No-fry zones near schools could be set up by autumn
A nationwide "no-fry zone" banning new junk food restaurants from locating near schools could be set up this autumn.
Anti-obesity campaigner Philip Moyles, chairman of No-Fry Zone 4 Kids, said he is quietly optimistic that a stringent ban on new fast food restaurants and takeaways trading near schools is imminent.
He believes it will be announced this autumn as part of a government initiative to tackle the growing obesity problem among school children.
Minister for Health Promotion Marcella Corcoran Kennedy told the Medical Independent recently that new planning guidelines concerning the location of fast-food outlets will be included in the Government's national obesity strategy.
The strategy entitled: 'A Healthy Weight for Ireland - Obesity Policy and Action Plan, 2016-2025,' is expected to be announced soon. As part of the strategy, the minister said a new "standardised approach nationally" would be taken that would limit where any new restaurant or takeaway selling food containing high fat and sugar contents would be able to locate.
She would not provide additional details and declined to speak to the Herald on the matter last night.
However, she told the medical journal that the new guidelines would be "more specific" than the current planning laws for local authorities.
But after meeting with the minister on the issue recently, Mr Moyles, of Greystones, Co Wicklow, said he believes the minister is in favour of a junk food exclusion zone around primary schools.
"The minister was very receptive and said there will be a major announcement in October," he said.
"And we're hopeful this will get in."
Mr Moyles and a group of concerned parents in Greystones successfully lobbied six local councillors on Wicklow County Council to adopt a 400-metre exclusion or "no-fry zone" around primary schools.
Submissions from the public closed yesterday. Now the council will vote on whether to adopt the "no-fry zone" when it finalises its County Development Plan later this year.
The issue was sparked by plans by McDonald's restaurants to open a new outlet in Greystones.
The site - which had received planning permission from An Bord Pleanala - was opposite two primary schools and a secondary school - with one school just 35 metres from the proposed drive-through restaurant.
However the fast-food giant shelved the plan after the owner of the land decided not to sell the site.