Distillery – Midleton, Co. Cork

Midleton Distillery occupies a 45-hectare site on the outskirts of Midleton town. In 1975, following the creation of Irish Distillers Ltd. (IDL), all distillation was consolidated into one “new distillery” adjacent to the original Midleton Distillery. Today Jameson is the key brand distilled and matured in Midleton and is the world’s largest selling Irish Whiskey.

Midleton Distillery was operating at near capacity; with an output of 33.5 million litres per annum and it was not possible to increase production without further development. The alternatives available to increase output were examined and it was determined that there were two realistic scenarios available; to further develop the existing Midleton site or to develop a new separate site. The option of developing additional capacity at a second site was discounted, as in terms of operation and efficiency, a single site would be preferable to a number of sites at various locations. Furthermore, whiskey distilling facilities qualify as a Seveso establishment. This has potentially significant impacts on the area of land required to facilitate the development and adjoining land uses. From a land use planning perspective, it was considered that it would be more desirable to have a single additional Seveso establishment within the County, rather than a number of smaller Seveso sites.

McCutcheon Halley was retained by IDL to prepare an application for the extension and expansion of Midleton Distillery, to 64 million litres per annum, almost double the capacity. This required inter alia the installation of 24 no. additional fermenter tanks, a tank farm to accommodate 6 new distillation columns, expansion of the on-site waste water treatment plant, erection of production services shed and services yard, extension to the existing substation building; and the installation of 8 no. ground water wells to provide water for the proposed expansion.

Additionally, a new Still House was proposed to provide the required capacity for the pot line distillation process. The Still House was designed in modern architectural form not only to house but to showcase the copper pot stills. Extensive glazing was incorporated into the still house to allow for external views of the potstills.

The Distillery straddles the boundary of Cork County Council and Midleton Town Council and so a planning application was lodged to both Planning Authorities for the overall development. The application was accompanied by and Environmental Impact Statement and a Natura Impact Assessment.

Key issues of the development proposal included:

Ecology – addressing the potential implications of the proposed development on the Dungourney River, a salmonid spawning water, which the development adjoins, abstracts water from and discharges water to.

Landscape & Visual – ensuring that the most visual elements (max. 43m) of the scheme adequately integrated with the existing industrial development and would not have adverse impacts on the visual amenities of Midleton townscape and outlying areas.

Ground Conditions – assessing the ground stability conditions, including an assessment for the potential presence of karst features.

Abstraction – assessing the risk from the increased groundwater abstraction to the overall recharge of the catchment.

Seveso – liaising with the Health and Safety Authority in terms of impacts in the context of major accident hazards.

Archaeology – the impact of the proposed development on the mill race which will be covered (but not altered) as part of the development.

In 2012, a 10-year permission (Ref. 11/06531) was secured from Cork County Council. In making its determination the planning authority considered that “having regard to the development plan objectives for the area and the established industrial development on the site, it is considered that…the proposed development would not seriously injure the amenities of the area and would not be prejudicial to public health and, therefore, would be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”