I thank the House for taking this Bill at short notice. This is a small two section Bill with just one section of a substantive nature.
The amendment to section 217(6) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 proposed in this Bill was introduced on Committee Stage in the Dáil during discussions on the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009, which was initiated here in the Seanad. That Bill is due to return to the Seanad next week for report and conclusion.
Unfortunately a timing issue has arisen which has necessitated the introduction at short notice of this Compulsory Purchase Orders (Extension of Time limits) Bill 2010 to deal solely with the amendment to section 217(6) of the Planning and Development Act. Under section 217(6), once An Bord Pleanála confirms a compulsory purchase order, the local authority has 18 months in which to serve notices to treat on any landowner affected. If they fail to do so, the CPO lapses.
Where judicial review proceedings are taken the likely timeframe for reaching a conclusion means the CPO notices to treat may expire before the legal action concludes. The difficulty this presents is that the work undertaken and expense incurred by local authorities on schemes that go into judicial review but which are subsequently given the go-ahead, will then be redundant because the prescribed time period for the CPO has expired.
Such a situation may arise if this Bill is not enacted today. The project involved is the Galway city outer bypass where, as the result of a referral to the European Court of Justice arising from a challenge to the An Bord Pleanála approval for the road scheme, the CPO 18 months limit will expire at midnight tonight.
As the Bill providing for the amendment to section 217 of the Planning and Development Acts will not be enacted in time to deal with the lapse of the Galway CPO notices to treat, a Bill has been prepared which contains the relevant provision from the proposed Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill. This will resolve the situation where court proceedings lead to the expiry of local authority CPOs before a decision is reached. It will mean the CPOs in the case of the Galway outer bypass project will be extended until at least 30 days after the court decision is reached.
The European Court of Justice is not likely to rule on the referral for some time. Therefore the purpose of the Bill is to avoid the considerable expense and work associated with repeating the CPO process in the event of a positive decision by the European Court of Justice.
Section 1 of the Bill provides for the amendment of section 217 of the Planning and Development Act 2000. The effect of the proposed amendment is that where there are legal proceedings challenging a compulsory purchase or consents relating to a particular project, and a notice to treat is not served within 18 months, the time limit for serving the notice can be extended to the earlier of 30 days after the conclusion of the legal proceedings or 18 months after the expiry of the initial 18 month period. This section also provides that in the event that the legal proceedings are not concluded within the extended time limit provided for in section 1, the relevant local authority can apply to the High Court for a further extension and the High Court if it considers there is sufficient grounds for doing so can allow such a further extension as it considers reasonable and fair in the circumstances.
It should be noted that this Bill only deals with CPOs and notices to treat involving local authorities. No Government agency, such as the NRA or CIE, will be in a position to avail of the provisions of this Bill. This is a matter which should be reviewed at a later stage.
Section 2 of the Bill is merely the Short Title and collective citation and is a standard provision in all Bills placed before the Houses of the Oireachtas.