National Planning Framework could turn region into "glorified wildlife park"

The soon to be launched National Planning Framework will leave the region north of a line from Galway to Dublin a "glorified wildlife park" it was said this week. 

The Director of the North West Regional Assembly, David Menton gave the elected members of Mayo County Council a presentation on the work of the assembly and called on the councillors to work together to ensure the region is properly included in the National Planning Framework which is due to be launched by Minister Simon Coveny on January 30.  He said that international trends in this sort of plan is moving towards metropolitan development around cities. 

Fianna Fáil Cllr Damien Ryan said "it's completely ignoring the north west of the country. Everything above the line from Galway to Dublin will be a glorified wildlife park."

Independent Cllr Michael Kilcoyne called for an urgent meeting to be arranged between the nine Oireachtas members from the county to implore how serious this issue is. He said " I agree with Cllr Ryan, there's a third of the country which will be left for the birds, because it'll be for nothing else under these plans, if we are to believe the leaks and the few words we've heard from the Minister responsible on this." 

Sinn Féin Cllr Gerry Murray commented that it was coming up on 50 years since the publication of John Healy's book Death of an Irish Town which said that there would be no development without investment in infrastructure and 50 years later nothing had changed and won't change under this new plan. He also lashed out at central government who wouldn't apply for funding for infrastructure projects west of the Shannon, when the EU would put up 75 per cent of the funding, because they wouldn't come up with the 25 per cent to get the project done. 

The Chief Executive of Mayo County Council, Peter Hynes said of the proposed plan that "it is worrying that there doesn't seem to be vision or equity for a large part of the country" and " in my mind any plan that leaves out one-third of the land mass cant be seen as a national plan"

He went on to urge the councillors to think regional, because if they didn't the counties of the region will be picked off one by one if they want alone. 

Asked by the Cathaoirleach of the council, Cllr Al McDonnell what can be done to get things going regionally, Mr Hynes pointed out that in relation to Ireland Airport West Knock seven local authorities had worked well together to put in place an investment plan and that the regional assembly Western Development Commission were useful avenues to use. 

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