The fees for making submissions or observations on planning applications and appeals are set at levels intended to prevent frivolous or vexatious submissions, while not acting as a deterrent to persons with genuine concerns or interest in proposed developments from making submissions.
Section 144 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 provides that An Bord Pleanála may determine fees that may be charged, subject to the approval of the Minister, in relation to any matter specified in subsection (1A) of section 144 which covers planning cases that come before the Board. There are equivalent provisions set out in section 103 of the Water Services Act 2007 and section 7A of the Building Control Act 1990.
The relevant statutory provisions also provide that the Board shall review the approved fees from time to time but must undertake a review, based on changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), at least every three years and can adjust fees up or down within CPI change limits without the necessity for Ministerial approval.
The Board last completed a CPI Fees review in December 2019, the outcome of which was no change to the existing fee structure. I understand that An Bord Pleanála also completed a general non-CPI fees review in November 2020, and will in due course submit, for my consideration, any proposals arising from that general review.
Without prejudice to the consideration of the latest review, I accept as a general point that the fees for general third-party public participation in the planning system should continue to be calibrated at a level which does not constitute an obstacle to the exercise of the rights of such participation.