That, pursuant to Standing Order 187, it be an instruction to the Dáil in Committee on the Planning and Development Bill 2020, that it has power to make amendments to the Bill
which are outside the scope of the existing provisions of the Bill, in relation to:
(a) amendments to Part XA of the Planning and Development Act 2000, for the purpose of requiring An Bord Pleanála to refuse an application for substitute consent in the absence of exceptional circumstances and enabling members of the public to make submissions and observations in relation to the question as to whether such circumstances exist; and
(b) amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, for the purposes of increasing notice periods in relation to notices of termination served on tenants under tenancies of dwellings during the period from 11th January, 2021 to 12th April, 2021, for failure to pay rent due and prohibiting increases in rents on tenancies of dwellings during that period.
The purpose of this motion is to instruct the Dáil in committee that, pursuant to Standing Order 187, it has the power to make amendments to the Planning and Development Bill 2020 which are outside the scope of the existing provisions of the Bill. In this regard, I will introduce amendments to the Planning and Development Bill 2020 on Committee Stage later this evening.
The Committee Stage amendments to this Bill are twofold and comprise amendments to Part XA of the Planning and Development Act 2000 and amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. The amendments to Part 2 of the Planning and Development Bill 2020, relating to substitute consent under Part XA of the Planning and Development Act 2000, are as follows.
In order to comply with the findings of a Supreme Court judgment of 1 July 2020 relating to substitute consent legislation, it is necessary to amend the substitute consent provisions under Part XA of the Planning and Development Act 2000 to provide for exceptional circumstances to be considered in a second stage application for substitute consent at section 177K of the planning Act along with the necessary ancillary provisions to ensure that additional public participation is facilitated, where required, with respect to the consideration of exceptional circumstances as well as on the wider application. Until recently these urgent legislative proposals were being drafted by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel in anticipation that the amendment to the planning Act could be introduced by way of European Communities 1972 Act regulations to implement incidental, supplementary and consequential provisions to the EIA directive into national law. The Attorney General advised three weeks ago, however, that the 1972 regulations approach should not be used and that instead the provisions should be introduced as soon as possible by way of primary legislation in amendments to the Planning and Development Bill 2020. The necessity to introduce these technical amendments into existing substitute consent provisions in the planning Act is a matter of urgency as these provisions will facilitate the earlier resolution of the terms of the separate November 2019 judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU against Ireland in case C-261/18, the second Derrybrien wind farm case. Without these proposed amendments to ensure that the substitute consent process is in compliance with the EIA directive, the ability of the State to meet the terms of this CJEU judgment has been called into question, with all the significant costs of delay from the accruing daily fines that go with it.
The Residential Tenancies Act amendment to the Planning and Development Bill 2020, specifically Part 3 of the amended Bill, are as follows. The time-critical provisions contained within the proposed new Part 3 of the Residential Tenancies Bill provide for enhanced protections for those tenants who are facing rent arrears due to Covid-19 and as a result are at risk of losing their tenancy, subject to certain conditions, from 11 January 2021 until 12 April 2021, effectively extending the protections we brought in in July of this year right through to April 2021. The temporary tenancy protections provided under the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020 are due to expire on 10 January, and it is not possible to assess or forecast the full and continuing economic impact on tenants in the residential rental sector of successive restrictions on the movement of people during 2020 and possibly 2021. The proposed amendments need to be introduced as a matter of urgency in this Bill ahead of the expiry date of the protections under the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act on 10 January 2021. It is critical that these provisions are enacted before 11 January to ensure that those tenants who continue to need protection due to the economic impact of Covid-19 can continue to rely on those protections for a further period until 12 April 2021. Through the enhanced tenancy protections under Part 3, the Government aims to balance carefully and in a calibrated manner the legitimate interests of both the property owner and the tenant during the Covid-19 pandemic.
I look forward to our debate on the motion. I will seek to respond as best as I can to any specific questions or legitimate points that are made.