Criticism has continued of the government’s proposed plan to reduce emissions from the transport sector, with one TD saying the plan “discriminates against rural areas”.

The Department of Transport has published a draft document titled Moving Together: A Strategic Approach to Improved Efficiency of the Transport System in Ireland, which makes several recommendations on how to reduce emissions in transport.

The document – which is set to be put to public consultation later this month – suggests that ‘brownfield’ developments – which have been built on previously – should be prioritised over ‘greenfield’ developments – which haven’t been built on – in the provision of housing.

The former type of development is generally found in or near urban areas, while the latter type is usually found in rural areas.

The Rural Independent Group of TDs has said that the draft document “imposes another penalty on the rural way of life, affecting those living in rural areas and Irish farming, which is completely unacceptable and deeply unfair”.

Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath said: “Not only would these plans impose additional financial burdens on all residents, but they would also drastically reduce the opportunity for rural planning permissions to build individual homes, pushing almost all new homes into towns, cities, and their surrounding areas”.

McGrath claimed that the document – which, it is understood, is set to be put to public consultation this month – indicates an “agenda” to discourage individual housing developments.

“This will be achieved through a more stringent application of planning laws and potential new taxes on housing developments in rural areas, all because the Green Party wants people to reduce car usage.

“The consequences of this plan would force young people who wish to build a home to live in towns and cities, leaving older people in rural Ireland in further isolation, separating families, and undermining our agricultural sector,” McGrath added.

The draft document suggests “focused application of taxation measure” that would “underpin national planning policies and objectives relating to provision of 30% to 50% of new homes within and close to the existing footprint of built-up areas as set out in the National Planning Framework”.

Commenting on this, McGrath said: “Aggressively taxing someone to discourage them from building a rural home or living in rural housing is disgraceful and, if implemented, will devastate rural Ireland.”