INTERNATIONAL - Moves to institute a ban in the forthcoming Gorey Local Area Plan have already been agreed by local councillors, while members of Wexford County Council have agreed to consider such a ban as part of the review of the county development plan, due in 2017.
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The push to introduce the ban in Wexford follows the decision by Wicklow County Council members to approve such a ban on Monday.
The Wicklow ban on fast food outlets setting up within 400 metres of schools and playgrounds was approved overwhelmingly, by 25 of the 32 members.
The ban was supported by all of the six Greystones area councillors, who previously opposed a McDonald’s outlet planned for a site opposite three local schools.
400 metresThe decision means the Wicklow County Development Plan 2016 to 2022 will carry a prohibition on fast food outlets setting up within 400 metres of a school or playground.
The prohibition defines fast food outlets as those selling high fat content cooked foods. It will not, however, apply to existing businesses.
Among the concerns raised about the ban in Co Wicklow were that small villages in the county may inadvertently get an absolute prohibition on fast food outlets because of the position of a school in the centre of the village.
Councillors ultimately decided to support the views of health professionals including the HSE, the Royal College of Physicians and the Irish Heart Foundation - all of which had made submissions to Wicklow County Council on the ban.
Greystones councillor Derek Mitchell said he was pleased the ban had received such widespread support. He said the campaign had started as a result of the McDonald’s application for an outlet outside three schools in Blacklion, which he said he had opposed.
Philip Moyles of campaign group No Fry Zone 4 Kids - which led the three-year campaign for the ban - said the group was grateful to the Greystones area councillors who he said “were really strong throughout” on the issue.
Wicklow County Council management had opposed the ban, arguing instead for a provision to carefully consider applications for fast food outlets in the vicinity of schools.
In Wexford, Cllr Malcolm Byrne said a proposal for a ban on new fast food outlets within 250 metres of a school had been agreed by Gorey area councillors.
Mr Byrne said a similar motion calling on Wexford County Council to ensure that no new fast food restaurant or outlet can open within 500 metres of any school in the county was passed last December. He said the motion was passed on the basis that it be adopted as part of all future development plans.
Mr Byrne said the council was thinking of restricting the hours of operation of new fast food outlets in the vicinity of schools.
“If an outlet has permission to open only after 5pm, then it wouldn’t impact on the schools in the area,” he pointed out. “This might be something we could consider in relation to new planning applications.”
He said no fast food outlets should gain unrestricted planning permission due to the ongoing nationwide battle with obesity.
SOURCE The Irish Times
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