Written answers

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government

Planning Issues

9:00 pm

Photo of Ciarán LynchCiarán Lynch (Cork South Central, Labour)
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Question 236: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the limitations placed on the development of one-off housing regarding the developer having a local connection and an ability to speak Irish have been found to be in conformity with EU regulations; the queries that have been raised regarding this by the EU; and the responses that have been provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28578/10]

Photo of Ciarán CuffeCiarán Cuffe (Minister of State , Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Minister of State , Department of Transport; Minister of State , Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Dún Laoghaire, Green Party)
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My Department received a Letter of Formal Notice dated 27 June 2007 from the European Commission under Article 226 of the Treaty, seeking the observations of the Government on whether the "local needs" criteria contained in a number of County Development Plans for the granting of planning permission for one-off dwellings in rural areas are compatible with Articles 43 and 56 of the EC Treaty, which guarantee respectively the freedom of establishment and the free movement of capital.

Following discussions with the Commission, Circular Letter SP 5/08 issued to all County Managers on 30 September 2008, regarding local need policies in cases where there is an application to build a dwelling from which a full-time business will operate. This was the only area of major concern to the Commission. The policies and practices in relation to promotion and preservation of the Irish language in designated Gaeltacht areas are considered justified and proportionate. Local authorities were asked to examine their development plans in light of the updated guidance provided in the circular to ensure their compatibility with Articles 43 and 56 of the EC Treaty. A copy of the Circular Letter is available on my Department's website at www.environ.ie.

Given that the Commission has not yet formally closed the case, I am precluded, on the basis of legal advice, from publishing or disseminating either the correspondence from the European Commission in relation to enquiries or investigations into possible infringements or the State's responses as these documents are regarded as part of possible legal proceedings. I will, of course, make all documents available once the case is concluded.

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