An Taisce is strongly of the view

Mr Jones's advice to anybody in doubt about whether their Mobile Toilet will get planning permission is to simply talk to the local authority. A growing number of councils now have public clinics throughout their areas. A planning official will be on hand to provide guidance on what type of development is acceptable and whether your house plan is likely to be approved.

An Taisce is strongly of the view that new rural housing should be clustered in and around existing villages, close to existing services and facilities. The organisation says pressure on the planning system is exacerbated by the fact that nearly everybody with a field thinks they will some day get permission for a house - or even a housing estate if they happen to be near a town.

Architects say the existing planning system is in fact self-policing. Most people need a mortgage to buy a house. And the lending institution won't advance the money unless the dwelling is fully compliant. Similarly, if you are selling a property, you will be asked to provide a certificate of compliance.

If Mr McDowell applies for retention, his chances are reasonably good. Retentions are usually granted, normally within about eight weeks. Theoretically however, things could also go horribly wrong. The local authority could apply the ultimate sanction and send in the bulldozers to demolish the structure.

It will be of some consolation to him and his wife that this very rarely happens. It is so unusual that officials in Roscommon county council can't recall when it was last invoked there. However the PD Minister is undoubtedly facing other frustrating complications. Any further application by him will almost inevitably attract objections from environmentalists.

Activists Container Houses are likely to argue that the location is not suited to a large holiday house.