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Green Party Communications | 28.03.2012 | Back to News | News Archive
Minister Hogan shouldn't mislead the public about the progress that was made on external planning reviews, say the Greens.
He should continue the work done by John Gormley rather than rely on internal reviews that will come to similar conclusions to earlier reports.
Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan said today "It is unacceptable and damaging to politics when Minister Phil Hogan and other Ministers deliberately mislead the public by claiming that Minister Gormley had done nothing to progress his independent reviews of planning practices in a number of local authorities. As the chronology below shows, Minister Gormley worked assiduously to progress these independent Inquiries, which Minister Hogan then shelved for reasons which are unclear. The Carlow case in his own constituency is worth looking at."
"Over a year since he took office, why do we still not have the results of his 'internal review', given that an internal review of these complaints was already completed as far back as 2009. It's time for Minister Hogan to tell the truth. He should carry on the good work that John Gormley had done and restart the external planning reviews."
What Phil Hogan had before him on taking office:
a) an extensive dossier prepared by planning officials in the Department following an internal review of the complaints (Nov 2009)
b) a series of reports from the Managers in each of the local authorities submitted in response to a formal request from the Minister using his statutory powers under the Planning and Development Acts
c) terms of reference for a panel of planning consultants to carry out independent reviews in the six local authorities
d) a completed tender process to select this panel of consultants
e) letters of appointment ready to be issued to the members of the panel
2007-2009: Various complaints received about planning practices in a number of local authorities. No process exists in the Department for dealing with such complaints and they are usually referred back to the local authority in question.
2009: Minister Gormley asks his Department to examine the complaints with a view to developing a more robust system of dealing with information brought to his attention concerning planning practices.
September 2009: Minister requests a report from the Donegal County Manager under section 255 of the Planning and Development Acts, on foot of a complaint received.
November 2009: Internal review of complaints against 11 local authorities completed by planning officials. A dossier containing the Department’s analysis of each complaint is provided to the Minister.
Late 2009/early 2010: Minister decides that further action is appropriate in a number of cases, including review by independent consultants of planning practices in some of the local authorities. He begins work with Department officials to develop the most appropriate format for such reviews.
21 June 2010: The Minister announces the commencement of the reviews. Using his powers under section 255 of the Planning and Development Acts, he issues six local authorities with formal requests for reports on the issues raised:
· Dublin City Council
· Carlow County Council
· Galway County Council
· Cork City Council
· Cork County Council
· Meath County Council16 July 2010: Reports are received from the Managers of each local authority. A report had already been received from Donegal County Council on foot of earlier request.
24 September 2010: Invitation to tender issued for the appointment to a panel of expert planners to carry out independent reviews in each of the seven local authorities.
22 October 2010: Tenders received from a large number of expert planners seeking appointment to the panel.
November/December 2010: Department officials carry out assessment of tenders received.
January 2011: Minister approves the Department’s recommended panel and approves the issue of letters of appointment.
22 January 2011: Minister Gormley resigns his office, letters of appointment are held back by the Department.
Summary of issues raised in each local authority
Dublin City Council: Complaints from An Taisce that the City Council was not adhering to policies in its development plan, specifically in relation to tall buildings.
Carlow County Council: Report from the Local Government Auditors highlighted weaknesses in the procedures followed by the planning department.
Galway County Council: Complaints from An Taisce that the County Council was not adhering to policies in its development plan in granting planning permissions – a large proportion of permissions have been overturned on appeal to An Bord Pleanála.
Cork City Council: Procedures around the holding of pre-planning consultations have been highlighted by the Ombudsman.
Cork County Council: Complaints have questioned the appropriateness of a procedure of liaison between the planning department and councillors on specific planning applications.
Meath County Council: Complaints received concerning adherence to development plan policies.
Donegal County Council: Complaints received about processes followed in the planning department