Written Answers - Planning Issues.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 665 No. 4

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  408.  Deputy Tony Gregory  Information on Tony Gregory  Zoom on Tony Gregory   asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government  Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley   if he is satisfied with the arrangements for ensuring the orderly enforcement of conditions of quarries registered under Section 261 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000. [38486/08]

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Deputy John Gormley): Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Section 261 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, which was commenced with effect from April 2004, introduced a registration system for quarries and provided that, following registration, planning authorities could impose appropriate controls on different categories of quarry. The owner or operator of a quarry was required, within one year of commencement of the section, to provide specified information for the purpose of registration of the quarry. Not later than 2 years from the registration of a quarry, the relevant planning authority could, in the interests of proper planning and sustainable development, and having regard to the development plan and submissions or observations made in relation to registered quarries

(i) in relation to a quarry which commenced operation before 1 October 1964, impose conditions on the operation of that quarry, or

(ii) in relation to a quarry in respect of which planning permission had been granted, restate, modify or add to conditions imposed on the operation of that quarry.

Depending on its size and location, the owner or operator of a quarry that commenced operation before 1 October 1964 could be required, not later than one year of the date of registration of the quarry, to apply for planning permission and to submit an environmental impact statement.

A quarry in respect of which the owner or operator failed to provide specified information or to submit a planning application as required is unauthorised development, open to enforcement action by the relevant planning authority.

  409.  Deputy Tony Gregory  Information on Tony Gregory  Zoom on Tony Gregory   asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government  Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley   if he will detail and enumerate the planning applications and consents in which Ireland will be required to disapply relevant national planning law as a result of the judgment of the European Court against Ireland on 3 July 2008 (details supplied); and the action taken to ensure compliance with this judgment. [38487/08]

[1023]Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Deputy John Gormley): Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  In its judgment of 3 July 2008, the European Court of Justice ruled that the retention permission system as it applies in Irish law with regard to projects that require or may require an environmental impact assessment (EIA) under the EIA Directives does not comply with the Directives and needs to be amended. Irish legislation fails to ensure that EIAs will be conducted prior to the construction of a project and permits post development EIAs contrary to the intent of the Directives.

As of 3 July 2008 any permission granted on applications/appeals for retention planning permission in respect of EIA development is in breach of Community law having been granted under a legislative system that the Court has found is inconsistent with the EIA Directives.

Ireland is therefore obliged to respond to the judgment by introducing legislation that will amend the existing planning legislation insofar as it permits retention permissions on projects requiring EIAs.

I have received approval of Government to the drafting of the General Scheme of a Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill, which will, among other things:

remove the possibility of retention for unauthorised development which would otherwise have been subject to environmental impact assessment, other than in exceptional circumstances, and

revoke the current 7 year time limit within which enforcement action may be taken in respect of unauthorised development (section 157(4) of the Planning and Development Act 2000).

The intention to make such legislation was notified to the European Commission in Ireland’s initial formal response to the ECJ judgement.

In the interim, action is necessary in relation to applications for retention permission for development that required an EIA, falling into two categories:

applications currently awaiting determination by planning authorities; and

applications which have been determined favourably since 3 July 2008.

In this regard, my Department issued a circular letter to planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála outlining the approach that should be taken in dealing with such cases

In respect of applications for permission for the retention of unauthorised development where such development should have been subject to prior EIA planning authorities are advised to return the application as invalid, on the basis that there is no jurisdiction to grant retention planning permission in those circumstances.

Where relevant retention permissions were granted since the date of the judgement, planning authorities were advised to inform recipients that as a result of the judgment the permission granted is in breach of Community law and should not be acted upon.

An Bord Pleanála has been advised to take similar action in relation to relevant planning appeals.

At this time, I cannot quantify or detail the number of planning applications, appeals or permissions that are affected by the ECJ judgment.


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