Mayo concerns raised over ‘flawed’ national plan.
OFFICIALS at the highest levels within Mayo County Council have expressed serious concern that the west and northwest will lose out badly if the strategy proposed in the National Planning Framework (Ireland 2040) is approved by the Oireachtas.
Ian Douglas, senior planner with the authority, said: “In my view, this is not a national planning framework. It is really just a framework for five big towns (Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick and Waterford).
Mr. Douglas produced a map – not available on the National Planning Framework (NPF) website – which shows Mayo and most western counties in white, outside the main NPF framework.
He rejected suggestions that Mayo will benefit from the sphere of influence of Galway, claiming that the influence of the city will be in a southerly rather than northerly direction. Mr Douglas said the council had supported the case for Sligo to be given some recognition as a ‘sub regional centre’ somewhere between the larger towns and the smaller centres. In its submission to the NPF, the council highlighted the need for greater infrastructure in the region.
There seemed, Mr. Douglas added, to be no recognition in the plan of the importance of Ireland West Airport Knock as a regional driver. Mr. Douglas concluded his remarks by stating he wasn’t convinced there was a genuine consultation process. “It’s going to get political now,” he continued. “It has got political.”
John Condon, director of services, said a critical stage has been reached as regards the NPF. He appealed to councillors with connections in the Oireachtas to lobby to get the plan changed ‘in a way that would benefit us’. Councillors Al McDonnell (FF), Neil Cruise (FG) and Michael Smyth (FF), cathaoirleach, all agreed that the plan, as proposed, should be rejected.
Councillor McDonnell claimed 38% of the Mayo landmass is excluded. “This is not a national plan at all,” he protested. “It is very seriously flawed.”
The councillor also said he was worried about future restrictions on rural planning that would diminish the council’s influence as a local planning authority and destroy members’ ability to make their own discretionary county development plan. Councillor Cruise warned of a two-tier country – a first and third world nation – if the plan, as proposed, is adopted by the Oireachtas.
“We’ll be left with crumbs on the table,” he warned. Councillor Smyth agreed that the plan is ‘lopsided’. He added it is tied in with the national broadband plan which was taking too long and leaving some people in rural areas ‘high and dry’.
Catch the full article here in the Times
– Copyright The Times