Clare Councillors are to seek legal advice on the constitutional basis of population allocations set in the National Planning Framework.
It’s after the current plan’s extension to 2023 was rubber stamped by local representatives.
The plan, which must be drawn up in line with national guidelines, describes how the local authority aims to use particular areas in the future, for example for residential or industrial use.
Local representatives have long been calling for a rethink of the National Planning Framework, which includes a provision where land which is not due to be serviced, such as wastewater infrastructure, should be dezoned.
The Government’s multi-billion euro long-term plan also includes targets for population growth in certain areas.
Clare’s population is targeted to grow by up to 18,000 people by 2031 – though many Councillors are concerned that these residents will be dispersed disproportionately throughout the county.
Last evening’s monthly meeting of Councillors heard suggestions that these proposals discriminate areas such as Kilmihil, Ballyvaughan and Killanena compared to urban centres like Ennis and Shannon.
Lissycasey-based Fianna Fail Councillor PJ Kelly believes this apparent discrimination warrants legal advice from the County Solicitor on whether it’s legal under the constitution – something unanimously backed by members.
CEO of the Council, Pat Dowling, told the meeting while the local authority shares concerns around population projections, legal challenges to government policy are a ‘big fight’ to take on that could take ‘years’ to complete.
Members asked for the advice to be sought in spite of this, as well as legal opinions regarding a previous court case involving Meath County Council.
The current County Development Plan, which began operation in 2017, has now been formally extended to April 2023.
Legal and constitutional advice regarding a potential future plan is now expected to be received at a later date.