ENVIRONMENT Minister John Gormley yesterday intervened in the controversial Monaghan County Development Plan ordering councillors to go back to the drawing board.
He issued a formal direction instructing the county council to vary the plan in the interests of future sustainable development in the county.
He made the intervention following concerns about the extraordinary levels of zoned land proposed in the plan, which was adopted on March 20 this year. It had provided for an astounding increase of population in the county over the next six years, approving planning for an additional 102,000 people.
That was an increase of 182% on the total population of 58,000 currently living in the county.
The Green Party leader said that the rationale for such an increase in zoning could not be substantiated. It would have meant that some villages in the county might have seen their population increase four-fold or five-fold.
“The practice of zoning for residential development in a sporadic and haphazard fashion in random green-field sites, which extend outwards from villages and do not have the necessary services to support the proposed development, does not conform with proper planning principles and such development is not sustainable,” said Mr Gormley.
He also said he was dissatisfied with the council’s rejection of the department’s advice to use the distinction between Clár and non-Clár areas as a basis for distinguishing between weaker rural areas and rural areas under strong urban influence. He instanced those areas close to the main towns of Monaghan, Carrickmacross and Castleblayney and along the N2 National Primary Route .
“Councils have a duty and obligation, when making development plans,” said the minister, “to ensure that the greater common good will prevail from their decisions and the future development of their areas is based on sound planning principles”.