Sinn Fein to propose removing planning permission obstacles

Sinn Fein is planning to introduce what it calls a “vital piece” of legislation to remove obstacles to planning permission in rural areas.

The legislation comes in the form of an amendment to the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act, 1977, and it will, claims the party, allow people to build houses where previously they would have been prevented on account of waste water management problems.

Sinn Fein’s proposal is to permit local authorities to grant a waste water discharge licence to planning permission applicants who want to build a one-off rural house, even if they failed a percolation test.

A percolation test is done to ascertain how well an area of soil absorbs water, and, currently, planning applications that include a septic drain field need a high degree of absorption.

Sinn Fein’s motion would mean this restriction would no longer apply to one-off residential buildings.

“This would move away from the zero discharge rule, which has prevented many families from building a house in rural areas, especially in the north-west and west of Ireland,” said Martin Kenny, the party’s spokesperson on agriculture, rural and community affairs.

This is a small measure which will have positive effects, especially in rural areas suffering from depopulation and decline, where, given the chance, young families want to come and live, send their children to the school that they attended, play football for the local club and revitalise their home parish.

The TD added that his party expects its motion to receive cross-party support in the Dail.

“The sooner this process is ended, the sooner its beneficial effects will be felt in rural Ireland,” explained deputy Kenny.