The Mayo Draft County Development Plan 2021-2027 is to go on public display in the next few weeks until early March and the public is being encouraged to get involved and have their say on how they wish the county to develop.
At the December meeting of the council in the TF Royal on Monday last, a number of issues were raised about the plan by councillors on matters ranging from infrastructure and technology, to tourism and population numbers.
These included a call for an all-weather park for North Mayo (Cllr Mark Duffy ); a suggestion that a predicted population increase from 130,000 to 146,000 in Mayo by 2027, was a conservative one (Cllr Peter Flynn ); Cllr Gerry Murray wanted the Mayo Sligo Bike Trail right across the top of the Ox mountains included in the plan and he, Cllr Seamus Weir and Cllr Damien Ryan, all raised the issue of 'substantial damage' being done to roads by forestry trucks, which had to be paid for out of council resources.
Cllr Peter Flynn welcomed that the Clew Bay Greenway was 'to the forefront in the plan' saying: "I think it will be the most transformational project here in the last number of years, it will bring in the islands as well and will be something no country in the world can match."
Cllr Christy Hyland said there was an issue with large plastic signage on shopfronts, saying: "We can set a standard, with some beautiful shopfronts that are very well maintained by owners, but what happens is that breweries slap a plastic sign on them. We have done nothing about it for many years and are destroying many beautiful pubs. I think it is time we took a stand because they are very ugly signs."
Cllr Al McDonnell said he was not happy with the plan going on public display as points he had raised were not included. He said: "Our obligation is to survive as a county, but how can people live in a rural location where they are not supported by the planning authority?" Cathaoirleach, Cllr Richard Finn added: "If we don’t have people living in our county we will have no economy; we have to try and ensure our people and future residents of this country are going to be accommodated."
Cllr Gerry Coyle said he had been on the council for a number of county development plans and they didn’t work for his area, with population figures actually decreasing and schools declining in North Mayo. He added: "On planning, we were never supported; a woman whose daughter could not come back and build a home on the land where they came from; the salmon are protected, there is a preservation order on everything, except the people. You can’t build on 20 acres in Erris unless percolation is a certain type, but we don’t have good land and never had; but we have to make sure people are accommodated in the place they came from."
Responding to points raised around forestry trucks damaging Mayo roads, Director of Services, Catherine MCcConnell, said it was a matter of concern, 'but legislation decides whether it is extract industry or not, so we don’t have an awful lot of control over forestry activities'. However, it was revealed that a representative of Coillte would attend a council meeting in the New Year to answer queries. As to signage on shopfronts, she said: "It is very clear we do not support and will not allow plastic signage. For those already there it is an operational matter and we would have to advise each property owner the sign is not authorised."
It was agreed to put the plan on public display.