Tuesday, 3 February 2004

Questions (374)

Batt O'Keeffe


504 Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if it is his understanding that An Bord Pleanála should adhere to Government policy when arriving at appeal decisions; and his views on whether public trust will be severely diminished. [3153/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

Under section 143 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, An Bord Pleanála is subject to a general requirement to have regard, in performing its functions, to the policies and objectives of the Government, a State authority, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, planning authorities and any other body which is a public authority whose functions have a bearing on the proper planning and sustainable development of any area. The inclusion of this requirement was approved by the Oireachtas when adopting the 2000 Act.

However, when making a decision on any individual case, the board is bound to consider the impact of that specific development on proper planning and sustainable development, having regard to a number of criteria including the relevant local development plan, any written submissions or observations received, as well as any relevant Government policy. While the Minister may determine general policy in an area, he is statutorily barred, under section 30 of the 2000 Act, from exercising any power or control in regard to any particular case with which the board is concerned. I am satisfied that the statutory provisions in the 2000 Act provide a reasonable framework within which An Bord Pleanála must operate, and I believe that there is public confidence in the capacity of the board to make independent decisions.