I have renewed my call for ‘no fry zones’ following Temple Carrig’s failed attempt to overturn McDonald’s planning permission

The fight by Wicklow School, Temple Carrig, to overturn planning permission for chain fast food restaurant McDonald’s to build a drive through within 100metres of the school, has come to an end without success. This decision, is in my view, a backward step in the fight against childhood obesity and furthermore, it highlights the need for ‘no fry zones’ for schools.

This is not the first time I have raised the need for ‘no fry zones’ within 500metres of schools as clearly the planning processes currently in place are not sufficient to ensure that planning permission decisions work in conjunction with national policy frameworks. The Temple Carrig case in Wicklow highlights the need for legislation to help the fight against childhood oobesity.”

The case taken by Temple Carrig, to determine whether or not An Bord Pleanála made an error in its decision making process, was unsuccessful. It was decided that An Bord Pleanála did not fail to meet obligations under the Planning and Development Act 2000 – to ‘have regard to’ Government policies and objectives concerning the health of children’.

Although it was determined that the inspector had regard in his report for the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014-2020, it is clear that ‘having regard’ for state policy is not enough when the decision inhibits the objectives of that policy, one of which is to ‘develop child and youth friendly communities through Local Government adopting appropriate policies and objectives in County/City Development Plans’.

This is an extremely important policy objective given that one in four children in Ireland is obese. We must strive to develop youth-friendly environments within our communities that do not encourage influential children to eat unhealthy food.

Bringing in legislation to prohibit fast food restaurants from obtaining planning permission from within 500metres, or some other reasonable distance, from our schools is, in my view, a necessary step towards reducing the number of obese children in Ireland.

As a Fine Gael Senator I am working to convince Government to introduce legislation for ‘no-fry zones’ within 500 metres of schools. This would be s significant step forward in decreasing the rate of obesity in Ireland, an issue that is costing our health service astronomical amounts every year. We cannot allow obesity to become our new normal.

 

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