'Every farmer should be able to sell a site on their land with planning permission'

"There's nothing nicer than seeing local bungalows or two story houses in the country side"

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Galway Co Council has voted unanimously to support a motion which would see farmers given the right to sell a site on their land.

The man behind the proposal, Independent Councillor Michael Fahy says it’s impossible to get ‘planning’ in his area of south Co Galway and says his idea it would do wonders for the rural areas across the country.

The move would help keep post offices, schools and GAA clubs going in rural areas. These are all things that give an identity to a community.

Cllr Fahy said the scheme would also be a huge cash boost for hard pressed farmers who would spend the money in the local area anyway further boosting local shops and businesses. He also said the proposal would see thousands of jobs created in the construction sector.

According to Fahy, key to the proposal which would be on a once off basis is that planning permission on the site would be guaranteed. He said this would give piece of mind to both parities.

“It’s heart breaking when I cannot help people to get planning permission because of the current rules and said there was too much red tape in system.

Fahy said he has seen no opposition locally to the plan and pointed to unanimous support from Galway Co Council.

“This is not about damaging the scenic qualities of a local area. There is nothing nicer than seeing local bungalows or two story houses in the countryside.

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“Ireland has been recognised for its hospitality for years in this way. When foreign tourists are looking for directions they stop and ask in a local house. This has always been the case and should continue to be,” he said.

It comes as the Irish county with some of the most stringent planning restrictions on one-off housing will have to immediately revise its county development and local area plans and loosen up planning restrictions, councillors have said.

The warnings are being sounded in the wake of a ruling from the European Court of Justice which found that locals only type clauses are contrary to European law.

Thousands of holiday and second homes were built in the Kerry countryside during the so-called boom and zoning in Kerry has been engineered to prevent “urban generated pressure,” with a complete ban on outsiders in the rural settlement strategy in pressurised areas under the 2015-2021 county development plan.

There is a complete ban too on one-off holiday and second homes in the countryside, while holiday homes are confined to villages to protect the landscape and to try to undo some of the sporadic deterioration of the boom.

Occupancy clauses of least seven years are a condition of planning for applicants.

People from adjacent townlands can fall into the 'outsider' category, such are the restrictions under the county development and local area plans, councillors say.

People, although originating from the area, who are not working locally have no hope of planning in the countryside under current restrictions.

Killarney Independent councillor Donal Grady who two weeks ago drew management’s attention to the ruling said the development plans will have to be changed “immediately”. And he fears the council may be sued by applicants who were turned down for planning – or people who wanted to sell sites to get out of financial difficulty.

“The prohibitions are totally illegal,” Cllr Grady said.

The matter came to light following a meeting of Cllr Grady’s independent councillor grouping and he and other councillors have taken legal advice and been told the ruling is applicable in Kerry and other counties, he said.

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