Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Questions (80)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

80. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason for progressing the housing and planning and development (amendment) Bill; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Bill adds many requirements and restrictions that will make it much harder for persons and environmental NGOs to take cases against developments; the way in which he can address the various concerns outlined by NGOs and private citizens regarding the fundamental changes to the current system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51705/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The reforms set out in the General Scheme for a Housing and Planning and Development (Amendment ) Bill are part of a series of ongoing reforms to ensure that the planning system operates in a streamlined and efficient manner, delivering timely decisions with effective public engagement. The proposed reforms largely emanate from a steering group established by the Department of An Taoiseach on Data Centres and Judicial Review and an associated multi-Departmental and Agency working group mandated by that Group, which was chaired by my Department.

The proposals in the General Scheme are not intended to inhibit actions by any person directly impacted by a proposed development who has participated in the planning process. Prior participation can be waived subject to certain reasonable exclusions. With regard to NGOs, the proposals are to ensure that there is clarity on the standing of NGOs in the process and to ensure that NGO provisions do not result in judicial review challenges being brought forward by bodies or organisations engaged in competitive or economic activity. The proposed cost capping measures are designed to provide a reasonable and proportionate balance in relation to the costs exposure for all parties and also enable the Courts to determine if a case is prohibitively expensive.

I recently launched a public consultation on the General Scheme of the Bill. The consultation enables all interested parties to make submissions on the proposed legislation. This will inform the further development of the draft legislation which will be completed following the conclusion of the consultation process.