Prediction new planning law will be ‘mired in legal challenge for next 10 years’

Prediction new planning law will be 'mired in legal challenge for next 10 years'

New legislation overhauling the State’s planning system could be “mired in legal challenge for the next 10 years”, a government TD has said.

Neasa Hourigan, the Green Party TD for Dublin Central, criticised the government for having failed to conduct an independent review of the Planning and Development Bill 2022’s compliance with the Aarhus Convention, which provides a right to access information about the environment.

The draft bill, the product of a 15-month review of the planning system led by the Office of the Attorney General, was published by ministers last month.

Its main provisions include strengthened legal status for ministerial guidelines, amendments to the focus and lifespan of local development plans, statutory mandatory timelines for all consent processes, changes to judicial reviews and a re-structuring of An Bord Pleanála (ABP).

Darragh O’Brien, the minister for housing, local government and heritage, last week said Ireland’s obligations under EU law and the Aarhus Convention had been considered as part of the Attorney General’s planning review.

“All provisions of the draft bill have been reviewed by the Office of the Attorney General to ensure full alignment with these provisions,” he said.

However, Ms Hourigan suggested that an independent review should have taken place, noting that the Attorney General had recently been proved wrong on the constitutionality of the CETA trade deal.

Writing on Twitter, she said: “This is a huge piece of legislation, 700 pages. I believe it’ll be mired in legal challenge for easily the next 10 years, not testing for Aarhus compliance doesn’t help. You probably could find a better way to frustrate the roll out of wind/solar energy but I can’t think of many.”

The joint Oireachtas committee on housing, local government and heritage is currently carrying out pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft bill.

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