Under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (the Act), all development, unless specifically exempted under the Act or associated Regulations, requires planning permission.
In this regard, Class 31 of Schedule 2 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended, provides that certain classes of development carried out by a statutory undertaker authorised to provide a telecommunications service are, subject to specified conditions, exempted development from the requirement to obtain planning permission. Where the conditions and size thresholds specified in the exemption class are not complied with or are exceeded, planning permission is required.
These arrangements are considered appropriate for the purpose of supporting the roll-out of a high quality communications service while also taking account of the ongoing technological advances in this area. The legislative provisions are supplemented by planning guidelines entitled the Telecommunications Antennae and Support Structure Guidelines, which originally issued to planning authorities in 1996. In 2012, my Department issued Circular Letter PL07/12 to planning authorities, updating certain sections of these Guidelines. The Guidelines provide advice on appropriate location and siting considerations for telecommunication installations and masts to be considered in the development planning and development management process. The Guidelines, and subsequent Circular Letter, are available on my Department’s website at the following links:
In making decisions on a planning application, a planning authority, or the Board as appropriate, must consider the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, having regard to the provisions of the development plan, any submissions or observations received from the public and the statutory consultees, and any relevant Ministerial or Government policies, including any guidelines issued by the Department. Public participation is a crucial element of all substantive decision-making processes under the Act, and is also a requirement under the UN Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation on Decision Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (the Aarhus Convention) and the European Union Environmental Impact Assessment Directive 2011/92/EU, as amended, in relation to specific types of developments.
The right to appeal is a fundamental aspect of the planning system. An applicant, or anyone who has made a submission or observation in relation to a planning application, may apply to An Bord Pleanála to appeal a decision made by a planning authority in respect of an application for permission. In making decisions in respect of a planning appeal, the Board is required to consider the same matters as the local planning authority did in its consideration of the original planning application and will then reach its own conclusions in relation to the application.
Under section 30 of the Act, I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned, except in specific circumstances which do not apply in this case.