Council breaks own ‘no-fry zone’ rule with go-ahead for takeaway by school

A council that won an award for its trailblazing decision to introduce “no-fry zones” around schools has broken its own rule a fortnight later by granting permission for a takeaway to open.

Wicklow County Council set the bar for the rest of the country after pressure from local campaigners to set up exclusion zones prohibiting fast food outlets from locating within 400m of schools and playgrounds.

The move followed an intensive campaign by the No Fry Zone 4 Kids group which successfully fought plans to build a McDonalds restaurant 30m from the grounds of three schools in Greystones.

However, it has now emerged that planners have given the go-ahead for a Chinese takeaway in the same Lidl shopping centre complex where the McDonalds was meant to open, 125m from the same schools that sparked the original opposition.

No Fry Zone 4 Kids chairman Philip Moyles described the move as “galling” — especially after the council accepted an award for its initiative from the Association for the Study of Obesity just last month.

“Council officials have quite deliberately ignored the provisions of their own county development plan in respect of children’s health,” said Mr Moyles. “It brings the whole planning system into disrepute.”

The group yesterday submitted an appeal to An Bord Pleanála and they have also called on Health Minister and Greystones TD Simon Harris, who supported their campaign, to introduce a statutory no fry zone rule nationwide that could not be disregarded by planners.

Exclusion zones have been implemented in other jurisdictions as a result of research that shows a child’s risk of becoming obese increases with their proximity to fast food outlets selling foods high in fat, salt or sugar.

As a result of the No Fry Zone 4 Kids campaign, Wicklow’s county development plan now contains a clause, Objective RT17, which states that such outlets should be excluded from being built or operated “within 400m of the gates or site boundary of schools, parks or playgrounds”.

Wicklow County Council said a planning condition attached to the permission allowed the takeaway to open only after 5pm when the schools were closed.

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