Section 6 refers to regulations and directives. In case they are interpreted otherwise, I preface my remarks by reminding the House not only that I voted "Yes" in the referendum on the Lisbon treaty, but that I campaigned strongly for a "Yes" vote. I am speaking on behalf of the majority of people in some parts of Connemara who voted "No". According to some accurate tallies I have seen, the areas of An Tuairín, Leitir Mór, Leitir Mealláin, Tír an Fhia I, Tír an Fhia II, Camas, An Turlach Beag, Loch Ána, Kingstown and Ballyconneely all voted strongly against the referendum. Their opposition was mainly based on the interpretation of directives. I do not understand why officials in Ireland are more likely than their counterparts in other countries to interpret directives so thoroughly. Why do they lean over backwards to ensure EU directives are interpreted more strongly than in several other EU countries? Those of us who travel to Spain often see people working on building sites without any helmets, and so on. I am not advocating that — I mention it as an example of how regulations and directives are implemented in other countries, by comparison with Ireland.
This is a particularly serious issue in Connemara because 75% of the land there has been designated as being in a special area of conservation. Anyone who applies for planning permission in any part of Connemara is either in, or adjacent to, one of these designated areas. According to the interpretation of the planning office, if one is adjacent to a designated area, or a proposed designated area, one's application must be the subject of several studies, including an environmental impact study. Ordinary applicants who are qualified in every other respect — they live, work, are involved and were born in the locality — have to spend €2,000 or €3,000 on environmental impact statements about their sites. Such interpretations are completely unnecessary. It is generally the case that when they are submitted, planning permission is still not guaranteed. One often has to make two or three applications before one is successful. One may be refused on the grounds of not having a housing need. If one proves that one has such a need, one's next application might be turned down because one is adjacent to a designated conservation area. One will then have to get an environmental impact study.
Why are EU directives interpreted so diligently in Ireland, compared to other countries? The challenge we face, which was not mentioned during the Second Stage debate, involves engaging with the 50% of people in parts of Donegal and Connemara who voted "No" in the referendum earlier this month. We have to engage with such people, to whom nobody seems to be giving any heed. I submit that we have to address their concerns. Nothing in the Lisbon treaty caused them to vote "No" — it was a kind of protest vote against the overly diligent adherence to, interpretation of and enforcement of EU directives by public officials. Perhaps the Minister of State will advise me on what I should say to a young lad in Oughterard or anywhere else who applies for planning permission. Such a person might work in a local shop and be of limited means. If he gets a site from his parents, he will have to get an environmental impact assessment of the site if it is adjacent to a designated special area of conservation. Nobody in the wildlife section of the Office of Public Works can give me a list of people who carry out this type of work and what they charge. It is an absolute penalty on young couples who are trying to build houses to accommodate themselves in their local areas, where they are living and working.