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29 April 2011
Protection plan for Bru na Boinne meets opposition

Landowners in the general area of Brú na Bóinne - that includes the well-known sites of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth - were having continuing problems with the status of their land under proposals to protect the delicate archaeological area.
     A proposal which would see the drawing up of a framework plan aimed at protecting the Brú na Bóinne complex in the Boyne Valley (Ireland) is meeting with opposition because opponents say local councillors will be excluded from the consultation process. Area manager Tadhg McDonnell said that Brú na Bóinne was one of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country, the other two being the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland and the Skelligs, off the Co Kerry coast. He said the county development plan laid down the criteria for planning and there was a appeals mechanism contained within that. There was nothing to show that Meath County Council was in any way draconian in its approach to planning, but there were quite specific criteria for heritage areas, he said.
     Questions had been asked at a meeting of Meath County Council about discussions over the plan, said to have been conducted between the council and officials from Louth County Council. According to councillors, the Irish Department of the Environment had tasked the two councils with drawing up the framework plan.
     Independent Duleek Cllr Jimmy Cudden, who had asked for information on the discussions between the councils, said that he was opposed to the framework plan as it was being proposed. "Nobody in the Boyne Valley could have any problem with the protection of the Brú na Bóinne site, but now we have been informed that the framework plan will be drawn up and agreed between the two councils and it does not require the consent of the members of the local councils," he said. "It couldn't possibly be an agreed plan if the representatives of the local communities are not involved in the process," he added. Cllr Ann Dillon Gallagher said that while the buffer zone was there to protect the ancient monuments, a situation now existed whereby that zone had been extended and people living in this newly created buffer zone could not get planning permission.

Edited from The Meath Chronicle (30 March 2011)

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