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Bad planning contributing to Irish obesity levels - An Taisce

An Taisce’s comprehensive report suggests urban sprawl means more time in cars or transport – and less time physically active.

An Taisce says poor planning means people spend more time commuting - and are becoming more overweight as a result.
An Taisce says poor planning means people spend more time commuting - and are becoming more overweight as a result.
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

AN TAISCE’S comprehensive report of planning practices at Irish local authorities has suggested that poor planning, and the refusal of councils to honour planning strategies, has contributed to Ireland’s obesity problem.

The report, published earlier today, says poor planning practices and the willingness of some councils to approve inappropriate developments has helped to contribute to urban sprawl.

This is a major contributor to what An Taisce calls an “obesogenic environment” – saying the commuter lifestyle is a contributing factor to weight gain and obesity.

An Taisce characterises this environment as leading to increasing obesity:

…due to increased car dependency, few opportunities for spontaneous exercise, longer commuting times and less time for physical exercise becoming a feature of life for many people.

The ‘State of the Nation’ planning report says Ireland’s adult obesity rate is now higher than in 18 states of the USA, and suggests that the poor planning practices have also helped to contribute to childhood obesity where young people spend much of the day travelling.

On a similar vein, the report says “development sprawl” is also primarily responsible for a 170 per cent increase in greenhouse gas emissions, making it almost impossible to meet its EU targets by 2020.

Under the European targets, member states are required to increase energy efficiency by 20 per cent by 2020, and also bring carbon emissions down by 20 per cent compared to their 1990 levels.

“The almost complete failure by the Irish planning system to rationally control development and plan a society around public transport is directly responsible for making this task extraordinarily formidable,” the report states.

The report says poor planning is also one of the reasons why Ireland is the second most oil-dependant country of all EU states, and one of the societies most dependant on private cars.

Other effects of a failure to centralise development in urban areas include the “hollowing out” of town centres as commercial units spread to rural greenfield areas, the “hugely inefficient and prohibitive cost” of infrastructure like broadband, and the “social costs of inadequate healthcare provision”.

Read: The 9 worst councils in Ireland’s planning system

More: Absence of local tax saw councils approve too many developments

Case study: Ennis: “Some of the most senseless zoning excesses of Celtic Tiger”

Pic: Ireland is Crap at Planning Map of the Day

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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