Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
1046. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if a regulatory framework exists which planning authorities must adhere to for granting extensions of permitted working hours on construction sites; and if planning authorities are required to consult with affected residents and stakeholders before granting an extension. [11274/20]
Section 34(4)(h) of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (the Act), provides for the attaching of conditions to planning permissions by planning authorities “for determining the sequencing and timing in which, and the time at which, development works shall be carried out”. Further to this, conditions regulating construction working hours are generally attached to planning permissions for development.
Within the conditions attached to a planning permission, these may be include provision for derogation and local agreement regarding construction conditions, to allow for the undertaking of particular activities outside "normal" operating hours (e.g. a continuous pour of concrete on a large site).
As you are aware, the Government published its Roadmap for Re-Opening Society and Business on 1 May last with a view to gradually easing the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions on a phased basis. The Roadmap is aimed at keeping the level of transmission as low as possible while balancing continuing restrictions proportionately with the positive social and economic benefits which will be brought about by easing restrictions to facilitate, amongst other things, the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic.
In the context of the return to work of the construction sector on 18 May last under Phase 1 of the Roadmap, my Department issued Circular Letter PL 06/2020 to planning authorities on 15 May last relating to working hours conditions attached to planning permissions. Having regard to the exceptional circumstances faced arising from the pandemic and the consequential need to facilitate, where reasonable, the splitting of shifts for separating trades and activities required to achieve physical distancing on construction sites in accordance with relevant public health/ health and safety advice and protocols, while simultaneously seeking to balance this with the need to ensure output and productivity by the sector, the Circular Letter requested each planning authority to determine and agree, in the context of a national civil emergency, a reasonable extent of discretion in respect of the hours of operation of construction sites in excess of those specified by planning condition and, where applicable, to reach agreement in respect of derogation, for all or some of the period to 9 November 2020.
Noting that all sites are different, the Circular Letter advised that decisions to extend working hours on construction sites should be applied on a case-by-case basis by planning authorities, having regard to individual local circumstances including factors such as:
- the nature, scale, extent and location of the construction site i.e. rural/urban, smallscale/major development, single/multi storey etc;
- in particular, the proximity of the construction site to occupied homes and other types of premises or land uses that may be potentially sensitive receptors in the area concerned i.e. number, distance and type;
- the likelihood of noise, dust or other emissions, traffic and local parking impacts, and any proposed ameliorative measures, including management/monitoring;
- cumulative impacts i.e. where there is more than one site in close proximity, particularly in urban areas;
- the proposed hours of construction beyond those conditioned and their frequency and duration;
- the adequacy of site construction, management procedures, including any community liaison plan;
- any other relevant factors, including stage of construction (external & internal works etc).
As indicated, the operation of derogations and allowing for the extension of working hours on construction sites is a matter for individual planning authorities to determine on a case by case basis having regard to the criteria outlined above. Under section 30 of the Act, I am precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned, except in specified circumstances, which do not apply in this case.