A proposed development plan for parts of rural Kerry, focusing on tourism and on a peninsula area’s historical wealth, is firmly against rural housing.
Submissions from the public close this week on the West Iveragh Development Plan, whose objectives are aimed at preserving the landscape and pursuing Unesco world heritage status for its transatlantic cable heritage, as well as building on its Gold Standard as an International Dark Sky Reserve. However, to achieve such objectives, proposals point to a clampdown on rural housing on the western side of South Kerry, except with boundaries of key towns and villages.
Currently, there is a complete ban on holiday home developments from Caherciveen to Waterville and beyond.
However, Independent councillor Johnny Healy-Rae has tabled a motion for today’s Kerry County Council meeting, warning the region risks being turned into “a national park”.
He is seeking an outline of the “full implications for any area in the county”, should it be successful in securing Unesco status.
“A lot of the fine objectives are welcome,” he said. “But there is an old saying in the area, ‘if you go too far east, you go west’.”
He warned that planning had become too restrictive and, far from halting population decline, it was a contributory factor.
Agriculture, the area’s traditional activity, needs more support to tap into potential growth, he said, and noted that “close relatives” simply cannot get planning on family farms in the Ballinskelligs and Valentia area.
Tourism is a key focus of the plan, with several growth areas being identified, alongside its status on the Wild Atlantic Way and the setting for Star Wars movies on Skellig Michael.
The plan encompasses the general feeling that Iveragh has a wealth of archaeology, from perfectly preserved iron age forts to early Christian sites that are not as well promoted as those of its neighbouring peninsula, Dingle.
Iveragh has a Gaeltacht which historically produced an unrivalled collection of folklore, and proposals outline the preservation and growth of the Gaeltacht.