An Taisce and planning

It’s been quite a while since I last posted but I suppose I’ve just been waiting for an excuse. I had a letter published in yesterday’s Irish Times which seems as good an excuse as any.

The background is a column by John Waters, “Beware the unelected busybodies” (subscription required), which contained the usual vitriol directed at the “chinless wonders” of An Taisce. The column drew the following letter of support from Liam Aylward MEP:

A Chara, – I would like to lend my full support to John Waters’s column on An Taisce’s negative role in blocking once-off rural housing developments.

People living in rural Ireland should have the right to build a home on their own land. An Taisce’s efforts to thwart this process at every turn is denying people the basic right to house their own families.

The people working in An Taisce have no democratic mandate, yet the policies they pursue have a very serious impact on the political direction that local authorities take when it comes to the granting or otherwise of planning permission for once-off houses in our country.

Ireland at present also has an ever-increasing population. We need policies which ensure that we can house our people in both urban and rural parts of Ireland.

If An Taisce has its way, then all progress will be blocked and Irish people who own their own lands will be powerless to build houses for their own families into the future. The power of An Taisce must be reined back.- Is mise,

LIAM AYLWARD MEP, Hugginstown, Co Kilkenny.

I was moved to fire off the following response, which was deemed worthy of publication for some reason:

Madam, – Liam Aylward MEP, as a representative of the main Government party, should be aware that “the political direction that local authorities take when it comes to the granting or otherwise of planning permission for once-off houses in our country” is set not by An Taisce, but by the Government and the local authorities themselves.

An Taisce’s only role is to highlight to planners cases where proposed developments would be contrary to these policies.

Mr Aylward says that An Taisce’s power “must be reined back”, but An Taisce has no powers either to set policy or to enforce policy – these are functions of Government.

I am not a member of An Taisce but I know a scapegoating exercise when I see one. – Yours, etc,

RYAN MEADE

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