Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016: From the Seanad (Resumed)

The Dáil went into Committee to resume consideration of Seanad amendment No. 22.
Seanad amendment No. 22:
Section 4: In page 32, lines 21 and 22, to delete “Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government” and substitute “Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 23:
Section 4: In page 32, between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:
“(16) (a) Where the giving of a direction by the Minister in accordance with subsection (9) would require the making of a material alteration to a local area plan, the Minister shall, not later than 3 weeks after the making of the recommendation by the Office under that subsection—
(i) publish a notice of the material alteration that would be so required in at least one newspaper circulating in the
administrative area of the local authority that prepared the local area plan, and
(ii) send a copy of that notice to the planning authority concerned, the regional assembly, the Office, the Board and the prescribed authorities.
(b) The Minister shall, before giving a direction in accordance with subsection (9), determine—
(i) whether or not a strategic environmental assessment or an appropriate assessment is required to be carried out as respects a material alteration to a local area plan that would be required in order to comply with the direction, and
(ii) where he or she determines that a strategic environmental assessment or an appropriate assessment is so required, the period that it would take to carry out such strategic environmental assessment or appropriate assessment.
(c) Where the Minister makes a determination under paragraph (b) that a strategic environmental assessment or an appropriate assessment is required to be carried out as respects a material alteration to a local area plan that would be required in order to comply with the direction, he or she shall publish a notice of that determination in at least one newspaper circulating in the administrative area of the local authority that prepared the local area plan concerned.
(d) A copy of the determination under paragraph (b) and a copy of the proposed material alteration to the local area plan concerned shall, for a period of not less than 4 weeks from the date of the determination, be made available for inspection—
(i) by members of the public at such place and at such times as are specified in the notice referred to in paragraph (c), and
(ii) on the internet website of the Minister and the internet website
of the planning authority concerned.
(e) A notice to which paragraph (c) applies shall—
(i) state that a determination under paragraph (b) has been made for
the purposes of giving a direction in accordance with subsection (9),
(ii) specify the place at which and times during which copies of the determination under paragraph (b) and the proposed material alteration to the local area plan concerned will be made available for inspection by members of the public,
(iii) state that such copies will be available for inspection on the internet website of the Minister and the internet website of the planning authority concerned,
(iv) invite written submissions or observations with respect to the proposed material alteration or a strategic environmental assessment or appropriate assessment required to be carried out by virtue of the said determination to be made to the Minister before the expiration of such period as specified in the notice,
and
(v) that any such submissions or observations shall be taken into account by the Minister in giving a direction in accordance with subsection (9).
(f) The Minister shall carry out a strategic environmental assessment, appropriate assessment, or both, of the proposed material alteration of the local area plan within the period determined by the Minister in accordance with paragraph (b).
(g) The Minister shall, not later than 8 weeks after the publication of a notice under paragraph (c), prepare a report on any submissions or observations received in accordance with that notice.
(h) A report under paragraph (g) shall—
(i) specify the persons who made submissions or observations in accordance with the notice under paragraph (c),
(ii) provide a summary of those submissions and observations, and
(iii) set out the response of the Minister to those submissions and observations.
(i) The Minister shall, in setting out his or her response to submissions or observations in accordance with the notice under paragraph (c), take account of the following:
(i) the proper planning and sustainable development of the area to which the proposed local area plan is intended to apply,
(ii) the duties under statute of the local authority within whose administrative area the proposed local area plan is intended to apply,
(iii) the necessity of ensuring that the proposed local area plan will be consistent with—
(I) the national and regional development objectives set out in the National Planning Framework and the regional spatial and economic strategy,
(II) specific planning policy requirements specified in guidelines under section 28(1), and
(III) policies or objectives for the time being of the Government or of any Minister of the Government.”.
Amendment put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 52; Níl, 30; Staon, 0.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Lisa.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Curran, John.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.

Níl

  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Eoin Ó Broin.
Amendment declared carried.
Seanad amendment No. 24:
Section 4: In page 35, lines 18 and 19, to delete “Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government” and substitute “Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 25:
Section 4: In page 37, line 4, to delete “shall” and substitute “shall, subject to subsection (16)”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 26:
Section 4: In page 37, to delete lines 10 to 13 and substitute the following:
“(11) From the adoption of a regional spatial and economic strategy—
(a) such provisions as—
(i) are required to be included in the regional spatial and economic strategy by virtue of a direction issued by the Minister under section 31A, and
(ii) are not so included,
shall be deemed to be included in that regional spatial and economic strategy, and
(b) such provisions of the regional spatial and economic strategy as do not comply with a direction so issued shall be deemed not to be included in that regional spatial and economic strategy.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 27:
Section 4: In page 37, lines 22 and 23, to delete “Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government” and substitute “Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 28:
Section 4: In page 37, between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following:
“(16) (a) Where the giving of a direction by the Minister in accordance with subsection (9) would require the making of a material alteration to a regional spatial and economic strategy, the Minister shall, not later than 3 weeks after the making of the recommendation by the Office under that subsection—
(i) publish a notice of the material alteration that would be so required in at least one newspaper circulating in the administrative areas of the local authorities to which the regional spatial and economic strategy applies, and
(ii) send a copy of that notice to the planning authorities concerned, the regional assembly concerned, the Office, the Board and the prescribed authorities.
(b) The Minister shall, before giving a direction in accordance with subsection (9), determine—
(i) whether or not a strategic environmental assessment or an appropriate assessment is required to be carried out as respects a material alteration to a regional spatial and economic strategy that would be required in order to comply with the direction, and
(ii) where he or she determines that a strategic environmental assessment or an appropriate assessment is so required, the period that it would take to carry out such strategic environmental assessment or appropriate assessment.
(c) Where the Minister makes a determination under paragraph (b) that a strategic environmental assessment or an appropriate assessment is required to be carried out as respects a material alteration to a regional spatial and economic strategy that would be required in order to comply with the direction, he or she shall publish a notice of that determination in at least one newspaper circulating in the administrative areas of the local authorities to which the proposed regional spatial and economic strategy is intended to apply.
(d) A copy of the determination under paragraph (b) and a copy of the proposed material alteration to the regional spatial and economic strategy concerned shall, for a period of not less than 4 weeks from the date of the determination, be made available for inspection—
(i) by members of the public at such place and at such times as are specified in the notice referred to in paragraph (c), and
(ii) on the internet website of the Minister, the internet website of the regional assembly concerned and the internet websites of the planning authorities to which the proposed regional spatial and economic strategy concerned is intended to apply.
(e) A notice to which paragraph (c) applies shall—
(i) state that a determination under paragraph (b) has been made for the purposes of giving direction in accordance with subsection (9),
(ii) specify the place at which and times during which copies of the determination under paragraph (b) and the proposed material alteration to the regional spatial and economic strategy concerned will be made available for inspection by members of the public,
(iii) state that such copies will be available for inspection on the internet website of the Minister and the internet website of the planning authorities to which the proposed regional spatial and economic strategy concerned is intended to apply,
(iv) invite written submissions or observations with respect to the proposed material alteration or a strategic environmental assessment or appropriate assessment required to be carried out by virtue of the said determination to be made to the Minister before the expiration of such period as specified in the notice, and
(v) that any such submissions or observations shall be taken into account by the Minister in giving a direction in accordance with subsection (9).
(f) The Minister shall carry out a strategic environmental assessment, appropriate assessment, or both, of the proposed material alteration of the regional spatial and economic strategy within the period determined by the Minister in accordance with paragraph (b).
(h) The Minister shall, not later than 8 weeks after the publication of a notice under paragraph (c), prepare a report on any submissions or observations received in accordance with that notice.
(i) A report under paragraph (h) shall—
(i) specify the persons who made submissions or observations in accordance with the notice under paragraph (c),
(ii) provide a summary of those submissions and observations, and
(iii) set out the response of the Minister to those submissions and observations.
(j) The Minister shall, in setting out his or her response to submissions or observations in accordance with the notice under paragraph (c),
take account of the following:
(i) the proper planning and sustainable development of the administrative areas of the local authorities to which the proposed regional spatial and economic strategy is intended to apply,
(ii) the duties under statute of the local authorities within whose administrative areas the proposed regional spatial and economic strategy is intended to apply,
(iii) the necessity of ensuring that the proposed regional spatial and economic strategy will be consistent with—
(I) the national and regional development objectives set out in the National Planning Framework,
(II) specific planning policy requirements specified in guidelines under section 28(1), and
(III) policies or objectives for the time being of the Government or of any Minister of the Government.”.
Amendment put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 50; Níl, 28; Staon, 0.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Lisa.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Curran, John.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.

Níl

  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Eoin Ó Broin and Denise Mitchell.
Amendment declared carried.
Seanad amendment No. 29:
Section 4: In page 42, between lines 40 and 41, to insert the following:
“(4) A public body may, for the purposes of a review or examination under section 31AS, 31AT or 31AU, disclose information, records or documents (including personal data within the meaning of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016) in its possession to the Office relating to matters that are the subject of that review or examination.
(5) In this section—
‘company’ has the meaning assigned to it by the Companies Act 2014;
‘public body’ means—
(a) a Department of State,
(b) the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General,
(c) the Office of the Ombudsman,
(d) a local authority (within the meaning of the Local Government Act 1941),
(e) a body (other than a company) established by or under statute,
(f) a company established pursuant to a power conferred by or under an enactment, and financed wholly or partly by—
(i) moneys provided, or loans made or guaranteed, by a Minister of the Government, or
(ii) the issue of shares held by or on behalf of a Minister of the Government,
or
(g) a company, a majority of the shares in which are held by or on behalf of a Minister of the Government.”.

This amendment emerges from the coming into effect of the general data protection regulation, GDPR, earlier this year. The general data protection regulation requires that there be a clear legal basis for holding and processing personal data. Through this Bill, the office of the planning regulator will be empowered to review and assess the systems and procedures of planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála. In the course of conducting these reviews, it may be necessary for the regulator to seek access to relevant information, including files or records held by other public bodies. This information may include personal information within the meaning of the GDPR. This amendment provides the appropriate clear legal basis for the sharing of information by public bodies with the office of the planning regulator. It is important that the regulator is able to access and evaluate all available relevant information in the course of a review and this amendment will provide a statutory basis to enable relevant information to be supplied to the regulator as appropriate.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 30:
Section 4: In page 43, line 33, to delete “by the Office of the Planning Regulator” and substitute “and prosecuted by the Planning Regulator”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 31:
Section 7: In page 44, between lines 9 and 10, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 2 of Principal Act
7. Subsection (1) of section 2 of the Principal Act is amended, in paragraph (b) of the definition of “strategic infrastructure development”, by substituting “subsection (3) or (6) of section 226” for “226(6)”.”.

This is a technical amendment to section 2 of the principal Act which is required to correct an omission in the existing definition of strategic infrastructure development in section 2(1) of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as inserted by the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016. Due to an oversight, the definition inserted by the 2016 Act does not cover local authority development wholly or partly on the foreshore that is above the threshold of a development class prescribed for environmental impact assessment, EIA, purposes, and where consequently the EIA is mandatory. This amendment redresses this oversight by extending the definition of strategic infrastructure development to include local authority development referred to in section 226(3) of the 2000 Act, that is to say, local authority development wholly or partly on the foreshore that is of a scale where an EIA is mandatory.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 32:
Section 7: In page 44, between lines 9 and 10, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 4 of Principal Act
8. Section 4 of the Principal Act is amended, in subsection (1), by substituting the following paragraph for paragraph (ia):
“(ia) development (other than development consisting of the provision of access to a national road within the meaning of the Roads Act 1993) that consists of—
(I) the construction, maintenance or improvement of a road (other than a public road) that serves a forest or woodland, or
(II) works ancillary to such construction, maintenance or improvement;”.”.

This amendment will streamline the forest road consent process and enhance the planning system by removing unnecessary duplication. Under current arrangements, the construction of forest roads and ancillary works are exempt from the planning system, being subject to the statutory consent system for forestry activities and works operated by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. An exemption to this is where such forest road works involve the provision of an entrance on a public road whereby planning permission is required. Consequently, such development works require a dual consent process. Following consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, it is proposed to introduce a streamlined, single consent system for all forest related road construction work, including work involving the provision of an entrance on a public road under new forestry regulations.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 33:
Section 8: In page 44, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 10 of Principal Act
10. Section 10 of the Principal Act is amended—
(a) in subsection (1A), by inserting “and with specific planning policy requirements specified in guidelines under subsection (1) of section 28” after “regional spatial and economic strategy”, and
(b) in paragraph (a) of subsection (2A), by inserting “and with the specific planning policy requirements specified in guidelines under subsection (1) of section 28” after “regional spatial and economic strategy”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.

Seanad amendments Nos. 34 to 36, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

Seanad amendment No. 34:
Section 8: In page 44, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 10 (content of development plans) of Principal Act
11. Section 10 of the Principal Act is amended by deleting subsections (1B) and (1C).”.

These amendments will alter the timescale for the review of the current development plans. Local authority development plan timeframes vary depending on when they were last reviewed or adopted. Following the recent adoption of the national planning framework and the subsequent requirement to produce regional spatial economic strategies, a scenario arises where some plans may have reviews under way or have been recently completed, meaning it could be a number of years before the various national, regional and local plans become properly aligned and consistent with one another. This alignment will not be achieved in a manageable or timely manner if current development plans continue to be subject to separate review at very different intervals over a rolling six-year period. These amendments are therefore aimed at enabling a process of alignment between national, regional and local development plans by providing for amendments to the current strict statutory timeframes for local authority development plan reviews. These amendments propose that any reviews which have been initiated and are under way are paused so that they can take account of emerging statistical and evidential input from forthcoming regional spatial economic strategies once they are in place. They will be worked on over the year ahead.

It is important that things are aligned. We have a new planning framework. That follows on from the national spatial strategy, which has regional guidelines which have been embedded in the county development plans. Some of those will be out of line because there is a refocus or different focus.

Does the amendment mean one can go back and put different numbers into the county development plan? If that is the case, in Kildare, for example, there is a very sizeable amount of land that was proposed for rezoning under the national spatial strategy that might be different under the national planning framework. Does it require the regional guidelines to be agreed in advance? What will happen in the interim until that is done?

I fully understand the need to get the timing in synch with everything, but when the national planning framework is reviewed, if changes are made at that point, what then happens county development plans and regional plans? Will they have to go back through the whole system again in order to be in line with the varied national planning framework?

There are a couple of scenarios here which I will outline in order to provide clarity because local authorities are in different positions. Amendment No. 35 will modify section 11 of the principal Act to provide for a number of scenarios in the process of the adoption of local authority development plans, namely, where the review of a local authority development plan would be due to commence in the three month period immediately prior to the making of a regional spatial and economic strategy, RSES, deferring the commencement of such a development plan review until a period of 13 weeks after the relevant RSES has been made.

Another scenario is where a local authority development plan review has already been commenced and where the draft plan arising from such a review has not been submitted to the members of the planning authority for consideration, and where the relevant RSES has not been made, temporarily suspending the development plan review process which shall be recommenced not later than 13 weeks after the relevant RSES has been made. The situation Deputy Catherine Murphy raised is where a development plan has already been adopted, requiring variations or reviews of such development plans within 26 weeks of the making of the relevant RSES.

Amendment No. 36 amends section 11B of the principal Act regarding the scheduling of a development plan for new administrative areas within six months of the relevant regional spatial and economic strategy being made. A timeline is set out to bring them all in line as well, as soon as we possibly can.

I am still not clear because it does matter that, for example, the national planning framework and the national development plan are aligned. If one has, for example, a huge amount of land zoned under the national spatial strategy, one then should not have that amount zoned under the national planning framework. If the land continues to be developed then it is not catered for in the context of the national development plan, so there is no money for infrastructure.

It must come into line within 26 weeks. If a recently agreed development plan is out of synch with a new strategy that has been implemented, over a period of 26 weeks it must fall into line with the regional strategy. The regional strategies are being worked on and local authorities have been involved in them as well. I accept there will be some work involved in trying to align the aspirations of the two, but the ambition set out in the national plan is clear and that must go into the regional plans.

The mid-east region covers Kildare, Meath and Wicklow. The three local authorities will feed into the regional plan and when it is agreed the county development plans will have to fall into line with it. In the case of Meath a new county development plan is being agreed. In the case of Kildare, which has an existing plan, the council will have a number of weeks to bring it into line and introduce variations.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 35:
Section 8: In page 44, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 11 (preparation of draft development plan) of Principal Act
12. Section 11 of the Principal Act is amended by substituting the following for subsection (1):
“(1) (a) Not later than 4 years after the making of a development plan, a planning authority shall, subject to paragraph (b), give notice of its intention to review its existing development plan and to prepare a new development plan for its area.
(b) For the purpose of enabling the incorporation of the National Planning Framework and a regional spatial and economic strategy into a development plan—
(i) where notice of a development plan review to be given in accordance with paragraph (a) is prior to the making of the relevant regional spatial and economic strategy, then notice of the review shall be deferred until not later than 13 weeks after the relevant regional spatial and economic strategy has been made,
(ii) where a development plan review referred to in paragraph (a) has commenced and a draft plan has not been submitted to the members of the planning authority concerned in accordance with subsection (5)(a) prior to the making of the relevant regional spatial and economic strategy, then the review process shall be suspended until not later than 13 weeks after the making of the relevant regional spatial and economic strategy,
(iii) where notice of a development plan review to be given in accordance with paragraph (a) would, but for this subparagraph, be more than the period of 26 weeks after the making of the relevant regional spatial and economic strategy, then each planning authority concerned shall, within that period, either—
(I) give notice of a development plan variation in accordance with section 13, or
(II) give notice of a development plan review.”. ”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 36:
Section 8: In page 44, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 11B (development plans for new administrative areas to be provided for) of Principal Act
13. Section 11B of the Principal Act is amended by inserting the following after subsection
(1):
“(1A) Where a planning authority to which subsection (1) relates has not commenced the preparation of a development plan in accordance with this section before the initial making of the relevant regional spatial and economic strategy, then the reference in that subsection to ‘within 12 months of the making of regional planning guidelines that take into account the amalgamation of the administrative areas concerned’ shall be read as a reference to ‘no later than 26 weeks after the making of the initial regional spatial and economic strategy that takes into account the amalgamation of the administrative areas concerned’.”.”
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 37:
Section 8: In page 44, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 12 of Principal Act
14 Section 12 of the Principal Act is amended—
(a) by inserting the following subsection:
“(2A) The Minister or the Office of the Planning Regulator may, in relation to a draft development plan, make such recommendations as the Minister or that Office, as the case may be, considers appropriate.”,
(b) in subsection (4), by—
(i) substituting the following subparagraph for subparagraph (ii) of paragraph
(b):
“(ii) provide a summary of—
(I) the recommendations, submissions and observations made by the Minister, where the notice under paragraph (a) of subsection (2) was sent before the establishment of the Office of the Planning Regulator,
(II) the recommendations, submissions and observations made by the Office of the Planning Regulator, and
(III) the submissions and observations made by any other persons, in relation to the draft development plan in accordance with this section,”,
and
(ii) inserting the following paragraph:
“(ba) A report prepared and submitted in accordance with paragraph (a) shall contain a summary of the observations, submissions and recommendations made by the Office of the Planning Regulator under section 31AM to the planning authority concerned.”,
(c) in paragraph (aa) of subsection (5), by—
(i) inserting “or from the Office of the Planning Regulator made to that planning authority under section 31AM” after “under this section”, and
(ii) inserting “the Office of the Planning Regulator and” after “shall so inform”,
(d) in subsection (8), by substituting the following subparagraph for subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (b):
“(ii) provide a summary of—
(I) the recommendations, submissions and observations made by the Minister, where the notice under paragraph (a) of subsection (2) was sent before the establishment of the Office of the Planning Regulator,
(II) the recommendations, submissions and observations made by the Office of the Planning Regulator, and
(III) the submissions and observations made by any other persons, in relation to the draft development plan in accordance with this section,”,
and
(e) by inserting the following subsection:
“(18) In this section ‘statutory obligations’ includes, in relation to a local authority, the obligation to ensure that the development plan is consistent with—
(a) the national and regional development objectives specified in—
(i) the National Planning Framework, and
(ii) the regional spatial and economic strategy,
and
(b) specific planning policy requirements specified in guidelines under subsection (1) of section 28.”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 38:
Section 8: In page 44, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 13 of the Principal Act
15 Section 13 of the Principal Act is amended by inserting the following subsection after subsection (1):
“(1A) (a) The members of a planning authority may at any time, for stated reasons, submit a resolution to the manager of the planning authority requesting him or her to prepare a report on a proposal by them to initiate a process to consider the variation of the development plan which for the time being is in force where three quarters of the members of that authority have approved such a resolution,
(b) the manager of a planning authority shall submit a report further to a request under paragraph (a) to the elected members within four weeks of the adoption of the resolution.”.”.

Amendment No. 38 is an amendment that was originally proposed by Independent Senator Victor Boyhan, which I was happy to accept. The amendment has the overall objective of providing that the elected members of a planning authority may initiate a process with regard to bringing about a variation of the relevant authority’s development plan. This amendment will strengthen the role of elected members in proposing variations to development plans, thereby giving them more powers than they currently have in this regard.

Currently, there is no process allowing members to make a variation to a plan. I did speak to the matter a good bit in the Seanad. We do not want a system in place which allows for variations every day of the week on a development plan that many people have worked on. It was agreed by the Seanad that there must be some mechanism to allow 75% of councillors to propose a request for a variation, which the executive either has to accept or to explain why it will not accept it. It is a more transparent process to deal with proposals for a variation. It does not mean one councillor could recommend a variation in the week following the agreement of a development plan and try to kick off the entire process again but it is fair to give councillors some mechanism to be able to bring about a change when there is just cause for it.

There was a very minor error in the text of the amendment which I must bring to the attention of the House. Subsection (a) should end in a full stop and the first word in subsection (b) should start with an upper case letter. This can be corrected via a clerk’s amendment but it is important that I reflect that in the record of the House as well that minor technical amendments were required to make sure that it is in order.

While I am on the subject, there is also another minor correction which I must bring to the attention of Members. I refer to section 27 of the Bill as passed by the Dáil. This section was intended to amend the First Schedule to the principal Act, which was debated as such in this House. However, the legislative cross reference does not make it fully clear that it is the principal Act which is being referred to. Again, this is not a formal amendment rather it is an incorrect reference and can be corrected via a clerk’s amendment but it is important that we reflect it here for the record of the House as well.

While I welcome the amendment I wish to refer to a time when we had a section 140 power which gave councillors the power to direct a manager to grant a planning permission. Regrettably, I had to use the power myself on a number of occasions in relation to one-off rural houses, which were genuine cases and families are now living in them. Equally, the section 140 power gave one the option to make a material variation to a county development plan in relation to a specific development. I had to use that on two occasions. I will give an example to show why I think it is important that we allow councillors mechanisms to vary or materially contravene county development plans. One case involved an old traditional sawmill that was driven by a PTO on the back of a tractor which was developed into a full sawmill. The economy changed and the way we did things changed. The rafters for most houses in the area came from that sawmill. It then began to fabricate houses as opposed to operating as a sawmill. It was a hugely successful business that needed to expand but it did not tick the box because it was in a rural area even though it had been a sawmill in the past and the new business had just moved into it. Only for the existence of the section 140 provision being available to allow me to direct the manager to make a variation of the county development plan those 50 to 60 jobs would not be in Roundwood in County Wicklow today.

While I accept the thrust of the amendment my concern is that it still does not restore the power to councillors to vary a county development plan. It gives councillors the power to ask a manager to prepare a report on a proposed variation to a county development plan. The logic of it is that the planners who have written the county development plan would probably be in disagreement with this variation from day one. The most logical outcome of it is that it will come back as a negative. Equally, the amendment is saying managers must report within four weeks. My question is what must they report. Is it a positive, negative or indifferent report? There is nothing to say what happens after that. If it is a negative report, do the councillors have any power at that stage to propose the variation? It must be remembered that we are only proposing a variation which then has to go back on public display and go through the whole process again. I welcome the amendment as a start but I do not think it is the complete package; it needs to be tweaked another little bit to establish the true power of a councillor to vary a county development plan.

Some of the points are valid, but part of the reason we have safeguards in relation to more than a simple majority relates to some of the behaviour of councillors in the past.

Many Members will remember some of the more well known abuses in the former Dublin County Council which led to a planning inquiry. It is a question of getting the balance right.

It is important that a plan being varied on the proposal of a councillor not affect compensation rights in the case of land being rezoned to a less valuable category, for example.

The amendment is intended to put a process in place to give councillors the power to initiate a variation to a development plan. Only the executive currently has such power. We must bring balance to this issue because one cannot have a situation where a councillor could, on a whim, bring forward a variation to a development plan into many councillor might have put a lot of work over two or three years and aligned with national and regional plans and so on. Most Members will agree that we do not want to go back to such a situation. The amendment puts a process in place. If the manager and the executive decide not to proceed with the variation, they will have to bring back a report explaining the decision. It will be a transparent process carried out in full view of the public and the council.

A councillor could resubmit a proposal and try to work with the executive on it, but the decision to accept the variation rests with the executive. It is not currently suggested a legislative change be made in that regard. I suggest the new process be monitored. Any future change proposed by a Member will be considered. The amendment puts in place a formal process to allow councillors to initiate a variation, which was not previously possible. There was a lengthy discussion on the issue in the Seanad and all present agreed that there should be a process to enable councillors to do so, although such a process should not be abused or used excessively.

The amendment will not affect powers in regard to compensation requirements. Decisions in such cases are often matters of legal judgment. However, councillors would have the right to vary a development plan having gone through this clear process. Councillors would bring forward a motion to ask the executive to consider a variation and that proposal would then go through the process. The amendment will not affect the rights of any party when it comes to compensation. Compensation generally arises in cases involving land zoned in a particular category but where planning permission for the site has been refused. Compensation in cases in which land is being rezoned to a less valuable category is somewhat different. Compensation is usually sought in cases involving a refusal of planning permission. The amendment will not interfere with compensation rights. If more legal clarity is required in that regard, my Department will provide it.

I echo the points made by Deputy Pat Casey and acknowledge the point made by Deputy Catherine Murphy on the reason powers have been restricted during the years. However, councillors are elected representatives, whereas planners are professionals, or so we hope. That issue could be looked at in terms of the procedure used.

Fianna Fáil agrees with the amendment, but the point made by Deputy Pat Casey is that in most local authorities the planners assessing or completing the report will also have put forward the planning proposals for the initial development plan. In some instances, the plans are incorrect. That is why knowledge on the ground is very important. Deputy Pat Casey gave a very good example in that regard and I am sure all Members have many examples of incorrect decisions made by planners and officials.

We should examine this issue in a prudent manner. Measures could be put in place through procedure or ministerial circular to ensure planners preparing a report on a variation application had not produced the initial plan; rather, the application would be assessed by a another section with the local authority or, at the very least, a different senior executive planner such that it would be considered by a fresh pair of eyes. That may be a solution, but it would have to be set down by way of procedure in view of what has happened in several local authorities following the issuing of a circular by the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, on councillors not being able to call for planning files at meetings. As a result, many senior planners no longer attend these meetings and, thus, are not answerable to councillors. Planners should be answerable. Councillors are elected representatives and must go before the electorate every five years. Senior officials are not elected and must be held accountable. They should be accountable to local authority members. At the very least, they should make themselves available to answer questions. Since the circular was issued by the Minister, many planners have retreated into their offices and will not respond to some basic queries, many of which are being raised by councillors on behalf of constituents and relate to the concerns of residents. We must be careful that the amendment does not have unintended consequences and I suggest be ensured by a ministerial circular to local authorities after the Government has had a chance to reflect on the issue, stating a different planner should be tasked with the making of an assessment of a variation than the one who prepared the relevant aspect of the development plan.

The original purpose of the Bill mainly concerns the establishment of the office of the planning regulator, which will have several functions. The Title of the Bill lists the functions as including: "to evaluate and carry out assessments relating to planning matters and provide observations and recommendations in relation to those matters, to conduct reviews and examinations and to conduct education and training programmes and research in relation to planning matters", etc. It strikes me that the office of the planning regulator would have a role in the kind of situation which involves the concerns of elected members and possible differences of opinion with local planners. Deputy Darragh O'Brien suggested such situations could be addressed by ministerial circular, but it seems to be an area for guidelines from the office of the planning regulator on what might be appropriate in elected representatives suggesting variations to a plan. I consider it to be one of the roles of the office of the planning regulator, rather than the Minister. I ask the Minister of State to comment in that regard.

That is the role of the regulator. We intend to ensure strong guidelines will be issued in regard to developments and the change to the plan. The matter can be considered further. There is logic and merit in the point that a different planner should be involved. We stress that this is about having a process which will protect all involved, including councillors, through measures such as the requirement to have a 75% majority. It is unlikely that the variation process would be used often or for individual applications because the development plan will have been passed by the councillors. Planners help to prepare development plans, but, ultimately, it is the function of councillors to accept and pass them. They would be proposing variations to a plan they had passed.

The regulator will have a role in this process in terms of guidelines, procedures, education and, in regard to variations, the monitoring thereof and the assessment of any potential national impact. Such variations come to my desk and that of the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, and it may also be the case following the establishment of the office of the planning regulator.

On the effects of the circular referred to by Deputy Darragh O'Brien, it was issued with good intentions, as the Deputy will agree.

I acknowledge that.

We will consider its effect. I will examine the case mentioned by the Deputy regarding senior planners not turning up for meetings. The executive is also part of the process and its members attend meetings and are meant to answer for the planners because they are responsible for the planning department. The intent behind the circular was that planners would not be involved in a non-transparent process or feel under pressure in dealing with certain matters. The executive in charge of the planning department attends such meetings and should answer all planning questions posed. We can check that that is being done. If the circular needs to be strengthened or reworded, we will be happy to consider the matter. It attempted to engender a situation that was more conducive to good planning and a transparent process, but any possible negative effects will be examined. I thank Deputy Darragh O'Brien for raising the issue.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 39:
Section 8: In page 44, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 13 of Principal Act
16. Section 13 of the Principal Act is amended—
(a) by inserting the following subsection:
“(3A) The Minister or the Office of the Planning Regulator may, in relation to a proposed variation of a development plan, make such recommendations as the Minister or that Office, as the case may be, considers appropriate.”,
(b) in subsection (4), by—
(i) substituting the following subparagraph for subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (b):
“(ii) provide a summary of—
(I) the recommendations, submissions and observations made by the Minister, where the notice under paragraph (a) of subsection (2) was sent before the establishment of the Office of the Planning Regulator,
(II) the recommendations, submissions and observations made by the Office of the Planning Regulator, and
(III) the submissions and observations made by any other persons,
in relation to the draft development plan in accordance with this section,”,
and
(c) by inserting the following subsection:
“(14) In this section ‘statutory obligations’ includes, in relation to a local authority, the obligation to ensure that the development plan is consistent with—
(a) the national and regional development objectives specified in—
(i) the National Planning Framework, and
(ii) the regional spatial and economic strategy,
and
(b) specific planning policy requirements specified in guidelines under subsection (1) of section 28.”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 40:
Section 8: In page 44, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 20 of Principal Act
17. Section 20 of the Principal Act is amended—
(a) by inserting the following subsection:
“(1A) The Minister or the Office of the Planning Regulator may, in relation to a local area plan, make such recommendations as the Minister or that Office, as the case may be, considers appropriate.”,
(b) in subsection (3), by—
(i) substituting the following clause for clause (II) of subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (c):
“(II) provide a summary of—
(A) the recommendations, submissions and observations made by the Minister, where the notice under paragraph (a) of subsection (2) was sent before the establishment of the Office of the Planning Regulator,
(B) the recommendations, submissions and observations made by the Office of the Planning Regulator, and
(C) the submissions and observations made by any other persons,
in relation to the draft local area plan in accordance with this section,”,
and
(ii) substituting the following subparagraph for subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (l):
“(ii) provide a summary of —
(I) the recommendations, submissions and observations made by the Minister, where the notice under paragraph (a) of subsection (2) was sent before the establishment of the Office of the Planning Regulator,
(II) the recommendations, submissions and observations made by the Office of the Planning Regulator, and
(III) the submissions and observations made by any other persons,
in relation to the draft local area plan in accordance with this section,”,
and
(c) by inserting the following subsection:
“(5) In this section ‘statutory obligations’ includes, in relation to a local authority, the obligation to ensure that the local area plan is consistent with—
(a) the objectives of the development plan,
(b) the national and regional development objectives specified in—
(i) the National Planning Framework, and
(ii) the regional spatial and economic strategy,
and
(c) specific planning policy requirements specified in guidelines under subsection (1) of section 28.”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.

Seanad amendments Nos. 41 and 42 are related and may be discussed together.

Seanad amendment No. 41:
Section 8: In page 46, to delete lines 26 to 29 and substitute the following:
“(8) The Government shall submit the draft of the revised or new National Planning Framework together with the Environmental Report and Appropriate Assessment Report to a vote of each House of the Oireachtas before it is published and will be bound by that vote.”.

These amendments were tabled by Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill and passed by vote of Seanad Éireann. They relate to the adoption and ongoing review of the national planning framework, issues that were the subject of much discussion in this House and the Seanad.

Unfortunately, these amendments are unworkable and accordingly I must ask that the House reject these amendments.

Amendment No. 41 seeks that any draft of a revised or new national planning framework can only be finalised on the basis of a positive vote in each of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

It is important to be clear here that the introduction of this amendment would not apply retrospectively to the current national planning framework, which has already been adopted and published by the Government in February of this year as a strategy to replace the national spatial strategy, for the purposes of section 2 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. The current national planning framework is on a statutory footing afforded by the provisions of existing legislation and will not be impacted by the introduction of this amendment but it will certainly have an impact on future national planning frameworks, which will be important documents in years to come.

The current wording in the Bill already provides that any draft of a revised or new national planning framework must be submitted for the approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas rather than a vote. This is a sufficient and appropriate provision in that regard. We tried to honour the spirit of the legislation in the previous one by having consultation and debates both in this House and in the Seanad and in different committees also. A decision was made by this House to allow the committees do the detailed work on behalf of these Houses and submit a report to the Minister, and that is what happened. I attended some of those meetings and we went through all the detail. I am conscious Members present did not necessarily accept that but that is what the House did at some stage last autumn, and the committee dealt with that. We tried to do the best we possibly could but the issue was on this final vote. I made the point in the Seanad and here that if we have the final vote on everything in this House, I am not sure we will get some of these very important documents passed. That is a personal opinion when it comes to a national plan. I have seen it in many other plans as well and I am not sure we will get them passed by this House.

Apart from that, I want to be clear that to achieve consensus on the content of a revised or new national planning framework and for it to be brought before each House of the Oireachtas for approval would require extensive engagement with a spectrum of stakeholders, interests and experts, including, but also reaching beyond, the political realm. We did that in the previous plan. Achieving such consensus, in the first instance, would signify that the intense and complex engagement process has resulted in a workable document that is fit for approval and implementation. Requiring a vote of each House of the Oireachtas would risk opening up the overall development process to be revisited, triggering potential delays that would have significant implications. Again, we would have gone through a two or three year process to get to the draft national planning framework, and rightly so, because it is based on consultation and the involvement of all the different stakeholders. We went to great lengths to do that in the previous one and I am sure future Governments will do the same with the next one because it is laid down in this legislation that such engagement will be required with all the stakeholders and that all the procedures will be examined.

Furthermore, this amendment would have implications not only for the national planning framework approval process but also for the possibility of future alignment with the national development plan, which would impact regional spatial and economic strategies and all statutory land use plans across the country.

Introducing this amendment would also place new and onerous statutory obligations on the Oireachtas relating to complying with European environmental law, and which would require further legal advice from the Attorney General to fully establish the exact role of the Oireachtas and the associated obligations each House of the Oireachtas would legally be bound by. That is because the amendment would have the effect of making Dáil Éireann the designated competent authority for the purposes of considering and approving the environmental report under the strategic environmental assessment directive and appropriate assessment under the habitats directive.

Moreover, if, subsequent to a vote, the national planning framework was to be amended, then the Members of Dáil Éireann could be drawn into a complex legal and scientific area that may have a series of unintended consequences in respect of the scope to make or amend policy. For example, many Members might want even more flexibility than exists already around one-off housing. It would be likely that an appropriate assessment would see that as seriously problematic from a habitats perspective, triggering complex legal mechanisms for which the Oireachtas will be entirely responsible. It could lead to many other scenarios also.

Amendment No. 42 proposes three additional requirements that do not appear to be serving any practical purpose and would create an excessively elaborate monitoring and implementation process. The first requirement relates to an annual review of the national planning framework to be laid before the Houses. This is an annual review of a long-term strategic plan for the country. I stated in the Seanad debate that I am not convinced if we would see much progress on that in a year or of the benefit of reviewing it every year, but that is the amendment that was put forward. As the national planning framework is not readily amenable to annual review, at a national spatial scale, discernible change on the ground, in terms of outcomes, will not be readily apparent on a year-to-year basis, nor will coherent or comparable datasets be available to measure a clear national pattern.

Subjecting a long-term strategy to annual review would embed uncertainty and create a near constant process of reflection rather than implementation of the content of the national planning framework and would be disruptive to developing and implementing plans and projects at regional and local level that need certainty over a multi-annual period; it would not allow sufficient time for sufficiently meaningful evidence to be gathered to inform the review process; and would duplicate the plan monitoring role of the office of the planning regulator.

Instead, the Bill already provides that the national planning framework will be reviewed every six years, which is a more meaningful timeline, particularly for data gathering and analysis of outcomes. This cycle is mindful of the availability of Central Statistics Office, CSO, census data every five years and building in a further one year period for the requisite analysis. This provision would contradict what is already proposed elsewhere in this legislation, effectively would be meaningless in practical terms and is therefore wholly unnecessary in the context of a long-term spatial planning framework.

The second part of this amendment appears to be based on a misunderstanding of the legislative meaning of an appropriate assessment report, which is wholly separate from the public spending code. Appropriate assessment is a process further to the European Union birds and habitats directives whereby certain plans and programmes must be assessed to ensure they do not affect the integrity of an EU designated habitat or species. It has nothing to do with the public spending code in respect of value for money. Both must apply separately to the national planning framework in terms of general outcomes but to link the two in legislation, as proposed, based on an entirely erroneous assumption would be a serious mistake that must not be accepted by the House. We tried to have a discussion on that in the Seanad and we were unable to get that message across but it is a serious one and I hope Members of this House understand the message behind that amendment, even if they do not agree with the first one.

The third part of this amendment is a factual clarification that does not necessitate inclusion in primary legislation and would be better addressed as a note or definition at part of the preamble to this legislation and is therefore unnecessary.

I urge the House to let common sense prevail and reject these two amendments arising from Seanad Éireann.

The Minister of State's response with respect just to amendment No. 41 is very disappointing. I accept the arguments on amendment No. 42. To rehearse the argument, when the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016 was published before the 32nd Dáil was formed, the relevant section of the Bill stated that the Government shall submit the draft of the revised or a new national planning framework, together with the environmental report and appropriate assessment report, for the approval of each House of the Oireachtas before it is published. Deputy Alan Kelly, the then Minister who worked on this, is on public record as stating that, as the Minister, his understanding of this was that the national planning framework, after it went through the consultation process, would be voted on by the two Houses of the Oireachtas. The reason for that is because this is a document of such enormous political and social economic significance it should have the approval of the House and secure a majority.

For those of us who worked through that national planning framework process, and I acknowledge the staff in the Department who were of enormous assistance to the members of the Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government in assisting us to get our heads around the complexity of that, our understanding throughout that long consultation is that after the draft came back from the consultation it would come before the House for lengthy debate, which it did, and there would be a vote on it. It was only at the point at which it appeared that such a vote would not necessarily secure a majority of the House that we began to hear that there would not be a vote.

The Minister of State made a series of arguments as to the reason such a vote would not be appropriate, yet his new interpretation of this section of the Bill suggests that a vote on a future revised plan or new plan would be appropriate. Why is it appropriate to have a vote on a revised or future plan, as per his new interpretation of the original section of the plan, and not on the original one? It does not make any sense.

The Minister of State let the cat out of the bag. He gave his personal opinion, and he is right in that, which was that he had a fear this will not be passed. That was the phrase he used. That is the reason we are having this debate.

It would never be passed.

It would be passed if the Government had a majority. When the original Bill was drafted, the then Fine Gael-Labour Government had a majority, which is the reason they were confident it would be passed, but it is the numbers following the previous general election that created this difficulty.

My position remains exactly the same as it was at the outset. This is a document of such importance that it cannot be allowed to proceed without having a vote on it in the Dáil. The Minister is right. The statutory basis of the national planning framework does not rest on that vote. The Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government obtained legal opinion from the legal service and that was made very clear to us but even though it does not require that legally, politically, in terms of the endorsement of what is in that document, we must stick by this amendment.

I will be pressing the amendment to a vote. I still have many reservations about the substance of the planning framework. Some parts of it are welcome. I acknowledge some improvements were made during the public consultation but many gaps remain.

That is all the more reason it should be brought before the House for a vote.

I echo some of those points. That this is a minority Government is all the more reason to require the approval of both the Dáil and the Seanad. It is more than unfortunate that this did not happen. It is a very long-term strategy as planning frameworks are, by definition, intended to be. I do not have any difficulty with a long-term strategy and think we should absolutely have one and make sure we link capital spending with them in order that we do not end up with a mismatch. However, I do have a difficulty with approval not being sought from this House.

I have a question about the six-year review. I do not think one year is enough for something that is long term strategically. However, we are just after talking about the alignment of county development plans which are made every five years and have a lead-in period. The six-year review strikes me as something that will put them out of alignment. Has that issue been considered? We do not want to have to come back and make variations again if changes have to be made. There could be quite substantial changes coming out of a review after six years. How will county development plans be aligned with the six-year review?

I have spoken more on this topic than any other in the House, as have many other Deputies. We have been through a long process in the adoption of the national planning framework. There is frustration about how the Government was telling the public and Members that it was honouring the proposed legislation coming through the Dáil. The Minister of State said it himself today. In fairness, the Government has not done so. It clearly states the draft plan has to be approved by both Houses, not the final plan. I have no problem in agreeing to this. When the draft plan was published, the Taoiseach stated the vote had already been taken on it and that if it had not, it would be. The following day Deputy Eoin Ó Broin raised the matter with the Tánaiste who said the Government had been open and transparent and was honouring the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill that was coming through the Dáil and adhering to every part of it. He suggested we had actually run out of speakers on the draft plan. We have not. Statements on the national planning framework is still on the Order Paper; it is No. 40. If the Government's intention was to have a vote, it would not have had statements on the draft national planning framework but a motion. There was never any intention on its part to adhere to the legislation coming through the Dáil. It should acknowledge that it did not carry out the process as it was claiming in the Chamber. I am not going to disagree at this stage, as the horse has bolted. The plan has been published and we have to get on with the business. However, the Government needs to acknowledge that the statements it made here were incorrect and that the draft plan was not approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas, despite what the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, said.

I have concerns about the practicalities of moving from a draft plan to the adoption of a full plan. The process was so quick that I have some genuine concerns. The draft plan was published and, in fairness to all of us - we have all been through county and local area plans - we do not focus in until there is a document printed. There was a huge number of submissions made on the draft plan, yet the final plan was adopted very quickly. I have to acknowledge the work of the Department in getting through all of the amendments or proposals, but I have concerns that there was no specific timeframe and that it might have been slightly rushed. There could be some unintended consequences as a result.

We will be supporting the Government on this amendment because we have thrashed it out for so long at this stage and need to move on and put procedures in place for the next plan. We received legal advice on Committee Stage and the national planning framework has been published. It is a Government document and we must move on from there. I do have some reservations about the timeframe between publication of the draft plan and the adoption of the final version and the level of work that had to be done within very short period. I am also worried about the level of work that has to be done on the regional plans. There will be a push to have them adopted before the local elections next year. We are getting that sense from each of the local authorities, even though I do not think it has to be the case. I am afraid of unintended consequences when we rush such documents.

The fact that the national planning framework was published without being voted on in this House casts doubt on the validity of the framework. That is very serious. There is more confusion today about what we are being asked to reject from the Seanad. I am on the same side as those who say they will not be supporting the Minister of State on this issue. I know that this is new politics and that there have been loads of votes that the Government has lost. That is why it is important for the Government to be bound by the results of votes in the Houses of the Oireachtas. This is all about democracy and democratic approval for a really important plan that will shape the future of the country and determine where money is spent.

The original purpose of the Bill was to implement the recommendations of the Mahon tribunal and set up the office of the planning regulator. I was involved in the early stages. A lot of other things have been tagged on to the Bill, the big one being the national planning framework which is enormously important. The fact that the Houses of the Oireachtas will not be approving it in any meaningful way is really serious. I understand from where the Minister of State is coming and think he is being quite honest with us in saying he believes it might not go through because currently there is a minority Government. I see, however, that Fianna Fáil is going to support him. It makes a bit of a mockery of democracy when we are asked to forego the giving of approval by the elected Members of the Houses because of a fear that the Government might not be able to get the framework through. That is very disappointing.

The Minister of State has explained well his issues with the second section of amendment No. 42. I understand his issue with the public spending code and so on. However, I have serious concerns about amendment No. 41 and the Minister of State's proposal that we reject the amendment from the Seanad.

The context is extremely important. I am surprised that the Minister of State is not in favour of providing for objective scrutiny on behalf of those who send us here to ensure the national planning framework is consistent and reflects the objectives and needs of the people.

As far as I can see, this has been drawn up by technocrats and bureaucrats. One thing they do is disregard the feelings and the will of the people. I know the Minister of State is a rural Deputy who looks after parts of north-west Meath and is very much in tune with the feelings of the people, but when all this is in place, being a local representative will be a very thin job. A local representative will have no input into anything because everything can be wiped off, as it were. Unfettered powers are being given to Ministers. Very few things are being circumscribed. A Minister can take umbrage at anything that comes up from below, so local authority powers are being emasculated. This is why it is very important that the Oireachtas has an input at this level.

I am familiar with the midlands gateway regional strategy in the context of the national planning framework, but of the additional one million people who will be in Ireland in 2040, about 500,000 will live in the east and midlands region. Of those, about 50% will be in the Dublin area. This means that Meath, Westmeath, Kildare and Longford have to foot it out. Those figures are very important because they provide a major context. Mullingar's population in 2016 was 20,000. It will be 24,000 in 2026. The number of members per family on average is three. There will be little more than 1,000 houses in ten years. What does that mean for Mullingar? We would want them in Ballinacarrig, my own little village. We could put 400 or 500 people in it. This is a death knell for rural Ireland. It is the undermining of the fabric of rural Ireland and an attempt to make sure that everyone is shoved into concentrated urban areas. That is grand. Let resources go. We accept that we cannot have the like of the Luas. We are rural people so we accept that, but we do not accept being made, not second-class citizens, but fourth-class citizens.

There is an implicit cap on rural one-off houses. It is there in black and white. I am proud to say that I have spent my life fighting for rural people and their right to build a house in rural area. We would have fewer people going into institutional care if their sons and daughters could build near them and look after their mother and father or elderly uncle or aunt. I have seen it at first hand and so has the Ceann Comhairle as he comes from a rural area. This is critical. I know because I could see all this happening before my eyes. This is a nonsense for Mullingar, which is a big town. It will have significant consequences for rural Ireland. The draft plan must be scrutinised line by line by this Oireachtas. I know some of my colleagues here did a parliamentary job relating to a Bill that has passed not long ago. If that Bill was of importance, this is of huge importance. Whatever about a Bill that was passed today or last week or that will be passed next week where amendments can be brought forward in the future or a new Bill can address issues that arise, this is what we must live with for an inordinate length time until 2040.

There is a lot of what I call hypocrisy. I do not engage in any marches. Some people pass the post office or rural shop on their way to the big stores and then say, "Ochón, ochón, rural Ireland is on its knees." Of course, it is on its knees when people do not support it. If we do not have people in rural Ireland, however nothing can be supported. It is very subliminal. There will be no money for the additional classroom and there will be no need for it. The three-teacher school will become a two-teacher school and then a one-teacher school and then it will be gone. This is what happens when we take people out of the equation.

I know we cannot have scattered and unregulated development. I am quite happy with that, but in respect of allowing population growth and then saying no, one of the great excuses is that no caps on the future population of any town or county are specified in the national planning framework. That is what the Minister of State has said. What happens, however, if figures are set, for example, at 200 houses for Mullingar, 180 come in and there are only 20 left that are permitted and the rest go out to the rural area. We have to cover areas like Ballinacarrig, Castlepollard, Castletown Geoghegan, Kilbeggan, Dalystown, Rochfortbridge, Milltownpass, Tyrrellspass, down into the Athlone area, Tang, The Pigeons and Maryland. What is going to happen? The first thing the planners will say is we have to implement what is in the Bill, the Oireachtas has done this and it has been approved.

I was a Minister and went around the areas in the Minister of State's constituency in Meath. I saw a lot of work around Dunboyne. Does this have major implications for these areas? I will let the Minister of State fight that corner, although it is not even his corner. Somebody else may well fight it. I have looked at this. It is stated that the national planning framework recognises the unique and distinct pattern of settlement in Ireland. Just over a third of the population live in a rural area, including small towns and villages outside towns with a population of 1,500. Over a quarter of the population live in the countryside.

The Government will have no imprimatur from me for anything that explicitly or implicitly curtails the ability of people to make the application subject to the regulatory conditions that have been laid down relating to traffic hazards, movements and septic tanks. They must be there because we must protect our environment and road safety. Given that all of these things are taken into account along with matters like protecting biodiversity, where does rural planning live in this document? Unless I am a fool, and I probably am, I cannot see any great hope for people securing one-off houses in the future. If that is the position, people might say that their job is to get people into built-up areas, concentric development and urban development. That is grand. People might say we use high rise and high densities. It is taken that this must be done. This could be, however, a very significant development in places where people have lived all their lives and where they support schools, Garda stations, post offices and shops. If planning permissions or the population targets for key settlements are constrained, what does that mean for rural Ireland? I am finding it hard to get an answer but I know the Minister of State will because he is a rural person.

There are nine counties in the eastern region. The target is 500,000 additional people. This is about 22,000 people per year in the eastern and midland region. Of that, 50% are in Dublin so there are 11,700 in Dublin. Unless I am wrong, there will be about 11,000 people in the other eight counties. Eight into 11 - make it up any way you like - is about 1,600. This is across every county, including the Ceann Comhairle's own county. It is a county that is expanding. I happened to be down in Moone last night, which is a lovely place with great music.

What we have then is an additional 1,400 people across the counties, excluding Dublin.

That are approximately 560 houses per county per year given the current average household of three people. How does that fit with the projected population growth? It does not take an Einstein to figure out that this is the number allowed for larger areas or the biggest towns like Athlone, Mullingar, Castlepollard, Kinnegad and Moate. Where does it leave the small villages and towns outside that? I understand that the idea is to allocate resources to larger urban areas. While there is nothing wrong with that, it should not be at the expense of rural people who deserve the same standards and opportunities. I live in a rural area. Somebody will always say that I am out in the sticks. I am very proud of that. That is where I was born and reared and that is where I will die. I remember being told by an individual in the early 1990s that if I did not move to Mullingar, I would never get elected. That is because I was out in a little area with 300 or 400 people. I replied "Well, Jim, I will never be elected so because I am not moving". I did not move and, peculiarly, the people of the area still elected me. The moral of the story is that people should stick to their roots. The people of an area will not forget one if one sticks to one's roots.

Those are the figures. They have been extracted from the Government's plan. I am not making them up. If the Minister of State wants me to go through them I will, but one thing about the English family, who I have known for years, is that they are quick with figures. The Minister of State would have me over a barrel in seconds here if I was wrong. That is what I am worried about. My constituency is in the east and midlands region. We are part of it, like the Minister of State and the Acting Chairman, Deputy Durkan. It is the biggest area one could talk about yet we are going to be left with no houses. I thought this was only affecting us. Of course, every Member advocates for his or her area. I spoke to Deputy Kelly and he told me about Tipperary. He said he would need three times what was allowed for Tipperary per annum just for Nenagh because, thankfully, new industry is coming to the area. If a small area like Ballinacarrig gets a factory, how will that be managed? The moral of the story is that this will ensure rural areas will never get anything in again. It will never happen because none of the infrastructure will go there. We have all accepted that over the years. We have been very good. We have accepted in rural areas that there are some things we cannot have and got on with life. In order to improve our lot, however, we should be able to get some bit of help. The biggest help is to be allowed to develop a site for a son or daughter, a nephew or a niece, or someone who would help our elderly people by acting as carers. Carers are saving the State €4 billion a year. Were it not for them, the health system would collapse. One would not be able to access institutional or emergency care if they were not there. That is why it is so important to provide that leeway in order that there is no implied or express cap in the context of rural planning.

What concerns me is that every bit of power has been removed from local authority representatives. I was on the county council for a long number of years and I never abused my position in relation to any of this. I made the arguments up front in the council in favour of whatever I supported. I am proud of that. However, I am concerned that the Minister now seems to be taking all control and powers into the Department. That is why the amendment is so vital and it is why, as Deputy Jan O'Sullivan succinctly outlined, the Government should have to submit a draft. I heard Deputy Casey speak and he is correct that there should be a vote of each House before this is published and that the Government should be bound by that vote. The Minister of State, Deputy English, said that if that were the position, it might well not get out of the traps. It will get out of the traps if it serves the needs of the people. The Members of this House are the people's representatives and messengers. I will not come here to argue something that is inconsistent with what I feel is in the best interests of the people. That is why I am deeply concerned about this as is my colleague, Deputy Jan O'Sullivan, who is a former Minister of State with responsibility in this area and someone with very strict views in relation to certain matters. I am delighted to see that she is very supportive of ensuring this amendment remains in the Bill. I have made my own views known strongly in this regard.

I agree with and commend Deputy Penrose on everything he said. I raised concerns yesterday evening about the clause inserted in the 2040 plan whereby planning may be granted in rural areas if it does not impact in urban areas. That says it all. It is all about Dublin and the larger urban areas and letting rural areas go to hell. It has already been a very bad day for rural Ireland because of what happened with the Bill put forward by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross. That legislation is going to change rural Ireland completely for everyone, whether young or old. The young fellow with an apprenticeship or who is at college will not be able to drive. It is no cause for laughter because it will be very hurtful. It will hurt farmers and the different classes of people in rural Ireland. It will isolate people who will have to stay at home in the future. They will have no outlet now.

To return to the Bill before the House, a number of smart fellows have made comments. One of them, an individual by the name of John Moran, has stated that rural Ireland is a burden on the State. I disagree with him in that regard. The people I represent disagree with and resent statements like that. The Government appears to be listening to him, however. Deputy Penrose and I can highlight what is wrong with this, but to what avail? The Government is supported by Fianna Fáil and they are talking about confidence and supply. They are the all the same; they claim to represent different sides and views, but their views are the same except that each party wants more seats than the other. There is no difference whatsoever between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil today.

The Deputy's brother nearly became a member of Fianna Fáil, did he not?

Nearly never got the cow and calf.

Do not mention the cow.

Sinn Féin is the other group and it is vying to take Fianna Fáil's place. That is what it is at. It supports the Government most of the time as well. Where do the few loners here today stand? Most Members have gone to Bettystown for the races, if you please, when they should be here to defend the people who elected them. That is the truth.

It is Bellewstown.

It is some race meeting somewhere. Certainly, they are not interested in planning for people in the countryside.

It is a good rural race meeting that Deputy Danny Healy-Rae is talking about.

The State, as small as it is, has two countries in it. What is inside The Pale or inside the M50 is what is important. The Government fights for them and forgets about the people along the western coast. The farther one goes, the worse it gets. People have no services. If more people got their way, they would not be able to travel the road because the briars would be meeting from both sides.

What will happen is we will give all the power to this regulator and to the Minister to supersede county development plans. I have been dealing with planners since I first became a member of the local authority and they have to go by the guidelines that they get from Government and, indeed, Europe.

There is nothing in the Bill stating that serial objectors should have to pay a larger fee than the person who has an honest concern about something being built in his or her area. There is nothing in this to compel a serial objector to pay €1,000, or, if I got my way, up to €2,000, where people are deprived of getting planning where it is granted by the local authority. Where a planning application was granted by the local authority in a recent case, a serial objector came along and appealed it to An Bord Pleanála, and An Bord Pleanála refused permissions. An Bord Pleanála deemed that the planning applicant, because he was living a little over 6 km from his place of work, did not need to live in that area. The applicant was getting the site from his uncle and it was a big start to him to build a house for himself and to put a roof over the heads of himself, his wife and his family. He will not have that chance now because An Bord Pleanála got from somewhere that 6 km was too far away.

Where will the Government provide employment for such people? Will it bring them all into towns and cities and not allow people live in the countryside where, as Deputy Penrose said, they could look after their elderly parents and save on the cost of home help or home care or putting them into nursing homes? Is that what the Government wants to do? It is all so ridiculous what the Government is at. Likewise, the grandparents could look after the children while the parents were out working. The Government wants to tear the family fabric asunder.

I am putting down a marker. I am against what the Government is doing. The Government wants to give the Minister or the regulator power or an open book, and the Minister of State did not even know who would appoint the regulator last night. The regulator will be appointed and he will supersede county development plans while the local authority members slave hard to represent local people on the ground and help them get planning permission or the services that they are entitled to every bit as much as the people in Dublin. The Government wants to supersede the county development plan into which members and management of local authorities put so much work. I deplore what the Government is at. It is scandalous. As Deputy Penrose stated, this will have an impact. There will be no planning permission granted in rural areas even though the applications comply with the criteria. They provide their own sceptic tanks to a high standard. They provide and pay for their own water and they kick up no racket about it. The sad truth of it is that in their taxes and in many other ways they will pay for people in Dublin to have free water.

I reject and resent what the Government is at but we cannot stop it because the Government has the support of Fianna Fáil in this instance. They state it is confidence and supply but it is a coalition to keep Fine Gael in power. Until the next election, we can do nothing. However, we will try our very best to ensure that we change it because the Government does not deserve to be allowed continue what it is doing to the people of rural Ireland. The Government's thoughts or considerations are not with them at all.

I will keep it less political.

I spoke to the Minister of State, Deputy English, and his officials about what needs to be done. In fairness, the Minister of State told me this will not happen. There is a genuine fear that when the Department gives the allocation of houses to the three regional areas - in my area, Galway city will be obviously clamouring for as many houses as possible because it needs houses. The same will be the case in Sligo and the different areas. The fear is spreading and there is no point in saying it is not. I would ask the Minister of State to kill this, once and for all. I would ask him to come straight out with it, or insert a line somewhere that we will be hitting targets. If we get more houses and development in areas, that is great. I spoke with the officials and, in fairness, they have been clear. I think there is a genuine fear out there. Whether we like it or not, this has to be addressed. I am not saying it is coming from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. For instance, in Kilcolgan, which Deputy Connolly, who is based in Galway city, might represent as well, a company was set up beside me, Ward and Burke, that employs 35 or 40 in office administration. The company wanted to make the office look better and do it up. The first reply I got from Galway County Council was, "Would it not go in to the city?" This was a county council that was getting rates but wanted to put another 50 people into the city, which, as Deputy Connolly knows better than I, one cannot stir in. The thinking behind those who told me that is shocking. I am not saying this push is coming from the Department but whatever type of planners are doing this, they are trying to drive them in. We dug our heels in. Our saviour was the motorway, because they wanted a count of the cars going up and down the road. The same cars went up and down the road a few years ago as this year. They wanted to block those who were where we call "out the country", although it is more built up than my area.

There is another matter and I would like the Minister of State to comment on it. I note the amendments make reference to appropriate assessment and environmental impact. Every local authority has a guideline in this regard. For instance, in Glenamaddy, there is a building that was built 20 years old. There were adjustments done to it and there is retention being sought. This is within the town to which there is a sewerage pipe. The further information that came back was that there is an SAC and the local authority needs an environmental impact report on the matter. This is a building within a town that is a mile away from the lake that is an SAC. In regard to this guideline, I have gone to the National Parks and Wildlife Service which stated it is the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. The guideline that every local authority is pulling out states that one must go by it if a building or any development is within 15 km of an SAC as it may by adversely affected. As a result, one must employ another person with 40 letters after his or her name and pay the person plenty of money because of those letters and at further cost. These issues need to be blocked, once and for all. We need to ensure under all planning and development legislation that if someone wants to set up a small garage, a small welding shop or a small business in a local community, he or she has to be allowed do so.

For the Minister of State's own sake, with the stories going around about one-off housing, I ask him to include something in the Bill to clarify that this will not happen. I have spoken to him and I take him at his word but a lot of people are sceptical. The environmental side of it is crippling a lot of the west of Ireland because of this 15 km stipulation. This even applies to putting up a slatted shed in rural areas because once the Shannon is crossed, there is not one part of the west of Ireland that is not 15 km from some so-called SAC. It is crippling people and it is costing money.

As for councillors making representations on submissions, they need to be able to make them. One thing should be done, however, and Athenry is the perfect example. Unless a person lives local to an area he or she should not be allowed to object because people are getting fronts with An Taisce and all of these different crowds, shoving in big objections and they are from Wicklow and wherever. They are objecting to some place in the west of Ireland that they never saw. This has to stop. If a person objects to something he or she must be man enough or woman enough to put his or her name to it and he or she must live within a certain radius. There also has to be a fee for this because what is going on in planning at present in different parts of the country is stifling local people. That is all I have to say, I will not hog it, but I ask the Minister of State to do something in his own interest and that of other Deputies. Something should be put in to say this is what the Government is intending to do, be it 300 houses in Galway city, Sligo or wherever but that it will be happy days if 350 houses are built and if there are 50 more out in the country, we will not stop them. That needs to be nailed down.

We discussed some aspects of this Bill with the Minister of State last night and I have major concerns going forward. There are a lot of issues on planning already in my constituency in Cork South-West. It is basically another layer of bureaucracy. A regulator will be appointed. I asked the Minister of State last night who will appoint that regulator. I found out afterwards - the Minister of State did not know - it will be the Minister of the day. Where are we going? How many more overseers and regulators will be there? Will this be a political football in future? That is something I have serious worries about. We had the Minister, Deputy Ross, telling us he would stop all ministerial appointments where judges are concerned but we will now have regulators appointed by Ministers over planning, which will be extremely serious for the people of rural Ireland, in that further objections can be made. I look at my constituency, the difficulty to get planning and the layers of issues put in front of young people who want to build on their own farmland. They are pushed down into bogs and behind houses. The way people are being treated as it stands is incredible and farcical, to say the least, and now the Government want to put another layer in front of them.

Deputy Penrose put strong, valid and interesting points before the Dáil today. He is right that people want to build on their own farms in order that they are close to their family. That is of huge benefit to everybody. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae put it rightly when he said there should be more understanding out there. There must be rules and I am never against rules and regulations but some people can swallow the book and more people can work with the book. In planning it is unfortunate that I find that in most instances, people are spending tens of thousands of euro in trying to get planning permission in their own community and are basically being turned down or eventually getting it, which leads to a lot of difficulty.

I have serious issues with any regulator being appointed by a Minister. I have nothing against the Minister of State personally but I have serious issues with that. That needs to be looked at in this Bill going forward in order that it is completely taken out of the hands of the political system. I plead with the Fianna Fáil Members sitting to my right. I know they have a confidence and supply agreement. They should not worry as we could face the country in a general election and we could be in the same situation, so it is dangerous for politicians to point their fingers at other politicians saying that the confidence and supply agreement is wrong when it could be the other way around. However, there are certain things they can stand up for and they are failing in their duty to do so and this is one such instance. They have an a opportunity to make sure they will not support this in the future for the people of rural Ireland. I sincerely hope that will happen during the remaining discussions on this Bill.

I support this amendment. I understand the reservations expressed by the Minister of State on the second part of the amendment and the annual review. On the first part of the amendment I see no reason why this plan cannot come before us. However, we are looking at this Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which directly arises from the Flood tribunal, which was established in 1997, and then into the Mahon tribunal and two other judges being appointed. We know from the Committee of Public Accounts that the Morris tribunal alone cost €68 million. It will cost over €70 million in the end. I do not have the costs of the Mahon and Flood tribunals before me. We get into a situation where people ask what it was all about but had we learned from the Morris tribunal in Donegal, we would not have had the problems we had over Sergeant McCabe. We would have learned that corruption and wrongdoing is not confined to a geographical area. It has taken €70 million and many more tribunals and the one that has led to this particular legislation made a damning finding by stating that corruption was endemic and systemic and affected every level of Government.

We are here drawing a false distinction between cities and towns and I come back to that as someone who was elected in 1999 and who represents an area from Inishbofin and the Aran Islands up to Kilmaine, Shrule and Ballinrobe. I am fully aware of the challenges of rural areas but there is a false debate taking place in this Chamber since the day I arrived in February and there is no need for it.

That is what has led to this legislation. Unfortunately other things are coming into it as well to which I will object to later and will support the relevant amendments. On this particular topic, I fully understood that the national planning framework was coming before us for debate. Instead, it was given over to a spin unit who took it around on a circus route. I was disappointed with the third level institutions that played a part in that. I would have been delighted if they had played the part of discussing it and asking seriously critical questions about it, for example, on the balance of development between cities and the country and rural areas. Instead of that it went around the country as a circus, on taxpayers' money, run by a spin unit that we are now in the process of dismantling. It should have come before the House and I believe it would have passed. We want to do the best in this Dáil; that is the reason we were elected. We certainly would have made changes to it and highlighted the imbalance between what is proposed for the cities, my own city of Galway included which was one of five cities picked out for serious development, and the rural areas. It is full of good language. I have read it from cover to cover, such as "sustainable development but it is very short on specifics for the rural areas.

I know the challenges. I do not represent the area of Ballinasloe but I worked there for many years. I am now in Galway West and I support the rural Deputies in their concerns about what is happening in the rural areas. I might not agree with the way they are putting that across but there are serious concerns. If I look at the heart of the Gaeltacht or even just outside at Maam and if I go east to Kilmaine, Shrule and Ballinrobe, they are in dire need of investment. One could go on listing towns which I do not want to do.

The perfect opportunity was and still is to discuss the national planning framework within this Chamber. I ask Fianna Fáil to review its decision and it is certainly not too late to discuss that plan in this Chamber. Why would it be too late? Fianna Fáil is giving a message to the Government that it can get away with this and Fianna Fáil will make some rhetorical noises but let the matter go ahead. It is not the way to proceed. I am fully supporting the amendment and I see no difficulty at all with it.

I was elected in 1999, and from then until 2016 I never saw a serial objector. The courts have indicated that the ordinary person on the street is a very important part of the trinity in planning and he or she has a vital and positive role to play. In many cases before the High Court, judges have repeatedly commented on and complimented those who were courageous enough to make not objections but submissions. On many occasions in Galway we were utterly reliant on committed citizens to make submissions. Successive Governments went with a mantra while demonising An Taisce and those people. I will have no part in that. I saw people make major efforts to make planning more efficient, better and more responsive. We know this did not happen throughout the country and I have read out the comments from the Flood and Mahon tribunals about corruption being endemic and systemic. People have learned what we have learned and we have learned that much. We have learned it is time to give a more active role to ordinary people. We are the representatives of the people and this is the place to discuss the national planning framework and raise concerns about many issues, particularly those affecting rural areas.

I can go back to finish on Galway. There is a great commitment in the national planning framework to growing Galway as one of the five cities, with over 50% of the development being on the existing footprint. That is to be welcomed. On the other hand there is an absolute commitment to an unsustainable solution to our traffic problems. It is a further road at a cost of more than €30 million per kilometre. It must be the most expensive proposed road in the world at more than €30 million per kilometre for 16.5 km. We have been down the road - excuse the bad pun - with an outer bypass. During that period we, as elected representatives, begged for sustainable solutions to the traffic in Galway. For example, we put in a provision for park-and-ride facilities in 2005. It is now 2018 but it was never implemented. When we put it in, we were told it was not necessary and it was premature. I have indicated many times in the Dáil that the sustainable solution is a public transport corridor, with my preference being light rail. It was not mentioned at all in the national planning framework. I would have liked the opportunity to discuss that because we have 23,000 signatures and rising from the streets of Galway begging for a solution. That is the solution.

How will the voices of those people be heard if there is to be no debate in the Dáil? This is the place to have such a debate, not in a circus going around the country into the universities with yes men nodding their heads and implying this is the way forward. It is what we have, by and large. There are yes men in third level institutions who are not questioning matters. We have had them before the Committee of Public Accounts. I am not into personalising this but these people happen to be toeing the line rather than asking for the creative and sustainable solutions to problems. The national planning framework was the place to consider this in detail in this Chamber. I fully support the amendment.

I will try to cover most of the issues. Again we are having conversations we have had repeatedly. I know I cannot convince Deputies we are right or wrong and I will not try to do that but I will try to answer some questions.

I am surprised at Deputy Connolly as it is wrong and unfair of her to put such a label on our consultations with people around the country on the strategy. We did that with the national planning framework, which is not the focus of this Bill, and the marine strategy. It is the right approach to take as well as debating them in the House. I agree that they should be debated in here, in committees and throughout the country. It is an insult to say it is a circus to consult students because it is about their future.

It was not a consultation.

Please do not call it a circus because we launched a document in Maynooth University. It is a planning college and has geography students. We asked them to think of their future and get engagement from people who will live here in future. I hope we will be there as well. We went to Dundalk and other places as well, and it was not a circus. The Deputy referred to a spin unit but the discussion about the communications unit was a year afterwards.

The debate around this strategy started well before the discussion on the strategic communications unit. I am surprised at the Deputy because I hold her in high regard. Please do not insult students or their involvement and that of the university sector in this.

This Bill is about future national development plans and processes. It very much recognises the role of this House, including Members in the Seanad and Dáil, as well as committees. The legislation states there will not be a final deciding vote on this. I disagree with Deputies and this is not letting the cat out of the bag. I have said repeatedly at debates here and in the Seanad that if we try to bring a document of this nature for a final vote in here, it will never be completed. Ultimately, this House can add or change items but somebody must make a decision, and that is what Governments are for. Somebody must make a final decision.

It is a minority Government.

Regardless of who makes up the Government, somebody must end the debate. I gave an example here and in the Seanad of the Action Plan for Jobs. Many people here did not like it, were opposed to it and were not happy with the results because they were good. The Action Plan for Jobs was put in place by the previous Government of the Labour Party and Fine Gael. It was discussed and put through the Department headed by Deputy Bruton. Every Department was brought to the table and there were many actions every year. The aim was to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. If we brought it to this House, debated it at length before adding bits here and there for every town and village around the country, we would never have got it through and we would probably still be at 15% unemployment. Ultimately, the Government had to make a decision on the plan and it had to implement it and drive on. It worked with jobs.

I have always been very honest and I have never hidden this view. If we tried to bring it through the Houses now, it would be here for years. A national planning framework arising from legislation here would be in the Oireachtas for years as well. It is fine to have a discussion and consultation in and around here as well as universities around the country. We will do it with the marine strategy as well. It is essential. At some stage, however, it must come to an end so we can get on with the plan. Otherwise, what is the point of discussing it forever? I am just not convinced that if we sought approval in this Chamber on a final document we would ever get it. That is not a reason not to discuss it here. I went through the legal reasons and I explained the complications that would be brought on us if the Oireachtas became an authority and took control of this final draft. It is not something Members would want to do. I will not go through it again because I have been through it many times. Deputies will press the amendments and although we will disagree, life goes on. There is a genuine effort in national planning frameworks to copper-fasten a system of consultation.

We can argue about a final vote but this is a guaranteed system where this House would be consulted. That did not always happen in the past with national planning frameworks. It is what the Mahon report recommended and the agenda is for open and transparent planning, in both the short and long term. It is correct and we are trying to facilitate it. Our discussion is about that. We will have that in future. We did our best with the plan just gone to through it in the same spirit as legislation, with consultation all around the country and in the Houses. I sat through many debates in here, the Seanad and at committees, and I am happy to do that again. It is very important and I very much value planning and consultation.

I am happy to come here to discuss regional plans as they are rolled out. They are not finished yet. Deputy Penrose has concerns about figures and facts. His figures are wrong but I will not go through them now. This decision is not the plan. I would be happy at any stage to go before a committee or come here to discuss the matters. I told Deputy Casey that the Minister and I are happy to come here at an appropriate time to debate the rolling out of the plan, the figures and the strategy. They have an effect on everybody's life. I am happy to do that because we are very confident about what we are trying to do here.

We know it is right. We would be very happy to do so at different stages because those regional plans will take approximately a year to finish off. It is not that someone is saying that they have to be shoved through before the local elections; we would like to get on with it. We have a target of trying to get the regional plans completed in 2018 or into 2019 if we can. If we cannot, we cannot, but it would be good planning to get on with it. Again, people say that the timelines around the recent national planning framework were rushed. To be honest, they were months behind what we had hoped for. We would have liked to have had it finished last summer. It was only launched in February or March. It was not rushed because it was launched months later than we would have liked. It took time because a lot of submissions came in and we went through them all. I said it in the Seanad and I will say it again here. I watched changes happening because of those consultations and because of the Deputies' views. Deputies, councillors and Senators made recommendations and submissions and the plan evolved and changed as we went through the process, which is right because it was a process of consultation.

The accusation was made in the Seanad that political changes were made by Ministers. I can guarantee that they were not because I watched the changes come in. A lot of wording, certainly around rural Ireland, actually came from the Joint Committee on Rural and Community Development and the Deputy's own committee, the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government. That is where the changes came from. I am confident in saying that the process worked and I am confident in recommending this legislation to copper-fasten that process for the future. No matter who is in government consultation with everybody in this House, and everybody outside the House as well, will be necessary and rightly so. I will not labour the point. I will park it at that.

On the issue of rural Ireland, we had the same discussion last night as we had today. It is unfair to give that impression or to cause fear. There is absolutely no cap on one-off houses in this document. There is no suggestion of that. We are not saying that at all. We are not trying to limit the number of one-off houses at all. I want to be clear about that. That is not anywhere in the document or in people's minds. There are thousands of one-off houses built in this country every year. In some cases they are needed and essential but in some cases one might question whether they are excessive. I mentioned Galway to Deputy Connolly last night. Last year or the year before more than 77% of the houses in Galway were one-off houses. That is not sustainable development. We cannot continue with that. That is why we need to get that balance right when we talk about villages, urban centres and types of investment. We are not trying to prevent somebody who has the entitlement and right to live in a rural area with his or her family from doing so, but we are trying to say that there needs to be a balance. The balance needs to be right.

The reason there is often discussion around the urban centres, the five cities, the growth centres and the growth towns is that it is well recognised that in order to target investment and win jobs there have to be urban centres. They have to be nice places to live that are well developed and well planned. They cannot just be developer-driven, as they have been in the past, but properly planned out. This is happening in Limerick. It is working very well and there is great success there. It is winning jobs, investment and education facilities because it was thought out and well planned and is being managed well. That is what needs to happen in other places. Deputy Connolly mentioned Galway. She is right; it can be a nightmare to drive through it. We have to plan our way out of that in order to make it a nice place in which to live and in order to win more investment and jobs. If those urban centres are planned right, the jobs that support rural living will be won.

There were Deputies here last night who claimed that they want their areas to survive and that they want to have more rural planning but who do not necessarily believe that there should be rural jobs, rural investment or small companies growing in theses areas. There cannot be one without the other. People will not want to live in rural Ireland if there are no jobs or roles to play in the area for them. There has to be a function in the area. We plan to win investment and to spread it around the country, which will allow people the choice to live in rural Ireland. That will allow there to be post offices, because they will be used. People do not have that choice currently because they do not have a functional tie to the area in which they want to live because there are no jobs because the area did not get the investment as a result of a lack of planning.

If there are proper planning frameworks it will be possible to move the investment and the jobs around the country. It does not mean that there will be a factory in every town or village, but they will be close to towns and villages in which people might want to live. People will have a choice to live in rural Ireland in a small village or town because there will have been proper planning and there will be investment in the area. We are trying to achieve a rebalancing. I have people telling me that their towns are closing down because there are no plans or functions for them. We are trying to achieve that here.

It is not happening just from the top down. This is a national planning framework. There will be regional plans with all those numbers, data and so on at regional and county level. Decisions will be made at those levels, not by us. We will not be lecturing to people. We have taken the ESRI's prediction that approximately 1 million extra people will be living in this country in 20 years. We are trying to manage that. If we plan that well and if those people are accommodated in towns and villages in rural areas in a positive way, of course there will be more people and we will allow for that. We know there will be approximately 1 million, however, and we have to plan for that. We are not capping it or saying that Limerick cannot grow. If it is done in a proper positive way, if everyone enjoys the experience, if it develops well and if it needs to grow more, that is what will happen. It will be led by the plan and happen in a planned way, as it will in other areas. That is what we are trying to do. We are trying to get that balance right.

The regional strategies are an essential part of this. We have not given out figures for any county at all. We are saying that the regions will need to grow by a certain approximate figure if we are going to accommodate 1 million people. They cannot all be on the east coast. How can that be rebalanced? That is what we are trying to achieve here. There is ample time to tease that through and to debate it. This legislation is not actually about that, but that is all the discussion we have had here today. I ask the Deputies please to stop telling us that rural Ireland is being closed down and that we are going to block it. I have said it before, and I am confident in doing so: the planning framework will actually save rural Ireland if we stick to the plan and invest in it properly. It will give rural Ireland the proper role, function and ambition that have not been there in the past.

I have looked at these towns and villages that have been declining for 30 or 40 years - not six or seven years, but 30 or 40 years - because no one was thinking about them, planning for them, allowing for them or asking how rural living can be sustained. That is what we really need to do. That has not happened in the past but I believe it is happening now. This plan is part of that. I am very confident of that. Deputy Penrose fights well for the cause. He is right. We have to do all of that. That is what we are trying to accommodate in these plans.

Perhaps the Deputy might point out that he is not the only Deputy from his village. That village supports two Deputies, which shows that it is not all about living in town centres and so on, but about having the right access to people and environments. I am sorry to hear that Deputy Penrose is retiring but, if one is a good representative and does one's job right, one will be elected no matter where one is from. I compliment the Deputy because he has been a good champion for small towns and villages, rural enterprise and the small shops. I genuinely believe - I am confident in saying this because I have listened to the Deputy in committees for years - that this plan does reflect and can achieve what he and I want to achieve. I say that to him in a confident way because I know what the thinking is behind this plan. I am not saying the Deputy has to trust me in everything I say, but I know what he is thinking about and this plan facilitates and allows for it.

Deputy Catherine Murphy raised some issues in respect of the review. The national reviews would cascade to the other reviews. The regional and county plans will follow the national plans. The review would be every six years, which will fall in line with the regional plans and the county development plans. They will all be in line. That is what we are trying to achieve here. Some of the amendments we have discussed are also intended to bring them back into a line and to establish some kind of system. There is no point in having national plans if we do not actually implement them in some form.

The point I was making was that the county plans are every five years and the reviews are every six years. They do not appear to align.

They will be aligned. That is what we are trying to do through the process and through the amendments. The reason the six years was picked was because the census is every five years, which allows a bit of time. Again, we will be constantly reviewing it and debating it in here. This just relates to the formal review process. The regional plans and county plans will also follow in line with that. I hope I have addressed most of the questions. We have gone over a lot of the debate we have had before. What we are trying to achieve is to allow this House to be involved in the consultation. The House will not have the final vote. I cannot recommend that. I know some people want it. We are not going to agree on that. We will probably have a vote on it. I am glad of the support of people who recognise the importance of the other amendment, which is about not having a review every year. It would just not be conducive to good business or good planning. I accept the support for that. I am sorry we cannot convince each other of the merits of the first amendment.

Could the Minister of State enlighten us on what I have called the 15 km buffer zone and on what I said about Glenamaddy? A guideline, which is not law, is being sent around and it is causing havoc.

I do not have the notes to discuss that issue with the Deputy because it is not part of this amendment, but I am happy to go through it with him. It involves two different Ministers. I will go through it with the Deputy if that is okay.

The problem is that the Government's position in respect of the substance of this amendment has now changed on a number of occasions. The original legislation said very clearly that this would be subject to the approval of the Houses of the Oireachtas. The only way to get the approval of the Houses of the Oireachtas is a vote. Whether it was to be a vote on the first planning framework, on a review of it or on a new planning framework, a vote of the Houses of the Oireachtas was always included. I am pretty clear on this but the Minister of State may have a different view. Deputy Casey is absolutely right. That was also the response of the Taoiseach and the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. It is on the record, which I can quote if people want me to, that they came to the Dáil and said very clearly at that stage that the approval of the Houses of the Oireachtas had been secured. They said that a motion that had been tabled in October or November of the previous year constituted approval. Of course when we pointed out that the motion did nothing more than ask the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government to look at the draft and give our opinions, they very quickly changed their minds and said that was not approval but that no approval was needed. The legislation initially required approval. The Taoiseach and Minister said at one point that approval had been provided, then they said it had not. The Minister of State is now saying that it was never envisaged.

Even if this amendment falls, which it is likely to do given Fianna Fáil's change of heart on the substance of it, the legislation will still say that there will have to a vote on any future revised or new plan. I do not like criticising Deputy Casey because we get on very well in committee and we fought the battle on this together.

I suspect that if it was left to Deputy Casey he would probably vote with us when the vote is called, but that is a separate story. Let me be very clear - the horse has not bolted. If this amendment was included, the Government would be forced to bring the national planning framework back and it would only get through this House with amendments. There is still significant dissatisfaction and many legitimate points were outlined by Members. By withdrawing support from this vote, Fianna Fáil is essentially consenting to the plan as it is. I believe this is regrettable. We will push this to a vote and then we can move on to the other amendments.

I will first address the amendment we are supposed to be debating. I would have loved a provision for a vote on the final national planning framework. Clearly, from the legislation, as originally drafted, and in this amendment, there is no facility for Members to vote on the final document. Amendments Nos. 41 and 42 provide a facility that we should have had if the Government was honouring its commitment, which is a vote on the draft plan. We did not have that vote. That is a fact despite what the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste have said.

Regardless of whether or not we adopt amendment No. 41, it still refers to the "draft of the revised or new National Planning Framework." The draft was the only document that Members had to vote on. The national planning framework was only launched in February. While I would love to agree with Deputy Ó Broin, I have not had a change of heart. It was clearly outlined to us during the legislative process on Committee Stage of the Bill that we did not have a vote on the final document - we only had a vote on the draft plan. In any event, this Bill has not yet passed.

Regardless of what happens, the national planning framework the Government has decided to run with was launched in February, while this legislation has still not gone through this House. It still does not make any difference. The national planning framework has been published. It is not our plan; it is the Government's plan. That is the way it is.

Many other issues have been brought up and discussed in the context of this amendment. I have some serious concerns around the forthcoming regional plans. Deputy Penrose is correct that the core of all this is the distribution of the population.

That is exactly it.

Hand on heart, if a person lives outside Dublin then he or she is getting screwed by this national planning framework from a population growth perspective. Department officials will disagree with me but when it is worked down, areas such as Kildare, Meath and Wicklow will be crucified. Their county development plans will have reduced population projections compared to current projections. This will have an indirect knock-on effect on one-off rural housing because one-off rural housing will form a percentage of the overall population growth. Deputy Penrose is right in this regard.

Councillors from all counties are getting on to Members every day of the week to ask what is happening in regard to the regional plans. Will the Minister of State, Deputy English, give a commitment that the regional planning process will involve the Houses of the Oireachtas, and that at some stage Members will get an opportunity to debate each and every regional plan so it can be put to rest and put to bed?

The national planning framework has set out the population growth but if one works those figures down there are many counties, including in my own area, that will be screwed with regard to population growth. This has hugely significant knock-on effects for economic viability and sustainable living.

I will take up on the point that the core of the problem is the population distribution. I ask the Minister of State, Deputy English, to consider the basis on which all this discussion has come from around how the population is distributed. At the beginning of the plan, it estimates that the growth up to 2040 will be just less than 1 million. Since then there have been larger population growth estimates. If I live until 2040, I suspect that Ireland will actually have a population growth much larger than this estimate. I believe the root of the problem is that the estimate illustrated in the introduction to the plan, which becomes the basis for all of these subsidiary plans, is actually an underestimation of likely population growth. In fairness to the Minister of State, in his response he said there is no cap because the population may grow more and if it does then other places may be allowed to grow bigger. This estimate, however, is the basis for all the other figures put out there for local and regional plans and so on and decisions will be made that, for example, Castlepollard or Newcastle West cannot be grown any bigger.

Regarding Limerick, the Minister of State and his staff will be aware that a joint submission from the region projected a much bigger growth than 50% for Limerick. While it is one of the five cities selected for regional growth there is a genuine belief in the region that Limerick can grow bigger than the 50%.

Some of my colleagues from north Dublin also did the figures around the genuine need for population in places such as Skerries. Deputy Penrose has outlined his position and Deputy Alan Kelly also has views on Tipperary in this regard. All of the plan, however, is based on a population growth prediction that I do not believe people will stand over at this point in time. Will the Minister of State at least consider putting into the whole equation the current projections rather than projections created when the draft plan was compiled? Will he please use current estimates of what the population growth is likely to be by 2040?

Ireland has very high employment now, which is great. The Minister of State referred to the action plan for jobs. We are all proud of what has been done around jobs, but this will need people to be working in those jobs. The basis of a lot of our issues is the population growth prediction that is now almost written in stone. The Minister of State has said that it is not, but it will be interpreted as such. People will say that a town or village can only grow by a certain amount and, therefore, proposals will not be allowed to be carried out and so on.

I believe in proper planning, sustainable development and urban conurbations. All of those elements are absolutely right, as are the reasons for one-off housing in certain places. It is, however, based on a false premise that the population is only going to grow by fewer than 1 million people. This is part of the root of the problem.

I and many Members have spoken on issues away from the amendment under consideration, so I will return to it now. I stress what I said earlier; the problem with being afraid of a democratic vote in the House on the final national development plan because it might not be passed-----

That is an observation, it is not the reason. I gave all the legal reasons.

Can we please allow the Deputy to conclude her contribution?

It does question the validity of the plan. Deputy Penrose has said that we are the messengers of the people. If there is a fear that we will not pass something then it questions the whole thing. I understand why certain elements are in the plan, and I support a lot of it, but the core of our problem is around the projected population growth, which then sets rural areas against villages and towns and parts of the country against each other. I am strongly of the view that we need to curtail the growth of Dublin and that we need to get balanced regional development. The problem is that Dublin will continue to grow anyway. It will probably grow beyond the growth as projected in the plan, and the rest of us will be curtailed. There is a real problem at the basis of this. I reiterate that the Labour Party will support amendment No. 41 and, unfortunately, from the Minister of State's perspective, we will not support him. He has Fianna Fáil on his side, however, so he will probably win the vote.

This is a minority Government supported by a confidence and supply arrangement. It is perfectly possible for Fianna Fáil to achieve its stated aim, which is a vote in this House on the plan.

It is a question of numbers. To be frank, no one else can make up the numbers. That is what the citizens decided. They have a right to have that message sent and the only ones besides the rest of us who can do that are Fianna Fáil Members. I am not having a go at them, but they cannot argue against or complain about this if they do not demand something different. They have the numbers to do it. Others would agree with them.

In terms of strategic planning, cities are economic drivers, but there is an imbalance in the country. We need balanced regional development. To achieve it, we need to build centres of population outside the Dublin region to create a counterbalance. It makes sense to build on what is already there. What militates against some of that happening is the dispersed pattern of development. Years ago I remember being at a meeting when the Galway county manager held up a map of the county. I apologise to Deputy Catherine Connolly for using this example. The manager put a little hole everywhere planning permission had been granted for a one-off house. It was as if he had used a scattergun to shoot the map. That could be replicated in other parts of the country. I have no problem with rural people living in rural areas and getting planning permission for their houses because it is actually urban generated one-off housing that is at the heart of the problem.

People might say there is no cost to this, that they are not placing demands on anything and that they are not getting the services everyone else is getting, but it actually militates against villages and towns receiving services, since there will not be a conurbation large enough to deliver in an economically sustainable way the facilities and services needed if we are to have a counterbalance.

Whenever we discuss this matter, the claim is almost made that everyone is beating up rural Ireland because people are not being given planning permission. There are mountains of planning permissions as planning permission is constantly being granted. When people approach me about planning applications, I tend to be realistic and tell them that, unless they have a good argument, they are unlikely to be granted planning permission if they do not live in the area or have a need to live there. In the worst of all worlds, we will end up with population growth without the accompanying facilities and services, of which we have already had too much. I have seen it happen repeatedly in the past 20 or 30 years in areas on the periphery of Dublin, for example, where population growth is not even counted in terms of how local government is funded, an argument several of us have made.

I agree with Deputy Jan O'Sullivan on the potential understatement of how much the population will grow. We need it to grow if we are to balance the population in age terms. Understating growth levels is as bad as overstating them, given that people's needs will not be provided for. However, that matter can be considered if the review of the national planning framework post-dates and factors in the census of population in order that adjustments can be made.

Next are Deputies Willie Penrose, Catherine Connolly and Alan Kelly.

I accept the bona fides of the Minister of State, but I have read page 35 of the document and I am not making anything up any more than he is. The figures are set out. The Minister of State might refer to regional assemblies, but this is the national planning framework which divvies things up between the various regional assemblies. Ours is the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly. Dublin takes up half the number, with the other half divvied up between an area from Wicklow and Kildare which includes the Ceann Comhairle's constituency - I was there last night and it stretches as far as the midlands - all the way to Longford. We have to go by the average. What the eight counties are given is what they are given. That is the implied ceiling. It should not work out like this, but some counties will only get between 600 and 800. Wicklow might get 2,000, while Kildare and Westmeath might only get 1,500 each. On average, though, I have worked out that there will be an additional 1,420 people per year per county, excluding Dublin. That will give a figure of 31,000 for Westmeath by 2040. What will happen if the number exceeds that level? That is the critical issue. The average household has three people. Perhaps I am wrong, but page 35 refers to employment in the region's nine counties, specifically 330,000 additional jobs. That amounts to 15,000 per year, 7,500 of which will be in Dublin, meaning 900 for each of the other eight counties per year. If we are lucky, it means a further 20,000 jobs for Westmeath. I will be long gone, but the Minister of State need not worry - there will be several successors.

I spent a long time on a council. The late Gerry L'Estrange - the Lord be good to him - was a great Fine Gael Deputy. One day he asked me whether I would like to stay there for a while. When I told him that I would, he told me to look up at the three men above us. If they said "Yes." I was to be ready to say "No" because they would have the bureaucratic view circumscribed in a little locked box. I did not always do that, but I learned quickly. The people at the top of the corporate structure will take the diktat from the national to the regional to the county. When it gets to county level, the larger towns are favoured. That is only right and natural if major infrastructural projects are to take place. As for Deputy Catherine Murphy's points, of course, we know that Leixlip will have more infrastructure than somewhere like Moone, for example. That is self-evident. We are not clowns who want the Luas to be extended there, to Ballynacargy, Walshestown or Delvin. We just want people in these areas to keep living there.

I believe it was Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice who gave the example of an opportunity in a town in County Galway. I forget its name, although it may have been Kilcolgan. It will be like the situation in County Westmeath, where the first thing the planner will say is that something or other is not suitable for Ballynacargy, for example, and should instead go to Mullingar. How will we get anything in Ballynacargy if the planner's first word is that it should go straight to Mullingar? That is what I am trying to say. Please give people an opportunity.

The process will be put in a straitjacket. The Minister of State said this matter would come back to the House and that people after me would debate it. I will watch that with interest. The Government will win the vote. I am surprised by Fianna Fáil, though. It must be down to the confidence and supply arrangement. Fianna Fáil Senators were exercised about this issue, rightly so. Fianna Fáil generally has its finger on the pulse and can smell the coffee. It knows what is happening down the country.

I hope I am wrong and I am always open to being convinced. For example, the Minister of State has convinced me in some respects. I accept his bona fides unreservedly. For the life of me, though, I cannot figure out how my reading of the figures on page 35 is wrong.

I cannot understand how I could be wrong. If 50% of everything is given to Dublin and 50% is divvied out to the eight remaining counties, while the average will be right, a number of counties will get less than Kildare and Wicklow. I accept that. That is common sense. Longford will get less again. I am arguing for Longford and Westmeath. Peculiarly, I am not arguing for a purely personal reason but because I was imbued and brought up with that. I intend to die in the rural area that I was born in, played for and everything else. I would never leave it because there is something lovely about it. We are simple people who enjoy the fruits of it. We pay for everything. Very few of us protested about water charges-----

-----because we paid for them. We are glad to have a water supply. We dug it down by hand ourselves and we handed it over to the local authority to charge us after we did the work. That is what it meant to be an ordinary person coming out of a labouring house. We knew the value of things and were ready to pay for them. I know that the Minister of State, Deputy English, was not treated with respect. He says I am wrong on the figures and I note he is taking advice from a person to his right there. I would like to see how I am wrong with those figures. The Minister of State will have to pull out the sums. I will be back some day. I think this Government will get a longer spin on the retirement trail and so be it, but I will be back in and will look at those figures inside out. If I am wrong, I will accept it and will apologise to the Minister of State for having said such a thing. There is no reason I would not do that.

The former Minister, Deputy Kelly, is going to speak. There was no ambiguity at all in his Bill in 2016. "Shall" means no choice and back in. There are no "mays" or discretionary aspects to this. It is back in. Let the people's representatives have an input, as Deputy Connolly said far more eloquently than I would. I accept what she said about why this Bill is here. I accept the outcomes of the various tribunals. As somebody who had never railed against that, the rest of the Bill has to deal with all of those issues. I am not even as exercised about the regulator as are some of my colleagues. I note that is part of the recommendations. I want us to make sure that local authority members are not just fodder, people without portfolios or any input. They might as well be sitting outside in the ditch. I remember fighting a county development plan. It went on for six months over three words. I was a young, hungry councillor at the time and probably would not do it now. The late George Allen was a great Fine Gael councillor. He and I held the whole thing up for six months over three or four words. We got them right. They referred to the way that rural planning and applicants had to be considered. That is it. We set a benchmark. Peculiarly, the Department with responsibility for the environment adopted the same framework years later. I always saluted the late George Allen, a great councillor who did great work for his county. We were down to words. That is why I am exercised about it. One would not normally see me on a Friday, since I would be doing clinics, but I have come here today specifically to try to make sure the people of the rural areas I represent are not lost in this discussion.

With regard to the comments on water charges, I come from a similar background to Deputy Penrose. I proudly pay my taxes to provide services and that is what we asked for. I proudly protested and will do so again if necessary. It should be part of our Constitution as a basic human right.

I will be brief with regard to this amendment. We should pass the amendment. I ask Members in Fianna Fáil to reflect and change their mind about it. I want to correct something. I did not run down the consultation process.

Let me tell the Minister of State what I did. I said when he went around with the product that was not discussed in the Dáil.

That is not what the Deputy said.

Absolutely. The Minister of State went round with the national planning framework to universities and other institutions and it had not been discussed in the Dáil. He went around with a view to rubber-stamping it and having the universities rubber-stamp it. That is where I felt and still feel serious anger. Had the Minister of State gone around for a discussion-----

Not the consultation process.

After the Minister of State took it from the Dáil-----

-----and promised us that he would come back for a vote, he then published the finished product and that is what went around the country with the spin unit. That is what went around the country and that is the part-----

That is not correct. I have to correct the Deputy.

The Minister of State disagrees with the Deputy.

The Minister of State is entirely entitled to disagree with me but I am also entitled to make my points.

The Deputy is.

I am making them briefly. That is what I saw going around the country. I got an invitation to attend the university in Galway. It was not for a debate. It was for an information session on the national planning framework as the Government took it. As Deputy Casey said, it was the Government's document, not our document. It did not belong to the Dáil. That is what I was invited to. I was not invited to a debate. The debate should have taken place in the Dáil on the first occasion. I mentioned Galway but did not complete why I mentioned it. There are very good things in the plan for Galway city. I take every opportunity to state publicly that Galway is currently developing once again in a developer-led, piecemeal way. By the time that the national planning framework, with its good ideas for Galway, comes into effect, the damage will have been done in Galway. The Minister of State's colleague, Deputy Coveney, agreed with me and it is on the record. I will wait until the Minister of State is finished because I would like him to hear this point.

Minister of State-----

The Minister of State's colleague, Deputy Coveney, agreed when I made the point that Galway is developer-led. It is on the record. It is developer-led with piecemeal development. By the time this national planning framework is implemented, the damage will have been done all over again. There is no need for a housing or traffic crisis in Galway. We have the land and we have solutions but there is no overall plan for Galway city. That is a fact. Céannt Station, with land in the middle of the city, is doing its own thing. The dockland is doing its own thing. We have lots of other land which is all doing its own thing, with no overall plan. The Minister of State's colleague, the Minister, Deputy Coveney, absolutely agreed with that. My difficulty is it is still happening and nobody is taking a hands-on approach to ask the local authority where the overall plan is.

I have a great amount of time for the Minister of State. He knows that. He is one of the good guys here and I do not believe he believes in this. If he was sitting over there, he would oppose it. My two colleagues and I are three former Ministers with responsibility for planning and this is a disaster. Whoever is in the next Government, whenever it is, should rip this to shreds. If I am part of any other Government in the future, I will rip it to shreds. I guarantee the Minister of State. It will be conditional because this legislation is among the most important put forward in recent years. I will point out something that Deputy Penrose referenced earlier, "The Government shall submit the draft of the revised or new National Planning Framework, together with the Environmental Report and Appropriate Assessment Report to a vote of each House of the Oireachtas", which will not happen if the Minister of State has his way. That is what was intended. I know because I wrote it. Is the Minister of State listening?

I know. The Deputy told me.

Why is it not happening? I compliment Senator Wilson of Fianna Fáil on his amendment. I will say to Deputy Casey that if Fianna Fáil-----

It is Senator Ó Domhnaill's amendment.

Whichever. Both names are on it, to be fair.

If Fianna Fáil supports the Government on this, its Members should be crucified because this would be a complete and utter disaster in rural areas. It is a disgrace.

Colleagues previously spoke about the numbers so I will not take up any more speaking time in discussing them. I know the numbers. The way in which this is gerrymandered, it means that there will be specifications for how many houses will be built in local authority areas. My county council representatives have been in the Department and have been criticised there to their face for bringing this up, which is not right and should not happen in front of other people. There will be specific headroom as regards how many houses will be built in each local authority area. There will be in excess of 300 houses built in Tipperary. I represent the town of Nenagh, which is my closest town. I also represent Thurles, Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir. Those towns will all be competing with one another as regards the volume of houses, including social houses, that can be built.

A company called First Data is coming to Nenagh. It is the largest FinTech company in the world. We have the Silvermines hydroelectric project. Thankfully, we have a new company coming into the site where the pharmaceutical company Procter & Gamble was located. The Arrabawn Co-op is growing. In Nenagh alone we could do with the 340 or so houses yet the town will have to compete with Clonmel, Carrick-on-Suir and other areas. Clonmel also has a huge housing need. That town needs houses as well and it will grow because the pharmaceutical industry in the area is going to grow, yet those two towns are going to have to compete with one another. Hopefully, Tipperary town looks like it will expand and it too will have to compete. Thurles will also have to compete. Then we have the villages and we also have the people who need to live in rural areas.

How can Deputy Casey and all his colleagues come in here and support a situation which is going to lock down how many people live in rural areas that vote for him and others? How can the Minister of State, who comes from a rural area put this forward? How can the Government allow a situation where the Bill is not going to come back before us for a vote, which was the intention? I know, because I wrote the bloody thing.

The other situation that needs to be outlined is that once we leave this House next Friday, if the legislation is passed, the Minister is going to have to set a schedule for a number of things. What is going to happen is that population figures will be set out for all the areas, as Deputy Penrose and others have stated. As a consequence, it will get down to regional authorities, which is not necessarily a bad thing, for them to make decisions. Local authorities will have an input into the process. They will have to specify what areas will get a certain amount of growth and a certain amount of houses. They are going tear one another to shreds. I am telling you now, a Cheann Comhairle, that there is going to be war. The real issue is that local authority members might as well be out sitting on the grass rather than looking at their development plans because they are impotent and utterly irrelevant in that regard. The councillors of Ireland will not be able to have any input once it goes up the line. The situation will arise where, because of some economic development that is good, or some tourism development or whatever else, councillors will go to a county manager and say they think the council should support it. He or she will say that houses will be needed in the area and under current projections, we will get there in about seven years. That is what is going to happen. We will be in a situation whereby specific towns in rural areas will be picked over other towns. Local authority members will be impotent and will have no choice. Fianna Fáil supported this amendment.

When local farmers seek planning permission for a house for themselves, their sons or daughters or when people who live in rural areas and who work in tourism, fisheries or other areas want to build a house, they will have to project a number of years forward if they plan to have a house. Hopefully, they will get in under the threshold within the relevant local authority, which has had to go up to the regional authority to allow them to do so. Fianna Fáil needs to remember this because if its Members support this amendment, they will kill aspects of rural areas. When people go to Fianna Fáil local authority members - there are many fine people, including in my county - and ask them if they can get planning permission to build a house for any of the reasons I just stated, because of the headroom that has been allocated they will have to say no but it may be possible in four years' time. Then those Fianna Fáil members will give out and go mad in the usual way but I will ram this vote down their throats. I will say the reason they cannot get planning permission is because Fianna Fáil supported the Government. I will print off the vote and put it in front of them because that will be the reality.

This is a complete and utter disaster for rural parts of the country. It is also a complete and utter disaster for many urban parts of Ireland. I do not believe that this will ever come into operation because any future Government worth its salt will have to rip it up and redo it all. This is bad legislation. I know because I drafted the original version of it, which is nothing like the way it is now. It is a scandal that the Minister is not brave enough to come before the Houses and put this to a vote. The Minister of State asked how one could bring anything before these Houses, given the situation. That is not acceptable. The fact that we have a Dáil that is a minority Government is not an excuse. It demeans the Minister's office and the Government. This is one of the most important items of legislation I have ever had the chance to debate in my 11 years in politics. It will destroy our country. It is beyond me why this is being ideologically driven by the Department. It is also beyond me why the Minister of State is supporting it. It is not even good for his own county. I urge the Minister of State to reconsider this but I know he will not. I also urge Fianna Fáil to consider its position. Fianna Fáil Members can stick their heads in the sand but what I outlined earlier will happen because my colleagues and I will make sure it happens.

I will try to go back over some of the same stuff again but I cannot repeat everything I said this time, the last time, yesterday, last night and six months or seven months ago because I will not win the argument here. A national planning framework is right for this country.

It is. The Minister of State is right.

Deputy Kelly agrees with the concept of it. It is not about my county or anyone else’s county winning; it is what is right for the country to get regional balance. Anybody would accept that process.

Not every town or village will get everything it wants. That cannot happen because it would not be right for the country. That is the premise underlying the national planning framework. It is right for this country to get a balance, to win investment and to plan for an extra million people. If the population grows more than that, it will be facilitated. That is why reviews are provided for. We commissioned the ESRI and others to do a report, give us the data and the trends and we did a plan on that basis. We will update the figures as we go along, rightly so. There is provision for that. In recent weeks the implementation roadmap was published and that gave the updated national planning framework figures at a regional level and allowed us to work on that basis.

To allay some fears in that regard, there will be no issue if the figures go higher than that. That is why we have reviews on the basis of which the plan can be adjusted. We want to reach those figures in a planned way.

Limerick was mentioned. In the early stages of the preparation of the draft plan, people were concerned that we were limiting Limerick to 50% growth but it has not grown in 20 or 30 years. We are not limiting ambitions. We want to plan to get to those growth figures because we want it to grow by 50% and beyond. However, it has not experienced growth for many years.

The population of Tipperary in 2016 was 71,000 and had been static at that level for seven years, since 2011. The national planning framework provides for population growth there to 79,000 by 2026 and up to 82,000 by 2031. If the population increases beyond that, we will provide for that in a planned way but provision will be first made based on those population figures.

Deputy Penrose may be interested in the figures for Westmeath. Its population in 2016 was 89,000. The NPF allows for its population to grow to 98,500 by 2026. If its population grows beyond that level because of nationwide population growth, that will be provided for in a properly planned manner. The population is projected to grow to 102,000 by 2031. In no way are we limiting the ambition of what can happen in Westmeath. In fact, the national growth average is allowed for and accommodated in every country. Some areas will exceed that growth rate. One cannot say that every town and village will grow by a multiple of the national average. That would not be right.

We are back to where we started. Many parts of my county have been affected by bad planning and population explosions, as have parts of Westmeath, Louth and many other areas around Dublin and other cities which were developed in an unplanned and developer-led manner because we had no national plan to which we adhered. National average growth is allowed for in all areas and we will encourage growth in all areas beyond that level because that would be in the best interests of those areas and the country. That is what a national plan is about.

On the issue of the House having the final vote on such plan, I again point out that this legislation does not regard the national planning framework. As I stated, I am very happy to come to the House to discuss regional plans as they are rolled out and the national plan as it changes because I enjoy discussing such issues. This is the legislative framework to allow for the next plan and what it will contain. We have at all times insisted on proper consultation with all Members of the House in regard to the national plan. For the legal reasons I outlined earlier, the House will not have the final vote and the Government does not recommend that it does. Deputy Connolly said that Galway is suffering because there is no plan. In addition to the legal reasons, I fear that if the final vote were to be in this House, the national plan might never be finished.

It is a disgrace.

I am just saying it may never be finished. That is my opinion.

It is a disgrace.

Deputy Kelly should get over it. I have offered my opinion and he has his own. There are also legal reasons which I will not go back over at length.

The Minister of State does not want a vote. He does not want the people to decide.

In this legislation we are facilitating nationwide public consultation on any future plans while also recognising the importance of the Oireachtas. I take exception to the points made by Deputy Connolly, who has again left the Chamber. At the very early stages of the plan, its draft was discussed in third level institutions in her county of Galway, in Maynooth, Dundalk and in University College Dublin, UCD. I was not at all of the events. The document approved by the Government was launched in Sligo IT but we went to all third level institutions seeking input on the draft version. Maybe Deputy Connolly did not get the email or missed the invitation. I saw many colleagues from all parties at those early discussions on the draft document. I am sorry if she missed out but it is wrong to say we brought a final and complete document around to all of those colleges. We did not do so but, rather, started with discussion of the draft document in those institutions because we recognised the importance of encouraging people to join the debate. We are doing the same with the marine strategy. We want people to get involved in the discussion because the people of Ireland are more important than this House. It is a plan of the people and we want to consult with them on it. This legislation puts in place frameworks to allow for that in the future. Population growth is allowed for throughout the country. The plan caters for inaccurate predictions through the use of reviews.

To put people's minds at rest in regard to one-off houses in rural Ireland, it will not be the case that a person who wishes to build a one-off house and passes all the tests for so doing will not be allowed to build the house because the county has reached a certain population.

That is what he or she will be told.

That is not going to happen.

That is not true.

If such person passes all the tests for a rural house, they will not be told that a country such as Roscommon, for example------

People were told that yesterday.

------has reached its level of houses based on predictions to 2031 and one may not build a one-off house. That will not happen. I can be no clearer on the issue. I hope that puts to bed the-----

------issue regarding one-off rural houses. Deputy Kelly missed the debate last night.

I was not in the House for the debate but I watched the broadcast.

The Minister of State mentioned a figure of 70% one-off housing. However, Galway was going through a recession in the years over which the data for that figure were collected. Applications for planning permission there fell hugely compared to pre-boom time. Galway is the second-biggest county in Ireland. New jobs have been created in the past one, two or three years in Galway city, which is great and to be welcomed but there was a problem when the country was going through hard times and, as the Minister of State will remember, unemployment was at 15% or 16% and, as a consequence, houses were not being built. Some people might not understand that growth restarted in Dublin before it did in many other parts of the country. The age profile of many living in Galway, especially those on farms, indicates that many farms would have changed hands between family members. The statistics in regard to the changeover of farms in Galway would explain why 70% of building was one-off housing. That is where people were building new houses. That must be clarified. Galway city is now experiencing some growth. There are problems, as Deputy Connolly mentioned.

I attended the launch of the national development plan and was very enthusiastic about it. The Tánaiste was involved in the launch. I travelled to seven counties to gauge public opinion on what is needed in a national development plan. I went to Donegal one Sunday morning and went to Sligo, Cavan, Leitrim, Roscommon, Galway and Mayo to meet people and to get their views on what would be good for a region. It was not about looking after my own back yard. I sent in a fairly detailed submission based on that consultation but I would have been better off going to the local pub because none of it was included in the final plan. I listened to the people on the ground.

The plan to 2040 contains no provision for a motorway from Letterkenny down to join that in Galway. In fairness to the Government, it announced the construction of the motorway from Cork to Mallow, which I suggested and which is needed. However, there is no vision in the 2040 plan for some areas which are no longer in receipt of TEN-T funding. I am not criticising the Minister of State but, rather, giving the facts. If we are building houses in Castlebar and Sligo, we must provide proper infrastructure there. I acknowledge that part of the N4 is to be upgraded. However, we are like a frog hopping from place to place: we fix a bit of a road here and miss a bit there. I cannot understand that approach in the context of infrastructural projects such as the great dream of an underground tram to Dublin Airport. The airport could be connected to the city centre for €200 million if a system similar to the DART were used. Half a loaf today is better than no bread. It would be better to put in place such a system rather than dreaming of spending €4 billion in ten or 15 years' time. There is no vision for public transport for Galway city apart from buses. Local rail or tram transport has been considered for Cork city but such projects are pipe dreams. We need to put things in motion to achieve the balanced regional development which the Minister of State is seeking, and about which he is correct, because we cannot keep packing people into Dublin. I understand the Government may encourage a business setting up in Ireland to base itself in Letterkenny, Limerick, Galway or elsewhere but the company has the final say in that regard. While in Letterkenny, I met representatives of a business based in Donegal who fly their CEO in a helicopter from Dublin to Donegal when he visits Ireland because they are afraid to show him the road to Letterkenny in case he considers closing the plant. That is what they must deal with.

We meet representatives of businesses located in the west; Deputies from every divide do that. When we meet representatives of companies like Allergan they tell us that a certain percentage of their goods is damaged when they are being transported to Dublin by road. Those are the areas we must improve.

I refer to people who work in these towns. Sligo announced the creation of 150 jobs in a new business, which was very welcome. That will bring in more people, houses and business and will help build the economy in the region. The more of that we can do, the better. I support that fully but we have to address the infrastructural deficit, and it is not addressed in the Ireland 2040 plan.

I would love to believe what the Minister of State said about one-off housing because there is a genuine fear about that issue across the country. We should nail that on the head in some way. The Minister of State might be here for the next 40 years or only for the next six months or a year. He might be here only until next February. No one knows whether we will be back here after an election but a new Minister might come in who will try to change all of this legislation. Perhaps we should insert a proviso in that regard by way of an Act of the Oireachtas. I am not saying the Minister of State is being untruthful. He might want to do that but unless we have it written down in black and white, a new Minister could come in and change it. That happened in the past. Seven or eight years ago we had a Green Party Minister who did not want us going anywhere in rural parts of the country. He went by the wayside and some common sense came back into the debate again. My fear is that we never know what will happen in an election. Would the Minister of State be prepared to put something into the legislation that would remove that fear? We are not standing up in the House on a Friday evening just for the craic. There is a genuine fear about this measure. As Deputy Kelly pointed out, a councillor will go in say that this should happen because his or her area is not over-populated and that what happened in this House is the cause of what is happening there. We should build the foundation to ensure councillors can do what they always did and take the fear out of it. I ask the Minister of State to do that. He knows how to do it better than me, but I believe it should be done.

Today is 6 July and the draft national planning framework was launched last November. The Government, not the Oireachtas, published the national planning framework document in February. We raised the issue of the adoption of the national planning framework on Committee Stage. Deputy Ó Broin was at the meeting when the legal advice was given and it was clear to us that the legal advice was that the national planning framework document replaced the national spatial strategy for the purpose of section 2 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, and therefore is on a statutory footing. Regardless of what we do in this House, the plan the Government has published is currently on a statutory footing.

We are discussing amendments to a Bill that has not yet gone through this House. Deputy Kelly said he was the author of this section.

To correct the record, I said I initiated it.

He initiated it but nowhere in the original legislation is there anything about the adoption of the final plan. It refers only to the draft plan. I put on record, and Deputy Ó Broin can confirm this as he attended the same committee meeting, that we got legal advice that this plan we are shouting about in the House today is already on a statutory footing, regardless of what we do in here.

Amendment put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 24; Níl, 45; Staon, 0.

  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.

Níl

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Curran, John.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanton, David.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Eoin Ó Broin and Catherine Murphy; Níl, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin.
Amendment declared lost.
Seanad amendment No. 42:
Section 8: In page 46, line 34, to delete “revised.”.” and substitute the following:
“revised.
(10) The Government shall cause a copy of an annual review of the revised or new National Planning Framework to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas for consideration and debate and shall cause a copy to be sent to the relevant Oireachtas Committee.
(11) In this section ‘Appropriate Assessment Report’ includes that the Public Spending Code (2013) appraisal toolkit and value for money criteria be followed and implemented, prior to any announcement, in respect of all relevant public spending decisions under the auspices of the National Planning Framework.
(12) In this section ‘relevant Oireachtas Committee’ means a Committee appointed by either House of the Oireachtas or jointly by both Houses of the Oireachtas to which has been duly assigned the role of examining matters relating to environment and planning (other than the Committee of Public Accounts or the Committee on Members’ Interests of Dáil Éireann or the Committee on Members’ Interests of Seanad Éireann) or a sub-committee of such a relevant Oireachtas Committee.”.”.
Seanad amendment put and declared lost.
Seanad amendment No. 43:
Section 10: In page 47, between lines 3 and 4, to insert the following:
"Amendment of section 28 of Principal Act
20. Section 28 of the Principal Act is amended by—
(a) substituting the following subsection for subsection (1C):
"(1C) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), guidelines under that subsection may contain specific planning policy requirements with which planning authorities, regional assemblies and the Board
shall, in the performance of their functions, comply.”,
and
(b) inserting the following subsection:
"(1D) A strategic environmental assessment or an appropriate assessment shall, as the case may require, be conducted in relation to a draft of guidelines proposed to be issued under subsection (1).".".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 44:
Section 10: In page 47, between lines 3 and 4, to insert the following:
"Amendment of section 31 of Principal Act
21. Section 31 of the Principal Act is amended, in subsection (1), by—
(a) substituting the following paragraph for paragraph (a):
"(a) a planning authority, in making a development plan, a variation of a development plan, a local area plan or an amendment to a local area plan (in this section referred to as a ‘plan’) has failed to—
(i) implement a recommendation made to the planning authority
by—
(I) the Minister under section 12, 13 or 20, or
(II) the Office of the Planning Regulator under section 31AM or 31AO,
or
(ii) take account of any submission or observation made to the planning authority by—
(I) the Minister under section 12, 13 or 20, or
(II) the Office of the Planning Regulator under section 31AM or 31AO,",
(b) inserting the following paragraph:
"(ba) a plan is not consistent with—
(i) the national and regional development objectives set out in the National Planning Framework and the regional spatial and economic strategy, or
(ii) specific planning policy requirements specified in guidelines issued by the Minister under subsection (1) of section 28,",
(c) substituting the following subsection for subsection (3):
"(3) (a) The Minister may, following the making of a recommendation by the Office of the Planning Regulator under subsection (9) of section 31AN or subsection (9) of section 31AP, give a direction under this section to a planning authority in relation to a plan.
(b) The Minister shall, before giving a direction under this section to a planning authority, issue a notice in writing to the planning authority of his or her intention to give such direction and such notice shall not be issued after the expiration of 4 weeks from the making of a plan by the planning authority.".".
Seanad amendment agreed to.

Seanad amendments Nos. 45 and 48 are related and may be discussed together.

Seanad amendment No. 45:
Section 15: In page 50, between lines 29 and 30, to insert the following:
"Revocation or modification of planning permission for certain reasons
27. The Principal Act is amended by inserting the following section:
"44A. (1)The Minister may, upon the request of the Minister for Justice and Equality, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade or the Minister for Defence and with the approval of the Government, make an order revoking or modifying a grant of permission under this Act if he or she is satisfied that—
(a) the carrying out of the development to which the grant of permission relates is likely to be harmful to—
(i) the security or defence of the State, or
(ii) the State’s relations with other states,
and
(b) the revocation or modification concerned is necessary in the public interest.
(2) The Minister may, before making an order under this section, consult with—
(a) the planning authority that granted the permission concerned,
(b) the person to whom the permission was granted, or
(c) any other person who, in the opinion of the Minister, is likely to be materially affected by the making of such order,
but shall not so consult if he or she considers that to do so would be harmful to the security or defence of the State or to the State’s relations with other states.
(3) This section shall apply to permissions whether granted before, on or after the passing of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018.
(4) Where an order is made under this section, the planning authority that granted the permission to which the order relates shall, within such period as may be specified in the order, serve—
(a) a notice in writing on—
(i) the person to whom the permission concerned was granted, and
(ii) any other person specified in the order,
informing him or her of the revocation or modification effected by the order, and
(b) a notice in writing—
(i) in the case of development commenced but not completed, on any person carrying out the development in respect of which the permission was granted, or on whose behalf such development is being carried out, requiring him or her to cease the development and restore the land, on which the development concerned is being carried out, to the condition it was in before the development commenced, or
(ii) in the case of development completed, on any person who carried out the development, or on whose behalf the development was carried out, requiring him or her to restore the land, on which the development concerned was carried out, to the condition it was in before the development was commenced.
(5) A person on whom a notice is served under paragraph (b) of subsection (4) shall comply with the notice.
(6) (a) The Minister shall, as soon as practicable after the making of an order under this section, give a copy of the order to the planning authority that granted the permission to which the order relates.
(b) A planning authority shall, as soon as practicable after the copy of an order has been given to it in accordance with paragraph (a), give a copy of the order to—
(i) the person to whom the permission to which the order applies was granted, and
(ii) any other person the Minister may direct.
(7) A permission to which an order under this section applies shall, upon the making of the order, stand revoked or modified, as may be appropriate, in accordance with the order.
(8) Any development carried out in contravention of an order under this section shall be an unauthorised development.
(9) Where the Minister makes an order revoking an order under this section—
(a) the second-mentioned order shall, for all purposes, be deemed never to have been made, and the register shall be amended accordingly, and
(b) the period between the making of the second-mentioned order and the first-mentioned order shall not be reckonable for the purpose of calculating the period since the granting of the permission.
(10) The Minister shall not, in relation to a permission, make an order under this section if the period since the grant of the permission exceeds 5 years.
(11) The making of an order under this section shall be recorded in the register as soon as may be after it is made.
(12) (a) Any proceedings before a court relating to an order under this section shall be heard in camera.
(b) A court before which proceedings relating to an order under this section are heard shall take all reasonable precautions to prevent the disclosure—
(i) to the public, or
(ii) where the court considers it appropriate, to any party to the proceedings,
of any evidence given or document submitted for the purposes of the proceedings, the disclosure of which, could reasonably be considered to be harmful to the security or defence of the State or to the State’s relations with other states.
(c) Without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (b), precautions referred to in that paragraph may include—
(i) the prohibition of the disclosure of such evidence or documentation as the Court may determine, and
(ii) the hearing, in the absence of any person or persons including any party to the proceedings, of any evidence or the examination of any witness or document that, in the opinion of the Court, could reasonably be considered to be harmful to the security or defence of the State or to the State’s relations with other states.".".

Amendments Nos. 45 and 48 to the principal Act include a new section 44A. They have arisen from recent discussions with the Departments of Justice and Equality, Defence and Foreign Affairs and Trade where it was considered that some provision should be made for the Minister, following the decision by Government, to be able to revoke or modify a granted planning permission where the carrying out of the development of the given permission would likely be harmful to the security or defence of the State or the State's relations with other states and where the revocation or modification concerned would be necessary in the public interest. While it is envisaged that this power would only be invoked in very rare and extreme cases, it is considered that such options should be available to the Government and Minister to take proportionate and justifiable action where the national interests outweigh the personal rights of the individual or entity who has secured permission which is assessed to be a threat or unacceptable to the State.

The proposed section provides a number of safeguards, including consultations where appropriate with those impacted by the revocation order, including the person or entity to whom the permission was granted, the planning authority that granted the permission concerned or any other person who in the opinion of the Minister is likely to be materially affected by the making of any such order; notification to the person or entity concerned of the order to revoke or amend the planning permission, although such orders may not specify the reason for the revocation if detrimental to national security; and limiting such orders to permissions only granted within the five years prior to the order being made.

Any development carried out in contravention of an order under this section shall be an unauthorised development and there is further provision for an order to require any person carrying out development works to cease such works and restore the property to the condition it was in before the development works commenced. There are also avenues for affected parties to appeal such orders through the courts but given the national security nature of the rationale for issuing such an order, the draft provision ensures that all reasonable precautions are taken to prevent the disclosure of information that could harm or undermine the security or defence of the State, including the conducting of hearings in camera.

These draft provisions supplement the existing the provisions in section 44 of the Planning Act empowering planning authorities to revoke or modify planning permissions granted where it is considered expedient and necessary to do so. There is a further consequential amendment to section 195 of the principal Act to include a reference to the new section 44A in this section, which relates to the payment of compensation in the case of a permission being revoked or modified. Under this section, where the person who has an interest in the land on which the permission was granted has incurred expenditure or entered into a contract to incur expenditure in respect of works which are rendered abortive by the revocation or modification, they can seek compensation in respect of reasonable expenditure incurred prior to the order being made.

Overall, these amendments relating to the revocation or modification of planning permissions for stated reasons in the interests of national security or defence or the State's relations with other states are considered to be reasonable and appropriate incorporating necessary checks and balances for any affected parties.

When I made my first comments about this Bill yesterday, I was very critical about the timing of the introduction of these amendments. At that stage, I informed the House that these were not amendments that had been considered by the Dáil at any stage during Second, Committee or Report Stages nor were they introduced in the Seanad during Second or Committee Stages but only on Report Stage. The Minister of State is right that a number of us actually sat through the Seanad debate because we were concerned about these amendments. This is probably the amendment that concerns me most.

It is important to recall the timeline. These amendments were sent to Senators on Friday after 7 p.m. We only got to scrutinise them properly as Members of the Dáil and Seanad on Monday and Tuesday and they were then debated and voted on in the Seanad on Tuesday and Wednesday. If there were just technical amendments - minor clean-ups to the substance of the original Bill we had been debating for two years - it would not be a problem but what is in front of us here today is a profound change to the planning system. It gives the Minister and Cabinet a range of powers, without adequate public scrutiny, that is really problematic.

The Minister of State has just told us that this deals with cases where there is "a threat or ... risk to the State" or cases where it undermines the security of the State but this amendment is far broader than that. I would urge people to read its text of. First, it is not just the Minister for Defence or the Minister for Justice and Equality who can initiate this action. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade can also do so. I am not clear what the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade is doing in a process that allegedly is just about threats or risks to the State or undermining the security of the State. It then goes on to say that with the approval of Cabinet, the Minister can overturn or amend planning permissions where the security or defence of the State or the State's relations with other states are at issue. That is such a broad definition that it could deal with security issues but it could also relate to foreign policy issues, economic issues or other matters. It goes on to refer to where it is necessary in the public interest. Again, this is a broad definition, one that is way broader than the one used by the Minister of State in his remarks, which was a threat or to the security of the State.

The Minister of State then said there were checks and balances in this and spoke about an appeal to the court but what does the proposed section 44A(12)(a) say? If somebody is an affected party, they can refer the matter to the courts but as the case will be held in camera, there will be no public scrutiny. Crucially, documentation relating to the decision of the Minister and Cabinet could be withheld from the parties to that court case. If that was exclusively, solely and only ever permissible in cases where there was a threat or risk to the State, it might be justifiable; and I say "might" carefully. Given the much broader scope of this power that is included in the wording, however, this could be used for all sorts of things. I have raised this with the Minister and officials and have been told this will not happen and that it is not the intention of this amendment. I accept that it is not the intention but that is not good enough. If we are giving not just the current Ministers in Cabinet but future Ministers such a wide-ranging power to intervene in planning decisions, overturn those decisions or amend them to remove conditions that might relate to environmental protection or the interests of citizens or communities, that is a power I can simply cannot accept should be put into such legislation.

I am also very concerned that we are having a debate in a way that has not allowed pre-legislative scrutiny of such a proposal or proper time for the committee to consider it. Just as it was thrown in at the last minute on Report Stage, we are dealing with it as one amendment buried in more than 70 amendments and consequently, I have genuine and grave reservations. Perhaps the Minister of State will say something in response but despite the fact that I have raised this with the Minister and departmental officials, nobody has said anything that has reassured me to any satisfaction that the enormously broad scope of this could not be abused, misused or used for an intent other than what it is proposed for today by a future Minister or Government. I believe that on these grounds, it has no place in our planning system.

If this amendment is passed, the intention will not be included in the text. We will pass what it actually says in black and white. As has been said, the process was highly defective by virtue of it being a very late stage amendment on Report Stage in the Seanad. This is a draconian measure with an inadequate degree of scrutiny.

One must ask what prompted this measure. The only thing I can think of is the planning permission in 2005 relating to the Russian Embassy.

Can the Minister of State confirm that is what prompted this? A lengthy series of stories, authored by John Mooney, has been run in The Sunday Times. What is behind this? The Minister will be able to make an order modifying or revoking a grant of permission. Was there a particular permission that he had in mind? Reference was made to compensation if works have already commenced. What happens if works are completed on an unauthorised development and the Minister wants to revoke permission? Who makes the decision on the State's relations with other states? What other states are we talking about? We seem to be able to turn a blind eye to some aspects of some of the states to which we make trade mission visits; for example, human rights abuses. Here, however, we can pick and choose. What exactly does the Government have in mind? There has to be something that prompted this.

I have serious concerns about this section, which should be removed from the Bill. It is completely out of keeping with the original intention behind the Bill. If any of us had put down an amendment of this nature, we would have been told immediately that it was not in keeping with the parameters of the legislation. Nevertheless, it has been included now in a Bill that is supposed primarily to provide for a regulator. Section 12 provides that any proceedings before a court in relation to an order under this section shall be heard in camera. We will not even know what is going on. If it is held in camera, we will even know a court case is taking place? It is unacceptable and it should be withdrawn. If the Government wants to introduce this provision, it should be done as a separate Bill and given the proper scrutiny in a pre-legislative committee process to allow us properly to examine it. I cannot believe the Government has included this provision in this way. It is very dangerous.

I stepped out of the Dáil earlier but I heard the Minister of State's comments via the monitor and I want to correct something. I say it again; it was post the publication of the final document that I was referring to as a circus. It was not a question of me personally. I am talking about what went on in that it went to the university in Galway simply by way of information, not debate or discussion. That is what I was referring to. It seems minor in respect of the section we are discussing and I do not want to put the two matters together. However, I have to correct the record.

I thank Deputy Ó Broin for highlighting this section which is absolutely frightening. I have speed-read through the amendments and this section is one of the longest, if not the longest, in the proposed legislation. The Minister of State introduced it in three or four minutes. While I welcome short contributions from Ministers in general, this is certainly not a day for a short contribution. I expected a much longer explanation as to the need for the inclusion of such a draconian provision in the legislation. It is not acceptable. I am almost speechless to read that the Government would provide a power whereby the Minister may, upon a request from the Minister for Justice and Equality, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade or the Minister for Defence - and with the approval of the Government - make an order revoking or modifying a grant of permission. The Minister of State tells us that this relates to the security or defence of the State, its relations with other states and so on and that it will only be used in rare or extreme cases.

I have already said this Bill arises on foot of a tribunal and the statements of a number of judges who told us corruption was endemic and systemic at every level of society. That is what we are trying to deal with, yet the Government includes three pages providing draconian powers on the basis of what the Minister decides is a security matter or a question of the State's relations with other states. The Minister of State cannot tell us that this is necessary without explaining why and, in particular, why it is included in a Bill that deals with corruption and the recommendations of the tribunal. As has been pointed out by previous speakers, under the new subsection (12), any court case will be held in camera. I would have thought that if it wanted this type of power, the Government should go before the courts to seek permission and explain in detail why it is necessary. It should not be the responsibility of a person who has legitimately had a grant of planning permission and then had it revoked at the whim of a Minister or Ministers who decide it is in the national interest to do so. There is something seriously amiss here. It should be taken out and, as Deputy Catherine Murphy says, made the subject of a separate Bill with proper debate and explanations.

I did not intend to speak on the Bill. I was hoping to speak at some point about issues which are not, unfortunately, catered for in it. I do not want to invoke the wrath of the Chair by doing that, particularly when I consider who is in the Chair. When looking at this section, however, it strikes me that, as has been said by other Deputies, the Bill is being used as a back door to introduce separate issues. The issue before us in this amendment could and should be dealt with in a separate Bill and, in fact, it deserves wider scrutiny. We cannot really do justice to the issues that are of concern to a number of Deputies in the House if this section is introduced as part of a much more substantial Bill which does not otherwise bear any relationship to it.

One of the issues we need to tease out on this with the Minister of State is the fact that, as Deputy Connolly says, the proposed section gives extraordinary powers to a number of Ministers and to the Government to revoke or modify a planning permission in certain circumstances. There is a suspicion as to whether this is being done for a very specific purpose. When one looks at the reasons it might be done, reference is made to the carrying out of the development to which the grant of permission relates which is likely to be harmful to the security or defence of the State, which is fair enough, and the State's relations with other states, which concerns me. If we go back to more recent times, a Russian diplomat was expelled at the behest of the British Government. Are we now saying a Minister and the Government can modify or revoke planning permissions for embassies simply because a foreign government dictated to the Government that to do so is in its interest rather than in the interests of our State? That is a serious matter and it needs to be teased out.

I appeal to the Minister of State, even at this late hour, to scrap the Bill. It is full of flaws and does not deal at all with the substantial issues arising from the Mahon tribunal. As the previous speaker pointed out, that was the original intention behind the Bill. The Bill establishes a planning regulator but the power, unfortunately, lies with the Minister and not the regulator envisaged. The Mahon tribunal recommended something completely different, namely, a much more robust and independent planning regulator. For some reason, however, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have opted for a much weaker regulator and system of regulation.

Why is that? Why did the Government not implement the recommendations of the Mahon tribunal in full? Why has it gone for a much weaker system of accountability? We heard from a number of Deputies about the levels of corruption endemic in the State dating back to the 1980s and 1990s and even into the 2000s. There were corrupt planning practices, mainly in Dublin but also outside Dublin. It was a mix of planning and political corruption and there were instances of corruption, although small in number, within local authorities involving local authority officials. Such instances were recorded at the Mahon tribunal.

I am concerned that the Government has dumped most of the key recommendations of the Mahon tribunal and that it is not implementing the spirit of what the judges recommended to ensure we will not see such levels of corruption and that we will have the necessary safeguards, oversight and accountability to ensure there will be robust systems to protect the State against corruption. For whatever reason, the Government has not done that, yet it then brings forward a Bill which includes sections such as the one we are debating, which strikes me as bizarre.

I appeal to Fine Gael but especially Fianna Fáil, individual members of which, let us be honest, were at the centre of many of the allegations of corruption made and front and centre when the Mahon tribunal and others were sitting. As we know, many former Fianna Fáil Deputies and councillors were before the Mahon tribunal and it strikes me that Fianna Fáil, of all parties, should have been ensuring the recommendations of the Mahon tribunal would be implemented in full. Its party leader has also been mentioned at the Mahon tribunal for the receipt of payments. Therefore, I do not understand its position. I would have thought that it wanted to see the recommendations implemented in full, but it has decided to support the Government in not implementing them, watering them down and putting in place weak systems. People can make up their own minds as to the logic and intent behind it.

Even at the eleventh hour, it is still not too late for the Government to scrap the Bill. I acknowledge that we are talking about amendments from the Seanad, but this is our last opportunity to appeal to the Minister of State to scrap the Bill, go back to what is stated in the Mahon tribunal report and put in place much more robust systems, rather than coming into the House with weak systems of oversight which will not do what the Department should have done and including sections such as this which are not in keeping with and bear no relation to the substance of the Bill. The Minister of State has not provided any clarification or justification with any substance for why this section has been included in the Bill.

Before I talk about the amendment and the substantive issues raised, I will reply briefly to Deputy David Cullinane. I wish to make one point, that the high moral ground can be a very lonely place. I wonder what might be coming down the track in that regard.

I want to talk about the amendment. I have concerns, as does my party, about its ardour, in terms of the 70 plus amendments from the Seanad, many of which are not concerned with the key primary purpose of the Bill which, obviously, is the setting up of an office of the planning regulator. It appears that many of them are coming at the end of a summer miscellany, which I suggest is not the appropriate way to deal with legislation. It is not the appropriate way to make amendments, which require significant consideration and time to be weighed up and debated, but that has not happened in this instance. Having said that, they are before us and we must deal with them.

I have concerns about the amendment which seems to continue a pattern in the ceding of responsibility and decision-making power from local authorities to the Executive, effectively, the Cabinet or the Minister. It is a pattern we have seen on many other occasions. We have seen local area plans being overruled when local councillors have sought to make decisions at local level which were overruled by ministerial directive. On the one hand, we hear much talk from the Minister of State about strengthening local government and local authorities, ceding power to the citizen and the principle of subsidiarity whereby decisions are made by those closest to them. In many cases, it is mentioned in the programme for Government, but what we see happening in reality is very different and the amendment seems to continue that theme.

It is hard to fathom how a decision can be made where there is no suggestion a decision was not made pursuant to due process or that it is flawed or untoward to overrule it at central government level under the provisions of the amendment. That is hard to understand. One has to consider what appeals process will be in place. For every act of justice, there is always an appeals process. For every charge, there must be an appeals process. For standard planning decisions, An Bord Pleanála can be invoked. It is not clear if the amendment deals with decisions of local authorities and An Bord Pleanála. I presume it does, but perhaps the Minister of State might confirm it. If something is drafted in a hurry, there can be loose ends in practice. If a decision is made by a local authority or the board which is overturned in this way, something to which Deputy Eoin Ó Broin has referred, what appeals process will follow? One imagines it will be a judicial review. The nature of a judicial review is such that a court will decide whether the decision was made correctly. How can a court decide whether a decision was made correctly if it does not how or the basis on which it was arrived at? It defies the very purpose of the judicial review procedure. I do not see how a judicial review could proceed. It appears to be a gap in the legislation.

I am not necessarily opposed to the amendment if its purpose can be argued and outlined. I can, of course, understand there are times when issues of national security and defence must be paramount and given a hearing. It is the nature of such issues that they are sensitive. As such, there are reasonable grounds in that regard. However, there are issues with the wording of the amendment. At the very least, we need clarification on some of the points raised.

Along the same lines, if we look at the new section 44A(1)(a)(ii) and (b), the security and defence of the State are easily understood and justifiable most of the time. Regarding the State's relations with other states, it is worth bearing in mind that a measure the State may take to improve its relationship with one state may have an adverse effect on its relationship with another. I am not sure how we set policy in that regard and it seems to be, or could be, a little contradictory.

Paragraph (b) refers to revocation or modification in the public interest. In essence, it gives carte blanche. The public interest is a nebulous concept. What is it? If legislation provides that there can be revocation in the public interest, it casts the net very wide. It seems to be a very significant power to give to a Government that it may override a decision of a local authority which, to all intents and purposes, has been made correctly using the correct procedures.

Perhaps answers might be outlined and they will be good ones. However, I am worried that the amendments have been tabled at such a late stage in the debate, in particular this one which is very complex, given that loopholes may emerge and appear on quick scrutiny. There are many unanswered questions.

When someone applies for planning permission, he or she must go through the different procedures and get things right. It is about where one want to builds and the way one will build. If there is a justice issue, the Department of Justice and Equality should deal with it and if there is a foreign affairs issue, it should be dealt with by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It would be helpful if we all understood the thinking behind the section. The granting of planning permission is based on whether one has done everything correctly in the application process, whereas a threat to the State is an issue to be dealt with by the relevant Department. It would be helpful if Members understood the Government's reasoning. Perhaps it has good reasons. It would be helpful, therefore, to know what lies behind the section.

I accept that we are asking Members to deal with something at short notice. I also said this in the Seanad and apologise that the amendment has come into the system at such a late stage. However, it was introduced a couple of weeks ago in the Seanad and I am conscious that Members have been aware of it since. As someone who witnessed that debate, I accept that we have not had a chance to discuss it here.

It only happened in recent consultation with the Department of Justice and Equality, the Department of Defence and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. On the previous contribution from Deputy Fitzmaurice, it is those Ministers who would bring this request forward to Cabinet to get Government approval because it is an issue of national security and international relations. It is not an issue for the Minister with responsibility for planning. That Minister would have to implement it but the decision would be brought to Cabinet and this amendment allows for that.

Deputy Catherine Murphy asked me if it is for any particular development. It is not for any particular reason or to target anything in particular. It is to give that power to the Minister and it is envisaged that it would not be used too often. The Deputy is right in that I cannot promise or confirm that it would not be used too often. I am not even trying to say that it would but it is envisaged that it would not. It is for the whole of Cabinet to approve. It is not that one Minister would decide to go on a major hunt and be able to do this alone. It has to have Cabinet approval and the courts are then involved. If people have a concern or want to object then, the protection of the courts is there. It is in the national interest and it is the Government's job under the Constitution to protect national security. That is what the Government is doing but there is a gap in its ability to do that in some cases. The Cabinet has asked, therefore, for the permission to do this if necessary, and it is hoped it will be on rare occasions. That is what is behind it. It involves other Ministers and is done in consultation with our Department, which only happened in recent times. That is why the amendment is coming in at a late stage.

I accept that the Bill was originally only to do with a few specific areas, but if any Bill takes two or two and a half years to come through this House, stuff will get added. That is what will happen and it happens in every jurisdiction. Legislation is adapted as it goes through the system, and the longer it takes, the more it is adapted. I accept that and I accept that I am asking Members to vote for something at short notice. I cannot give them the guarantees they want only to say that it does undoubtedly give additional powers to the Government that are not there now. I hope and expect that every Government will honour that and respect those powers. That is why it is the whole of Government, not just one Minister. It is for reasons of national security and that is what they are there for. It is hoped it will be very rarely used but that is the power that is being given to the Minister and I accept that.

I thank the Minister of State for the reply. All of the Deputies who have spoken take very seriously our responsibilities in terms of properly scrutinising such important legislation, and that is the reason he is hearing such strong concerns.

One of my concerns which the Minister of State did not address at all in his remarks is the scope of the amendment. If this was an amendment which was solely and exclusively down to concerns in Government over the security and defence of the State, that would be one thing. I am not saying that I would support it even if it was limited to that, as drafted, but that would be one thing and I could understand it.

The State's relations with other states, however, are not just about security and defence. They are about foreign policy, economic interests and trade, and this amendment would allow a future Minister, with the support of Government, to take a decision to revoke or amend planning permission that has nothing to with national security or defence and could, for example, have something to do with interstate relations, foreign policy concerns and economic interests. That is a fact. If I am wrong on that and that is not a factual reading of the text then tell me that I am wrong.

The problem I have is that if I am right and I believe I am, then that gives the Minister of State, his colleagues and future Ministers a much wider scope. While I accept that the intention of this amendment is to deal with a particular set of concerns, that does not mean that because the Government wants to deal with those concerns, we should give it such broad-ranging powers. We have to be careful about this. Other jurisdictions and governments have used concerns about national security and defence to introduce a whole range of measures. These measures are often introduced without adequate scrutiny or checks and balances and are then used at subsequent points to undermine the rights and entitlements of citizens. I accept that is not the intention of this amendment. The difficulty, however, is the checks and balances that are in this and I return to the court provisions in subsection 12(A). They do not meet the test of natural justice and do not reassure me that a future Government that may have a different agenda would not be able to use these in camera proceedings in the consummative documents from the affected parties for unacceptable ends.

Again I want to be clear in that I am not in any way suggesting that is the intention of the current Minister or Government, but the broad scope and the absence of adequate checks and balances are a real problem. Unless the Minister of State can give us some assurance that either our interpretation of the Bill is wrong or there are checks and balances in here that we have not seen, then I certainly cannot support it and I would much prefer, given the sensitivities of the issue, that we were able to have this discussion properly through a committee and a formal Report Stage to get a more adequate outcome. That is not what we have been given, however, in the limited timeframe and with the text that is in front of us.

When a planning application is lodged, the planning authority and the planner have to consider the planning application on its merits. For example, if there were a wind farm or a nuclear power station in it, just to be completely off the wall, health concerns could not be considered because they are not part of the planning process. It must be considered in terms of the physical planning and how it knits in with development plans and so on. That is what the planners are supposed to consider and here we are with legislation that concerns planning, planning permission, local area plans and a new regulator.

We have an amendment to do with defence, security, trade and justice. I certainly do not want to put this State at risk and I do not think anyone in this House does either and there is no doubt that we must have measures in place to make sure that we mitigate any risks, but I do not have any idea what is prompting this. I am guessing what might be prompting it. It is said that individual cases make bad law, if it is the case that it is to do with the planning permission that was granted in 2015. Is it foreign affairs or is it trade? Who has an influence in this? For example, could it be multinationals that have an influence in convincing the Cabinet on revoking planning permission? If we start getting into that kind of territory, we have gone beyond planning and into other areas of where we should see legislation going.

The Minister of State has not given us any idea of what has prompted this. This is not the kind of thing that has been picked out of thin air. There is some reason the Government is doing this. Has it been considered that there are other means of dealing with something that may well be a threat because I would have thought that the last place the security of the State would have been seen would be in the revoking of planning permissions. It does not seem like the right place for it to fit. The Minister of State is asking us to trust him and to trust future Governments. That is not how legislation is dealt with. It is dealt with on the basis of having a rational reason behind why something is proposed and effectively we are being asked to support this blind.

I listened to the Minister of State's introduction to this amendment and his response to our questions. Let us be frank, he did not address any of the matters or give any justification for the introduction of this section. As Deputy Catherine Murphy stated, something must trigger this and there must be some logic for it. It is not tenable that the Government crafted this section but now argues it has nothing to do with any individual issue or planning application, but rather that at some point it may need to use the power. The argument is that the Government does not really envisage using it and it will do so only in very rare circumstances. That does not really stack up to scrutiny at all.

Will the Minister of State give examples of any planning developments in the past that might have caused issue for the security or defence of the State or the State's relations with other states? Is there even a single example of a planning application that would have fallen into this category where a Minister could have had to use this power to restrict, modify or block a planning application? I am not aware of any but perhaps the Minister of State is. If there are no examples, it is all the more reason we should want to know exactly why this is being done and it is all the more reason we would be suspicious of the motivations behind this. There may be good reason or an individual matter that the State sees as important. There may be merit in what the Government is looking at. We do not know, although we could speculate.

The problem is this is far too broad. Deputy Ó Broin made the point and I will do so again before finishing. Whatever about the security or defence of the State, when we speak of the State's relations with other states, it is much more problematic. Thinking about it, the idea can be seen as contradictory. If a Minister responsible for foreign affairs or justice, or even the Cabinet or the Government in its entirety, decided to revoke or modify a planning application that would anger a state, it would surely damage our State's relationship with the other state. The section is clearly designed for a purpose and the Minister of State is not in a position to say what that is. He might be able to help us by at least giving us one example of a planning permission granted by the State in the past that was problematic for the defence or security of the State or the State's relationship with other states. If he could give one example, it would be useful in helping us to understand the logic of this section.

As has been said, the Minister of State's opening remarks and his response to us have been totally unacceptable when this section of the Bill would give such draconian powers. I have looked again at the Bill's digest published in September 2016 and which gives the background to this Bill. It indicates this planning and development Bill provides for several matters, none of which relates to national security, defence or relationships with other countries. The digest indicates it would establish an office of the planning regulator, as recommended by the Mahon tribunal. It would also provide for a national planning framework, which will replace the national strategy, and it also provides for the implementation of several other Mahon tribunal recommendations. They key element is that the Bill is to "improve transparency in the planning process". The entire function of the Bill that this Government wants to make law is to improve transparency in the planning process but right in the middle of it there is section 44, one of the longest, which does away with transparency. It does away with accountability and gives draconian powers to various Ministers. It ensures the court would be in camera.

It is extraordinary that this would allow a Minister to "revoke or modify a grant of permission under this Act if the Minister is satisfied". It is simply if a Minister is satisfied and there is no mention of "beyond all reasonable doubt" or a balance of probabilities. There would be no analysis of that satisfaction and there is nothing to guide us as to how a Minister might end up being satisfied that security or the State's relations with other States are threatened. Do we not need to go back and consider why we are introducing this Act, which is the lack of transparency and accountability. We can then look at what we do with this proposed section.

Fianna Fáil cannot back this part of the Bill or we will be an utter laughing stock. This is anything but transparent or accountable and the provision must come out. I do not know how the Department of Justice and Equality, with the reputation it has arising from the Toland and other reports, could come forward at the last minute with a proposal like this and no back-up to explain it. The Minister of State now has knowledge of the Department of Justice and Equality and, notwithstanding the very good people in it, how it has a silo mentality and so on. Will he now take a proposal and put it into an Act where it has no place without being able to explain or justify it? Does he even realise the implications of this provision? It is certainly unconstitutional in my humble opinion as a Deputy. Fianna Fáil must do the right thing and this section must be taken from the Bill.

I have heard the comments of all Members on this matter and we are probably going back over some of the same stuff again. I cannot provide examples to explain why this is needed. It is a request by the relevant Departments that through the Government we can provide this option or power. Currently there is a gap in planning law and the State is powerless to intervene in circumstances where a development has been granted valid permission under the planning system but where, due to an evolution of circumstances, proceeding with the development, in the assessment of the Government rather than one Minister, goes against our national interest in the area of security or defence or our relations with other States. It involves the whole of Government, the Cabinet and different Ministers. There are also court procedures and we do not want the proceedings of court to defeat the reasoning for doing this in the national interest. That is why it is in camera. The courts make a decision on what information can be disclosed and they are independent of the Government.

I am not saying Deputies must trust me or what I am saying but they must trust our system of government. We have a democratically elected Government and a courts system that is independent of the Government. I cannot give Deputies all the reassurances they seek and I cannot give examples. I am saying there is a gap in the law currently and the Government cannot intervene where something is clearly an issue of national security. This provision would allow for that with full Government approval and the courts are also involved. I cannot give the example required by the Deputy, although I wish I could.

The central question I asked was not answered. I am really looking for a "Yes" or "No". This is a question the Minister of State can surely answer. Could the provisions of this section be used for matters other than security and defence? Could they be used for matters of foreign policy or, for example, matters of economic interest? It is a straight "Yes" or "No" answer. If the Minister of State does not know, I have no doubt the officials beside him know the answer. It is absolutely crucial that this House would be told whether this provision could be used in cases other than security and defence, and particularly foreign policy and economic interest.

Is the Minister of State privy to what has prompted this? Does he know what it is about?

I am privy to the reasons for having this. A number of Departments, in consultation with our Department, have requested that there be an option for the Government in this respect because currently there is a gap in planning laws. Departments have asked that there be an option for the Government of today or of the future to protect national security and interests. There would be the option to intervene if planning permission had been granted.

That is what is behind this. That is what is being asked for. There is no one case or example I can provide. There is no one target. If there were, we would name it and put it in the legislation. There is a gap in the planning law which means that if something of that nature is identified, there is no way of dealing with it. This amendment is about providing powers to do so. We expect that those powers will not be abused. The courts system is there to prevent that happening. It is not the case that the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government would have that power but that the Minister for Justice and Equality, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, or the Minister for Defence could bring such a matter to the Cabinet to get approval and then the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government would implement that revocation order.

Amendment put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 45; Níl, 21; Staon, 0.

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Curran, John.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.

Níl

  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Eoin Ó Broin and Catherine Connolly.
Amendment declared carried.

Seanad amendments Nos. 46 and 62 are related and may be discussed together. The amendment to Seanad amendment No. 46 has been ruled out of order.

Seanad amendment No. 46:
Section 16: In page 51, between lines 19 and 20, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 50B of Principal Act
29. Section 50B of the Principal Act is amended—
(a) in paragraph (a) of subsection (1), by—
(i) substituting “statutory provision” for “law of the State”,
(ii) deleting “or” in clause (II),
(iii) substituting “applies, or” for “applies; or” in clause (III), and
(iv) inserting the following clause after clause (III):
“(IV) paragraph 3 or 4 of Article 6 of the Habitats Directive; or”,
and
(b) inserting the following subsection:
“(6) In this section ‘statutory provision’ means a provision of an enactment or instrument under an enactment.”.”.

I propose to take amendments Nos. 46 and 62 together. These amendments will modify Section 50B of the principal Act and section 4 of the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011.

Paragraphs 2 and 4 of Article 9 of the Aarhus Convention provide that judicial review proceedings challenging certain environmental decisions, or aimed at securing enforcement of statutory provisions relating to the environment etc., must not be prohibitively expensive for the parties taking such proceedings. Therefore, if a party takes a legal challenge on environmental impact assessment, EIA, grounds, for example against a grant of planning permission, or a legal challenge aimed at securing enforcement of a range of statutory consents specified in the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011, they will not generally be liable for the costs incurred by other parties in defending the EIA elements of the case. Amendment No. 46 clarifies this position.

Furthermore, on the advice of the Office of the Attorney General, these proposed amendments implement the 2016 European Court of Justice ruling that the Aarhus special costs rules also apply to challenges to decisions etc. made for the purposes of the appropriate assessment directive. Under these amendments, a person who in the future loses a legal challenge on appropriate assessment grounds will, generally speaking, not be liable for the costs incurred by other parties in defending the appropriate assessment elements of the case.

The two amendments were tabled on the advice of the Office of the Attorney General and the text of the two amendments was drafted under the supervision of that office.

Amendment No. 46 is also intended to clarify the position that the not prohibitively expensive rule is applicable to proceedings involving the EIA directive.

I am aware that the amendment to amendment No. 46, proposed by Deputy Ó Broin, was ruled out of order. The text of Deputy Ó Broin's amendment would ensure a much wider meaning. Its reference to "enactment" could imply that the not prohibitively expensive rule could be applicable to any action arising under the planning Acts and not just to proceedings involving the EIA. It could, for example, apply to a compulsory purchase compensation decision. It is far too wide in scope and could open the State to civil liability also.

Seanad amendments Nos. 46 and 62 and my amendments to those, one of which has so far been ruled out of order, are quite technical. I will try to distil it down. Our planning process has three parts. One part is the initial application process to the local authority where the local authority, in accordance with statute, makes decisions. The second part is the appeals process to An Bord Pleanála. In certain circumstances there is a third part, which is the right of persons to take a judicial review. In cases that deal with environmental law, environmental protection and especially in cases such as the habitats directive, there is a really important role for environmental NGOs to be able to challenge what they believe, in many cases, to be bad planning decisions with regard to impact on the environment and impact on those who live in it.

Part of the difficulty for environmental NGOs and for some community campaigners who are concerned about the environmental impact of planning decisions is that the costs of taking those challenges are prohibitive. It is simply impossible for people to be able to do that. The principle of cost protection is very important. Where an environmental NGO or a group of citizens want to take a case, in their view to try to protect the environment, there needs to be some level of cost protection.

When taking cases not just within the remit of Article 6 of the habitats directive, but also within the remit of Articles 12 to 16, inclusive, they would have the potential for cost protection, meaning that only their own costs would be covered.

The Government's Seanad amendments are not only too restrictive, but are not in keeping with the State's obligations under the Aarhus Convention or European law, including the habitats directive, and will be challenged legally. That will have a much greater cost implication for the State.

The core principle at stake is whether ordinary citizens and campaign groups that are trying to do the right thing by our environment should have fair access to the courts in the planning process equal to those with substantial resources, often large corporations and financial interests, which would not need the cost protection provided. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that such cases could involve a small, voluntary, community or environmental group facing a large company or corporation with extensive resources. Equal access to the important judicial review element of our planning process would be denied.

This is a matter of importance. Not unlike the previous amendment on which I contributed and due to their technical nature, these amendments were tabled in the Seanad on Report Stage at short notice and we have not had an opportunity to hold a pre-legislative scrutiny phase and call on environmental NGOs, legal experts and those with expertise in the Aarhus Convention or the habitats directive. Consequently, our ability to scrutinise fully the implications of these far-reaching amendments is limited. Given the matter's importance and the financial implications for the organisations and groups concerned, this is not acceptable.

I will ask the Ceann Comhairle, with the greatest of respect, to provide me with more clarity as to why my amendments have been ruled out of order so that I might fully understand the reasoning.

I get the sense that there is a view somewhere, be it in the Department or the Minister's office, that there should be far fewer judicial reviews taken by environmental NGOs in cases related to the protection of our environment and habitats. It is the only rationale for these kind of measures. Important groups are being denied access to a key element of our planning process. If that is the intention, it is regrettable and would be why I could not support the Seanad amendments.

I thank the Deputy. As to the ruling out of order of the amendments, amendments Nos. 46 and 62 made by the Seanad seek to provide that the rules applying to special legal costs set out in sections 2 and 4 of Article 9 of the UN Aarhus Convention also apply to access to justice in environmental litigation whereby independent judicial review proceedings challenging decisions, acts or omissions, subject to the public participation provisions of the convention, must not be prohibitively expensive. The amendments restrict the cost provisions to only some elements of the environmental impact assessment, EIA, directive.

The amendments to the amendments from Deputy Ó Broin seek to extend this provision to other elements of the directive. There would be cost implications for the State if this provision applied to a wider range of legal proceedings, as it would result in the State having to meet the cost of additional proceedings. Accordingly, the amendments could impose a charge on the Exchequer and must be ruled out of order in accordance with Standing Order 179(3).

On the other hand, the habitats directive has been the bane of Governments, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, businesses and farming communities around the country. Where I come from in the west, it has been the greatest nightmare of legislation that has ever come from Europe. In most situations, the lands in question belong to people privately. Those who are trying to defend their lands must pay out of their own pockets to fight the case. It should be borne in mind, though, that if there is a case of national importance or interest, the State will pay some of the costs.

A person whose land has been caught up in the habitats directive has a burden placed on his or her property. Such individuals have no NGOs to defend them. To be brutally honest, certain people specialise in submitting objections on behalf of groups. This is well known and there is no point in us hiding from it. This practice has caused planning problems in various parts of the country. If someone in my area wants to build a house or slatted shed or is living in a town, he or she must go through so much rigamarole because of the habitats directive. This process needs to be simplified. Is it fair that, because a piece of ground near someone has been designated, he or she must fork out an extra €1,500 or €2,000 for an EIA or another appropriate assessment?

I am involved in an attempt to solve a problem with bogs under the habitats directive. In fairness, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, NPWS, is working on this matter and we are trying to help. The NPWS has brought in scientific experts. We are trying to solve the problem by moving people from a designated bog to somewhere that is undesignated, yet these great NGOs have been submitting observations. If that is the game they want to play, they had better remember that it is private property. People will get fed up and stick to their private property, leaving us with another full-blown battle. We need to be mindful when legislating for planning objections.

I will make one request of the Department. A submission on the habitats directive was to be made a few years ago but it merely tinkered at the edges. Nothing was done. I have a letter from the father of a young man who was about to start dairy farming. I can show it to anyone. When the son submitted the land deeds, the bank wrote back to say it would not accept them because the land was designated and the deeds were worthless. The habitats directive has stopped a young person from farming in a part of the west. The only answer for that young man is probably to come to Dublin or take the boat. If environmental legislation is driving our young people away from parts of the country, we need to reconsider it. I do not want to see more of these great NGOs, with even more State money behind them, coming to places and tormenting people.

The courts are a prohibitive place to go unless one has deep pockets. While costs in cases deemed to be in the public interest are often not imposed, my understanding is that, in a judicial review, the person taking the case carries his or her own cost. I could be wrong, but I was recently involved with a community group, which is where my understanding on this comes from.

We approach the Aarhus Convention like a box-ticking measure, not as a serious protection for environmental legislation. The mindset at play is essentially to shut down rather than involve citizens and community groups.

They are seen as a nuisance in my experience. I remember that to cut down on the number of people making comment on planning permission, a €20 fee was imposed a good few years ago. It was probably more of a nuisance to local authorities. It is certainly not a big income generator. That was put in to stop people objecting. It coincided with a planning application in Kildare County Council which was for a hazardous waste incinerator right beside a secondary school. Many people put in objections and paid their €20. In the council's wisdom, it turned it down and An Bord Pleanála rejected it. People who made objections to that did a great service not just for the community then but the community in the future with regard to where it was located. One frequently sees very good submissions being made. They help the planning process but one has to pay for the privilege of making those submissions. There is a mindset about the "anti crowd" or the objectors. Like Deputy Connolly, I do not see the serial objectors. There is an odd one or two but I do not see that as a serious problem. I put in submissions, objections and letters of support like everyone else, but the process has to be there and it has to be viable. It has to be affordable and the courts have to be available. If money is shutting down valid questioning of legislation, one may well find that there is a cost to be paid in the future by not hearing what should be heard. It is a pity we cannot support Deputy Ó Broin's amendment but there is a valid argument to make here.

I had not intended to speak on this because the amendments were not ruled as valid. However, it is important to balance a debate. I have the greatest respect for Deputy Fitzmaurice and he does his best for his community. I will repeat for the record as somebody who was in local politics from 1999 to 2016 that I never came across a serial objector. I watched many campaigns, including a campaign to prevent an incinerator in Galway. Not one of us was of the mentality "not in our back garden". That was not our role. We had huge meetings with speakers from all over the world to show what could be done and to say that it was not necessary to have incineration, that it was possible to head for zero waste, and we were laughed at. People persisted and said there is a different way. I am giving the Minister of State a very practical example to balance this debate. They forced the city council, against its wishes, to bring in recycling. I have mentioned it many times. We reached 70% recycling in a pilot project led by the people in a particular area of Galway. As a result of that campaign, the incinerator did not go ahead in Galway. However, it went into somebody's county and I was unhappy about that because we showed there was a different way. It was not me: I was led by the people and learned from them.

We rolled it out and have diverted waste on a 56% basis. The engineers and consultants told us it could not be done. I got the information under freedom of information. They were paid millions to tell us that it could not be done. I wish we would pay millions for them to tell us what we can do. We showed in Galway, on a shoestring budget, that it is possible to go down the zero waste route and to recycle. The reward from that was to take the power from the local councillors. None of the local authorities has power to set the waste management plan now. If I go back on topic to this amendment that has been ruled on, the courts have repeatedly said that there is a trinity. Deputy Ó Broin referred to a different trinity. Judge after judge in the High Court has said there is a trinity in the planning law, which is the judge and the courts, the local authority and An Bord Pleanála, and the ordinary citizen. They have been thanked repeatedly for their role in taking part against all odds and obstacles to put in submissions, not objections, on various matters such as the incineration debate in Galway. There is a complete lack of balance of power. It is weighed against the ordinary citizen. This country fought each Government to implement the Aarhus Convention. They were brought screaming to the table to implement it and make it part of our law in Ireland. I do not hold with there being serial objectors. It is important to place on the record that the courts have recognised the valid role for the citizen. For the answer to be that there are cost implications is not acceptable because there are serious cost implications, as Deputy Murphy said, in not allowing the citizen to participate with equal access to the courts. They do us a favour, which we have seen in many campaigns.

I reiterate that there are two or three people in this country who are stuck in every dogfight where there is an environmental problem. Unless we are blind, we know what is going on. I stand by what I said.

Amendment No. 46 is intended to clarify the position that the "not prohibitively expensive" rule is applicable to proceedings involving the environmental impact assessment, EIA, directive. The text of the amendment proposed by Deputy Ó Broin would have ensured a much wider meaning of the reference and would imply that the "not prohibitively expensive" rule could be applicable to any action arising under the Planning and Development Act and not just proceedings involving the EIA. For example, it could apply to a compulsory purchase and compensation decision. It might not be from an environmental group. It could be from the opposite side. It would be open to anybody. This is far too wide in scope and could open the State to considerable liabilities. It might not give the result that people wanted to achieve in the first place. With regard to the Habitats Directive, Deputy Ó Broin's proposed text would have widened the applicability of the provision to any proceedings that might be taken under the Habitats Directive rather than just to appropriate assessment of cases which is all that is required under European Court of Justice and national case law. Subsection (5) of Deputy Ó Broin's proposed text would have broadened the "not prohibitively expensive" rule even further to include any proceedings involving any breach of any European environmental law. This would be a dramatic expansion of the "not prohibitively expensive" rule and is not warranted in the context of Article 6, relating to public participation in decisions, and Article 9(2) of the Aarhus Convention, relating to access to justice. I understand Members take the UN Economic Commission for Europe's convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice on environmental laws very seriously. I concur with that.

With regard to Deputy Ó Broin's proposed amendment to amendment No. 62, it goes beyond what is currently intended or required in part 4 and part 6 of the birds and habitats directives. While our amendment is intended to remove any doubt that the special cost rules can be applied to habitats and birds directives cases, Deputy Ó Broin's amendment could have expanded the "not prohibitively expensive" rule to include challenges to the Minister setting conservation measures and objectives, ministerial directions relating to any activities that might affect a European site, challenges to administrative agreements or compensation and challenges relating to provisions protecting flora and fauna. They were wide-ranging and would cause issues. I aim for clarity.

In due course, there will be an opportunity to give greater consideration to the broadening of Part 2 of the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011. As Deputy Ó Broin said, it probably merits a wider debate. He is probably right on that. I listened to the discussion here. I see the merits in that. There will be an opportunity to do that. The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment will bring forward a Bill relating to the Aarhus Convention in the very near future. It would be appropriate that the more radical extension as proposed by Deputy Ó Broin and supported by others here be given the required consideration in that context rather than as a result of an amendment to an amendment in the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill. That is coming quite soon and might be the chance to have further discussion. I can understand that the people here are genuine about that. Some of the amendments proposed might have unintended consequences that they did not really want to achieve. Maybe we can tease it through at more length in that Bill if that would be appropriate.

I would welcome the opportunity to do that at committee.

I will deal with the Minister's amendment because, unfortunately, notwithstanding his criticism of my amendments, it is a moot point because we cannot take them. My concern with the Seanad amendments proposed by him is not that they remove doubt but that they restrict what would otherwise potentially be possible on the basis of recent court decisions and therefore have a negative consequence of the narrowing down of the scope for cost protection. We are talking about cases relating to environmental impact assessments, environmental assessments and also to do with pollution prevention and control. I am happy to be corrected, but my understanding is that the Minister's amendment also falls foul of the Aarhus Convention Articles 10 to 12, so it is not just about Articles 6 and 9 but other Aarhus Convention provisions as well.

I also have a concern and I would be interested in having the officials respond to it, if not today, at a later stage, as to whether the Minister's proposal here is in contravention of the recent European Court of Justice decision on north-east pylons, C-470/16.

I will respond to what Deputy Fitzmaurice said because he might misunderstand the intention of those of us who are against what the Government is proposing. In every single county in Ireland, in rural and urban areas, people are concerned about the environment and they want to do right by it and the communities who live in the area so the environment can be protected into the future. Deputy Fitzmaurice is correct that sometimes they do run up against individuals and small community interests. I do not dispute that. However, in many instances we are talking about battles of small communities seeking to protect their environment and natural habitat falling foul, not of small community interests but large corporate interests or of Government. In those kinds of cases, unfortunately, taking judicial reviews in the context of environmental impact assessments, EIA, strategic environmental assessments, SEAs, or integrated pollution prevention and control, IPPC, decisions are prohibitively expensive unless there is at least an element of cost protection which can limit some of the risk. If the Minister of State is saying he is willing to come back and talk to us at greater length about this, I would welcome that but I am not convinced that his amendments make the situation any better. My view is they make things worse and on that basis I will still press both amendments to a vote.

The short answer is that there was not enough time to get through this in the Seanad or in the committee. I accept that, but there will be for the next Bill that is coming through, which is trying to honour the spirit of the Aarhus Convention. We will go into that in more detail. The amendments are on foot of advice from the Attorney General and do recognise the European Court of Justice's rulings in the Brown Bears No. 2 case. What we are trying to do here is deal with that. We want to bring clarity on what is possible and what is subject to costs and what is not. We are not trying to narrow the gap or widen the gap but to state what it is, as opposed to anything else. I hope that is okay.

Amendment No. 1 to amendment No. 46 not moved.
Amendment put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 47; Níl, 18; Staon, 0.

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Curran, John.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.

Níl

  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Eoin Ó Broin and Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.
Amendment declared carried.
Seanad amendment No. 47:
Section 18: In page 51, between lines 28 and 29, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 169 of Principal Act
32. Section 169 of the Principal Act is amended—
(a) in subsection (8), by inserting “any specific planning policy requirements contained in guidelines under subsection (1) of section 28,” after “the provisions of the housing strategy,”, and
(b)by inserting the following subsection:
“(8A) (a) A planning scheme that contains a provision that contravenes any specific planning policy requirement in guidelines under subsection (1) of section 28 shall be deemed to have been made, under paragraph (b) of subsection (4) of section 169, subject to the deletion of that provision.
(b) Where a planning scheme contravenes a specific planning policy requirement in guidelines under subsection (1) of section 28 by omission of a provision in compliance with that requirement, the planning scheme shall be deemed to have been made under paragraph (b) of subsection (4) of section 169 subject to the addition of that provision.”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 48:
Section 23: In page 53, between lines 13 and 14, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 195 of Principal Act
38. Section 195 of the Principal Act is amended by inserting the following subsection:
“(3) This section shall apply to an order made under section 44A subject to—
(a) the modification that references to planning authority shall be construed as references to the Minister, and
(b) any other necessary modifications.”.”.
Seanad amendment put and declared carried.

Amendments Nos. 49 and 51 are related and may be discussed together.

Seanad amendment No. 49:
Section 24: In page 53, between lines 17 and 18, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 246 of Principal Act
40. Section 246 of the Principal Act is amended—
(a) in subsection (1) by substituting the following paragraph for paragraph (b):
“(b) the payment to planning authorities of prescribed fees in relation to
the making of submissions or observations respecting applications
for permission referred to in paragraph (a), with the exception of
local authority members who are exempt from all fees in relation to
the making of submissions or observations respecting applications
for permission referred to in paragraph (a), insofar as it concerns
applications made within the local authority members’ local
electoral area.”.”.

These non-Government amendments were tabled by Senators Kevin Humphreys and Victor Boyhan and passed following a vote of Seanad Éireann. The amendments seek, in different ways, to provide in primary legislation that zero fees will apply to councillors to make a submission, or observations, on a planning application. The current fee is €20. The amendments are unnecessary as the Government has to deal with the matter through regulations which will provide for a zero rate for councillors.

Seanad amendment put and declared carried.
Seanad amendment No. 50:
Section 24: In page 53, between lines 17 and 18, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 246 of Principal Act
41. Section 246 of the Principal Act is amended—
(a) in subsection (1), by substituting the following paragraph for paragraph (d):
“(d) the payment—
(i) to local authorities of prescribed fees in relation to applications for grants of licences under section 231 or certificates of safety under section 239, and
(ii) to planning authorities of prescribed fees in relation to any consultation or advice under section 247, and”,
and
(b) in subsection (3), by substituting the following paragraphs for paragraph (a):
“(a) Where, under regulations under this section, a fee is—
(i) payable to a planning authority by an applicant in respect of an application to which paragraph (a) or (e) of subsection (1) applies, or
(ii) payable to a local authority in respect of an application to which subparagraph (i) of paragraph (d) of that subsection applies, a decision in relation to the application shall not be made until the fee is paid.
(aa) Where, under regulations under this section, a fee is payable to a planning authority by a person in respect of—
(i) a request to which paragraph (c) of subsection (1) applies, or
(ii) a consultation or advice to which subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (d) of that subsection applies,
the planning authority shall not—
(I) give the declaration, or
(II) provide the consultation or advice,
as may be appropriate, until the fee is paid.”.”.
Seanad amendment put and declared carried.
Seanad amendment No. 51:
Section 24: In page 53, between lines 17 and 18, to insert the following:
“Exemption from fees for submissions and observations by councillors on planning applications
42. Section 246 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 is amended by inserting the following new subsection after subsection (1):
“(1A) Regulations under subsection (1) shall not apply to the making of a submission or observation to a planning authority, respecting an application for permission referred to in paragraph (a) of that subsection, where the person by whom the submission or observation is made is an elected member of the planning authority concerned.”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 52:
Section 28: In page 55, after line 38, to insert the following:
“Amendment of Fourth Schedule (reasons for the refusal of permission which exclude compensation) to Principal Act
47. The Fourth Schedule to the Principal Act is amended by inserting the following paragraph after paragraph 23:
“23A.(1) The proposed development is by an applicant associated with a previous development (whether or not such previous development was within the functional area of the planning authority to which the proposed development relates) which—
(a) in the opinion of the planning authority in whose functional area the previous development is situated, has not been satisfactorily completed in the ordinary course of development, or
(b) the estate to which the previous development relates has not been taken in charge by the local authority concerned because the estate has not been completed to the satisfaction of that authority.
(2) In this paragraph ‘associated’, in relation to a previous development, means a development under the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2018 to which section 180 relates and in respect of which the development has not been satisfactorily completed or taken in charge by the local authority concerned due to the actions (whether of commission or omission) of—
(a) the applicant for the proposed development,
(b) a partnership of which the applicant is or was a member and which, during the membership of that applicant, carried out a development pursuant to a previous permission, carried out a substantial unauthorised development or has been convicted of an offence under this Act,
(c) a registered society under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1893 to 2014 that—
(i) carried out a development pursuant to a previous permission,
(ii) carried out a substantial unauthorised development, or
(iii) has been convicted of an offence under this Act,
or, during any period to which subclause (i) or (ii) relates or to which any conviction under subclause (iii) relates, the registered society was, during that period, controlled by the applicant—
(I) where, pursuant to section 15 of the Friendly Societies Industrial and Provident Societies (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014, ‘control’ has the same meaning as in section 220(5) of the Companies Act 2014, or
(II) as a shadow director within the meaning of section 2(1) of the Companies Act 2014,
(d) where the applicant for the proposed development is a company—
(i) the company concerned is related to a company (within the meaning of section 2(10) of the Companies Act 2014) which carried out a development pursuant to a previous permission, carried out a substantial unauthorised development or has been convicted of an offence under this Act, or
(ii) the company concerned is under the same control as a company that carried out a development referred to in subparagraph (1) where ‘control’ has the same meaning as in section 220(5) of the Companies Act 2014,
or
(e) a company that carried out a development pursuant to a previous permission, carried out a substantial unauthorised development or has been convicted of an offence under this Act, which company is controlled by the applicant—
(i) where ‘control’ has the same meaning as in section 220(5) of the Companies Act 2014, or
(ii) as a shadow director within the meaning of section 2(1) of the Companies Act 2014.”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 53:
Section 29: In page 56, between lines 12 and 13, to insert the following:
“Amendment of Seventh Schedule to Principal Act
49. The Seventh Schedule to the Principal Act is amended by inserting the following:
“Communications and Data Infrastructure
5. Development comprising the following:
A facility consisting of one or more than one structure, the combined gross floor space of which exceeds 10,000 square metres, used
primarily for the storage, management and dissemination of data, and the provision of associated electricity connections infrastructure.”.”.
Amendment put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 43; Níl, 18; Staon, 0.

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Curran, John.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.

Níl

  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Eoin Ó Broin and Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.
Amendment declared carried.

Amendments Nos. 54 to 57, inclusive, are related.

Seanad amendment No. 54:
Section 29: In page 56, between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:
“(b) by inserting the following definition:
“ ‘shared accommodation’ means a building or part thereof used for the provision of residential accommodation consisting of—
(a) communal living and kitchen facilities and amenities shared by the residents, and
(b) bedrooms rented by the residents, but does not include student accommodation or a building, or part thereof, used for the provision of accommodation to tourists or visitors;”,
(c) in the definition of “strategic housing development”—
(i) by inserting the following paragraph after paragraph (b):
“(ba) development—
(i) consisting of shared accommodation units that, when combined, contain 200 or more bed spaces, and
(ii) on land the zoning of which facilitates the provision of shared accommodation or a mixture of shared accommodation thereon and its application for other uses,”,
(ii) by substituting the following paragraph for paragraph (c):
“(c) development that contains developments of the type to which all of the foregoing paragraphs, or any two of the foregoing paragraphs, apply, or”,
(iii) by inserting “, (ba)” after “(b)” in paragraph (d),
(iv) in paragraph (i), by—
(I) substituting “houses, student accommodation units, shared accommodation units or any combination thereof” for “houses or student accommodation units, or both, as the case may be,”, and
(II) by inserting “or shared accommodation” after “within student accommodation”,
(v) by substituting “or shared accommodation” for “, or both, as the case may be,” in clause (I) of paragraph (ii), and
(vi) by inserting “or shared accommodation” after “student accommodation” in clause (II) of paragraph (ii),
(d) by inserting the following definition:
“ ‘student accommodation’—
(a) means a building or part thereof used or to be used to accommodate students whether or not provided by a relevant provider (within the meaning of the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012), and that is not for use—
(i) as permanent residential accommodation, or
(ii) subject to paragraph (b), as a hotel, hostel, apart-hotel or similar type accommodation,
and
(b) includes residential accommodation that is used as tourist or visitor accommodation but only if it is so used outside of academic term times;”,”.

This is the proposal relating to student or shared accommodation about which I want to express concern. The proposal is that they would not be for used as permanent residential accommodation. That is in the amendment but I am concerned that would be the case. I am concerned also about reduced standards relating to accommodation.

In terms of my question to the Minister of State, it is all very well to have student accommodation, for example, within the grounds of a higher education institution but I would be concerned that into the future this so-called shared accommodation would end up being allocated to people who are living permanently in such accommodation. That is a real concern. We have seen it happen previously in that planning permissions were given in the past for accommodation that was described as being for students and ended up being used by the general public in long-term circumstances. I would like an assurance from the Minister of State as to the long-term intentions of this measure. While it might start off as being for temporary situations, it could end up being accommodation that does not have the appropriate facilities for longer term habitation.

I support that. The cost of this student accommodation is extreme. I have heard figures quoted of €9,000 a year. In terms of what will happen, an argument will be made that there is vacant accommodation and that it is needed for people who require accommodation. That is how this type of measure creeps in, so to speak. It is a valid concern in terms of not including serious safeguards.

Is amendment No. 58 included in this grouping?

No. We are dealing with amendments Nos. 54 to 57, inclusive. Does the Minister of State have a brief reply to the important point made by the Deputies?

This amendment is allowing for a choice of accommodation. That is quite common in other markets but is not allowed for here under our rules. It is not envisaged that large families will be living in this accommodation. It is about having choice in the market. I had a discussion about it with the Deputy's colleague in the Seanad. That is what we are trying to do in this amendment. It is to allow for that, which is quite common elsewhere.

Seanad amendment put and declared carried.
Seanad amendment No. 55:
Section 30: In page 56, to delete line 32 and substitute the following:
“(b) in subsection (8), by—
(i) substituting “, student accommodation units or shared accommodation units” for “or student accommodation units, or both, as appropriate,”, and
(ii) substituting “gross floor spaces” for “internal floor spaces”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 56:
Section 32: In page 57, between lines 8 and 9, to insert the following:
“(i) by substituting the following subparagraph for subparagraph (i):
“(i) specifying the location of the proposed development and containing a brief description of the proposed development, including a description—
(I) of the number of houses, student accommodation units or shared accommodation units of which the proposed development is intended to consist, and
(II) in the case of student accommodation units or shared accommodation units, of—
(A) the combined number of bed spaces of which the proposed development is intended to consist, and
(B) any other uses to which those units are intended to be put,”,”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 57:
Section 35: In page 57, between lines 30 and 31, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 13 of Act of 2016
56. Section 13 of the Act of 2016 is amended by the deletion of paragraph (d).”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 58:
Section 35: In page 57, lines 33 to 35, to delete all words from and including “(1) Section” in line 33 down to and including line 35, and in page 58, to delete lines 1 to 8 and substitute the following:
“(1) Section 28 of the Act of 2016 is amended by substituting the following for subsection (1) (which provides for an amendment of section 42 of the Principal Act):
“(1) Section 42 of the Act of 2000 is amended—
(a) in subsection (1) by substituting the following for paragraph (a): ‘(a) (i) the authority is satisfied that—
(I) the development to which the permission relates was commenced before the expiration of the appropriate period sought to be extended,
(II) an environmental impact assessment or an appropriate assessment, or both of those assessments, was or were not required before the permission was granted,
(III) substantial works were carried out pursuant to the permission during that period, and
(IV) the development will be completed within a reasonable time,’,
and
(b) by substituting the following for subsection (4):
‘(4) A decision to extend the appropriate period of a permission shall be made not more than twice under this section and a planning authority shall not further extend the appropriate period. Where a second decision to extend an appropriate period is made under this section, the combined duration of the 2 extensions of the appropriate period shall not exceed 5 years.’.”.”.

If I am reading amendment No. 58 correctly, it provides that where once we could get planning renewed, for example during the recession when people did not build - I understand that we need to get building - but in the likes of one-off houses there should be some sort of proviso as long as the person has a proper reason, in light of the fact that there is going to be a site levy tax and people are not going to be sitting on their backsides not building for no reason.

Sorry, I do not fully understand the Deputy.

Just agree with him.

I am looking at amendment No. 58, where it states that the second extension on planning cannot be any more than five years. Is that it?

Yes, it is a maximum of five years.

It was ten years, five and five.

The first change is because it is already in the planning Bill we brought forward in 2017. In respect of the second one, it will be a local decision how long the second extension has to be, with a maximum of five years.

Seanad amendment No. 58 agreed to.

Seanad amendments Nos. 59 and 63 to 65, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

Seanad amendment No. 59:
Section 36: In page 58, between lines 11 and 12, to insert the following:
“Definition
58. In this Part “Act of 2015” means the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 60:
Section 36: In page 58, between lines 11 and 12, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 23 of Derelict Sites Act 1990
59. Section 23 of the Derelict Sites Act 1990 is amended by—
(a) substituting the following subsection for subsection (3):
“(3) The amount of the derelict sites levy shall—
(a) in respect of the local financial year prescribed in accordance with subsection (1), be such amount as is equal to 3 per cent of the market value of urban land concerned,
(b) in respect of any subsequent local financial year falling before the year 2020, be such amount as is equal to—
(i) 3 per cent of the said market value, or
(ii) such other percentage (not exceeding 3 per cent) of the said market value as may stand prescribed for the time being,
and
(c) in respect of the local financial year 2020 or any subsequent local financial year, be such amount as is equal to—
(i) 7 per cent of the said market value, or
(ii) such other percentage (not exceeding 7 per cent) of the said market value as may stand prescribed for the time being.”,
and
(b) substituting the following subsection for subsection (4):
“(4) Where it is proposed to make regulations under subsection (3), a draft of the regulations shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas not later than 3 months before the beginning of the year in which it is proposed that the regulations would come into operation, and the regulations shall not be made unless a resolution approving the draft is made by each such House.”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 61:
Section 36: In page 58, between lines 11 and 12, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 12 (transport strategy) of Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008
60. Section 12 of the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008 is amended—
(a) in subsection (8) by substituting “the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Office of the Planning Regulator,” for “the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government,”,
(b) in subsection (10) by substituting “the Authority shall send a copy of that draft to the regional authorities within the GDA and to the Office of the Planning Regulator and those regional authorities and that Office shall” for “the Authority shall send a copy of that draft to the regional authorities within the GDA and those regional authorities shall”, and
(c) in subsection (12)—
(i) by inserting “or from the Office of the Planning Regulator under that subsection,” after “from the regional authorities within the GDA under subsection (10),”,
(ii) by inserting “or of the Office of the Planning Regulator so given,” after “the advice of the regional authorities given under subsection (10),”, and
(iii) by substituting “shall inform in writing the regional authorities or that Office, as appropriate,” for “shall inform the regional authorities in writing”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 62:
Section 36: In page 58, between lines 11 and 12, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 4 of Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011
61. Section 4 of the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 is amended—
(a) in subsection (1), by—
(i) inserting “, notice” after “lease” in paragraph (a), and
(ii) inserting “, notice” after “lease” in paragraph (b),
and
(b) in subsection (4), by—
(i) substituting “Planning and Development Act 2000,” for “Planning and Development Act 2000.” in paragraph (n),
(ii) inserting the following paragraphs:
“(o) a consent to a plan or project for which a screening for appropriate assessment is required under regulation 42 of the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 477 of 2011), and
(p) a consent or notice under regulation 43 of those regulations.”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 1 to Seanad amendment No. 62 in the name of Deputy Ó Broin has been ruled out of order as we discussed it previously.

Amendment No. 1 to Seanad amendment No. 62 not moved.
Seanad amendment No. 63:
NEW SECTION: In page 58, after line 16, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 5 of Act of 2015
63. Section 5 of the Act of 2015 is amended, in paragraph (a) of subsection (1), by substituting the following subparagraph for subparagraph (iii):
“(iii) the site, or the majority of the site is—
(I) vacant or idle, or
(II) being used for a purpose that does not consist solely or primarily of the provision of housing or the development of the site for the purpose of such provision, provided that the most recent purchase of the site occurred—
(A) after it became residential land, and
(B) before, on or after the commencement of section 63 of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018.”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 64:
NEW SECTION: In page 58, after line 16, to insert the following:
“Vacant site levy
64. The Act of 2015 is amended by substituting the following section for section 16:
“16. (1) The amount of the vacant site levy shall—
(a) in respect of the year 2018, be such amount as is equal to 3 per cent of the market value of the vacant site determined in accordance with section 12, and
(b) in respect of the year 2019 and every subsequent year thereafter, be such amount as is equal to—
(i) 7 per cent, or
(ii) such other percentage (not exceeding 7 per cent) as may stand prescribed, for the time being, by regulations, of the market value of the vacant site determined in accordance with section 12.
(2) The Minister shall, in prescribing a percentage for the purpose of subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (b) of subsection (1), have regard to changes in the value of property and the Residential Property Price Index published by the Central Statistics Office.
(3) Where regulations under subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (b) of subsection (1) are proposed to be made, a draft of the regulations shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas not later than 3 months before the beginning of the year in which it is proposed that the regulations shall come into operation, and the regulations shall not be made unless a resolution approving the draft is passed by each such House.”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 65:
NEW SECTION: In page 58, after line 16, to insert the following:
“Miscellaneous amendments of Act of 2015
65. The Act of 2015 is amended—
(a) in section 3, by deleting the following:
“ ‘prescribe’ means prescribe by regulations;”,
(b) in paragraph (d) of section 8, by inserting “by regulations” after “prescribe”,
(c) in section 9, by—
(i) substituting “was not a vacant site” for “, or a majority of the site, was not vacant or idle” in subsection (2), and
(ii) substituting “a vacant site” for “vacant or idle” in subsection (3),
(d) in subsection (2) of section 18, by substituting the following paragraph for paragraph (a):
“(a) the site was no longer a vacant site on 1 January in the year concerned, or”,
and
(e) by substituting the following section for section 25:
“25. (1) The Minister may make regulations for the purposes of this Part.
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), regulations under this section may make provision in relation to—
(a) the establishment and maintenance of the register under section 6,
(b) the procedure for the making of an entry in the register under section 7,
(c) the procedure for the cancellation of an entry in the register,
(d) the form of notice to be given under section 7, 9, 11, 12, 13 or 18,
(e) the form of a demand for payment under section 15,
(f) the form of a receipt or certificate under section 21.
(3) Regulations under this Part may contain such incidental, supplemental and consequential provisions as appear to the Minister to be necessary or expedient.
(4) Every regulation (other than a regulation under subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section 16) or order under this Part shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the regulation or order is passed by either such House within the next 21 days on which that House sits after the regulation or order is laid before it, the regulation or order shall be annulled accordingly, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.

Seanad amendments Nos. 66 to 76, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

Seanad amendment No. 66:
NEW SECTION: In page 58, after line 16, to insert the following:
“PART 5
MARINE SPATIAL PLANS
Interpretation
66. (1) In this Part—
“Act of 2006” means the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act 2006;
“coastal waters” means, in relation to the State—
(a) surface water on the landward side of a line, every point of which is at a distance of one nautical mile on the seaward side from the nearest point of the baseline (within the meaning of section 85 of the Act of 2006), and
(b) the outer limit of those bodies of surface water in the vicinity of river mouths that are partly saline in character as a result of their proximity to surface water referred to in paragraph (a) and that are substantially influenced by freshwater flows;
“company” has the meaning assigned to it by the Companies Act 2014;
“Directive” means Directive 2014/89/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 establishing a framework for marine spatial planning;
“enactment” has the meaning assigned to it by the Interpretation Act 2005;
“marine spatial plan” has the meaning assigned to it by section 69;
“maritime area” means—
(a) the foreshore within the meaning of the Foreshore Act 1933,
(b) the territorial seas within the meaning of Part 3 of the Act of 2006,
(c) the exclusive economic zone within the meaning of Part 3 of the Act of 2006,
(d) any area of the sea bed or subsoil outside the said foreshore, territorial seas and exclusive economic zone over which the State has rights for the purposes of exploration thereof and exploitation of natural resources, and
(e) coastal waters;
“Minister” means the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government;
“North-East Atlantic marine region” means the marine region to which the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, done at Paris on 22 September 1992, applies;
“public body” means—
(a) a Minister of the Government,
(b) a local authority within the meaning of the Local Government Act 2001,
(c) a body (other than a company) established by or under an enactment,
(d) a company established pursuant to a power conferred by or under an enactment, and financed wholly or partly by—
(i) moneys provided, or loans made or guaranteed, by a Minister of the Government, or
(ii) the issue of shares held by or on behalf of a Minister of the Government.
(2) A word or expression used in this Part that is also used in the Directive shall have the meaning that it has in the Directive.”.

I saw the ads in the paper for a consultation on the marine spatial plan. I thought it was a bit previous to have the ads in the paper before the legislation has passed. I realise these is just enabling provisions. There is an awful lot to be said about marine spatial planning but my understanding is that this is just to enable the consultation to take place. It did seem a bit premature to see the ads in the paper.

The roadmap to the plan was launched in December 2017 and the process will take about two or two and a half years. There were a couple of lengthy debates on it in the Seanad as well. A decision was made to include it in this Bill to give it the same footing as the national planning framework. It is a positive development to put in into this Bill. I urge Members to get involved in the consultation process because it is an important strategy.

I am absolutely supportive of the marine spatial strategy. When the Tánaiste, Deputy Coveney, was Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, at the start of that process, there was a lot of discussion and work done in the Department on the issue. My question was just around the ads but I think the Minister of State is saying the process was happening anyway and these provisions are putting it on a statutory basis.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 67:
NEW SECTION: In page 58, after line 16, to insert the following:
“Competent authority
67. The Minister shall be the competent authority for the purposes of the Directive.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 68:
NEW SECTION: In page 58, after line 16, to insert the following:
“Application of Part
68. (1) This Part shall apply to the maritime area.
(2) This Part shall not apply to those parts of the maritime area to which a development plan, a local area plan, the national planning framework, a regional spatial and economic strategy, a guideline or a directive under Part II of the Principal Act applies.
(3) This Part shall not apply to activities that relate solely to defence or national security.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 69:
NEW SECTION: In page 58, after line 16, to insert the following:
“Marine spatial plans
69. (1) The Minister shall, following the carrying out of a process of marine spatial planning, prepare and publish a plan (in this Part referred to as a “marine spatial plan”) for the maritime area in accordance with this Part and the Directive.
(2) The objectives of the marine spatial plan shall be—
(a) to analyse and organise activities in the maritime area for the purpose of achieving ecological, economic and social priorities,
(b) to establish a national strategy for Government in relation to the strategic planning and sustainable development in the maritime area,
(c) to apply an ecosystem based approach for the purpose of supporting proper planning and sustainable development in the maritime area, and
(d) to encourage the colocation of relevant activities and developments in the maritime area.
(3) The Minister may prepare—
(a) one marine spatial plan for the entire of the maritime area,
(b) different marine spatial plans for different parts of the maritime area, or
(c) a marine spatial plan referred to in paragraph (a) and different marine spatial plans referred to in paragraph (b).
(4) The Minister shall, in the performance of his or her functions under this section—
(a) give consideration to the matters specified in paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Directive, and
(b) aim to contribute to the matters specified in paragraph 2 of Article 5.
(5) A marine spatial plan shall identify the matters specified in paragraph 1 of Article 8 of the Directive and the Minister shall, when making a marine spatial plan, ensure compliance with paragraph 2 of that Article.
(6) Marine spatial plans for the time being in force shall be known collectively as the National Marine Planning Framework.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 70:
NEW SECTION: In page 58, after line 16, to insert the following:
“Requirements of marine spatial planning
70. (1) The Minister shall, for the purpose of marine spatial planning and the preparation of a marine spatial plan—
(a) comply, or ensure compliance, with the requirements of paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 6, and Articles 10, 11 and 12, of the Directive, and
(b) take account of circumstances particular to the North-East Atlantic marine region.
(2) The Minister shall, not later than 6 years after publication of the most recent National Marine Planning Framework, carry out a review thereof and, following the completion of the review, either—
(a) prepare and publish in accordance with this Part and the Directive a new National Marine Planning Framework replacing the first-mentioned National Marine Planning Framework, or
(b) in circumstances where he or she decides not to prepare and publish a new National Marine Planning Framework, prepare and publish a statement setting out the reasons why he or she has decided not to do so.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 71:
NEW SECTION: In page 58, after line 16, to insert the following:
“Public participation on marine spatial plans
71. The Minister shall make arrangements to ensure compliance by the State with the requirements of Article 9 of the Directive.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 72:
NEW SECTION: In page 58, after line 16, to insert the following:
“Strategic environmental assessment and appropriate assessment
72. The Minister shall, in the preparation of a National Marine Planning Framework, ensure that the National Marine Planning Framework does not contravene the following acts of the institutions of the European Union, or any provision of an Act of the Oireachtas or instrument under an Act of the Oireachtas enacted or made for the purpose of giving effect to any such act:
(a) Directive 2001/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2001 on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment;
(b) Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds;
(c) Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 73:
NEW SECTION: In page 58, after line 16, to insert the following:
“Laying of marine spatial plans before each House of Oireachtas
73. (1) Where the Minister proposes to make a marine spatial plan, he or she shall lay a draft of the plan, together with the Environmental Report and Appropriate Assessment Report in respect thereof, before each House of the Oireachtas, and shall not make the plan until a resolution approving of the draft has been passed by each such House.
(2) The Minister shall, in the making of a marine spatial plan, have regard to any resolution, report or recommendation of any committee of both Houses of the Oireachtas or either such House in so far as such resolution, report or recommendation relates to a draft laid before each such House in accordance with subsection (1).”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 74:
NEW SECTION: In page 58, after line 16, to insert the following:
“Compliance by public bodies
74. (1) A public body shall adopt such measures as—
(a) are consistent with its functions, and
(b) necessary to secure the objectives of the National Marine Planning Framework.
(2) In this section “functions” includes—
(a) the formulation of any policy, programme or plan in relation to development or activity, or proposed development or activity, in the maritime area,
(b) the giving of any consent or approval, or the grant or issue of licences, certificates or other like documents, under any enactment for the purposes of any such development or activity, or any such proposed development or activity,
(c) the regulation of any such development or activity.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 75:
NEW SECTION: In page 58, after line 16, to insert the following:
“Directions of Minister
75. (1) The Minister may give a direction to a public body to adopt such measures as are specified in the direction relating to—
(a) the implementation of marine spatial planning,
(b) compliance with a marine spatial plan, or
(c) compliance with the State’s obligation under the Directive.
(2) A direction under this section shall be in writing and may apply to one or more than one public body.
(3) A public body to whom a direction under this section is given shall comply with the direction.
(4) In this section “public body” does not include the Minister.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 76:
NEW SECTION: In page 58, after line 16, to insert the following:
“Revocation
76. (1) The Regulations of 2016 are revoked.
(2) In this section “Regulations of 2016” means the European Union (Framework for Marine Spatial Planning) Regulations 2016 (S.I. No. 352 of 2016).”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 77:
Schedule 1: In page 61, to delete lines 4 and 5 and substitute the following:

(d) where relevant, to the National Transport Authority.”.

”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 78:
Schedule 1: In page 62, to delete lines 2 to 5 and substitute the following:

(a) make available on the website of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government a direction under subsection (16), and

”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 79:
Schedule 1: In page 62, to delete line 38 and substitute the following:

(c)to the National Transport Authority.”.

”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 80:
Schedule 1: In page 63, to delete lines 40 to 43 and substitute the following :

(a)make available on the website of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government a direction under subsection (16), and

”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 81:
Title: In page 5, line 5, to delete “Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2015” and substitute “Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2018”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 82:
Title: In page 5, lines 14 and 15, to delete “and to provide for connected matters” and substitute the following:
“; to amend the Derelict Sites Act 1990; to give effect to Directive 2014/89/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014¹ establishing a framework for marine spatial planning; and to provide for matters connected therewith”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.

Agreement to the Seanad amendments other than amendments Nos. 41 and 42 is reported to the House. A message will be sent to Seanad Éireann acquainting it that Dáil Éireann has agreed to amendments No. 1 to 40, inclusive, and amendments Nos. 43 to 83, inclusive, made by Seanad Éireann to the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016. Dáil Éireann has not agreed to amendments Nos. 41 and 42 and desires that Seanad Éireann should not insist thereon.

Seanad amendments reported.
The Dáil adjourned at 6.05 p.m. until 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 10 July 2018.