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Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016: From the Seanad (Continued)

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 971 No. 3

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  Seanad amendment No. 3:

  Section 4: In page 8, line 34, to delete “and”.

Seanad amendment agreed to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Amendments Nos. 4, 61, 77 and 79 are related and may be discussed together.

  Seanad amendment No. 4:

  Section 4: In page 9, to delete lines 3 and 4 and substitute following:
“(v) in so far as relates to planning matters to which paragraph (f) relates,


(j) to evaluate and assess strategic transport plans made by the National Transport Authority in accordance with section 12 of the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008 and to issue a notice as provided for by subsection (10) of that section.”.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English I propose to take amendments Nos. 4, 61, 77 and 79 together.

This group of four amendments arose from amendments originally proposed by Fianna Fáil during deliberations on the Bill in the Dáil, which should not be accepted as drafted, but to which I was open. Following the examination of the wording of the Fianna Fáil amendments it was agreed that the planning regulator should have a role in evaluating transport strategies and ensuring that the transport strategy complements wider strategic planning.

Accordingly, consultations took place with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. Agreement was reached that the proposed role of the planning regulator would best be incorporated as a specific function in the Planning and Development Acts and the existing framework of the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008.

It is proposed to give the planning regulator a specific function to evaluate and assess strategic transport plans made by the National Transport Authority, which is in line with the original Fianna Fáil proposal.

These amendments will make the planning regulator a statutory consultee in respect of strategic transport plans, within the provisions of the 2008 Act, and the regulator will have a role to advise on whether or not the draft plan is consistent with planning policy and with the goals and strategies set out in the national planning framework, and make recommendations for any amendments required.

Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice: Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice The Minister of State referred to the Ireland 2040 plan. I do not have an objection to a planning regulator. We are aware of the housing targets in each part of the State but there is a fear, once a planning regulator is in place, that most of the houses in Leitrim, for example, would be built in Carrick-on-Shannon and there would be quotas in each area in the Border, midlands and west region. Leinster and Munster and so on would have their own quotas. Perhaps the Minister of State will clarify this. Will the legislation provide for the urban areas to take the bulk and if this is used up will it leave the rural areas in trouble with regard to housing? I understand this is being written in the Department currently. I am open to correction on this. I am just saying what I have been told. I have heard that it will be announced in the coming weeks. Under the 2040 strategy it would affect the future of rural housing.

Deputy Pat Casey: Information on Pat Casey Zoom on Pat Casey I acknowledge the work by the Government and the Department on Fianna Fáil's initial amendment over the last number of years: it has nearly been too long at this stage. It stemmed from frustration felt at local level that it always seemed the National Transport Authority was the leading and driving force, and not the county development plans or the spatial strategies. In fairness, many of the National Transport Authority policies did not even acknowledge the county development plans. With the establishment of the office of the planning regulator with a complete oversight of planning, Fianna Fáil felt that it was necessary for the office of the planning regulator to have oversight of transport planning policy, because they are integrated into the whole planning process.

I thank the Minister of State, the Government and the officials for working with us on the amendment on transportation.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice has asked for clarity on what the Government means in its 2040 plan. The plan says that one-off housing may still be built if it does not detract from urban centres. People need clarity on this. As Deputy Fitzmaurice said, the interpretation is that if so many houses are to be built in a county then urban areas may use the bulk of the allocation. Where will this leave people with their own sites in rural areas? Where will it leave rural Ireland? It would be devastated worse than it is currently.

This has already manifested itself in Kerry. A couple was granted planning permission by Kerry County Council. Lo and behold, one of the serial objectors who has caused mayhem right around the country appealed the decision to An Bord Pleanála. After due time the planning permission was turned down on the grounds that the applicants lived too far from their place of work, which was 6 km away.

Members are aware that farming for many today is part-time and people have to travel some 20, 40 or 50 miles to teaching jobs and to different kinds of work. This is the nature of employment. One has to travel to go to work today. I hope the policy will not deny people who get some or a greater part of their income in one area from living in the rural area where they were brought up. This is the fabric of their lives - where their parents are and on their own farms. They may want to be near their parents to see after them in their twilight years. Grandparents often have a great input with grandchildren. They could be the minders of the grandchildren while the parents are trying to secure an income to supplement or maintain the household as a viable unit. I hope the Government is not going to try to change this. The word is that this is what the Government is trying to do with this plan.

What direction has the Government or the Department given to the local authorities? Will this planning regulator supersede our county development plans, which our local authority members have worked so hard on to put together? They put a great amount of effort into those plans over the years and the decades. The elected local authority members' views were adhered to in the subsequent county development plans. Will the new planning regulator have a superior role to or supersede the county manager? Time will tell, but Ireland has not had a good result from regulators up to now. The energy regulator has ensured the gas project in north Kerry has remained at standstill for many years.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We are discussing planning Deputy. Do not worry about other regulators.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae I am just giving an example. Where did the financial regulator leave us? He was asleep at the wheel. This is why Ireland is in the state it is and why the generations to come will pay for his inadequacy. He did not ensure that regulations were adhered to by the banks. He was asleep.

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