AN action aimed at harnessing the industrial and tourism potential of the Shannon Estuary is among a series of measures outlined in the Draft Clare County Development Plan 2011-2017.
The strategy, unanimously approved by members of Clare County Council following a year-long review process, will be placed on public display in two weeks time before going through a 10-week public consultation period.
Once approved, the plan will pave the way for the zoning over 700 hectares of land for marine-related industry at locations along the Shannon Estuary as well as an innovative proposal that in future certain developments would be required to provide facilities to allow for charging of electric cars and vehicles.
Furthermore, it will facilitate the preparation of a strategic flood risk assessment carried out in light of new guidelines issues to planning authorities on flood risk management and the implementation of the county’s first wind energy strategy.
The Draft Clare County Development Plan 2011-2017 sets out an overall strategy for the proper planning and sustainable development of the functional area of Clare County Council. When adopted, the new blueprint will be the sixth such plan since 1964.
The Mayor of Clare, Councillor Tony Mulcahy, welcomed the adoption of the draft plan.
“The primary goal of this plan is to position Clare as a driver for local and regional growth through harnessing the potential of its unique location, quality of life, natural resources and other competitive advantages. Ultimately, the plan seeks to make Clare a better place to live in, work and visit.”
On the proposed zoning of large tracts of land along the Shannon Estuary, the county manager, Tom Coughlan admitted that the estuary, because of its deep water, shelter and other natural advantages, was a significant potential asset for the county. For the first time the draft development plan introduced a chapter aimed at developing the estuary for various economic and recreational uses.
“In addition to this, the draft plan introduces new proactive policies in relation to economic development and enterprise in the county including in rural areas,” he said.
Mr Coughlan acknowledged that the draft plan had a strong emphasis on renewable energy production, storage and distribution and, for the first time, contained a separate wind energy strategy for the county aimed at further tapping into the potential of the significant wind resources of the county subject to the normal environmental safeguards.
The draft plan also includes a chapter dealing specifically with rural development and natural resources.
It will contain a record of protected structure for the county including a photograph and description of over 500 buildings and structures already protected and a further 200 that are proposed for protection.
The draft plan also includes a proposal that all new buildings and houses would be required to have a low level access shower and toilet. This measure, aimed at ensuring the lifetime adaptability of homes, would be in excess of the minimum requirements of the current building regulations and would eliminate the need for expensive retrofitting.