*Cllr PJ Kelly. Photograph: Eamon Ward

CLARE’S LONGEST-SERVING politician has warned that a directive issued by the Junior Minister for Local Government and Planning has signalled “the end of rural Clare”.

Minister of State at the Department of Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell (FG) issued a directive to Clare County Council this week to reinstate nineteen zoning objectives and amend one zoning objective as set out in the Clare County Development Plan 2023-2029 and to also delete a subsection of the plan.

As a result lands in Kilrush, Killaloe, Liscannor, Mullagh, Broadford, Cooraclare and Ballynacally which had been zoned for residential under the County Development Plan have been dezoned.

While backing the considerations of the Office of the Planning Regulator on the report, the Junior Minister has supported their call to delete a subsection in the County Development Plan titled ‘existing accesses onto national secondary roads’. This decisions means that houses are unlikely to be built along the N67, N68 and N85.

In his letter accompanying the direction, the Limerick TD advised that “Clare County Council should take notice that on 3rd day of August, 2023 I have issued a Direction pursuant to section 31 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended). Pursuant to section 31(17) of the Act this Direction is deemed to have immediate effect and its terms are considered to be incorporated into the plan”.

O’Donnell’s direction is now in effect and officials in Clare County Council must now take necessary measures to ensure the County Development Plan reflects the changes brought about by the Direction.

In correspondence to elected members of the Council, Director of the Economic Directorate, Carmel Kirby stated, “I appreciate this is not the outcome we had all hoped for, but it should not deflect from the amount of hard work, dedication and commitment shown by all elected members in making the Clare County Development Plan 2023-2029”.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Cllr PJ Kelly (FF) warned that the directive spelled “the end of rural Clare. Young farmers will not be able to build houses adjacent to N67, the N68 and N85, it is the greater part of West Clare. It is a dictatorship in Dinblin, the Junior Minister or his civil servants have backed the planning regulator so a stand will have to be taken. I hope our Oireachtas members will take a stand at this stage otherwise it is the end of rural Clare”.

He continued, “A number of farmers’ sons and farm families have applied for planning but they held them in waiting, they put them on an extension of time waiting for this decision. We now have a dictatorship, the Oireachtas is no longer relevant if this is allowed to continue”. Seven farming families in West Clare alone had been anxiously awaiting the ruling.

Lissycasey based Kelly said farmers are handing over land at a younger age but the beneficiaries of their land will no longer be able to build a house with the same applying for families who get a free site off their parents.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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