Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (469, 470, 471, 472)

Simon Harris

Question:

480 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will confirm that it is Government policy, in accordance with the guidance documentation provided with sample public private partnership contracts, that contracts concluded to implement public private partnerships should be published and made publicly available, with the exception of those elements of such contracts containing commercially sensitive financial information; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35084/12]

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Simon Harris

Question:

481 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in respect of public private partnerships in which the public partner is a local authority, if and in what circumstances the period of a planning permission may be extended, and if so what are the time limits on such extensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35085/12]

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Simon Harris

Question:

482 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in respect of public private partnerships in which the public partner is a local authority, if there is an independent body whose function it is to oversee the PPP in order to uphold and protect the public interest; and if that body is a Department, the section or branch of that Department that are responsible for upholding the public interest; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35086/12]

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Simon Harris

Question:

483 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in respect of public private partnerships in which the public partner is a local authority and where the PPP project has been established to have the potential for deleterious effects on the environment, the agency responsible for ensuring that conditions of the planning permission or planning approval for the project which are aimed at protecting the environment are implemented by the public and private partners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35087/12]

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

I propose to take Questions Nos. 480 to 483, inclusive, together.

Policy and guidance in relation to Public Private Partnerships generally are matters for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

Local authorities are independent statutory bodies, with democratically elected councils and their own management system. Section 63(3) of the Local Government Act 2001 provides that, subject to law, a local authority is independent in the performance of its functions. The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government's role in relation to local authorities is primarily to provide the policy, financial and legislative framework within which local authorities perform their functions. Local authorities may enter into and implement Public Private Partnerships pursuant to the State Authorities (Public Private Partnership Arrangements) Act 2002. As with other public authorities, local authority actions are subject to review by way of audit, by the Ombudsman in accordance with the relevant statutory requirements and by the courts.

Where development is proposed to be carried out on behalf of or in partnership with a local authority in its own functional area pursuant to a contract with the authority, for example by way of Public Private Partnership, section 179 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 and Part 8 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 apply, under which the development must be approved by the elected members, following a public consultation process. Where, however, the development would require environmental impact assessment or appropriate assessment, it must be submitted to An Bord Pleanála for approval under section 175 or section 177AE, respectively, of the 2000 Act. Neither the approval given by the elected members under Part 8 of the Regulations nor the approval given by the Board under section 175 or section 177AE normally contains a time limit, so the question of the extension of the duration of the approval would not arise.

Part VIII of the 2000 Act provides that the enforcement of planning control is a matter for individual local planning authorities. Under section 30 of the 2000 Act, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government is specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case, including an enforcement matter, with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned.

Question No. 484 answered with Question No. 432.