CHASE welcomes the motion proposed by Cllr Marcia D’Alton at today’s Cork County Council meeting (27/02/2023) “That rather than its apparent aims of limiting public participation and access to justice, the new Planning & Development Bill would take the opportunity to address identified concerns with regard to Ireland’s need to meet the requirements of the Aarhus Convention, to which it is a signatory.”
CHASE has previously expressed concern that the bill will make it almost impossible in practical terms for communities to engage fully in the planning process, particularly in the Judicial Review process.
Our key concerns around the proposed legislation focus on the following issues:
- That the criteria which a group needs satisfy in order to participate in a Judicial Review / planning challenge could exclude a group such as CHASE was at the outset back in 2001.
- The removal of the current right to recover legal costs – with little clarity on an alternative route – removes power from the courts, drives away legal representation and discriminates against judicial review applicants.
- Provisions allowing authorities to change elements of decisions after they are made is legally questionable and leaves judicial review applicants playing catch up with regard to examination of planning decisions.
CHASE Chairperson Mary O’Leary said “Any politician voting for this bill is voting against their community. By limiting public participation and access to justice the proposed amendments directly contravene the Aarhus Convention.”
CHASE believes that public participation provides an essential check in holding public office to account and is essential to the integrity of the planning process. CHASE has been engaged in the planning process through it’s every iteration over the past 21 years.
CHASE position opposing Invader’s 3 planning applications to build a hazardous waste incinerator in Ringaskiddy Co Cork has been validated by 3 planning Inspectors. CHASE High Court Challenges have resulted in a 2021 upholding of Objective Bias at Bord Pleanala by the High Court (1) and a 2013 finding of abuse of court process by Indaver Ireland by the High Court. (2)
CHASE has expressed concern over years regarding the need for Strategic Infrastructure Development process reform, which is already biased in the extreme towards the developer. The proposed bill will increase this bias.
CHASE representatives will travel to Leinster House tomorrow, Tuesday 28 February, to support Irish Environmental Network (IEN) and An Taisce speakers at the Planning Bill Pre Legislitive Scrutiny (PLS) Session in Leinster House at 3pm.
In October 2021 Judge David Barniville quashed the planning granted to Indaver in 2018, with a finding of Objective Bias against the Board of An Bord Pleanala, by reason of then Deputy Chairman, Conall Boland’s prior involvement in the application with work done as a consultant on behalf of Indaver in 2004.
In January 2013 Mr Justice Kearns found that after a certain point (10th September 2012) Indaver conducted the case in a manner that ‘can only be seen as an abuse of the court process’.
The above outcomes have taken place alongside EPA Hearings, EU Petitions and Challenges and general engagement at every level of the planning process throughout the years.