[Sinn Fein]

16th July 2003

Ferris highlights growing rural frustration with planning process

The Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development Martin Ferris TD has highlighted the growing frustration of people in rural Ireland over the planning process. Deputy Ferris was speaking at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture and Food which heard a presentation from An Taisce on once-off rural housing.

Deputy Ferris said:

``While I understand and support the need to protect the environment, I also feel that I must give voice to the many people in rural communities who are becoming increasingly frustrated with the planning process. That frustration has reached the stage where many are now prepared to bypass the planning process altogether and build houses without permission. At the moment in my own county of Kerry there are a number of cases where the Council is taking action against people in that situation.

``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. If you look around the country there are numerous derelict sites which could be built on and yet when people try to do so, there are invariably objections. Where the objections are valid that is all well and good but we also have the situation where there are what I might term `serial objectors' who object to 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 which that gives rise to''.

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