Linking planning permission to farm viability will ‘decimate’ rural Ireland

Clare IFA Chair Thomas Lane said the new planning permission requirements are harmful to small family farms and food producers.© Getty Images

Issues could arise for small farmers during calving season

Tamara Fitzpatrick

A requirement that links planning permission to farm viability in Clare has been called a “death notice” for rural Ireland.

Under the Clare County Development Plan 2023-2029, farmers with less than 30ac of land will have to demonstrate an economic need before being granted planning permission to build a house on their land.

The requirements are “a death notice for West Clare and will decimate rural Ireland,” said Fianna Fáil Councillor PJ Kelly, who believes there are serious difficulties arising for those who have inherited farms or have been transferred farms and thought they could build on the land.

“They now will have to live in nearby towns or villages and travel back and forth to the farm several times a day,” he said.

“That’s not to mention the problems that will arise for these farmers during calving or lambing season, all of which could be avoided by granting them planning permission to build on their own farms.”

​The issue was recently raised in the Dáil by Clare Independent TD Michael McNamara, who said that linking farm size to viability is a dangerous departure from normal planning procedure.

“Size doesn’t necessarily demonstrate economic viability — farmers are dealing with different types of land and different farming enterprises,” he told the Farming Independent.

“There is no definition of viability anyway, so how can it be assessed?

“To try and farm marginal land is difficult enough, but to be told that you have to live in the nearest big town to farm it because your farm isn’t big enough to live on it... is a disgrace.”

Clare IFA Chair Thomas Lane said the new planning permission requirements are harmful to small family farms and food producers.

“The concern is that someone with a horticulture, pig, poultry or other farming enterprise, that often doesn’t require a huge amount of land, will be forced out of that enterprise.

“It also does away with anyone who has an interest in farming and wants to keep some livestock in a smaller way.”

He said small organic vegetable growers, speciality cheese makers and jam makers, as well as people who are hoping to start farming in the near future could be affected.

“People who are not yet viable, but hope to be and intend to start farming or set up a small farm business, will be affected by this.

“They will have to get a business plan professionally made and submit that as evidence of their local necessity. It will put a lot of people off.”

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