An Taisce has said it could not allow the construction of a Glanbia cheese factory in Kilkenny to proceed without a challenge as it will result in the over-intensification of dairy farming.

An Taisce said it fears the new factory will be a "clear tipping point" for the environment.

Dr Elaine McGoff, the Natural Environment Officer with An Taisce told Morning Ireland, that the group is not anti-rural or anti-farming.

She said that all environmental indicators are going in the wrong way and agriculture - predominantly dairy intensification - is the main driver of that.

"When people see milk in the table, they do not realise the environmental cost," she stated.

Dr McGoff said that it is not just the cheese plant it is concerned about but the 450 million litres of milk required to run it, which she said "could tip us over the edge".

She said it was a "highly unusual move" for the Taoiseach to comment on the High Court action but asked politicians "to allow us to do our job and let the judicial process take its course".

Dr McGoff said that the matter is before the courts and An Taisce is asking decision-makers to ensure there is an adequate enviromental assessment carried out.

She said that An Taisce's job is to stand up for the environment, the planet and people and it wants to see a thriving and diverse environment that works for nature and for all people.

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Dr McGoff said that farming is based on a functioning environment and that farmers should not have to choose between economic viability and a healthy environment for the next generation.

She said the model needs to change and that we can not have a sustainble economy at the cost of the environment.

"We need leadership that recognises the scale of the challenge and takes steps to protect our farmers and protect their financial futures," she added.

But a farmer from Cuffe's Grange in Co Kilkenny says the new Glanbia plant is needed to handle the peak dairy capacity in April, May and June.

Eamonn Sheehan said milk production eases off during the rest of the year.

Farmers here, he said, make the most out of grass available from February, March, April and on through the summer months.

Mr Sheehan said a farm's ability to sequester carbon is not accounted, adding that this "a bitter pill for me to swallow".

He told Morning Ireland that while dairy farmers may be milking cows, the environment is their top priority.

Eamonn Sheehan said the national herd concept does not take account of the fact that there are 18,000 dairy farmers in Ireland, which would translate to 80 cows per farm.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said that he "absolutely respects" the independence of An Taisce but that he does hope that the issues in relation to the provision of a Glanbia cheese factory in Kilkenny can be resolved.

"I know how important it is to our farmers, to our farming community and to the income and work that we are trying to create and I am hopeful we can find a balance between meeting that need and the issues that are raised by An Taisce."

The minister said that the Government would not be doing its work and not reflecting the diversity of the parties within it if it didn't have ongoing discussions 'reflecting the different views we have on so many different matters'.

He said that while it is an an issue with differing views, the Government is managing it in "a very collaborative manner".