Sligo Leitrim South Donegal TD, Marian Harkin
Speaking in Dail Eirea this week Marian Harkin TD fully endorsed the position of Ballinaglera GAA Club on rural housing by calling on Minister Burke to immediately proceed with a pilot programme using a willow-based wastewater treatment system to allow families to build one off houses in Co. Leitrim.
She stated, "A crucial issue for many people is the provision of waste water systems for rural, one off housing. In the area I represent, we see the march of the Sitka Spruce across the horizon but particularly in Co. Leitrim, while it is virtually impossible to get planning to build a one-off rural house, as almost 87% of the soil in Leitrim fails to meet the accepted percolation tests required by the EPA."
She instanced the stark warning from Ballinaglera GAA Club about the future of rural clubs in Co. Leitrim. ‘"The current situation is sucking the lifeblood out of communities such as ours and according to their analysis the number of clubs in Co. Leitrim could halve in the near future," she stated.
Speaking after the Dail debate, Deputy Harkin expressed her disappointment at the response from Minister Noonan who spoke of a preference for cluster of housing development in towns and villages.
"The truth is, this is no longer about preference, this is about policy, a policy that is ongoing for nearly 20 years. At this point, it doesn’t matter whether this policy is by design or default, what matters is that it is Government policy that virtually no planning permissions are given for one off houses in Co. Leitrim, Deputy Harkin stated.
“There are proposals on the table that a willow pilot programme be put in place, partly funded by Government, and this needs to happen immediately. In itself it is a minimal response but, at least, it is a start, and it would give people hope to see that some efforts were being made to find solutions” – Deputy Harkin concluded.
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