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Mayo News 16 July 2003
By The Jaundiced Eye
Jul 20, 2003, 09:47

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One off Rural Housing Free-for all?

The Mayo News reports that agreement is close on a new County Development Plan. "The main objective of this new County Development Plan is to preserve the right of individual housing in rural areas," said Cllr. Kilbane. "Unfortunately, we are confined by the National Spatial Strategy and other national and E.U. legislation but we are determined that a fair and equitable policy will be enshrined in the new Development Plan. It’s a vitally important document for the development of this county over the next five years."

"Vitally important" indeed! - Especially so if you are a councillor who just happens to own significant amounts of land or to be a seller of land and property. Mayo County Council has 31 members. The new chairman is an estate agent who deals in property professionally. Seven of the 31 Mayo County Councillors are auctioneers and two more are involved with land banks for ‘development’ or construction i.e. nine of 31 sell land or build houses for profit. So it’s obvious that these nine of 31 with vested interests in selling rural site and houses will abstain whenever it comes to voting about anything to do with planning? Of course they will!

There are also nine members who own rural land banks – these nine state their occupation as farmers. They also have a vested interest in seeing the price of rural land going up. Thus, even if they do not actually sell any land for building sites today they sure won’t vote against a nest egg for the future? So 16 of 31 members makes a majority by my reckoning (two members list their occupation as both farmer and auctioneer!).

Am I the only one who finds this all a bit like nest-feathering at the expense of good planning and spatial strategy? Thank God for An Bord Pleanala.

The Mayo County Council Elections are to be held next year. Think about the glaring conflict of interests that these people have before you ask them to represent your interests. Farmer? Auctioneer? Builder? ‘Developer’? Between them, these professions managed to rape Dublin and push house prices beyond those of Manhattan. They have profited so much that we are now at the point where your average newly wed cannot buy a house. They have introduced the 3 and 4-hour daily commute to an unsuspecting electorate. They have ground Dublin to a halt with congestion. So do not let these professions also destroy Mayo’s greatest asset and its biggest industry – tourism and the environment on which tourism depends. Ask yourself does one-off rural housing and ribbon development – ripping out hedges, leaking septic tanks, ugly hacienda houses plonked on top of beauty spots - promote tourism or help maintain the environment for future generations? Let them know why you are not voting for someone that has a definite conflict of interest - do not let them be involved in any way in the planning process.

Checking in at Knock

The Mayo News reports on a new check-in and departures area at Knock International Airport was opened to the public last weekend. The 22 million euro development, with state-of-the art baggage handling facilities, retail shop, restaurant, bar and children’s play area, will facilitate the huge increase in the number of people using the airport. With Traffic at Knock International up 67% on this period last year and charter flights increased by a staggering 400%, this new service area will ensure additional comfort and ease for the thousands of people, from all over the region, using the airport.

The new charter flights are certainly a great boon for anyone living in Mayo. Gone are the long haul drives back from either Dublin or Shannon. Not sure what the parking charges are for a week at Knock but I suspect that they are not of the order of 45 euro per week as Dublin Aer Rianta charge. In Dublin you can spend up to a half hour after collecting your bags before you drive off to find the M50 - between standing at the bus stop outside arrivals at Dublin airport and being dumped at the long term car park a few hundred yards from your car. The boggy foggy mountain airport is coming into its own.

© Copyright 2006 by the author(s)/photographer(s) and

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