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Government accused of destroying rural way of life

27 September, 2004

Sinn Féin North Antrim MLA, Philip McGuigan, has claimed government departments want to destroy the rural way of life by targeting single house developments in the countryside. Mr McGuigan has said that people 'must have the right to build a single dwelling in rural areas, provided they can meet with other planning and design criteria'.

The Department of Regional Development has released a consultation document about 'sustainable development in the countryside'.

According to Cllr McGuigan:

"We must certainly protect the rural environment and countryside. But, I don't think that killing off the rural way of life is the way to do this. Forcing people who have lived all their life in the countryside into towns will only undermine the long term stability of rural communities.

"Single houses are a feature in rural Ireland and have sustained very well for the past 800 years or more. It is this quality of life that must be protected. Single dwellings in many areas along with smaller towns provide the lifeblood of communities and parishes in Ireland and add greatly to society in general.

"The policy document, rather than an attempt to regulate building appears only to focus on restricting building in the country."

Cllr McGuigan said that the department should instead look closer at finding solutions to the growing problem of second or holiday home development.

"Along the coastal areas of North Antrim many young people are faced with an impossible situation. On the one hand they are refused permission to build on their own land by planning policy, and on the other can't afford the spiralling house prices in the towns and villages because of second or holiday homes. If not addressed this will become an ever greater problem and could forcibly tear apart rural families, rural communities and ultimately, the rural way of life." ENDS

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