The Anti-Rural Brigade

I’m often accused (by very good friends with rural backgrounds) of being anti-rural.

This is because I think* that the cost to the taxpayer (roads, health, education, etc) and to the environment (leaking septic tanks, increased car usage, etc) of someone living in rural Ireland is far higher than the cost of someone living in our towns and cities.

I think spatial and strategic planning should be focussed on making towns and cities more appealing and affordable, but I also don’t think it would be unreasonable to see the aforementioned burden (or even some of that burden) shifted towards those that do live in rural areas (whether via property tax or some other method).

Am I wrong? And if not, why is it that even the smartest and best educated rural-raised people seem to think that there simply isn’t a valid criticism of country living?

Very curious too if anyone has any recommended reading on the subject.

(NB: this is a macro criticism rather than a micro one - I don’t take issue with individuals living in the countryside, more the policies which result in such a high percentage of our housing stock being one-off rural homes, with the resulting lack of density in towns).

*I would probably also argue that I recognise this, rather than think it.

Its an old theme about Irish planning.

The only real reason people build houses out in the middle of nowhere is that they got the free site, or the farmer got 70k for it. The site would be worthless if we zoned everything for building, or like in other countries a persumption that you can build unless good reasons are given, like snails and frogs.

Then add in a policy that the real cost of services would be applied. Hardly anything would be built out of the towns.

Don’t have any reading on the subject but having worked rural while living in a town I share your general sentiment.

Back in 08 when the empties had piled up I suggested to rural people that it would be better to facilitate old people who live alone to move into these estates in clusters to provide better healthcare and security. I nearly had the head eaten off me! These are people who make a big point of letting you know that the land has been in the family for generations and that they weren’t giving that up…even though its obvious that there’s no siblings or offspring willing to take on the farm or even move back there to live.

Like all the rockstars and actor of a generation that are starting to die off, there is in the countryside a generation of farmers shuffling off too but there’s few to take their place. I read recently that there are more farmer over 80 than under 35. Isn’t it only in recent decades that more people are living urban than rural in Ireland?

Rural Ireland is dying but pointing that out is thankless and just nod now politely when someone bemoans government inaction to reverse the trend towards the towns and cities.

I lived rurally for a while to give it a go but in the end I felt I was living in an industrial estate whose main activity was agriculture. Far prefer residential. However I do have a friend who lives on the edge of a national park in the west and their setup is blissfull.

I think it’s possible to have pleasant and sustainable communities in both urban and rural areas.

Ireland has loads of space, let people enjoy it if they want to.

We’ve been down this road before, I think when LPT was first mooted. It all boils down to how you classify subsidies and costs. If I remember correctly, purely at the level of income earned, from rates, LPT and similar direct local charges, compared with local authority expenditure, rural areas are more expensive per head of population but get fewer services. But if you take into account other government spending the picture becomes more nuanced. For example if the HSE concentrates its spend within Dublin such that it pays out 40% of its salary bill (hypothetical, I don’t know the exact number) in a city that only has 27% of the national population how should that underlying subsidy to the Dublin economy be counted? It’s even more stark in other parts of the country. For example state salaries and associated local purchases are a big factor in keeping Letterkenny so buoyant (General Hospital, LYIT, Child Benefit section etc.). Should that be counted as a subsidy to Donegal when ranking it against other counties which don’t have comparable levels of state spending?

Presumably you don’t share my concern about having to pay for the hospitals, roads, schools, gardaí, post offices, etc that allow them enjoy it?

“Anti rural” is too nice a description, “being full of yourself and full of something that resides in a septic tank” would be a better description after reading your post.

Anyways it all boils down to where people NEED and WANT to live, just because you do not comprehend or agree with other peoples choices and freedoms, does not mean you need to get all uppity about it.

There are a lot of things that I do not agree with when it comes to my taxmoney being spent, but in time you learn to bite your lip and not go all internet keyboard warrior on others.

Not really. Culchies get crap services. Do you know how long it takes to drive to Guilbaud’s from rural Roscommon?

Like, OMG.

We recently moved from dublin to a very rural area. And from the amount of newly settled programmers, designers, craftpeople and various other self employed home workers we have met since we moved, i’d be very confident to assume there’s a large increase in the pattern of modern workers moving to rural locations.

I don’t consider myself a blight on the irish taxpayer. I pay for my own well and maintenance. I accept a longer drive to hospitals etc. I drive much much less than the average dublin commuter as all shopping etc is done in one trip to the closest town.

It’s such a weird view of the countryside the op has. It’s a blindness to the industries and local economies, that pay taxes, vat and employ people. And a complete ignorance of the role that agriculture plays in the economy, and how those products used for feeding and building houses for hallowed dublin folk need to be carried on small rural roads etc.

And while the op seems to think rural people want a nice view and a big garden, we needed a one off with land as we have horses. As do most of our neighbours.

Surely its a more positive thing for people to resettle in rural locations if they can? What’s the point of me competing for housing and driving up prices when i don’t have to. Increasing pressure on trains and buses and local doctors?

When the Dubs start paying the the full fare for their heavily subsidised Luas/Dublin Bus/IE tickets for one thing, well then I’ll start listening to their criticisms of the costs of ‘subsidising’ rural life

My case is probably unique but it shows how fucked up the planning is in this country. I run a flock of 100 ewes on circa 60 acres. The council have refused me planning on the farm as I don’t have a ‘housing need’. (5 of us live in a 2 bed cottage about 2 miles from the farm). Its very difficult around lambing time as I am constantly driving up and down the road. The council just don’t seem to give a shit. Yet they grant planning for other bizarre developments locally and don’t seem to enforce anything once planning is granted.

Drive to your nearest stationer and invest in a pack of brown envelopes. :nin

Is there anything for which you can get planning? Apply for that and then build a house instead. As you’ve said yourself, it’s likely that nobody will ever enforce an order against it; it probably* is *that screwed up.

The catch is that if you focus on making towns and cities better while country living becomes less attractive, the move from rural to urban will accelerate. Hard to make urban/suburban areas more attractive and more affordable at the same time.

What would you call rural
Does have 40 houses built in a line on a third class road mean its still rural. I dont know of many rural areas left.

Edit - this blog is usually ok regarding planning issues

Rural area don’t have much of and generally don’t expect services like street lighting, footpaths, parks, council pitches, playgrounds, public transport, fast broadband etc. In the past where items like water charges and bin charges were free in urban areas, it was expected you provide these for themselves in a lot of rural Ireland.

The cost of delivering these services on bulk to urban areas is obviously cheaper, but the trade off is that you simply don’t get many of them in rural areas.

Increased car usage, is offset by the traffic jams you get in urban areas, where travelling a couple of miles in a city rush hour could still see you running your engine for an hour in the process.

The problem is that their should be exceptions made to the rules for people who genuinely need to build in a specific area.

A planner once told me that the fear is that if you make exceptions, people will try to scam it. Every fecker who wants to build in the country will suddenly become a ‘farmer’!

I had reason to visit rural west Offaly over Christmas Holidays. I can assure you that city folk are not paying for upkeep of roads in West Offaly.
There were plenty of modern houses scattered around in a part of the country which is only flooded marginal land or bog and the roads were crumbling away back to the cow tracks that they once were.

• Rural roads aren’t just used for people living in the houses nearby. In a five mile radius of us we see slate;grain;veg;animals;timber;miscantheus for bio fuels and quarry materials transported along narrow roads. This stuff has to get to urban centres somehow, it isn’t produced in the city.

• Hospitals- have a huge hinterland here and are a busy as urban ones. We have an hours drive to a hospital. When we lived in county dublin it would have been the same in heavy traffic.

• Education - local workers pay taxes and their kids deserve education.

Your enviromental argument is very flimsy. Leaky septic tanks are bad and should be fixed of course, but so should the multiple leaky oil tanks in urban areas, along with the creaky sewage system in urban areas that pumps waste onto our lovely city beaches so they don’t get blue flags. More kids go around in gangs doing damage that needs repair in urban areas. Parking in towns near us is free - hence less money needed to pay for clampers, ticket machines and paper slips. Even stuff like the sandwich wrappers discarded by office workers are way more environmentally damaging than farm workers or self employed people eating at home with less packaging. There’s a million ways you can argue against your point! Especially the point on traffic - when i drive here it’s always traffic free, in dublin i spent half my life idling in traffic which is WAAYY worse for the environment.

Ditto!! From a quick google Dublin Bus received a Public Service Obligation payment of E60m for the year ended 31 December 2014 down from E64m in 2013. They have it classified under Total Revenue in their Annual Report and are boasting about making a surplus of E11m in the same report.

I am in same shoes, We moved to rural area long time ago, I am in IT and “broadband” here sucks even tho I pay €90 euro month for 3mbit which goes down to nothing in evenings (same in city would get me 100x faster connection nowadays) but oh well, despite being promised better rural broadband since forever that aint happening.

Beside having a happier life for me and family, we have a large WELL BUILT home (to our specification) and huge garden to grow veggies and fruit in.

Financially it means having a great quality of life without a mortgage, a home we want and have enough funds left over to buy an apartment in town to earn income.

Yes one has to drive in 30-40 minutes to get into city center (most of that time being stuck in traffic in the city itself) on bad roads, but we more than pay for that via road/fuel taxes, nor do I expect a railway or bus stops to be built near me.

Speaking of taxes I have a suspicion I pay more of them several times over than the OP does, does that entitle me to demand that he be sent to some sort of concentration ghetto in inner city Dublin :smiley: