The law governing the planning process for railways in this country makes An Bord Pleanála the State body responsible for considering and, if appropriate, approving applications for railway developments. The law provides that any such approvals by the Bord are made through issuing a "Railway Order" which, in essence, sets out the terms of the planning permission for a railway works or development. As the Deputy will be aware, An Bord Pleanála is independent in the exercise of its statutory functions, and the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport has no role in relation to its operation or deliberations on a particular application.
The Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended by the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006, provides that any proposed railway works in an application for a railway order made to An Bord Pleanála come within the definition of "strategic infrastructure development".
In considering an application for a railway order, An Bord Pleanála is required, under section 37 of the Transport (Railway Infrastructure) Act 2001, to consider certain matters, including the likely consequences for proper planning and sustainable development in the area in which it is proposed to carry out the railway works. In addition, An Bord Pleanála is required to have regard to the policies and objectives referred to in section 143 of the Planning and Development Act 2000; the legislation specifies that these include the policies and objectives of the Government, a State authority, the Minister, planning authorities and any other body which is a public authority whose functions have, or may have, a bearing on the proper planning and sustainable development of cities, towns or other areas, whether rural or urban.