Rural and urban 'divide'
Sir, – There is one massive, hugely inconvenient fact that is being ignored by those who advocate more development in rural areas – the ever-increasing cost of transport, caused by the depletion of oil supplies worldwide. It’s a simple fact that the cost of fuel is going to keep on increasing, and it is also a simple fact that there is no technological solution available to compensate.
If you’re living in the countryside, you have to drive to access most services, no matter where those services are. That’s a high cost that is only going to become higher as time goes on. Proposed solutions, such as biofuels, are not a practical alternative as we will be unable to produce enough fuel this way to match current demand levels. Tax reductions on fuel may offer short-term relief but will do nothing to stop the oil wells eventually running dry. Fuel has gone from less than €1 to €1.60 per litre in just a few years. Where will it be in 10 years? In 20? As the high cost of fuel becomes higher, it’s highly likely people will want to leave their one-off rural idyll and move closer to work and services – which as JJ Power wrote (June 2nd) “have been confined to urban areas”. The only problem is that people trying to move from countryside to town to cut the cost of transport will find it difficult to sell their rural homes. After all, who would buy a house if transport costs mean you can’t afford to live in it?
What we’re witnessing in the Irish countryside at present is another housing bubble that will eventually burst. – Yours, etc,