Leo Walsh: Council planning laws should be relaxed in certain cases to help farmers in financial difficulty sell land
LOCAL authorities can and need to do more to help farmers, according to Leo Walsh, Fine Gael candidate in the Adare Rathkeale area.
“I believe it’s time the local authorities look at what they can do to help farmers who have fallen into financial difficulties,” Mr Walsh said this week.
“A farmer’s biggest asset outside of his herd is his land. In certain parts of rural Limerick, a half-acre site can fetch a high premium. Yet farmers, and other land owners, are restricted as to who they can sell their land to when it comes to planning regulations,” he continued.
Ireland has some of the strictest planning regulations on one-off housing, Mr Walsh said. “One such restriction is that the applicant must live within a 12-mile radius of the site they purchase to build on.
Frequently, people from adjacent townlands can fall into this 'outsider' category and as such are excluded from purchasing sites as planning rejection is almost guaranteed.”
“This is not ideal for farmers who are trying to sell land as an asset, as the pool of buyers is automatically reduced. Similarly, people who are not working locally and try to apply for planning are frequently rejected under the current restrictions,” Mr Walsh argued.
Mr. Walsh believes two problems can be solved by looking at planning on a case by case basis.
“If a farmer is in financial difficulty and needs to sell a half-acre site to generate some income, I believe the local council should be willing to be flexible on planning laws to support this. Now, more than ever, there is a greater demand for housing. Relaxing these laws will allow a greater number of people the chance to purchase land and to fulfil a housing need.”