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Shops and malls to be banned at historic Tara site

MAJOR developments including shopping centres and retail parks will not be allowed to be built off the controversial M3 motorway near the Hill of Tara.

The Tara Skryne Valley, one of the most archaeologically rich areas in the country, will be officially designated as a Landscape Conservation Area, which will ban major developments and ensure the landscape is left intact, Environment Minister John Gormley announced yesterday.

And he said he was fully committed to nominating the Hill of Tara as a UNESCO World Heritage site when Ireland draws up its shortlist of sites at the end of the year.

He added that a new National Monuments Act would mean that road developments would not take place in areas rich with archaeology.

"I am pleased to announce details in relation to a proposed new landscape management project which has been initiated to establish a Landscape Conservation Area in the Tara-Skryne area," he said.

"The new landscape conservation zone for Tara Skryne will protect the area from development damage . . . This is the first landscape conservation area ever. We have to learn lessons from the past, there's no question mistakes have been made and mistakes must be rectified."

The National Monuments Act will also see a single Register of Monuments established instead of historic monuments being recorded on a number of lists, and improved recognition of and protection for archaeology under planning legislation.

Chairman of the Heritage Council, Conor Newman, added that the legislation would close "serious weaknesses" in the law.

"For those of us who spent years trying to protect Tara, the work (M3) exposed serious weaknesses in our legislation," he said. "Protecting the landscape is something we want to see. No one wants to freeze the landscape, just manage change."

The landscape conservation area status will be made next year when the exact zone of protection will be identified.

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