Councillors ban fast-food chains being built within 400m of schools

Wicklow councillors voted overwhelmingly for a ban on fast-food chains being built within 400m of schools.

The vote which took place at a council meeting on Monday was 25 votes to three in favour of the amendment.

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

Three councillors abstained and two were absent from the debate.

Philip Moyles, chairman of campaigning group No Fry Zones 4 Kids, said he was extremely pleased that almost four years of work had paid off with the vote in favour of creating the fast food-free zones around schools and playgrounds.

“We are utterly delighted that the majority of Wicklow Councillors have voted in favour of adopting Objective RT 17 (No Fry Zones around schools) into the County Development Plan. The wording of the objective is specific, with a clearly defined distance that must be adhered to, which makes this a meaningful objective,” said Moyles.

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

“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.

“But we especially thank the six councillors from Greystones Municipal District. Their unity across party lines never wavered, they gave us us their support from the very start and they successfully rallied their party or independent colleagues behind the no fry zones.

This campaign started almost four years ago when a fast food outlet, McDonald’s, targeted a completely inappropriate location on the doorsteps of three schools in Greystones for its drive-through takeaway — and very nearly succeeded.

“It’s fantastic that we are now able to ensure that this cannot happen again in Wicklow due to the adoption of this objective into the County Development Plan,” said Moyles.

“We will be looking to Ministers Corcoran Kennedy and Harris to implement No Fry Zones around schools and playgrounds nationally, as they have outlined in the Healthy Weight for Ireland Plan 2016 – 2026,” added Moyles.

“I am sure they will be heartened to see this result in Wicklow and that it will spur them on to execute all the objectives and actions in the strategy plan. The public is behind it.”

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, decisions that caused the campaign group to pursue changes to the County Development Plan. The No Fry Zones group feared that without the implementation of such zones, parents would be faced with unending battles at county level and at An Bord Pleanala, to stop constant attempts by fast food companies such as KFC, Burger King, and McDonald’s to target school children.


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