A hard lesson from the reality zone
DIGGING holes and filling them in again has long served as an image for pointless and valueless labour. During the boom, Irish local authorities added several refinements: not just digging but building, adding value and then destroying it.
Now we hear calls for the ultimate example of futility, the demolition of "ghost estates". No decisions on that have been made yet, but 12 out of 34 councils have already dezoned large tracts of land zoned for development in the boom years.
At the height of the construction and property mania, about 44,000 hectares were zoned for housing. That meant enough to build more than one million dwellings. And this in a country with a population of four-and-a-half million. The figure was more than 32,000 hectares higher than the country needed.