I was sent a link yesterday to a press release on the Green Party website.  It concerns the Wicklow Development Plan 2010-2016 which was adopted by Councillors earlier in the week.  In a pattern I expect will be replicated in a number of counties, councillors decided to ignore the County Manager’s report, and the new Planning and Development (Amendment) Act, and rezoned large tracts of land along the N11 for commercial use, despite there being significant zoning in the county already.  Ciaran Cuffe has stated that he will dezone 70% of zoned land in the country over the next 6 years.  No doubt, they’ll be pressure on him to step in and redirect Wicklow’s plan.  So, why are councillors continuing to rezone land when there is already an excess of zoned land?  According to Cllr O’Brien, of the Green Party, “the real reason for these rezonings are that developers are looking for a positive appraisal from NAMA thus raising the possibility of a larger payout from NAMA and the taxpayer.”  This is an hypothesis I’ve heard elsewhere and one can only hope that if this is the case the folks at NAMA can see straight through the strategy and do not pay over the odds for the loans. And if this is the case, why are councillors voting for such zonings as its clearly not in the taxpayer’s interest?

Rob Kitchin