Section 8 relates to the same principles that will be addressed in sections 9 to 11, inclusive. I will speak to the general principles in each section. This is a provision whereby the Minister with responsibility for planning and housing, the Minister who still has those powers, in fact, the primary Minister and the Minister for the purposes of this Act, would be required to “request the views of the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht” in terms of section 177X of the Act. Let me give an example. If there were a situation where an appropriate assessment had been done of the Natura 2000 site but where the assessment found that a particular planning process was likely to damage that site, then it would be the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to consider whether the compensatory measures that were put in place were adequate.
Sections 8 to 11, inclusive, relate to situations whereby it is envisaged that the Minister with responsibility for planning and housing should consult with the Minister with responsibility for heritage. I am concerned that as the legislation is amended it simply states shall just consider the matters. It does not make it clear whether it is the Minister of State's Department or whether the senior or primary Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, is required to consult with the Minister of State's Department, or who carries out these functions. In the Bill, these provisions seem like a belt and braces approach. Section 30 limited the power of the Minister with responsibility for planning to interfere in individual planning cases with certain exceptions, those exceptions being all of the ones that are covered in this section where it states that he could interfere or engage but only subject to “consultations with the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht”. These are effectively the braces of the belt and braces approach that are meant to be part of the checks and balances in our section. That applies from sections 8 to 11, inclusive, which deals with, as people have described, the incredibly important things like Natura 2000 sites and appropriate assessments. We know from our planning, because the problem has often been that environmental factors and obligations have not been considered early enough in the planning process, that leads to problems down the line, which we have seen repeatedly.
These are important functions that the Minister with responsibility for heritage had and I want to know two things. Will the Minister of State's Department perform them? Will the senior Minister be obliged to consult with the Minister of State's Department on his actions in these areas?