My Department received a number of representations from public representatives and private individuals about the Dunleer local area plan. While there is no requirement that copies of local area plans be sent to my Department, a copy of the local area plan for Dunleer was sent to my Department by Louth County Council in May 2002. No formal response issued from the Department, but there were informal contacts on a number of subsequent occasions between the Department and the local authority about legal and procedural matters.
During 2003 my Department was also given notice, as required under the relevant legislation, of a proposed variation to the Louth county development plan which was intended to facilitate the Dunleer local area plan. My Department concluded, in considering this proposed variation, that additional development in Dunleer on a relatively modest scale and in an orderly manner would generally be in line with the national spatial strategy, particularly given the fact that the scale of development envisaged in Dunleer was not of the same order as for Dundalk or Drogheda. It was also noted that the rail line runs through Dunleer, and although the station is not operational, there might in time be a possibility of reopening the station and thereby facilitating public transport access. As the Department was raising no formal objection to the variation, it was decided not to enter into correspondence with the local authority in the matter.
The preparation of a local area plan for any particular area within its functional area is a matter for the relevant planning authority, in accordance with the provisions of the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2002 and does not require the approval of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. I am advised by Louth County Council that the Dunleer local area plan was adopted on 15 September 2003.