Category Archives: General / Ginearálta

Response to Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy consultation

As a member of the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly, I was involved in drafting the Green Party submission to the consultation on the draft Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy. The submission is quite brief and contains recommendations in the following areas:

  • ensuring that effective sustainability indicators are used;
  • halting and reversing biodiversity loss in line with the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, including large-scale rewetting of peatlands and restoration of natural ecosystems including wetlands and woodlands across the region, taking account of the major social and economic benefits which could result;
  • ensuring the implementation of the Water Framework Directive through the planning system;
  • transitioning to the circular economy;
  • measuring the greenhouse gas emissions from the plan and ensuring it puts us on a path to a low -carbon economy
  • investing in walking and cycling, recognising their public health and environmental benefits
  • investing in public transport, in particular rail.

Amendments to County Development Plan

Fingal County Council is currently preparing the County Development Plan to run from 2017 to 2023. The Draft Plan was on public display between February and April 2016 and a report on the over 900 responses received was supplied to Councillors at the end of July.

As Councillors we had until yesterday, 6th September, to draft proposals to amend the Plan based on the public consultation.  Those  amendments which the Council agrees to will go on public display in November.

I submitted amendments to a wide range of topics in the plan. A copy of my proposed amendments is here. In order to make them easy to navigate I have grouped them into the following topics:

  • On Special Amenity Area Order and Dublin Bay Biosphere Reserve
  • On cycle pedestrian routes to be added to the map
  • On public transport reservation from Clongriffin/Portmarnock – Balgriffin – Belcamp – Clonshaugh to metro reservations south of Dublin Airport
  • In relation to the Moyne Road bypass proposal based on discussions at the previous stage of the Development Plan and in response to submissions by the developer of the adjoining residentially zoned land and Portmarnock Community Association
  • On the zoning of the industrial estates beside Howth Junction railway station based on issues I raised at the previous stage of the Plan and a submission from a local business.
  • On the process for sub-county level plans based on the experience of Fingal councillors and citizens as well as submissions from public authorities including the National Transport Authority
  • Based on Fáilte Ireland’s submission
  • In relation to the circular economy and sustainable resource use
  • In response to the submission by Keep Ireland Open, Fáilte Ireland and others concerned with access to the countryside
  • Based on concerns about Fingal’s approach to open space in high density development, an issue raised both by developers and residents
  • On the transition to a low carbon climate resilient economy, a legal obligation of the Plan under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act and raised in a range of submissions
  • On adaptation to climate change
  • On Ecosystem Services Approach
  • Transport motions based on a range of submissions by local road users and public transport users and the NTA
  • Motion incorporating text from the Dublin City Development plan in relation to cycle parking as recommended by the submission from the National Transport Authority
  • In relation to cycling in response to a wide range of submissions seeking better and safer cycling insfrastructure.
  • Based on text in the National Cycling Policy Framework, to which some of the submissions refer.

Public consulation on Development Levies

Fingal County Council has published a draft Development Contributions Scheme to cover the 5 years from 2015 to 2020. Details here.

I will be responding by the deadline of 25th November myself. My thoughts so far are as follows:

  • ​The scheme involves the making of a list of projects which are to be funded by the scheme.This list is not binding in the sense that money doesn’t have to go on the projects on the list and new projects can be funded through the scheme. However, clearly projects on the list thereby get a sense of priority.  I’m not sure but it seems that full implementation of the GDA cycle network isn’t on the list. I will be looking to include this vital infrastructure; if there is any other infrastructure project that has been overlooked, please identify it. Other infrastructure which I will be suggesting for inclusion:
    • Road and street redesign to to ensure compliance with the Design Manual for Urban Streets and Roads;
    • Works to improve access to and amenity at beaches
  • The proposal is that development contribution rates​ remain unchanged. This is predicted to lead to a shortfall of €31m or about 10%. If this happens then infrastructure which we have identified as essential will be unfunded.
  • Commercial/industrial and residential development are levied at different rates. When I asked why this was I was told because they require different levels of infrastructural expenditure. In fact the commercial/industrial rate is simply 78% of the residential rate for all of the types of infrastructure (transport, surface water, parks) to be funded. That this is not related to the associated infrastructure cost is demonstrated by the fact that the same surface area of development attracts different charges for provision of surface water infrastructure depending on whether its residential or commercial. At a first glance it seems daft that at a time of housing demand in Dublin and when we have large quantities of derelict/empty commercial property we would effectively subsidise commercial at the expense of the residential.
  • Car parking is proposed to be exempt, which it shouldn’t be  (10(i)(j))

I encourage everyone to make your own submissions.