ICMSA president Pat McCormack
AMID all the information in the government’s €116 billion Project Ireland 2040 plan to “re-imagine Ireland and prepare for the future” the ICMSA has spotted a very interesting change.
On rural planning the ICMSA president, Pat McCormack said that he welcomed the inclusion of “social criteria” in planning applications to build in rural areas, where previously only “economic need” was considered. It has become increasingly difficult for farmers to give sites to their children to build homes. This change in wording could benefit those who would like to build a one-off house if they can match the social criteria in the planning process.
Commenting on the National Planning Framework, Mr McCormack said that while the publication of the plan is welcome – specifically the additional funding for rural areas - the plan will be “ultimately judged by the level of implementation that rural areas and rural-based organisations actually see”.
On the inclusion of “social criteria” in the planning process he noted that “once again, the test of this positive commitment would be the actual implementation on the ground and its success in allowing people to build in their local community”.
“On the issue of agriculture, the general commitments made are welcome, but these must be set against the very disappointing and unacceptable CAP 2020 options the Commission revealed this week. We in the ICMSA call on the taoiseach to avail of the opportunity presented at next week’s informal EU Council meeting to clearly set out Ireland’s total opposition to any cut in the CAP budget,” said Mr McCormack.
Concluding, he said the National Planning Framework at least acknowledged that investment in rural areas has fallen behind and it did outline a number of positive initiatives, but judgement would await actual implementation.
His IFA counterpart, Joe Healy welcomed the publication of Project Ireland 2040, and the focus the plan places on development and regeneration of rural Ireland.
Mr Healy said the allocation of €1bn for a new Rural Regeneration and Development Fund indicates a very welcome commitment to supporting and strengthening rural Ireland. He said he was encouraged to see many of the recommendations IFA submitted to the draft plan taken into consideration, in particular the need for rural housing, renewable energy development, the regeneration of rural towns and villages, and the urgent need to deliver on the National Broadband Strategy.