Business welcomes Cabinet approval of Draft Planning and Development Bill
Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, welcomes today’s Cabinet approval of the Draft Planning and Development Bill, viewing it as an important, necessary step in the right direction. The country is facing increasing capacity constraints which will need to be addressed if we are to underpin ambitions in making Ireland a better place to live and work. Efforts to address such policy areas are being hindered by an existing planning regime that is unnecessarily costly and cumbersome and fraught with delay.
Marking the announcement, Ibec Head of Infrastructure, Dr Neil Walker said: “The complex patchwork of amendments to Ireland’s planning legislation, built up over the last two decades, has created costly uncertainty for project developers. Ibec therefore welcomes today’s announcement, viewing it as an important, necessary step in the right direction.
“Proposals for streamlining the Judicial Review regime are badly needed. In particular, we welcome the provision for the Planning Commission to be able to seek a stay on legal proceedings while it seeks to correct any acknowledged errors in fact or law. Ibec has long advocated that An Bord Pleanála should exercise its discretionary power to issue draft decisions in complex cases, particularly those involving environmental issues, thereby enabling errors to be identified and rectified without unnecessary recourse to the courts.
“However, complementary measures will be needed to overcome the hurdles preventing timely delivery of affordable housing and critical infrastructure, including energy and water services. Firstly, the soon-to be-established Planning and Environment Division of the High Court will need to be staffed with appropriately trained judges and support staff. This will likely entail an increase in the total allowed number of sitting judges, which in turn will require new primary legislation. Secondly, confidence must be restored in the planning regime. This will require a reform of the governance and oversight regime for the Planning Commission. It, along with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority urgently need to recruit and retain significant numbers of additional staff with relevant expertise. Otherwise, the imposition of new statutory deadlines for decisions on consents could prove counterproductive.”