Legislation passed in Dail Eireann last week (w/e 6 July 2018) giving unprecedented powers to the Minister for Defence to overturn planning permission for ‘certain reasons’, which include matters of State security or defence, must be explored in the context of the Ringaskiddy incinerator.
The Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016, originally published in January 2016 and steered through this Dail by Minister of State Damien English, allows the Minister for Defence to revoke planning permission “upon the request of the Minister for Justice and Equality, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade or the Minister for Defence and with the approval of the Government” if he or she “is satisﬁed that:
(a) the carrying out of the development to to which the grant of permission relates is likely to be harmful to:
(i) the security or defence of the State, or (ii) the State’s relations with other states,
(b) the revocation or modiﬁcation concerned is necessary in the public interest.”
The legislation passed in Dail Eireann last week is not yet on the Statute Book and will not be until/unless it is sent to the President of Ireland and signed by him/her.
Concerns over the strategic implications for the State of the Indaver incinerator were first highlighted at the 2016 Bord Pleanala Oral Hearing by then Principal Officer, Department of Defence, Fred Bradley who concluded that “restrictions on the Irish Air Corps’ ability to operate with the Naval Service at Haulbowline is not just a local issue but carries strategic implications for the State.”
PDForra representatives Mark Keane and Ray McKenna spoke at the same hearing on behalf of their 800 members located at Haulbowline Naval base and highlighted a scenario in the Indaver HAZID report that outlined where a fire that burned for 6 days would require Local Area Evacuation including evacuation of the Naval Base.
Minister of State at Department of Defence, Paul Kehoe, has stated on several occasions in the Dail that though their observations have been taken into account, they will review the impact of the decision “It is understood that the issues raised and observations made have been taken into account in An Bord Pleanála’s recent decision. My Department will consider in detail the decision, in consultation with the Naval Service and the Air Corps, including its possible impact on Defence Forces operations at Haulbowline.”
CHASE Chairperson Mary O’Leary said “We hope that if this new legislation provides the potential for exploration that it appears to and subject to the Bill being sent to and signed by the President of Ireland to enter the Statute Book, that it will be pursued alongside the judicial review that we are currently preparing for.”
Donations have flooded in to the GoFundMe campaign set up for CHASE and via fundraisers all over Cork since the planning grant on 30 May. Preparations to apply for leave to take a judicial review are at an advanced stage.