Overwhelming majority of submissions on government’s controversial planning law proposals object to restrictions on access to justice for citizens, NGOs, and others

The Department of Housing received nearly 300 submissions about controversial plans to tackle the number of legal cases being taken against planning proposals.

The government had put forward plans to restrict the right of community groups, non-governmental organisations, and citizens from taking legal action against developments around the country.

Among the measures were that groups would have to be in existence for at least three years, have at least 100 members, be personally and substantially affected by a development, and have enough money to cover legal costs.

However, the plans were met with a wave of complaints from members of the public and environmental groups, according to 294 submissions received as part of a public consultation, a significant majority of which opposed the plans.

Submissions described the proposals as “a total travesty of the rights of citizens” with one piece of correspondence saying it was an “absolute contravention of democracy”.

Others described the plan as a “crude instrument” and an “outrage” with one barrister saying he feared objections to the plan would inevitably be ignored by government.

An Taisce were among more than a dozen environmental groups to object to the proposals, which form part of the Housing and Planning Development Bill.

They asked for it to be withdrawn saying it represented a “significant erosion” of the public’s right to access justice and participate in the planning process.

Industry groups were more welcoming of the plans with energy providers, airport operators, and chambers of commerce all voicing their support for some of the changes.

The IDA warned that Ireland’s planning system had become a “reputational risk” and was working against their efforts to attract international investment.

These records were re-released to Right to Know following a decision of the Commissioner for Environmental Information.

We did not make this request so all credit goes to the person (unknown to us) who did the legwork.

Access to information like this in a timely fashion is a critical part of the Aarhus Convention and the AIE Regulations.