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Sinn Féin will oppose proposals by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to increase in Donegal by 50%the number of holiday homes

14 November, 2007

Donegal Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has said that his party will tomorrow during a workshop of Donegal county council to review the county development plan oppose proposals by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael councillors to increase the number of holiday homes in Donegal by 50%.


Senator Doherty said:


“Last week during a workshop of  Donegal county council to review the county development plan  a proposal was made by Fianna Fail councillors and supported by  Fine Gael to increase the number of holiday homes in Donegal by 50%. A further workshop will take place tomorrow and Sinn Féin will attempt to have this proposal overturned.


"I believe that there can be no room for error. The long-term consequences of bad policies in this plan will have devastating effects on this county. It is therefore no surprise that one of the most important and certainly the most topical policies in the draft plan are those that deal with the issue of holiday home developments.


"It is now over two years ago, in consultations with senior planners in Donegal County Council, that I suggested that restrictions needed to be placed on holiday homes in the county to ensure local communities are not over run with holiday home developments and that proposal has been accepted in to the County Development Plan adopted by the Council last July.


"At that time, I proposed that holiday homes be restricted to no more than 20% of the houses in any, village or town land. I made this proposal to ensure the sustainability of rural communities but also in recognition of the benefits that holiday homes bring to the county in terms of tourism and the construction industry. This is particularly important given the current economic crisis in the county and the need for substantial employment and it is my belief that a 20% quota would not threaten but instead would assist the continued development of these two sectors. To those that do not agree with any restrictions I pointed out to them that this quota would potentially allow for over 8,000 holiday homes to exist in this county.


"What this policy has done, is give protection to our communities by preventing holiday home developers from exploiting our most beautiful and scenic areas in the interest of a quick euro with out any concern for the vitality of that community. It also halted the trend of saturated holiday home villages and ensured that holiday homes are built in communities and town lands that can absorb them. It also ensured that the ordinary local buyers and young people who were up to now priced out of the market because they couldn't compete with those who wished to purchase a second home, will be able to build in the communities that they are from.


"Under the Sinn Féin proposal which was accepted, each town land would be allowed one holiday home for every four permanent homes. These developments would naturally enough be subject to proper planning procedure. This would have a dual benefit as it not only allows the construction of holiday homes but also manages to protect the integrity of the town land for the future.


"Our proposals also accommodate farmers who wish to sell sites as holiday homes as part of a farm diversification programme, and would not place any burden on them.


"It also allowed for retuning emigrants to build second homes in Donegal regardless of the number of holiday home that existed in the townland in which they propose to build in.


Senator Doherty added:


"Last weeks decision is a complete reversal of the reasons and rationale that councillors agreed to the restrictions in the first place. An increase of 50% on the number of holiday homes that can be built in any townland is ill thought out and will have long-term consequences and have devastating effects on this county.


"Sinn Fein is committed to proper balanced development and will oppose this proposal and encourage the public to voice there concern on this issue if Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael insist on pursuing this proposal. ENDS

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