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Friends of the Environment challenges the Government’s Food Vision 2030 strategy

Friends of the Environment challenges the Government’s Food Vision 2030 strategy

High Court permission has been granted to an environmental group to judicially challenge the Government’s 10-year agrifood sector strategy.

FIE (riends of Ireland Environment) is trying to stop the decision last year to adopt, publish, or approve the Food Vision 2030 strategy.

The Food Vision 2030 report was published in August. It provided a roadmap to increase exports from 14 billion to 21 million by 2030. It also predicted that Ireland would be a world leader for sustainable food systems during this period.

A cross-sectoral group of 30 agrifood and other stakeholders created the plans for agriculture and marine sectors.

FIE was granted permission by Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Tuesday to continue its challenge against the strategy’s adoption. The State respondents were not opposed to John Kenny BL being instructed by FP Logue Solicitors, and they were granted leave.

FIE claims that FIE did not conduct an adequate assessment of the environmental impact of the plan’s implementation. FIE claims that it did not comply with the European Unions Strategy Environmental Assessment (SEA Directive) requirements. These requirements were transposed by the European Communities Regulations 2004.

FIE claims that no reason was given by FIE for choosing this strategy over another feasible alternative, which would have outperformed it against a greater range of environmental objectives.

FIE claims that an article in the 2004 regulations presumes that all reasonable alternatives will be subject to an equal level assessment.

The group claims that it is difficult to understand the weighting priorities used in an assessment to score the alternatives against each environmental objective. FIE claims the selection of this plan was irrational, unreasonable, and did not consider other relevant materials.

According to the group, it expects that State respondents will argue against the adoption of Food Vision as Government policy and/or that environmental assessment were voluntary to the extent that any error is not subject to legal consequences.

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It points out that a similar argument was made by the State in another FIE case seeking to block the adoption of Project Ireland 2040. This action also includes the National Development Plan. Last week, the Supreme Court accepted to hear FIEs appeal. This case will also include an examination of the National Development Plan’s status.

FIE asserts in its Food Vision Challenge that any such argument would not be compatible with the language used during the environmental assessments by the State respondents and ignores the significant policy implications resulting from these agrifood strategies.

FIE is seeking a court order to annul the August 3 decision. FIE also wants various court declarations to state that the State parties erred by failing to adequately consider alternative plans for the purposes SEA Directive and an Article of the 2004 Regulations.

The case, which was against the Government of Ireland, Ireland, the attorney general and the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, has been adjourned for mention.

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