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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 6 Apr 2022

Vol. 284 No. 6

Planning and Development (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2022: Second Stage

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I congratulate our new Member, Senator Tom Clonan. I wish him the very best of luck as he takes his seat. It is a great achievement for him and his family.

I am grateful for the opportunity to introduce the Planning and Development (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2022. I thank Senators for facilitating the passage of this important substitute consent legislation through the House. The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Planning and Development Act 2000 at Part X(a) relating to substitute consent procedures. Substitute consent is a process that concerns applications seeking to regularise existing developments requiring retrospective environmental impact assessment, EIA, or appropriate assessment, AA, in exceptional circumstances. The Bill seeks to streamline the process to provide for a single-stage application process and achieves this by the deletion of the initial leave to apply stage.

The amendments in the present Bill follow on from prior amendments to the substitute consent process introduced by sections 6, 7 and 8 of the Planning and Development Act and the Residential Tenancies Act 2020, No. 27 of 2020, as enacted on 19 December 2020. This 2020 legislation was introduced as an initial interim response to the Supreme Court judgment issued on 1 July 2020 in the Ballysax v. McQuaid cases, which were three joint appeal cases relating to two quarries, namely, An Taisce v. An Bord Pleanála, An Taisce v. An Bord Pleanála and Sweetman v. An Bord Pleanála. The 2020 Act amendments ensured that the findings of the judgment were addressed and the issue of exceptional circumstances in each substitute consent application case would be considered not only in the initial leave-to-apply stage but also at the substantive application stage, which involves full public participation. In deciding exceptional circumstances, the board must consider a number of prescribed matters, including whether regularisation of the development concerned would circumvent the EIA directive or the habitats directive and whether the applicant could reasonably have had a belief that the development was not unauthorised. The 2020 Act amendments, in effect, render the initial leave-to-apply stage, which did not include public participation, redundant. This Bill's proposed deletion of the redundant leave-to-apply stage has ensured that the 2000 Act has retained all of the established criteria that the board as a competent authority is required to consider when determining whether exceptional circumstances exist in substitute consent applications on a case-by-case basis.

Related amendments are also proposed to section 34(12) of the 2000 Act to clarify provisions allowing planning authorities and the board to screen an application for retention permission for EIA and AA and to refuse to consider applications for retention of unauthorised developments where either EIA or AA are screened in, in which case the applicant can only consider the substitute consent process. Amendments are also proposed to extend section 37(l) of the planning Act, which currently allows simultaneous applications for any future development to An Bord Pleanála, along with substitute consent applications for certain quarries. The present amendment to section 37(l) will allow for simultaneous applications being made in respect of all types of developments. This amendment seeks to encourage the regularisation and remediation of unauthorised developments as well as allowing an integrated assessment by the board of such related proposals, which will also be of benefit for the understanding of the public. However, it should be noted that if the substitute consent application is refused, the future development proposal must also be refused.

In addition to my comments on the Planning and Development (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2022, I wish to inform the House that I intend to introduce further Government amendments as the Bill makes it way through the legislative process on Committee Stage. These amendments relate not only to the planning legislation but to other legislation under the remit of my Department. I will, therefore, outline the position on each of these amendments, with the first three amendments relating to the planning Act.

The first amendment relates to ministerial directions regarding statutory plans and related provisions. Technical amendments to section 31 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, relating to ministerial directions regarding statutory plans and related provisions are being examined by my Department to address inconsistencies and to ensure the effective operation of the section 31 process as it applies to statutory plans made, amended or varied by planning authorities and regional assemblies under the Act.

The second amendment relates to flexibility in regard to planning applications. This amendment would provide that planning applications may include a limited number of design options, where such details or specifications are unknown or cannot be confirmed at the time of the application. The amendment is intended to provide clarity on foot of a recent High Court judgment in a planning-related judicial review case and to ensure that a certain degree of flexibility at planning application stage can be maintained, with appropriate safeguards for the public consultation phase and environmental assessment to ensure that sufficient clarity is provided for the planning authority and stakeholders. My Department is working with the Office of the Attorney General with regard to progressing this Committee Stage amendment.

The third amendment relates to judicial review. The previous Government approved a general scheme of a Bill which included some amendments to the judicial review process. The programme for Government refers to this in tandem with the establishment of the planning and environmental law court, which will be a division of the High Court. A working group, led by the Department of Justice, is leading on the court establishment issue. While public consultation advanced on the Bill, it has not yet been subject to pre-legislative scrutiny. The review of the planning Act, being led by the Attorney General, has a specific work stream on judicial review. At this stage, it is envisaged that substantive changes would advance through that process. However, in the interim the Minister is considering whether some straightforward elements of the planning and development (judicial review) Bill could be incorporated as amendments to this Bill as it progresses through the Oireachtas. This would include aspects such as ensuring that all administrative reviews or appeals processes should be exhausted before a referral to the courts. This would be in line with the reference to this process within the environmental impact assessment directive.

The following proposed Committee Stage amendments relate to legislation other than the planning Act. I propose to bring forward amendments to the Affordable Housing Act 2021 relating to affordable purchase scheme. Part 2 of the Act provides for the establishment of a local authority-led affordable purchase scheme. It contains a provision where the local authority equity interest in the home it makes available is registerable as a burden in the Land Registry portfolio. A technical amendment will now be made to register this interest as an inhibition rather than a burden.

Part 4 of the Affordable Housing Act 2021 provides the basis for the first home affordable purchase shared equity scheme, which will be available nationwide. The scheme, which is intended will be introduced from the end of quarter 2, will support first-time buyers on moderate incomes in purchasing new-build homes in private developments by means of an equity share model. It is proposed to make a technical amendment to Part 4, inserting a new section 41A. On the advice of the Attorney General, it is considered necessary and prudent to bring forward an amendment to provide a clear and explicit legal basis for the registration and removal of a beneficial interest. This will be in the form of an inhibition in the same manner as the local authority affordable purchase scheme under Part 2.

I will also bring forward amendments to the residential tenancies and valuation Acts These proposed amendments are to section 14 of the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020 and section 21 of the Valuation Act 2001, with possible consequential amendments to sections 23 and 60 of the 2001 Act as they relate to the national revaluation programme. The proposed amendments are intended to facilitate the Commissioner of Valuation to postpone the roll-out of the revaluation of rateable properties as a result of the effects of Covid-19 restrictions during 2020 and 2021. This decision will require amending legislation to allow for existing valuation orders to be wound up and new valuation orders to be made for rating authorities.

The Minister is also considering legal advices regarding the necessity for technical amendments to the Foreshore Act 1933 to deal with the potential issues arising with the assessment of applications as prescribed under the Act, which technical amendments brought forward by way of Committee Stage amendments to this Bill.

The Bill, as initiated, is needed to streamline the important substitute consent procedures for applications to regularise existing developments requiring retrospective environmental impact assessment or appropriate assessment. Public consultation is a critical component of planning legislation. My Department committed to the Oireachtas joint committee in the pre-legislative scrutiny process to extend the public consultation period for substitute consent applications from five to eight weeks. This detail is not included in the Bill, as details such as the minimum length of public consultation periods for planning applications are contained in secondary planning regulations, namely, the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended. I will amend these regulations to introduce an eight-week consultation period for substitute consent applications later this year at the same time as the commencement of the enacted Bill. I look forward to hearing Senators' views on the legislation.

I commend the Bill to the House.

I thank the Minister of State. I call Senator Cummins.

I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Burke, to the House. I thank him and his officials for bringing forward this short but important and complex legislation. It is important in the context of regularising and, in the case of unauthorised development, remediating developments such as quarries that may have cropped up over the course of a significant period of time without planning permission. This legislation was given quite an airing at the Oireachtas joint committee late last year. I thank the Minister of State's officials for briefing members of the committee on the provisions of the legislation. As stated by the Minister of State, this Bill follows on from the interim amendments made in 2020 as a result of the Ballysax and McQuaid cases, which legislation was enacted at the end of 2020. This legislation builds on that and puts it on a permanent and statutory footing, which is welcome.

I had proposed to keep my comments relatively short but as the Minister of State has informed the House of the significant number of amendments to be brought forward by Government in the areas of statutory plans, judicial reviews, affordable purchase, the revaluation programme and in regard to the foreshore Act, I would like to comment in anticipation of those amendments.

The Minister of State referenced the programme for Government commitment in regard to the judicial review and the work that is ongoing by the Attorney General in that regard. It is welcome that elements of that may be brought forward as part of this legislation, to ensure that in the administrative reviews all avenues would be pursued before it becomes necessary to go the judicial review route. I welcome any changes that would enhance the affordable purchase scheme and the first-home affordable purchase shared equity scheme, which will be in place by 1 July, as confirmed at an Oireachtas joint committee meeting a couple of weeks ago.

The first-home shared equity scheme is a very important element of Housing For All, which will bridge the gap between the purchase price and the maximum mortgage amount that an individual, a couple or a family is able to get from a pillar bank or a housing loan through a local authority. It is also important to put on the record of the House that there are many in the Opposition who are opposed to that scheme which will help so many people in getting their foot on the ladder for the first time, and that is obviously regrettable.

I refer to the affordable purchase scheme through the local authorities. Three schemes have been approved in my local authority area of Waterford, some of the first in partnership with developers, that will see units delivered for families in this calendar year, which is hugely welcome. The regulation on the criteria for the selection of those homes is due to be published by the end of the week.

I look forward to teasing out the amendments further on Committee Stage in regard to the revaluation programme. I am sure any moves that will assist and streamline that process will be welcomed by the local authority sector. One of the issues that I experienced during my time in local government was when a new premises was established with a company operating, possibly a multinational corporation, if it was completed in the middle of the year, it was not valued until the following year. This means the local authority did not get any income from rates until the following year. Perhaps that could be taken on board by the Minister of State if it is not already being incorporated as part of the amendments the Government has in mind.

I welcome the Bill. Obviously, it will be added to significantly as we progress it through the Houses. I look forward to teasing the issues out as we progress through the stages.

I thank the Minister of State for setting out the Planning and Development (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill and for informing us of the significant amendments that are to follow. It being my debut in the House, I cannot comment in detail on the proposed amendments and the discussion that will follow. Anything that ameliorates and fast tracks our response to the housing crisis is very welcome.

I come from the university sector. I have been there for the past 20 years. I teach classes of postgraduate students, the most wonderful young people in their mid-20s and, increasingly, none of them have the very modest aspiration of owning their own home or apartment. That is something I know everybody in this House and the Dáil is anxious to work on. We need to fix that because shelter and a home is a functional prerequisite. It is a fundamental human right in the UN Charter. If we do not have that functional prerequisite, we have by definition a dysfunctional society. I am glad to see the work that is being done. I know there is disagreement on the shared equity scheme and other elements of the Minister's proposals, but at least we are of one mind in terms of our focus in that regard.

I thank the House for welcoming me here as the University of Dublin Senator. Even though I am a Trinity graduate, like the Minister of State, I am a Christian Brothers boy from Finglas, not from Mullingar, but I do have relatives not from Kinnegad. I know the Minister of State cannot vote for me but they might be able to vote for him.

They are all welcome.

I will have to do my research. I thank the Cathaoirleach for giving me the opportunity to speak. I thank the Minster of State for setting out everything so clearly.

The Minister of State is welcome to the House. I compliment Senator Clonan. I was not here the other day, but it was nice to hear him say a few words on this debate and I am sure he will make many valuable contributions to the House in his time here.

Naturally, Fianna Fáil welcomes this Bill which concerns the substitute consent regime of Part XA of the Planning and Development Act 2000. The Bill's purpose, as the Minister of State pointed out, is essentially to streamline the substitute consent procedure in the planning system. Streamlining of the substitute consent regime is required to increase the efficiency and utility of the process in order to safeguard confidence in the Irish planning system by eliminating a surplus step in the substitute consent process. We all believe that to be important. It will also ensure that the system is fully in compliance with EU environmental requirements and recent court judgments. In this context, it is proposed to provide for a single-stage application process under the remit of An Bord Pleanála. This would replace the current two-stage process.

It is also proposed to amend section 37L of the planning Act, as the Minister of State mentioned, which currently allows simultaneous applications to be made for certain quarry developments for both future development and substitute consent to An Bord Pleanála at the same time, so that simultaneous applications will be open to all types of development.

Amendments are proposed, as referred, to section 34(12) of the Act, to require planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála to screen an application or an appeal for retention permission for an environmental impact assessment, EIA, or appropriate assessment, AA, and to refuse to consider applications for retention of unauthorised development where either an EIA or AA are screened in.

The amendments to the Bill supplement the amendments introduced in December 2020 under the Planning and Development, and Residential Tenancies, Act 2020. The amendments of December 2020 obliged the board to consider whether exceptional circumstances exist at the substantive substitute consent application stage in order to justify a grant of substitute consent, which ensures that this consideration of exceptional circumstances is subject to full public participation at the substantive application stage. Previously, exceptional circumstances had only been considered at the initial application for leave stage, which stage does not provide for public participation. The European Union’s EIA directive requires that projects likely to have significant environmental effects must undergo an EIA before development consent is given. In 2008, the Court of Justice of the European Union, CJEU, in case C-215/06 found that Ireland's planning provisions that facilitated retention permission applications for existing developments, in other words, retrospective applications for consent, where such developments also required an EIA was contrary to EU law. Accordingly, section 34(12) of the planning Act was amended in 2011 so that planning authorities cannot accept applications for retention of unauthorised development where, had an application been made before development had commenced, it would have required an EIA, an EIA screening determination or an appropriate assessment.

The CJEU judgment at the same time did recognise that EU law does not preclude regularisation of unauthorised EIA developments in exceptional circumstances provided that this does not facilitate the circumvention or evasion of EU environmental obligations. In this context, the "substitute consent" facility under Part XA of the planning Act was introduced and became effective in September 2011.

Substitute consent procedures under Part XA of the Act allow for the regularisation and the undertaking of retrospective EIA or AA of development that has already been carried out. Substitute consent applications are determined by An Bord Pleanála for existing developments that required an EIA, EIA screening or an AA but where such assessments were not carried out.

In deciding "exceptional circumstances", the board must consider a number of matters prescribed at section 177D(2) of the planning Act, including whether regularisation of the development concerned would circumvent the EIA directive or the habitats directive and whether the applicant could reasonably have had a belief that the development was not unauthorised.

There is currently no entitlement to make an application for substitute consent directly to the board.

Substitute consent is generally a two-stage process requiring either a direction issued by a planning authority or grant of leave by the board to apply to the board for substitute consent at a first stage, followed by the making of a substantive application for substitute consent to the board at the second stage.

The Minister of State has dealt adequately with the amendments and the court judgments. I will not continue on with that because it would only be repetition. I join the previous two speakers and the Minster of State in saying we all wish for more houses to become available as quickly as possible. It is in everybody's interest. Even if we disagree on various aspects of the housing plan that is going forward, everybody's heart is in the right place and everybody wants us to have more housing available so that people can at least have a roof over their heads. Many young people are saying that if we cannot do something about the housing situation, they do not have much of a future.

The Minister of State is welcome. I also welcome the Bill. It has been through pre-legislative scrutiny, which it is always important to point out. I am going to go over the main conclusion from the pre-legislative scrutiny because I think it encapsulates everything, although I will find some other points to go through in my contribution. The pre-legislative scrutiny concluded that these streamlining provisions are urgently required to ensure confidence in the Irish planning system by eliminating surplus steps in the substitute consent process to ensure it is efficient, fit for purpose and fully in compliance with EU environmental requirements and recent court judgments. That is what pre-legislative scrutiny anticipated this Bill will do.

It is important to consider the history of the situation. From my own investigations, I understand the 2000 Act, as amended in 2010, which dealt with substitute consent, was an attempt to rectify deficiencies that were identified in 2006 by the European Court of Justice. In 2020, in a case heard by the Supreme Court, it was found that part of the substitute consent was inconsistent with EU environmental law and, in particular, the environmental impact assessment, EIA, directive. That judgment is important. The case was taken by An Taisce, which sometimes comes in for criticism but can lead to better outcomes, in that it has brought us to this point of amending our planning laws. I will touch briefly on some of the amendments Senator Cummins has raised and that I am in favour of. As I have said in the past, if we address issues, we will not need the same number of judicial reviews. That is where we need to get to with all our planning laws. We can reduce the level of judicial reviews through these efficiency measures. This is exactly that kind of measure. It shows we have the willingness to do that, as was encapsulated in the programme for Government.

I will point out two of the recommendations from the committee and ask the Minister of State where they stand. The first recommendation is that regulations governing time limits for public consultation on substitute applications be extended from five to 12 weeks. Having spoken to the Chair of the committee, my colleague Deputy Matthews, who is here and is welcome, I know that if the first stage of the process is eliminated, there may be an opportunity to extend consultation. There may only be one stage but it would include full public participation, the lack of which was a key part of the criticism in the 2020 judgment of the Supreme Court.

The second recommendation is that the Department provides for adequate staff and resources for planning and enforcement departments in local authorities. We all agree on that point. I ask the Minister of State to update us on that matter, which is important.

Those are my main points. I will come back in on Committee Stage. It would be valuable if the Minister of State were to have a conversation with Senators and Deputy Matthews about the amendments and our views on them. We are fundamentally in favour of the Bill. It takes into consideration all of the environmental assessments that are required. We came in for criticism in 2006 because planning retentions were widespread across Ireland, which we all remember. We have moved beyond that but this Bill will move us even further. It will bring us closer to proper environmental assessment, done efficiently, which can reduce the number of appeals.

A copy of the Minister of State's speech was not distributed. Will the Minister of State remind me how many amendments he proposes to bring forward on Committee Stage? I am wondering why they were not included in the Bill as drafted so we could debate those issues on Second Stage, as would normally be the case.

I read the briefing note that was drafted and circulated last week and the words "unauthorised developments" were used on two separate occasions. I am sure I have heard those words in the course of this debate. What we are talking about here are illegal developments. These developments are breaking the law. They do not have planning permission or consent under Irish or EU environmental law. Because of the failure of previous governments to deal with the issue and because of their failure to legislate to create a process to deal with it, there are an enormous number of illegal developments in the State. There are illegal quarries, illegal peat harvesting and illegal wind farms, such as the one at Derrybrien.

Sinn Féin welcomes this Bill because there continue to be far too many illegal developments. We want to work with the Government to fix this issue. These developments are not only in breach of planning law but are potentially causing significant destruction of the social, economic and environmental well-being of our communities. It is not some minor issue.

I mentioned Derrybrien wind farm in south County Galway. A piece in The Irish Times on 8 February 2022 stated:

The peat slide in October 2003 during excavation work for the wind farm saw 450,000 tonnes of peat disturbed over an area of 25 hectares and resulted in the mass movement of 250,000 tonnes of material downslope.

Inland Fisheries Ireland told the appeals board that investigations after the peat slide indicated that about 50,000 fish died in an 18 km stretch of river down to Lough Cutra.

The State has already amassed fines of €17 million as a result of an ongoing failure to ensure proper standards were adhered to at the Derrybrien development.

I understand this is the single biggest case of an illegal development in our history. For 20 years, because of an illegal development, the social, environmental and economic well-being of this part of Galway has been devastated. Because of an inadequacy on the part of the State and its Government, €17 million worth of fines has been amassed.

In February, An Bord Pleanála ruled on the matter and refused substitute consent to the ESB subsidiary Gort Windfarms. The wind farm should never have been built. I am concerned that the decision by An Bord Pleanála does not state what should happen next. Who is going to pay? Who is going to clean up the mess? Who will undo the environmental damage? Who will compensate the local community? The Bill is silent on all of those issues when it should have been the place to outline what happens next. What is left for the people of Derrybrien who have had to endure 20 years of destruction? Given what they have had to put up with and the scale of the fines the State has had to pay, it is important we get this legislation right. We are supporting the Bill but we have genuine concerns I hope the Minister of State will address. I hope we can resolve those concerns here in the Seanad or in the Dáil at a later time.

The legislation is doing away with the application to leave stage. Why are we doing away with that stage in the substitute consent process? It is removing a significant step in the process and, therefore, I would like the reasoning to be explained in full.

I am also concerned that we are allowing someone who has applied for substitute consent to simultaneously apply for permission for a new development. Sinn Féin is of the view that the go-ahead for that new development is essentially rewarding somebody who has been breaking the law with a fast-track planning application. It does not make any sense if somebody who has been breaking the law for a number of years gets this favour from applying for substitute consent and gets fast-tracked planning permission to do something else. If someone who has been breaking planning law wants to apply for a new development, that should be done through the mainstream planning process. There should be no access to a fast-tracked process for a new development rolled in with the substitute consent process. Let us not reward bad behaviour in planning.

I am also surprised that there is no consideration in this Bill for the sub-threshold developments and that they have been excluded from the Bill. I would like the Minister of State to explain that in his response. Whether the original development would have automatically required an EIA or an EIA screening, both should have to be addressed in this Bill and it is a mistake that they are not. I am interested in hearing the Minister of State's response to that. Substitute consent should only be granted in exceptional circumstances and I am disappointed that the Government has not strengthened the exceptionality test. My fear is that illegal developments will secure substitute consent even if there are no exceptional grounds involved. Why did the Government not revise or strengthen the existing exceptionality test and amend that legislation? In this Bill that has been removed or transposed from the old legislation.

I ask the Minister of State to outline to the House exactly what he is doing about public consultation. The better the public consultation process, the better the outcomes for everyone. What level of access will the public have to information, consultation and documentation? Is the Minister of State satisfied that the legislation is fully consistent with the Aarhus Convention? Has the Attorney General been consulted to ensure that the provisions of this Bill are consistent with our legal responsibilities under the Aarhus Convention? A series of quarry-specific amendments to this Bill have been introduced but they were not in the general scheme. Why has the Government done this and what are the full implications of those changes?

Is it possible to get a copy of the Minister of State's speech circulated? There seem to be a specific number of amendments coming in and as Senator Warfield says they have not been addressed. We do not want to see a situation - although this would not be overly problematic - like when the whole forestry section was dropped into the fur farming Bill two weeks ago. It is not a good way to do legislation and it would be good for us to have a chance to look at that. We will work with the Minister of State on this but it is fair that we get information on what amendments are going in.

This Bill is intending to amend the 2000 Act to provide for a single stage application process. I want to focus my comments on some of the amendments we might propose on Second Stage, particularly around the area of public participation in our planning process and where that planning relates to quarries. Quarries have significant environmental impacts and we know about that from the Derrynane judgment. Through the SHD system and the housing process we have seen that SHDs undermined people's faith in the planning process and made them believe they had no say in it. Then the planning process got clogged up within the courts system. Public participation, as difficult as it can be for some people, is not something to be undermined, particularly when it relates to environmental impact surveys. Instead of facilitating the two-stage application process with public participation at both stages or even a robust pre-consultation process, the Government has reduced it to a one-stage process in this Bill. For something as important as substitute consent or retention permission that has such environmental impacts it is important that we have robust public participation. That is not to say that public participation should stop or slow up things, but if people are brought along on a process a much better system often emerges at the end.

My final point relates to what the Bill deems to be "exceptional circumstances". This should be considered at more than one stage of the process when such a significant environmental impact on communities is at stake. That is where we will be focusing our amendments. We ask the Minister to circulate a copy of his speech so we can get a clearer idea of what will be changed and amended on Committee Stage. I would hope the changes will not be so significant that we do not have the opportunity to raise them here and propose amendments on Committee Stage, which will lead on to Report Stage. I ask that we could possibly come back and do it again if that was the case.

I thank Senators for engaging in the debate. We will have my speech circulated. I understood that it had been but we will rectify that forthwith.

I thank everyone for their contributions on the Planning and Development (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2022 and for facilitating its swift passage through the House. As I mentioned in my opening speech, the purpose of the Bill is to amend the substitute consent process which concerns retrospective EIA or AA in exceptional circumstances by removing the initial leave-to-apply stage, an initial stage which did not involve public participation. Related provisions clarify that an EIA and AA screening for planning authorities is also included. The Bill also proposes that an existing provision which is presently solely available to quarry projects to allow a simultaneous application for future development at the same time as a substitute consent application should be expanded to include all development types. This is to encourage remediation of existing unauthorised developments. However, as with the existing quarry provisions, if the substitute consent application is refused the future planning application must also be refused.

In the context of the wider planning system, substitute consent applications make up a small and statistically insignificant percentage of the overall number of planning applications. This does not recognise the important of the substitute consent process in bringing certain unauthorised developments back into the planning process where they can be subject to the appropriate environmental oversight and regulation.

I thank Senators for their contributions. I will reference a few points. As I detailed in my opening contribution, we will deal with the extension of the public consultation period by way of secondary regulations in context of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001. They will commence in tandem with this Bill, as I also referenced.

Senator Pauline O'Reilly raised local authority workforce planning, which is ongoing. We are resourcing additional capacity in our local authorities. The large-scale residential development Bill will facilitate that in the context of the increased fee share that will be going to the planning sections of local authorities.

The technical amendments are strictly on the advice of the Attorney General. We are bringing these to the House as a matter of courtesy to inform Senators. They will have to get Government approval to go forward on Committee Stage. We are flagging them with Senators and bringing robust scrutiny to them. They are technical in nature and recommended by the Attorney General. Some of them are time-bound, like the affordable housing amendment. We need to move forward at pace with that.

On quarries, we are treating everything the same way, as I referenced earlier. I also gave the rationale for trying to bring projects that might be unauthorised into the full regulation of the State with regard to environment matters, which is important. Obviously, the risk lies with the developer.

I have covered most of the issues. I look forward to dealing with the Members as we progress this Bill through the Oireachtas.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to take Committee Stage?

Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 12 April 2022.

When is it proposed to sit again?

Tomorrow at 10.30 a.m.

Cuireadh an Seanad ar athló ar 7.20 p.m. go dtí 10.30 a.m., Dé Déardaoin, an 7 Aibreán 2022.
The Seanad adjourned at 7.20 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 7 April 2022.