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Rural Dwellers Have A Unique Way Of Life That Deserves Protection

11 June, 2007

Sinn Féin Planning spokesperson, Newry and Armagh MLA Cathal Boylan has said that PPS14 (Planning Policy Statement 14) published by the Department of Regional Development is adversely affecting many communities and urged that the current review of the recent consultations into the proposals is completed as soon as possible and a clear way forward outlined.

Mr Boylan said:

"I am aware that ongoing judicial challenge to PPS14 by local Councils, may limit the discussion about the way forward at the present time, but I would hope that an announcement will take place as soon as possible.

"This policy has been ill thought out, and has failed to understand the needs of rural communities. It ignores the traditional rural settlement pattern and has failed to understand the social and cultural traditions, such as sense of identity of rural communities, kinship and close family connections.

"There was a clear attempt to try and impose a British model of rural living onto rural communities living in Ireland where the nature, history and structure of rural communities are very different.

"Rural communities throughout England, Scotland and Wales have been seriously damaged by the implementation of a policy to force rural people to live in urban centres, resulting in most services to villages becoming unsustainable and ultimately leading to their closure.

"Rural dwellers have a unique way of life that deserves protection and the upward spiral of rural house and land prices is forcing people to move to towns and cities - often into private rental accommodation. If this is not recognised as a problem and catered for, the situation could become irreversible.

"Special consideration needs to be given to young people living in rural areas who want to remain in their home communities as they establish their own households. In other countries throughout the world governments are trying to reverse the decline in rural populations by proactively encouraging and enticing both families and individuals back to the country. This same approach needs to be taken to help regenerate rural Ireland and defend the rights of rural communities to a sustainable future.

"The development of flexible planning regulations is needed to create the conditions, which did not negatively impact on the unique rural character that existed, whilst at the same time allowing the conservation of that unique rural landscape. This has to be the objective for all.

"There are huge existing anomalies with current planning regulation in terms of how planning decisions are arrived at. This is particularly noticeable when current planning regulation is applied in the rural context. Whilst acknowledging that there are many social and indeed economic forces at work in this whole process, the move to curtail in such a drastic fashion countryside development needs balanced consideration." ENDS

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