1 - Economic Development and Planning Policy

Minutes of Strategic Policy Committee 1 (Economic Development and Planning Policy) held at 3 pm on 13th December 2012 in the Members’ Room, County Hall, Riverside, Sligo


  • Councillor Jim McGarry (Chair),
  • Councillor Sean MacManus,  
  • Councillor Rosaleen O’Grady,
  • Councillor Gerard Queenan



  • Paula R Gallagher, A/Director of Services,
  • Frank Moylan, A/Senior Planner,
  • Joe Murphy, Senior Executive Officer,
  • Ray O Grady, Executive Planner,
  • Kevin Colreavy, Administrative Officer



It was proposed by Councillor Sean MacManus, seconded by Councillor Gerard Queenan, and agreed, that ‘The minutes of the Strategic Policy Committee meeting held on 25th October 2012, be confirmed.’



There were no matters arising



Mr J Murphy, SEO Planning Enforcement, presented a report on a new guidance document on planning enforcement produced by the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The document gives an overview of the law relating to planning enforcement, and sets out the types of activity/development that might constitute breaches of the planning code. It also outlines the respective roles and responsibilities of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and the planning authorities, the procedures that planning authorities may adopt when taking enforcement action, including the remedies and sanctions available. 

The guidance document also outlines the process by which an individual can make a complaint about an alleged breach of the planning code, and the process by which someone can appeal against an adverse finding by a planning authority.



Mr Ray O Grady, Executive Planner, presented a report on the new ‘Sligowalks.ie’ website. The development of the website was led by Sligo County Council in association with Sligo LEADER Partnership Company, Sligo Tourism, Sligo Sport and Recreation Partnership, Coillte and Failte Ireland. Minister Michael Ring, who launched the site, had paid tribute to the co-operation between all the local agencies involved in delivering this project and to the positive collaboration of those at a local level to attract visitors to the region.

Walking tourism in Ireland has experienced major growth in recent years with a 2011 survey indicating that 740,000 overseas visitors had engaged in hiking/cross-country walking while in Ireland.  Around one third of these visitors stated that walking was an important factor in their choice of Ireland as a holiday destination, generating an estimated income of  €649m.

Tourism has a major contribution to make in the drive to create prosperity in the North West Region. County Sligo is a unique visitor destination with a great deal to offer including its pristine natural environment, superb scenery, rich cultural heritage and vibrant community.  Sligowalks.ie showcases some of the best of what Sligo has to offer and is both a marketing tool and a resource for local people, enabling them to get out and enjoy their own county.

The site will serve as an asset in the promotion of walking in Sligo. In addition to the Sligo Walking Guide the development of this website is another step in the process of promoting one of the county’s key tourism assets which has received significant recent investment from Sligo County Council, Sligo Leader Partnership, Failte Ireland and Coillte.  Sligowalks.ie currently showcases in the region of 52 walking routes ranging from long-distance way marked routes to coastal paths.

Councillor Queenan said the walks were a great resource for the local communities and visitors, and outlined proposals being considered in West Sligo.



Mr Ray O Grady, Executive Planner, presented a report on the Border Uplands initiative, a €3.2 million, cross-border, tourism development project involving close cooperation between Sligo County Council, Fermanagh District Council, Cavan County Council and Leitrim County Council.  The lead partner for the project is the Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN).  The project is funded under the European Union’s INTERREG IVA programme, which is managed by the Special European Union’s Programme Body (SEUPB).  Both the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in the Republic of Ireland and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland have made an important financial contribution to the project.

Tourism contributes significantly to the economy in the border area and the Border Uplands Project will be extremely important to the ongoing development of the tourism industry of Sligo, Cavan, Fermanagh and Leitrim.  The project will provide new sustainable tourism facilities based on the beautiful countryside and landscape of the four counties, thereby attracting more visitors while offering new or improved recreational opportunities for local people. 

Five locations have been earmarked for the development of new or improved walking infrastructure in County Sligo, and it is intended to provide a range of infrastructure with the allocated funds including the development of car parking, trail head facilities, interpretative signage, waymarking, new trail development and the improvement of existing trails.  In addition, it is proposed to run education programmes and to implement an ongoing communications plan aimed at raising the profile of walking in County Sligo. It is believed that Border Uplands Project has the capacity to deliver significant improvements in the range and quality of walking infrastructure available in County Sligo and thereby to develop this key tourism asset.

Sligo County Council has secured 663,000 euro through the Border Uplands project for the development of walking infrastructure in the coming 3 years.

Councillor MacManus commended the staff on securing this funding, and said there was great tourism potential in the walking routes, particularly with European visitors.

Councillor O Grady said the scenic walks were an excellent resource which should be marketed and promoted at every opportunity.



Meeting dates for the first meetings of 2013 were agreed as follows:

Thursday 14th February 2013

Thursday 18th April 2013

Members were requested to advise of any topics they wished to have included on the agenda for future meetings. Chair Councillor McGarry requested that an update on harbour activities be provided at the next meeting.

Councillor McGarry thanked the members and staff for their work on the committee over the past year.



In response to a query from Councillor MacManus, F Moylan, A/Senior Planner, outlined the work programme in the Development Planning Unit (DPU), and advised that many of the planning staff divided their time between development management and forward planning. Mr Moylan confirmed that with the resources available to the DPU, their priority was to focus on their statutory obligations.




Meeting Date 10/09/2013