As members of Donegal County Council meet in special session tomorrow (Tuesday) to discuss the various natural habitat, wildlife and flora-fauna a local councillor has warned the county was in danger of being ‘effectively closed for business because of the ‘crazy directives’.
Councillors across the county, particularly those from rural areas, are coming under severe pressure from people who are deeply concerned about their ability to live and develop houses or businesses in
The 11 members of the Fianna Fáil party on the 29 person council are now demanding the permission from the Minister for Environment to re-issue the Draft County Development Plan accompanied by all relevant EU/National Directives issued since the publication of the Draft Plan.
The new directives came into force on September 21, months after the draft plan went out to public consultation. Speaking to the Donegal News yesterday, Fianna Fáil whip and Chairman of the Council’s Strategic Planning Committee, Cllr Ciaran Brogan, said the general public deserved an opportunity to be fully informed on the impacts, consequences and implications on the future development of Donegal of these new directives and guidelines.
“The directives relate to habitat such as the Freshwater Pearl Mussel, Atlantic Salmon and Otter which are all species listed of the EU Habitats Directive. The resting place of bats, natterjack todes, kerry slugs and certain other marine animals is also covered by the new directives and it would be a criminal offence if a proposed development in a rural area does not conform to Habitat Directives, Protection of Fisheries Habitat and Development Works at River Sites,” Cllr Brogan said.
“Applicants will not be allowed to develop unless they are covered by a derogation from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. This is going to make it a lot more costly and cumbersome for applicants as they will have to get surveys done as part of their planning requirements,” he said.
The Draft Plan went out for public consultation in July but the new directives have thrown councillors into a tailspin.
“Donegal is a rural county- full of hills and valleys. There is a duty of care alright for us to protect the natural environment but from a development point of view these new directives will stifle growth in the most isolated and marginalised areas of the county,” Cllr Brogan said.
“This type of legislation might appear sound at a desk in Dublin but the reality on the ground, here in Donegal, is totally different. People from the rural areas want to remain with their way of life but this is becoming ever more difficult as legislation is driving them into urban areas. The new directives place major challenges on us as we try to adopt a draft plan,” Cllr Brogan said.
The existing County Development Plan expires in July 2012 and Donegal County Council is currently preparing the Draft County Development Plan to cover the six years from 2012 – 2018.