Thursday, 25 May 2006
Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Bill 2006 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed).
Finian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
The Minister of State can dream on. The residents were angry as they felt the planning system let them down and that there has been insufficient quality planning across the north side of Dublin.
Section 13 amends section 104 of principal Act and provides for an increase in the permanent number of ordinary members of An Bord Pleanála from seven to nine. I agree with having nine people. Section 14 amends section 106 of principal Act and provides for the increased membership of An Bord Pleanála to be appointed from a range of organisations which are newly grouped into five panels. The Minister is also given the power to prescribe at least two organisations for each panel. It is important to have quality people involved in this area. We also need honest people whom we can trust on these important planning development issues.
I again emphasise the importance of sensible and quality planning. Another debate is taking place in my constituency about the Dublin Bay project and the attempt to infill 52 acres of the bay, about which many people are concerned. I commend the people involved in the proposal to develop the port at Bremore as a sensible alternative to filling in 52 acres of Dublin Bay. We have enough slots in Dublin Port at the moment. There are some fantastic ideas and plans to develop ports and projects along the east coast, in particular the Bremore proposal. I urge all Deputies to support the development in this regard.
Section 28 amends section 175 of principal Act and enables An Bord Pleanála to approve development carried out by or on behalf of local authorities which requires environmental impact assessment. The section is being amended to permit the board to seek alterations to the proposed development by a local authority, and where necessary to require consultation on any proposed alteration. The board is also being permitted to attach certain types of condition to the proposed development and to require the payment of its costs. This section again deals with the issues of local authorities. I appeal to local authorities not to have the macho attitude that we see in some cases. They should listen to what is being said by the councillors in their local authorities and the concerns raised. We all want to move forward and want quality planning and development. Above all we also want balance in planning.
Section 30 amends section 218 of principal Act to provide that An Bord Pleanála has absolute discretion as to whether to hold an oral hearing relating to compulsory acquisition of land. Oral hearings are very important. It is important to hear the voices of citizens at first hand.
I welcome the opportunity to debate the Bill and I hope the Minister and others involved directly in the planning process will listen to some of the ideas proposed.