Dáil Éireann - Volume 552 - 18 April, 2002

Written Answers. - Planning Applications.

  72. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development the extent [755] to which he has examined the impact on rural development of objections by various bodies to planning applications in rural areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12261/02]

  Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): I have not undertaken any formal examination of the impact on rural development of objections to planning applications in rural areas. In so far as one-off rural housing is concerned, my views are already known. Government policy on rural development is set out in the white paper published in August 1999. As a result the Government is committed to ensuring the economic and social well being of rural communities and providing the conditions for a meaningful fulfilling life for all people living in rural areas. The aim is that there will be vibrant and sustainable communities able to enjoy a standard of living and quality of life which will make them attractive communities in which to live and work and where individuals and families will have a real choice as to whether to stay in, leave or move to, rural Ireland, whether in farming or otherwise.

  Rural communities should also be able to enjoy access to education, training and lifelong learning and an adequate level of social and other services and infrastructures. Their cultural identities, in particular the language, traditions, heritage and sense of community must be valued and retained. The national development plan is the vehicle on which the policies in the white paper are being progressed. This involves expenditure on a wide range of measures from agriculture to training and employment and infrastructure, including housing and health services, as well as the Leader programme on rural development. As further evidence of the Government's commitment to rural areas, I am currently implementing the CLÁR programme which aims to fast track NDP expenditure in the most disadvantaged rural communities. To underpin the success of the programme, I am allocating an additional €12.7 million, both this year and next, towards the various measures. Those which I have announced to date cover non-national roads, LIS roads, group water schemes, small public water schemes, urban enhancement scheme, village enhancement scheme, bilingual signage scheme, and sports capital grant scheme. I will make further announcements in due course in relation to other proposals I am currently considering for inclusion in the CLÁR programme.