As regular visitors to the website will know, Grumpy lives in a little village on the West Coast of Ireland. In the last twenty years there has been a huge explosion in the number of purpose-built estates springing up catering almost exclusively for the holidaymaker. Some of the smaller estates are owned by a single company and all are let solely to the holiday maker. A few of the other estates have been sold off to individuals, with many of the buyers treating them as a second or holiday home.
Grumpy has never, on a personal level, been a great believer in the value of owning a "holiday home". When he goes on holiday, he enjoys the variety of visiting different places every time. He can however see a few specific circumstances where it could make sound commonsense to purchase a "second home" in a particular area that might ultimately become one's retirement home, or as an investment that in the meantime can be rented out. What he does find exceedingly worrying is the huge swathes of property that lie empty for over ninety-five percent of the time. As an example of this, a relatively new bungalow overlooking his back garden has been slept in on no more than five occasions this year. I am sure that around our village there are a huge number of properties in this situation.
On a wider front, Grumpy notes from a local newspaper his home village is estimated to have over seventy percent of property not occupied full-time!
Such services as water, electricity and waste water disposal cope adequately with the situation in the quieter months of the year purely because these properties are unoccupied. It is of note that in the past few years the water and electricity supply have been beefed up but the wastewater disposal system is a much more expensive kettle of fish. In the summer weeks when most of the letting properties are occupied, if there is a torrential rainstorm, the sewage works cannot cope, overflow and raw sewage is discharged into the local river which then runs into the sea at the end of the bathing beach. It draws our attention to the health hazards of the situation particularly when we hear that the local surfers always ensure all their foul water vaccinations are up-to-date!
Once again Grumpy must question; how in the world such a situation ever arose, how did these housing developments get planning permission when the infrastructure is so inadequate?
One can only assume that the planning authority is not doing their job by asking if the essential services can cope with the projected new development. If it can't cope why in the world was the development ever approved?
Grumpy understands that his particular village is perhaps better off than some in that it has a wastewater disposal system (sewage works) that works some of the time. Grumpy knows of at least four local tourist villages and small towns that have no sewage facilities whatsoever. He can only assume that the "stuff" is discharged directly into the sea. The alarming thing about these villages is that new properties are still being built.
Grumpy can only ask is there any commonsense whatsoever in the world? Is the planning authority staffed by totally undiscriminating plonkers, or are there still a number of brown envelopes circulating? One really does wonder!
But see also the next Grump, eco7 for a radical way forwards.