Kerry County Councillor Calls for Urgent Review of Planning Process for Slurry Tanks and Slatted Units
Kerry County Councillor Aoife Thornton has raised concerns about the planning process for slurry tanks and slatted units, calling for an urgent review. Thornton, a member of Fine Gael, brought up the issue during a recent meeting of the local authority after being approached by farmers in the north Kerry area. However, her investigation revealed that the problem extends beyond Kerry, affecting farmers all over the country.
Thornton acknowledged the importance of regulations surrounding slurry storage and slatted units, but emphasized that farmers are facing excessive objections to their planning applications. These objections, often based on environmental grounds and the EU Habitats Directive, are leading to lengthy delays in decision-making, with farmers waiting up to 18 months for a ruling from An Bord Pleánala, the national planning appeals board.
The councillor, who supports environmental legislation, expressed her concern over the impact these objections are having on farmers and their families. She noted that many of the objections lack relevance to the specific planning applications, with figures and details being used as precedents from unrelated cases. Thornton described these objections as “spurious” and called for farmers to be supported in defending themselves against such blanket objections.
In light of these issues, Councillor Thornton has reached out to Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, and other relevant ministers, requesting a review of the planning process. While she is unsure of the limitations of their authority in this matter, Thornton believes that a different fee structure for appeals could be implemented to ensure that objections are made for genuine reasons rather than frivolous ones.
Thornton emphasized that she does not advocate for a complete block on objections but wants to address the problem of blanket objections that lack relevant details and are seen throughout the country. She has called on the departments and ministers to explore potential solutions to prevent this type of objection.
In conclusion, Councillor Aoife Thornton’s motion for an urgent review of the planning process for slurry tanks and slatted units highlights the concerns raised by farmers across Ireland. She seeks support for farmers who are facing excessive objections and delays, and proposes measures to ensure that objections are made for valid reasons. The outcome of her request to the relevant ministers remains to be seen, but the issue has sparked an important conversation about the need for a fair and efficient planning process in the agricultural sector.