that failure to comply with the orders would leave him liable to steps being taken to have him brought to court and committed to prison for contempt, he added.

By High Court reporter

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