“Of particular concern is the impact this proposed development will have on the brent goose,” said Fianna Fáil TD Sean Haughey, speaking out against a recent application to Dublin City Council. The scheme would provide around 600 new homes on a derelict site in Raheny in Mr Haughey’s constituency.
The brent goose is a protected species, so a special license is required to shoot it. But the species is not endangered, and wintering numbers in Ireland have been stable or increasing, according to birders. These geese find food in estuaries across the country including Dublin Bay, Wexford Slobs and Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. They are seasonal visitors from their arctic breeding grounds, also graze in nearby coastal areas and can be seen in public parks, on golf courses and in housing developments in Dublin city and suburbs.
Fianna Fáil TDs in Dublin are crucial on the vulnerable list. The numbers have fallen alarmingly and there are also concerns for Labor MPs. One of the latter, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, shares Mr Haughey’s constituency and, coincidentally, his concern about the availability of grazing opportunities for the wintering geese, whose plight he highlighted when he rejected a previous application for a housing scheme in Raheny.
It would be rude to doubt the sincerity of anyone’s efforts to protect wildlife, and there is no need to. A more prosaic explanation is that councilors and TDs of all parties are tied to Nimby’s interests. Residents’ associations have replaced political party branches as channels of local opinion, according to activist politicians in Dublin. They are less representative than party branches, tend to be self-selective, and are particularly attractive to homeowners and older people who have time to engage in political activism.
With the threat of a new stopping point nearby, new groups are emerging in full force thanks to social media, intimidating elected officials. But community groups’ concerns extend to the threat of new neighbors from all backgrounds, including potential buyers or private renters. Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald led the opposition to a 1,600-unit development on a vast derelict site in Clonliffe, in her constituency and within walking distance of central Dublin. She was supported by local supporters from all parties.
The unspoken housing policy says there should be more housing, but they should be somewhere else. In the Dublin suburbs, the preferred locations are actually Portlaoise, Mullingar or some other remote town from which the younger generation can commute through the empty prairies where the suburbs should be. The same mindset prevails in provincial towns.
One result, apart from the housing affordability crisis, is the remarkable population growth in urban sprawl outside Dublin, particularly in Kildare and Meath. This has created a hostile environment for public transport and dishonest lip service to the integration of land use and transport policies.
Nationwide housing construction rates are well below the government’s target of 33,000 housing units per year, which Ronan Lyons and other experts at Trinity College Dublin say is far from enough to ensure affordability. According to Prof Lyons, it will take a decade or two of new construction of up to 50,000 units to meet the stifled demand that has been allowed. If Dubliners’ aspirations to live in Dublin are to be met, this higher level of new housing opportunity must include construction on the numerous derelict lots around the city and in the hilly lands of the de facto greenbelt that surrounds it .
There’s a bonus for climate policy: residents of central Dublin and the less remote suburbs have the lowest national car ownership rates, the lowest annual car mileage and the highest reliance on walking and cycling.
Irish governments have publicly advocated the integration of housing and transport policies since the early 1980s, acknowledging the ills of urban sprawl and long-distance commuting. Both problems have worsened over the past four decades. Politicians are unwilling to question Nimby’s interests, encouraged by the dysfunctional planning system that politics has created.
There is no downside to objecting to apartment proposals, even in the courts, which have decided to exempt them from liability for costs if they lose. Judicial review has become a free choice, in contrast to the common practice of civil courts, which imposes costs on the losing side. Nor is it necessary for the objectors to demonstrate a legitimate interest in a proposed development: there are objectors who criss-cross the country at no cost and fight housing projects hundreds of miles from where they live.
An Bord Pleanála (ABP) was overloaded prior to the suspension of its Vice-Chairman and the ensuing disruption of routine work. It will need adequate resources when normality returns, but will instead face a monster probe into the government’s proposed rail code for Metro North, which will never be built after a credible cost estimate was announced. The application to ABP in these circumstances is mischievous and reflects the government’s reluctance to admit that the project is too costly and was ill-conceived from the start. The indirect costs now include gumming up ABP for a year or two while urgent housing offers languish in the queue.
The losers are the younger generation, forced to pay a high price for housing that doesn’t suit them and denied any realistic prospect of home ownership. No political party is committed to a serious housing policy. Left-wing parties like Sinn Féin and People Before Profit have been vocal in their criticism of high rents and prohibitive purchase prices, but bow to Nimby’s interest in a chorus with the traditional parties.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/we-wont-solve-housing-crisis-until-tds-take-on-the-nimby-brigade-42069530.html We won’t solve the housing crisis until TDs take on the Nimby Brigade