New retailers in Ireland will have to apply for planning permission if they wish to expand their alcohol sales from wine into spirits, beer or alcopops.

According to a report in the Irish Independent today, the government's Environment Minister Dick Roche has introduced the measure to counter growing concern from pressure groups about the number of small-to-medium sized players expanding from wine to hard liquor sales.

Until now there was nothing stopping a supermarket from branching out from wine sales into stronger alcohol products.

Existing retail outlets will not be affected by the new planning regulations..

Roche said the law would hand more control to councils nationwide over off-licences.