Re: Re: European Environment Agency cites Dublin as a worst case scenario of urban planning

Home Forums Ireland European Environment Agency cites Dublin as a worst case scenario of urban planning Re: Re: European Environment Agency cites Dublin as a worst case scenario of urban planning


The full article from

Frank McDonald, Environment Editor, in Copenhagen
Irish Times, 04/10/2006

Dublin’s sprawl is being used by the European Environment Agency (EEA) as a “worst-case scenario” of urban planning so that newer EU member states such as Poland might avoid making the same mistakes.

In a major report to be published next month, the Copenhagen-based agency highlights Dublin, Madrid and Istanbul as case studies to show what can happen when development is allowed to run out of control, according to its main author, Ronan Uhel.

Mr Uhel, who heads the EEA’s spatial analysis unit, said Ireland was “very much on the map in relation to urban sprawl – not just in Dublin, but also around towns and villages throughout the country” as a result of “extremely passive” planning policies.

“When we got the first results, we were absolutely surprised. We couldn’t believe what we saw on the maps, because they showed that sprawl was so extensive in a country where the geography is not designed for such a thing.”

Although sprawl was happening all over Europe, Dublin’s case was particularly acute. “We’re using it as an illustrative case for cities in eastern Europe to show what can happen if you let the money flow without having a vision of balanced development.”

With Poland and the other new EU member states receiving “massive support” from the EU for new motorways and other road schemes, Mr Uhel said they “need to learn from this kind of experience and understand why such developments can occur”.

The report would show that new roads “attract urban sprawl, not just around big cities but in the countryside too”.

In the 1990s alone, he pointed out, sprawl in Europe had consumed a land area equivalent to three times the size of Luxembourg. “Nobody is addressing this issue. There is no vision at European level.”

One of the main purposes of the report was to “say to our neighbours [ in central and eastern Europe] not to make the same mistakes” and instead, to follow the example of cities such as Munich, which had contained its growth within strict limits.

“We want to show what kind of options a city has during a period of positive development – either you control it or you let it go. In that respect, Dublin and Madrid are very much alike, because they let the market decide, so we’re using this as a warning.”

Referring to the proliferation of housing in rural areas, Mr Uhel said farmers were “making huge income from selling sites, much more than they would make if they worked the rest of their lives” and this had “huge implications for the countryside”.

Three-quarters of all Europeans now live in urban areas and this is expected to rise to 90 per cent by 2020 based on current trends, according to the EEA.

© The Irish Times

I highlighted that paragraph as it links nicely to Minister Parlon’s recent statement:

Parlon calls for rural planning reform
Saturday, 30th September, 2006

Farming should no longer be the only profession that qualifies people for planning permission in rural areas, Tom Parlon, the Minister of State for Finance, said yesterday at the launch of a party document on the rural planning system.

At the National Ploughing Championships, Mr Parlon said rural dwellers should have the same rights as urban dwellers when it comes to deciding where they live.

Speaking on behalf of the Progressive Democrats, he said: “The policy we are launching is based on one fundamental principle – that local people who live and work in an area, or have strong family ties with an area, are entitled to build homes in that area unless there are compelling safety or environmental reasons why they should not.”

He added: “We must end the slow death sentence for rural Ireland that current planning regulations have created. The definition of a local person should include emigrants returning to the rural area in which they grew up.”

He said it must also cover people born and reared in rural areas with no access to family lands and people living in a rural area for seven years who have forged strong links with the local community.

As well as defining the word “local”, the document proposed the establishment of three independent appeals boards within An Bord Pleanála to cover the three non-Dublin European constituencies. These boards would include representatives of rural community organisations.

The document also seeks the publication on the web of information about the success rate of planning applications submitted by engineers and architects. This information was already in the public domain but was not readily available.

The policy, drawn up by a committee under the chairmanship of Noel Grealish TD, also recommended that in areas experiencing population decline, there should be incentives created for people to move into these areas rather than the barriers that currently exist.

It also suggested that where a person was seeking permission for a house specially designed to accommodate a person with a disability, there should be few planning restrictions put in their way, other than the necessary environmental and road safety provisions.

The policy document concluded that “with a more balanced and just approach to rural planning, we can create rural communities with a sustainable future to allow people within these communities to reap the many benefits associated with country living”.

Meanwhile, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association announced that its president, Malcolm Thompson, had brokered a deal with the developers of a wind farm in Bantry, Co Cork, which included the grounding of some cable and the avoidance of environmentally sensitive areas and lands.

Well clearly Parlon isn’t troubled by the suburbanisation of the countryside. But no doubt given his form for parish pump politics he’ll have much too parochial an outlook to realise that this very thinking is being held up as an example across Europe of how not to go about planning, ie. a one-off free for all.

To put this in context can you imagine a junior minister for finance in any normal European country blabbering on about getting more bungalows built in the countryside? Sometimes I wonder if this is the only thing that matters in politics in the Republic – ‘getting yer man permission on his site’. Does every elected official down there see themselves at heart as nothing more than a section 4 waving county councillor?

Latest News