The National Roads Authority have come in for sharp criticism from politicians in Westport who were vociferous in their condemnation of the authority at a meeting this week.
Members of the Westport electoral area were responding to news that a planning application in Carrowrevagh, Liscarney was going to be refused because of its location on the N59.
Local politicians however were incensed that the NRA would continue to oppose planning applications on national routes that they have not spent a cent on in many years.
Councillor Margaret Adams said the council should do all in its power to find alternative ways to access the N59 for applicants who wish to build along the road. In an area where a new school has recently being built and a new childcare facility is due to open in September, Cllr Adams said it was heartbreaking for young couples who are being denied the opportunity to build in the areas they have grown up in.
“Refusing planning permission when rural areas are in decline is a disgrace,” Cllr Adams fumed. “Young couples strive to build new homes on sites given to them by their parents and it’s heartbreaking when they are refused,” she added.
Cllr Austin Francis O’Malley was equally emotional in his response. He asked if the council were going to sit by and allow young couples be taken away from where they were reared because they can’t get planning permission. In the area in question he said there are 35 children attending the local school but a few applications for houses have been turned down in the area by the NRA. “Some guy in his wisdom in Dublin or Cork is saying you cannot build in Carrowkennedy or Louisburgh or Westport. It’s time we took those guys on and built up our areas,” protested Cllr O’Malley.
Cllr Peter Flynn blasted the “attitude” of the NRA and Minister John Gormley in relation to rural planning. He admitted no one wanted ribbon development but said in areas where there are villages, they should be built up.
Cllr Flynn said to call the N59 and many other roads in Mayo “national routes” was a joke - “not a cent of money has been spent on them in years”, he added.
Newly elected Chairperson of the Westport electoral area committee Cllr John O’Malley agreed with the sentiments voiced by all councillors. “The NRA have way too much say in all areas around Westport. They have stopped a lot of construction. It’s not like it’s a holiday home or a stranger coming into the area, but a local person looking for planning permission,” he concluded, referring to the original planning application which sparked the debate.