Sinn Féin Motion to Remove Rural Planning Permission Obstacles Debated in Dáil

Sinn Féin Finance Spokeseperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has called on all TDs to throw weight behind and support a Sinn Féin motion which aims to amend existing planning legislation by removing current obstacles faced by many people when applying for planning permission in rural areas.

The amendment, if enacted, will permit local authorities to grant a waste water discharge licence to applicants wanting to build one-off rural houses where the percolation test has failed.

Speaking last night (Tuesday) during Sinn Féin's Private Members’ Business time in the Dáil chamber, Deputy Doherty said:


“Ba mhaith liom a rá go bhfuil mé bródúil as mo chuid comhgleacaithe anocht mar gheall ar an chinneadh a ndearna siad chun an rún seo a chur síos os chomhair an tí.

“Agus tá moladh mór tuillte ag Teachta Kenny as a shaothar agus a chuid obair ar son leasa muntir na tuaithe.

“As we’ve heard, this is a vital piece of legislation.

“This amendment, if enacted, will have the effect of removing the unfair obstacles currently placed before many people attempting to obtain planning permission in rural areas.

“We are not talking about large property developers, speculators or individuals hoping to make a killing on housing development.

 “No, we are talking about ordinary, genuine, hard working people who want to build in their own communities, in accordance with the county development plan and building standards, and they are being prevented from doing so because of unforeseen consequences of current regulations.

“These are people who have grown up in rural communities and who want nothing more than to build a home in which to live and raise their families.

“The implications of the zero discharge rule has prevented people such as them from building a place to call home in rural Ireland; a problem which is particularly acute in counties found throughout the northwest and west.

“Areas which, for too long, have suffered from depopulation and decline due – in no small part – to existing rural planning laws.

“In recent years, the attacks on rural Ireland have been relentless.

“Successive governments have not only failed to protect these communities from these attacks, but in many instances it was they who were responsible for them.

“In fact, this week alone, my own community in Bunbeg has been the victim of such an assault after it was announced that the village, like many others across our island, is set to lose its post office in the coming weeks.

“And they are not alone, the closure of rural post offices is happening right across Donegal.

“What we have witnessed, and what rural Ireland has been enduring at the hands of governments for years now, has effectively been death by a thousand cuts.

“Separately, but also worthy of mentioning as part of tonight’s debate, is the current process by which areas are designated as SACs, SPAs and NACs in a bid to restore or maintain favourable conservation of habitats and species by restricting certain human activities.

“This too has resulted in large swathes of rural Ireland being no go areas for development.

“Because while no one is saying that our natural environment, our flora and fauna, should not be protected – in fact it’s crucial that they are – it is clear that the needs and interests of rural communities must not be discarded whenever laws concerning planning and development are being formulated by legislators.

“And let me make this point also Minister, a point which I have on previous occasions raised with you and your officials.

“I am talking about the golden handcuffs currently placed on individuals who find that after having developed for example houses, mobile homes or extensions to existing dwellings within an SAC, they discover that they are prevented from applying for retention planning permission.

“We then have a situation whereby planners are forced to demand the removal of such development, in some cases even the demolition of homes – this is not right and this lacunae in the law needs to be dealt with.

“Regarding tonight’s motion, this legislation will enable rural people to live and work in their own communities and – in doing so – it will ensure that rural tradition and way of life here may continue well into the future.”

“A chairde, I urge all Deputies to support this important motion and to show that this House stands with Rural Ireland and all rural communities which can be found the length and breadth of this state who are suffering due to existing rules.”