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17 July 2003 Edition

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Rural areas need planning flexibility

People in rural Ireland are increasingly frustrated over the planning process.

While there is a need to protect the environment, frustration in rural areas has reached the stage where many are now prepared to bypass the planning process altogether and build houses without permission.

There has to be enough flexibility to allow people to build houses in their own communities or those communities will continue to decline as they have done up to the present time.

Looking around the country, there are numerous derelict sites that could be built on and yet when people try to do so, there are invariably objections. Where these objections are valid, that is all well and good but there are also the 'serial objectors' who oppose any and every attempt to build in rural areas. Unfortunately, An Taisce has become closely associated in the public mind with this trend.

While every effort must be taken to ensure that the rural environment is preserved, there must also be scope for people to build and to live in the communities in which they were born. The alternative to that is the increased forced urbanisation with all the social problems to which that gives rise.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1