Currently, Ireland is classified as a First World Economy and it has experienced exceptional economic development at an average rate of eight per cent per year between 1994 and 2001, with a humble growth rate of four per cent per year as from 2001 to date (Stewart 2005). With this rate of growth, Ireland has become more urbanized with increased population, changing agricultural practices, and reformation of local authorities to hold increased public participation and boost lucidity.
In addition, there has been a change in the household development, an escalating number and forms of homes with a changing tenure system accompanied by population changes. These elements together with the exceptional economic development and low interest rates have changed the economic, environmental and social outlook of Ireland. The changes have presented numerous challenges such as traffic clogging, environmental squalor, urban sprawl, and lack of affordable housing. This has led to a broken nexus between economic development and human welfare (Drudy 1982).
Ireland has had several mechanisms aimed at effecting efficient land use planning within the urban environment towards achieving sustainable development. These mechanisms include an abundance of policies and strategies. These policies and strategies include sustainable development, a strategy for Ireland 1997, National spatial strategy for Ireland 2002, and National development plan 2002-2006 among others. However, even with these initiatives, numerous challenges still persist for urban and regional policy-making in the search of an effective and efficient sustainable development (Stewart 2005).
It can be debated that some political, social, and economic elements do repel policy impact from policies intentions considering the extent to which current challenges continue to exist (EU Commission 2001). Much of research related to urbanization of population is colored with powerful anti-urbanism and a desire after the values and simple life styles of traditional upcountry areas. In Ireland some research on urbanization too stresses the goodness of upcountry and the cons of urban trends.
These biases are more apparent in the research and policies related to urban land and urban advancement onto agricultural land (Drudy 1982). In fact, the preservation and defense of agricultural land and rural facilities has been the force behind the ratification of physical planning laws (Bengston et al 2004). During the late 17th and 18th centuries the existing urban model was increased by establishment of great number of new towns and villages together with re-development and extension of the existing settlements.
It is argued that most of the Irish town begun as a village and outgrew into modest origins by the end of 18th century. These growths were as a result of network of roads and new canal system linking the rural and the major towns and this served as a reinforcement of the dominance of Dublin which was by then the best peopled town (Drudy 1982). The escalating growth of Irish urban regions particularly Dublin presented severe land, energy and social impacts. Growth was limited to a ring of suburban prompting rapid population increase with extreme demand for school, shopping centre, transport systems and local employment.
This demand called for more land thus increasing pressures on agricultural land for urban development. Irish dedication to sustainable development can be measured by looking at its housing and land-use policies. The development of one off housing in the rural areas is the significant sign of urban sprawl. In a nation marked with a growing ratio of low density space, the prevalence of one off housing suggestion is a wholesome system failure (Bengston et al 2004). Irish land use is mostly governed by local government development plans but implementation of policies are not uniform.
Viewing the one-off housing policy under the economies of scale, the houses are more expensive in service provision but a lot of burden to the developer, house purchaser and even Irish community at large. This is echoed by EPA which state that single housing homes in the upcountry leads to greater car usage therefore increasing energy demands and greater usage of small waste water treatment facilities which have the tendency to pollute underground water (Bengston et al 2004). The opposition of one off housing focuses on the economic burdens for its occupants and on the exchequer.
However, when placed on a national framework, there are unquestionably broader economic challenges at stake. For example the impact of sustained site sales on Irish agricultural commodities. The sale of some areas has benign effects on agricultural activities. The fact is that site sale shackle Ireland farming over medium and long-term. Smart Growth an Option for Ireland Smart growth model was born in US in the 90s and this concept entails identifying a common platform where developers, the public and public officials together with environmentalists among other stakeholders finds acceptable means of accommodating growth.
The smart growth approach emphasizes on integrating economic, social, and environmental elements of planning and development. It is not an anti-development approach as many may argue but equivalent of the bigger picture of sustainable development as defined by Bruntland as development that provides the requirements of the current generation without jeopardizing the capacity of the same resources to provide the needs of the future generations (Bruntland 1987).
The concept imply to offer an answers towards managing growth through public policies instruments for example regulatory instruments and fiscal policies such as incentives and disincentives aiming at accommodating growth in ways that are economically feasible, environmentally friendly and enhancing quality of life. Some of the concerns that the approach targets to address is traffic congestion, urban sprawl, overcrowding and pollution (Stewart 2005). Conclusion
The global essential towards achievement of sustainable growth implies that it is important to seek means to accommodate development in ways that is economically feasible, environmentally friendly, and socially responsible. One of the major critics of traditional urban planning is that the concept, method and technique engaged lean towards re-enforcing the present. This makes it challenging for town and city to reflect, plan and establish future alternative ideas suiting to all stakeholders’ true requirements.
There is a dire necessity of replacing the conventional short term quick fix model to long term integrating and holistic model in the planning and development strategies. There is need for collaboration on finding solutions and powerful political leadership for Ireland to progress from rhetoric to reality in delivering it land use policies that will lead to positive, efficient and sustainable communities. Smart growth is not a solution to development concerns but an alternative approach to the present development model and a feasible way of mitigating current and probable future social economic and environmental concerns (Stewart 2005).
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