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Wicklow has banned fast-food chains being built within 400m of schools

The chairman of the campaigning group No Fry Zones 4 Kids, said he was “utterly delighted” at the result.

Image: Shutterstock/Pavel L Photo and Video

WICKLOW COUNCILLORS HAVE tonight voted to impose a ban on fast-food restaurants being built within a 400 metre radius of schools, in a bid to curb childhood obesity.

The move, which has being dubbed a ‘no-fry zone’, was sparked four years ago by a fast food chain’s plans to build an outlet near three schools in the Greystones area.

The announcement caused outrage among local residents, who feared the impact it would have on the health and diet of children attending the local schools.

The final count was 25 votes to three in favour of the amendment, which faced stiff opposition from the chief executive of Wicklow County Council Bryan Doyle, as well as other council officials.

The vote means that the ‘no-fry zones’ will be included in Wicklow’s County Development Plan, and will only apply to future builds.

Wexford County Council has already banned fast-food outlets setting up within 200m of schools, while Fingal and Dún Laoghaire councils in Dublin also have restrictions in place.

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Philip Moyles, chairman of campaigning group No-Fry Zones 4 Kids, said he was “utterly delighted” at the result.

“This is a most impressive result. When the amendment first came before the council in May, it passed by 18 votes to 12, in the face of sustained opposition from the chief executive and officials of WCC, but now we have added seven votes to the tally in favour.”

We on the committee, and all of the many families and individuals who have supported our campaign, extend our deepest thanks to all the councillors who voted for this measure.

The distance of 400 metres will actually make a difference to obesity levels, based on the studies carried out in this area.

In the years leading up to this result, Wicklow County Council’s planners twice gave planning approval for a McDonald’s restaurant only 30 metres from a 1,800-student education campus at Blacklion, Greystones.

This led to the development of the ‘No Fry Zones’ group, who feared that without the implementation of such zones, parents would be faced with unending battles at county level and at An Bord Pleanála, to stop constant attempts by fast food companies such as KFC, Burger King, and McDonald’s to target school children.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie‘s sister website Fora.ie earlier this year, Ireland’s largest business lobby group called similar plans by Dublin City Council to ban fast food outlets from opening near schools as “highly discriminatory”, and said they would fight the decision.

The lobby group Ibec said to Dublin City Council: “There is an absence of evidence that supports (the) proposal as an effective measure to safeguard the health of children.

“This amendment is simply a tool to place unfair and unsubstantiated restrictions on trade by certain types of food businesses, regardless of the range or quality of products for sale by specifically singling out fast food outlets.”

Read: Ireland’s largest business group will fight fast-food free ‘no-fry zones’ near schools

Read: Community thanked for patience as ‘temporary’ boil water notice is lifted after seven years

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