Restrictions on farmer's sons and daughters building on their land to be loosened
Restrictions for planning permission for homes in the countryside look set to be loosened as part of the National Development Plan’s drive for rural rejuvenation.
The plan has undergone radical reworking when compared with a draft version that was released last year. Among the major changes is the loosening of rules which would have effectively ended a so-called ‘bungalow blitz’ in the countryside.
It was planned to curtail farmers’ sons and daughters from building on their land unless there was an ‘economic need’ but planners will now also be able to factor in a social dimension.
A blueprint for the €116bn wide-ranging programme is understood to set out that €91bn will come from exchequer coffers, with the remainder through state agencies.
It comes in the context of the National Development Plan aiming to promote the growth of cities like Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Galway to counteract the focus on Dublin.
Under the framework being launched in Sligo today, there will be a €1bn fund targeted at rural regeneration including towns that are home to less than 10,000 people. However, this will be spread out across 10 years.
- Capital investment projects will also be targeted with the percentage of the gross national income going towards this rising from 2.9pc to 4.1pc by 2027.
- Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring is also to get a €1bn fund targeted at regenerating towns with fewer than 10,000 people.
- The plan divides the country into three regions and states 75pc of population growth over the next two decades should occur outside Dublin.
- With diesel cars already under the spotlight, it is expected to set out one of its strategic targets that there will be no new diesel or petrol cars after 2030.
- Investment in regional and local roads will rise substantially over the next decade, with a spend totalling €4.5bn.
A total of €22bn has been allocated for creating a “low carbon environment” that will be sustainable by 2050.
New ambulance bases in Ardee, Mullingar, Cork, Dublin and Galway.
Atlantic road corridor from Donegal to Waterford.
Sources say there is a series of initiatives aimed directly at the transport sector, agriculture and the built environment.
Pat McCormack, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), which represents farmers, said the roll-out of a capital programme would have to look at how rural locations could be made more attractive for inward investment.
He said it was time for policymakers to look past “headcount” as a factor in deciding where investment went.
“It’s frustrating to hear someone say that it doesn’t make sense to invest in a rural area because the population base there doesn’t justify that. That non-investment then leads to more people deciding not to live in the rural area and to live in the urban or suburban environment instead,” he said, adding people needed real choice about where they wanted to live and work.
He said they had made a strong case for reforming the current strict “economic need” criteria for ‘one-off’ rural housing.
The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) general secretary Eddie Punch said they would cautiously welcome the €1bn rural regeneration fund. “The Cork-Limerick motorway is essential and should be prioritised if we are serious about rebalancing from Dublin,” he said.
Detailed among the many strategic aims in the report will be €2bn earmarked for urban regeneration.
With concerns over the rail network highlighted in recent weeks, it will also aim to enhance regional accessibility, with the north-west singled out as a priority region.
Out of a total €22bn allocated to climate change, it is understood that €7bn will come from the exchequer, with spending by other agencies such as the ESB which will see peat burning removed from all stations by 2030 to make up the remainder.
Among the targets is the retrofitting of 45,000 houses to be more energy efficient and schools built before 2008.
It is understood to be planning a €500m fund for tacking climate change.
With diesel cars already under the spotlight, it is expected to set out one of its strategic targets that there will be no new diesel or petrol cars after 2030. As part of this move it is expected that drivers won’t be able to apply for an NCT on a diesel or petrol car after 2045.
Promises are also expected to be made to underpin the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which provides direct payments to farmers and also provides regional subsidies, most of which goes to the border, midlands and the west.
It follows proposals in a new European Commission document on the future EU budget following Brexit that set out scenarios that could see the CAP funding cut by as much as 30pc.
A series of conferences will take place around the country after St Patrick’s Day to look at what the plan will deliver for areas such as agriculture, transport, housing and the environment.
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