Written answers

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

Planning Issues

9:00 pm

Photo of Michelle MulherinMichelle Mulherin (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Question 396: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the length of time it takes An Bord Pleanála to issue a decision in relation to a planning appeal distinguishing between residential cases and non-residential development. [9298/11]

Photo of Michelle MulherinMichelle Mulherin (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Question 397: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the length of time An Bord Pleanála takes to issue a decision upon an application for confirmation of a compulsory purchase order. [9300/11]

Photo of Eoghan MurphyEoghan Murphy (Dublin South East, Fine Gael)
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Question 414: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans to reform An Bord Pleanála. [9530/11]

Photo of Eoghan MurphyEoghan Murphy (Dublin South East, Fine Gael)
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Question 415: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on the practice of members of An Bord Pleanála, whereby they go against the express advice and conclusions of inspectors reporting to the board in relation to specific planning cases. [9531/11]

Photo of Clare DalyClare Daly (Dublin North, Socialist Party)
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Question 424: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on the circumstances in which An Bord Pleanála should over-rule its own inspector's report. [9775/11]

Photo of Willie PenroseWillie Penrose (Minister of State with special responsibility for Housing and Planning, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Longford-Westmeath, Labour)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 396, 397, 414, 415 and 424 together.

The Planning and Development Act 2000 provides that the decision making authority for An Bord Pleánala rests with the Board itself and not with any individual inspector who may report on a case. The Board, in almost all cases which come before it, commissions an inspector's report on the case and it has the benefit of this assessment as an aid to its overall consideration of the matter. Statistics for the year 2010 indicate that the Board did not accept the substantive recommendation of the inspector in 14.5% of cases. Section 34(10) of the Act provides that in such cases the Board is required to indicate the reason(s) for not accepting the inspector's recommendation in its decision on the particular case.

Inspectors' reports and the Board's decisions are available to the public within three working days of each decision. This provides the necessary transparency to the process and enables the rationale for the Board's decision to be fully understood by all participants in the planning process.

Under sections 126 and 221 of the Planning Act, An Bord Pleanála is subject to a statutory objective to determine any planning appeal case within a period of 18 weeks from the date of its receipt, and to determine an application for confirmation of a compulsory purchase order within 18 weeks beginning on the last day for the receipt of objections to the order.

Figures distinguishing between residential and non-residential appeal cases are not available. My Department understands from An Bord Pleanála that there would not be any significant divergence between such categories of cases.

There are no figures available isolating compulsory purchase orders from the full range of applications which come before the Board for decision – in this regard, compulsory purchase orders are often processed in association with the parallel development consent application. In March 2011, 74% of all cases which came before the Board, including planning appeal cases and confirmation of compulsory purchase orders were disposed of within the statutory objective period.

The Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010 introduced a range of measures to improve the throughput and performance of An Bord Pleanála. The performance of An Bord Pleanala, and the Department's agencies more generally, remains under ongoing review through mechanisms in place under the Croke Park Agreement. The use of Service Level Agreements in order to optimise governance and performance arrangements in the Department's agencies is also under consideration.

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