Donegal County Council is to ask the minister for environment to allow a re-publication of draft of the County Development Plan in light of new European directives which came into effect in September.
Councillors believe the new regulations will draw a halt to building and development in many parts of the county because of their strictness. They have concerns on the limitations on building, drainage of land and the impact of the protection offered to plant and animal species.
At a special meeting of the council on Tuesday held to discuss the situation councillors said they were worried that regulations will force people out of rural areas of the county. The regulations affect Donegal more than most countys, they said. Some said the new directives amounted to an attack on rural life and the same rules should apply to Donegal as the eastern seaboard.
The councillors wanted to re-issue the draft County Development Plan to the public along side the new directives but the county manager told them that option is closed lwithout a derogation from the minister . The members want the public to the fully imformed of the consequences and implications on future development in the county of the new directives. The councillors have also requested a meeting with the north west’s MEPs to discuss the issue.
The new County Development Plan, which will run from 2012 to 2018 is entering its final stages and is due to come into effect in the middle of next year.
During the meeting Cllr. Gerry Crawford said he was concerned that a different interpretation of the regulations could mean it would be easier to develop on one side of the border than the other
Cllr. Seamus Ó Domhnaill said the council must ensure that the people of the county are allowed to build on their land and he described some of the new regulations as ludrcious and foolish.
Cllr. Barry O’Neill said the issue was one primarily for Donegal and he added he wanted the North West’s MEPs to be asked what they had done about the directives. He said the people of the county had to have their fair say on the issue.
Cllr. Ciaran Brogan said there were huge issues facing the council from the introduction of the guidelines as the social fabric of rural Ireland is under threat.
Cllr. Bernard McGuinness said the new directives had huge implications for Donegal because it has some of the most densely populated rural areas in western Europe.
County Manager Seamus Neely said the best way forward was for the council to apply for the derogation from the minister to have the draft plan re-issued while at the same time continuing with the timetable for the plan.