Planning act ‘spells death knell of rural dwelling’

THE new Planning and Development (amendment) Act 2010 will “spell the death knell” of the rural dweller and the one-off house, because it will take into account the energy expended in commutes between work and home, a council meeting has heard.

 The claim, at a meeting of Kerry County Council to discuss the new act, was made by Paul O’Donoghue, brother of the former Ceann Comhairle.

A spokesman for Environment Minister John Gormley strongly refuted the claim as scaremongering.

Fianna Fáil councillor Paul O’Donoghue also warned that the new act would “strip the last vestiges of power from councillors”.

Mr O’Donoghue, a solicitor, said that while in the past councillors had to have regard to ministerial directions in preparing plans and zoning, “now we will have to comply”.

Director of planning in Kerry Michael McMahon outlined how development plans must now include mandatory objectives to promote sustainable land use “and transportation strategies to reduce energy demand”.

Mr O’Donoghue said in effect this meant “a fellow living in Glencar and working in Tralee would be ruled out”, in a planning application.

“I am very concerned for rural dwelling, given that energy is now going to be a criterion. This act will spell the death knell of rural dwelling,” the councillor said.

A spokesman for the Department of Environment Heritage and Local Government described Mr O’Donoghue’s claims about the “death knell of rural dwelling” as “unfounded scaremongering,”

If applicants with rural connections fulfilled conditions, they would get planning, the spokesman said.

The new powers strengthened the minister’s hand, the spokesman said, adding that planning and climate change were Mr Gormley’s main concerns in coming into office and the consequences of over-zoning by councillors were now being reaped.

It is expected that the new act will come into effect on September 28, the spokes- man said.

This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Friday, September 17, 2010

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