Cross-party opposition to the draft National Planning Framework (NPF) will see attempts to stall or block the blueprint for future urban and rural projects, amid claims the proposals are “hugely flawed”.
The Government is finalising the NPF which will help guide national, regional and local planning and investment decisions up to 2040, particularly where there are expected population increases.
The report — due to be finalised later this month — will form the basis of many local authority and regional decisions around roads, planning and housing over the next two decades.
Labour, Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and Independents have all joined forces and intend to block the progress of the plan, until it is altered, especially to include rural concerns and resources for villages and towns.
“This proposal will kill rural Ireland,” Labour’s Alan Kelly said, adding that there was limited housing planned for areas outside of the eastern region.
He and several other TDs are now launching a national campaign to alter the plan and will host meetings in towns around the country over the coming weeks.
The other TDs in the group include Sinn Féin’s Eoin O’Broin, Fianna Fáil’s Éamon Ó Cuív, and Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice, who said they had the backing of their parties to work together to oppose the current NPF.
Mr O’Broin said there had been limited submissions on the plan and suggested consultation was limited.
There was also an excessive concentration already in the east and the capital, according to the Dublin Mid-West TD, and there was not even a breakdown of expected employment growth in areas in the draft plan.
Mr Ó Cuív said many families may choose not to live in cities in the future and opt for a better quality of life and this was not catered for in the plan.
“Are we planning for a new reality or old concepts,” asked the Galway West TD.
Current proposals would make it “virtually impossible” for people to live in rural areas, said Mr Ó Cuív, and the West would be “starved of infrastructure”.
The Cabinet will hold a special meeting next Monday on the NPF. When it is released, opposition TDs say they will block its progress through the Dáil.
Mr Kelly, a former environment minister, set the NPF in motion.
“The NPF must be infinitely more ambitious in terms of growth targets for our regional cities, towns, villages and rural areas. And it needs to focus on and enhance existing infrastructure like broadband, roads, airports, ports and rail services,” Mr Kelly said.
“Special interventions for Dublin in the past, like the IFSC, worked and it’s high time we applied the same determination to making our regions work.”
However, the coalition of TDs was criticised by rural government TDs.
Oireachtas rural committee chairman Joe Carey said: “It is unfortunate the deputies felt they needed to form a coalition and speak through the media instead of engaging directly with the consultation or indeed the minister. It really is amateur hour.”