An Bord Pleanála was established in 1977 under the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1976 and is an independent statutory body responsible for the determination of appeals and certain other matters under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, and the determination of applications for strategic infrastructure development including major road and railway cases. It is responsible for dealing with proposals for the compulsory acquisition of land by local authorities and others under various enactments. An Bord Pleanála also has functions to determine appeals under the Building Control, Water and Air Pollution Acts.
Under section 30 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, as Minister, 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.
Section 50 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, provides that, where a question of law arises, any person may apply to the High Court for leave to seek a judicial review of a planning decision made by An Bord Pleanála. Leave to seek a judicial review must usually be sought within eight weeks of the decision, although the High Court may extend this period where it considers that there is good and sufficient reason for doing so. The High Court may only grant leave where it is satisfied that there are substantial grounds for contending that the decision is invalid or should be quashed. The person seeking leave must also have a substantial interest in the decision and have participated in the decision making process or had good and sufficient reasons for not doing so.
Any such application for judicial review does not involve the courts adjudicating on the merits of a proposed development from the perspectives of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area and/or effects on the environment. An Bord Pleanála publish an update on legal cases in their Annual Report.
The Office of the Planning Regulator (the OPR) was established in April 2019. Under section 31AU(1)(a) of the 2000 Act, the OPR may examine any complaints made by any person to the Office in respect of a planning authority where such complaint relates to the organisation of the authority and of the systems and procedures used by it in relation to the performance of its functions under the Act. Members of the public and organisations can make such complaints directly to the OPR if they have evidence of systemic issues in this regard and the OPR can examine the allegations and make recommendations to the Planning authority and Minister, if the OPR considers it appropriate. However, it should be noted that, while the OPR is empowered to examine complaints about planning authorities, it does not have the role of an appeals body in respect of individual planning decisions.