Criticism of 'vague' development plan

Donal Nolan

THE draft Kerry County Development Plan (CDP) for 2015 - 2021 is too 'aspirational' and not nearly specific enough in its plans for underpinning economic growth in the county.

THE draft Kerry County Development Plan (CDP) for 2015 - 2021 is too 'aspirational' and not nearly specific enough in its plans for underpinning economic growth in the county.

That was the warning from one county councillor in a debate on the first segment of the proposed draft of the plan concerning the plan's overall strategy.

Councillors were presented with County Manager Tom Curran's report on the first stage of the process. The document summarised the 56 submissions Kerry County Council received on the plan during the first public consultation period.

It also set out council management's likely policy across seven broad spectrums: core strategy for the county; housing; economic development; tourism; infrastructure; natural environment and heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The first draft of the county plan will be presented to councillors on November 24 next.

In the initial debate on the report on Monday morning, however, Fine Gael councillor Jim Finucane argued the manager's recommendations on bolstering the Kerry economy in the period were too vague and simply 'aspirational'.

"Having regard to the current economic difficulties faced by the entire country, it is essential that the draft plan creates a platform on which the future economic development and growth of the county can built.

"The CDP shall acknowledge the importance and potential of the knowledge, service and green industries as future employment sectors for the county," Mr Curran set out.

Future planning would focus on the hub towns of Killarney and Tralee, the report also set out.

"The designation of Hub status years back has managed nothing," Cllr Finucane said. "There are a lot of aspirational statements in this report. The reality is that we have a Dublin economic zone with its hinterland and we have the rest of the country."

Cllr Finucane said it was vital the council look to support the further development of the IT Tralee, Kerry Technology Park, Fenit port, the Wild Atlantic Way and the proposed Shannon LNG gas plant on the Ballylongford Landbank.

He said these represented the greatest potential in driving the Kerry economy into the future.

Cllrs Pat Healy (Fine Gael), Danny Healy Rae (Ind) and Robert Beasley (Sinn Féin) also pointed to the bottlenecks of Adare and Macroom, on the Limerick and Cork routes into Kerry respectively, as major obstacles to the transport of goods and services into and out of the county.

Sinn Féin's Toireasa Ferris and Independent Brendan Cronin meanwhile criticised a policy recommendation to promote new employment and enterprise within 'existing settlements' rather than on 'stand-alone' sites in rural areas. "I hope there will be some room for flexibility on this,"Cllr Ferris warned.

Meanwhile, Cllr Danny Healy Rae opined the continued decline of services in rural areas. "All that will be left are foxes and deer and bullocks and badgers!"

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