Gormley under fire as council digs in over soil rules
A LOCAL authority is digging in its heels over new planning regulations that will prohibit construction on certain types of soil.
Leitrim councillors claim their county will be the worst hit by the recent Environmental Protection Agency code of practice on waste water treatment and disposal systems serving single houses.
The new guidelines require the administration of a set of percolation tests to assess the ability of the soil to absorb water. A test result of over 90 means the site is deemed unsuitable for development.
Soil absorption percolation tests indicate that most of Co Leitrim will be in excess of the limit imposed by the new directive and will be deemed unsuitable for development.
Last night, furious councillors supported a call to meet with Environment Minister John Gormley and Taoiseach Brian Cowen to air their concerns on a requirement they claim will sound the death knell for rural Leitrim.
"The impact would be devastating if the current guidelines were left to stand. Most planning permission would be refused and people who have a connection to the land would be forced to move away," Fianna Fail councillor Mary Bohan said.
Her motion -- supported by all 22 elected representatives -- called on Mr Gormley to withdraw the new code of practice until a suitable alternative solution was found.
"I believe there are other approaches which would not mean a blanket ban on building. It is essential for the future of our county. Not enough attention has been given to reed and willow beds as a means of purifying water," she said.
Councillors estimated up to 80pc of one-off houses in rural Leitrim over the past 10 years would not have been built if the regulations had existed.
The code of practice, introduced last January, is also provoking anger among farmers, not just in Leitrim, but in areas of similar topography in Longford and Roscommon.
Irish Farmers' Association President John Bryan has vowed his organisation will fight what he has slammed as "lunatic changes to planning".
Meanwhile, at a recent meeting of Longford County Council, Cllr Sean Farrell (FG) labelled it a "Machiavellian plot" to force people out of rural areas and into estates he described as "unfinished cesspits".