I propose to take Questions Nos. 508 to 512, inclusive, together.
The Planning Review Report I published, on 12 June 2012, was prepared internally by my Department. The only costs therefore were the salary and relevant travel costs of the officials engaged in preparing the report. I committed to having the Report assessed by an independent planning expert and, on 8 March 2013, I published the Independent Evaluation of the Planning Review Report June 2012 prepared by Mr. Hendrik van der Kamp at a cost of €12,096.00. The Planning Review Report produced strong recommendations which have stood up to independent assessment. Both reports are available on my Department’s website www.environ.ie.
On 14 June, 2013, the High Court made an Order quashing that part of the Planning Review Report relating to Donegal following a settlement between my Department and another party who had brought judicial review proceedings in respect of that part of the Report. The matter has now been disposed of to the satisfaction of both sides.
I am continuing my efforts to restore public confidence in the planning system by opening up the review process and the system to maximum scrutiny. Accordingly, and for the avoidance of any doubt over the validity of the process to date, I have decided to appoint independent consultants, following a new tendering process to be commenced shortly by my Department, to conduct an independent review of the application of planning practices and procedures in the other six local authorities included in the Planning Review Report in light of the settlement of the judicial review proceedings. I have also sought the Attorney General’s advice on how best to proceed in the case of Donegal County Council.