Mayo county plan 'legally invalid'
The Mayo county development plan is six years out of date and legally invalid, said An Taisce's environmental officer, Mr Ian Lumley.
In light of this, Mr Lumley said, he found it amazing Mayo politicians were so bothered about An Taisce's concern on planning issues in the county.
"I attended a public meeting, organised by the Rural Action Planning Group in Louisburg earlier this week and it's my view from listening to councillors and Oireachtas members in the county that they are looking for a free-for-all on planning issues."
Oireachtas or county council members with auctioneering and property interests should not take part in planning debates, he said.
"I believe that there is a clear conflict of interest in such cases. This is not exclusive to Mayo, but it is the case in Mayo that a number of Oireachtas members have property and development interests. In my opinion, if a politician at any level has such interests he or she should exclude themselves from debate on sensitive planning issues. If a politician's spouse or partner or a close relative is involved, the same should be the case."
At the Rural Action Planning Committee meeting, attended by about 200 landowners in west Mayo, politicians and landowners were further aggravated by Mr Lumley's promise that An Taisce would increase its involvement in planning issues.
He said it had no choice. "Mayo is a county with serious planning problems. Councillors and Oireachtas members appear to want Mayo to become a free state. While landowners and politicians are prepared to accept EU grant assistance and national assistance for their farming practices, they appear unwilling to accept EU planning regulations.
"The electorate of Mayo are being let down by their politicians on planning matters and so An Taisce has no choice but to try to protect the environment of the county now and in the future."
The Rural Planning Action Committee, formed recently, is frustrated with the number of appeals to An Bord Pleanála lodged by An Taisce and other agencies to planning decisions.