“Broadband plan is inevitable cost of continued one off rural housing”
“future cost structures can only be controlled with a coherent plan for rural development ”
“The decision that Ireland must have a national broadband infrastructure that will cost upwards of €3bn is the inevitable outcome of a failed political policy on rural housing that allows for the continued approval of one off housing” according to Mr. Joe Corr, President of the Irish Planning Institute (IPI), the professional body representing planners in Ireland, speaking following a meeting last week of the National Council of the IPI which discussed the recent confirmation of the National Broadband Plan.
“This is very much a matter of planning – looking into the future and, based on the evidence available, working out what is the most effective way to use the available land to meet the needs of people in the way that satisfies need, is to the common good and is sustainable.
As it stands, there is no option but to ‘follow the money’ and we risk doubling down on an existing position that is harming the environment and costing society much more than it should do”
Mr. Corr acknowledged that “clearly those with a legacy and heritage in rural Ireland, and particularly those that work the land, should have the right and the opportunity to live there.
Over the past three decades however we have seen a continuing willingness to allow urban generated one-off dwellings in isolated locations that come at a substantial follow on cost to society”
If we accept that all citizens should have equal access to services, which is right in our democracy, then this continuing pattern of highly dispersed development in rural places comes with an economic burden that society cannot afford”.
The costs now being estimated for broadband are not a one off, he explained, noting that the provision of water and the safe disposal of wastewater to protect the natural environment are equally embedded and continuing costs of a pattern of dispersed development, and that is all before one considers the cost to the environment of the repeated road trips to and from one off rural homes to avail of education , health and economic opportunities.
“This is not just about houses. It requires a proactive approach to a more sustainable development structure with the active integration of programmes like the proposed Action Plan for Rural Development with the soon to be completed Regional Spatial Strategies.
The principle of providing for every home has now been established. The only way that we can prevent that being an uncontrollable cost into the future is plan more intentionally for a consolidation of future development outside the main urban areas into rural towns and villages which offer more sustainable structures for the consistent provision and delivery of quality services.
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