New planning and development act slammed by councillor

The new planning and development act which has been proposed by the Minister for Environment John Gormley has been described as a death knell for rural Ireland at the monthly meeting of Mayo County Council.

Ballina based Fine Gael Councillor Michelle Mulherin was speaking at the meeting after the members had agreed to adopt the new local area plans for Ballinrobe and Ballyhaunis as was proposed for ratification by the Claremorris electoral area committee last week.

Cllr Mulherin alleged that the new planning and development act would halt local authorities from drafting development plans for towns with less than a population of 5,000. “The proposals in this bill are crazy,” she told the meeting. “It will be the end to all capital investment in our rural towns and communities.”

She also told the meeting the new act would seriously curtail the powers of the elected members. “The power of self determination will be taken away from us, we won’t be able to steer the ship anymore, this act is an insult and abomination as our powers are being centralised to civil servants in a Department in Dublin. We are being made impotent before our very eyes,” said Cllr Mulherin

Only a talking shop in the future

The Ballina councillor also called on the council officials to tell the elected members what they thought of the proposed bill. “I’d like to hear what our senior planners in the county think of this new bill, because from what I see it will make us only a talking shop and we won’t be able to make any plans in the future unless we get the agreement of the civil servants in Dublin. This bill which is being pushed along by the Green Party, if it becomes law, will be the death knell for rural Ireland.”

Fine Gael whip Cllr Joe Mellet proposed that the issue be put on the December agenda of the council so they could discuss it fully. “Such are the draconian measures that are being proposed in this bill I would like to see this put on the December agenda, so we can discuss it fully,” he said. Cllr Mellet’s motion was supported by Fianna Fáil Cllr Al McDonnell, who was one of the major players in the council’s showdown last year with the Minister for Environment over the County Development Plan.

 

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