Dáil Éireann - Volume 639 - 16 October, 2007
Written Answers. - Planning Issues.
Deputy Leo Varadkar Deputy Leo Varadkar
Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reasons for rejecting the Monaghan county development plan; if he will apply the same analysis to other county development plans and variations adopted to existing county development plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23938/07]
Deputy John Gormley Deputy John Gormley
Deputy John Gormley: The Monaghan County Development Plan 2007-2013 was adopted in March 2007 following public consultation at draft and material amendment stages. At both stages, my Department expressed serious concerns that the draft plan did not support the objectives of the National Spatial Strategy, the Regional Planning Guidelines for the Border Region, or the Sustainable Rural Housing Guidelines.
My Department’s main concerns were as follows:
The adopted Plan had zoned land for a potential additional 102,000 people within the county over its six-year term, an increase of 182% on the total current county population of 55,800, and which was equivalent to the projected population growth for the entire Border region in the period from now until 2020;
The zonings were proposed without any objective assessment of housing needs;
Much of the proposed zoned lands were on the edge of small villages and towns with out sufficient essential infrastructure services;
The Council did not use the distinction between Clár and non-Clár areas as a basis for distinguishing between weaker rural areas and rural areas under strong urban influence, particularly in those areas of the County close to the main towns of Monaghan, Carrickmacross and Castleblayney and along the N2 National Primary Route. This omission runs counter to the Sustainable Rural Housing Guidelines, which recommend that a more selective approach to the granting of one-off planning permissions should be applied to rural areas under strong urban pressure. In such areas, the objective should be to facilitate suitable rural housing proposals from members of the established rural community.
Accordingly, in order to ensure proper planning and sustainable development, I issued a Direction to the Council on 23 July 2007 under section 31 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 requiring the Council to vary their Plan. My Department monitors all county and city Development Plans and I will continue to take a strong stance where Plans run counter to Government policy in relation to proper planning and sustainable development.
Deputy Michael Ring Deputy Michael Ring
Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the observations made by the Government and if he will provide a copy of the report submitted to the EU Commission regarding the compatibility of the local needs element test contained in a number of county development plans for granting of planning permission for one off dwellings with Articles 43 and 56 of the EC Treaty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23983/07]
Deputy John Gormley Deputy John Gormley
Deputy John Gormley: My Department received a Letter of Formal Notice dated 27 June 2007 from the European Commission, seeking the observations of the Government on whether the “local needs” test contained in a number of County Development Plans for the granting of planning permission for one-off dwellings in rural areas is compatible with Articles 43 and 56 of the EC Treaty which guarantee respectively the freedom of establishment and the free movement of capital. My Department responded to the Commission’s enquiry on 28 September and presented a strong defence of our current rural planning practices and policies.
I am precluded, on the basis of legal advice available to me, from publishing or disseminating either the correspondence from the Commission  in relation to enquiries or investigation into possible infringements or the State’s responses as these documents are regarded as part of possible legal proceedings. For this reason, I cannot provide specific details of my Department’s response to the issues raised by the Commission. However, once matters have been concluded and there is no longer any likelihood that possible proceedings could be undermined by the release of such documents, it is of course open to the Commission and the Department to release the correspondence. My Department will be pleased to make its papers available once the Commission has concluded its consideration of the issue and closed the case.
Dáil Éireann 639 Written Answers. Planning Issues.