New measures on infrastructure projects due
16 February 2006 08:42
New measures designed to speed up the delivery of large scale construction projects such as roads and incinerators will be announced today by the Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche.
It is widely anticipated that the proposed laws will include the establishment of a new division of An Bord PleanÃ¡la, whose officials will have powers to communicate directly with developers.
Contractors are expected to broadly welcome the proposals. However, campaigners against projects such as incinerators are likely to be hostile to measures.
The Strategic Infrastructure Bill will differ considerably from proposals first mooted by former Environment Minister Martin Cullen, who wanted a new planning body to deal with such projects.
However, Minister Roche has been impressed with An Bord PleanÃ¡la's recent speedy decision-making and so will give it the new powers.
It is envisaged infrastructure delivery will be speeded-up by no longer obliging developers to secure planning permission from local authorities before going to An Bord PleanÃ¡la. Its officials will also be able to talk through proposals to identify possible problems.
It is understood that plans to create a special division of the High Court, in order to eliminate lengthy delays on appeals, is still under negotiation by the Minister for Justice. Without that critical component, the ability of the bill to deliver on its aims will be in doubt.
What is the verdict?
- PVC King
Mixed reaction to Infrastructure Bill
16 February 2006 18:15
There has been a mixed reaction to the Government's Strategic Infrastructure Bill, which seeks to cut delays in the planning process for big projects.
The measure would see An Bord PleanÃ¡la taking on increased powers and there are also likely to be streamlined procedures in the High Court.
The chairperson of An Bord PleanÃ¡la, John O'Connor, has welcomed the bill.
He said that, from the board's point of view, the new legislation would not lessen its rigorous assessment of projects.
The chairman of An Taisce, Frank Corcoran, expressed reservations about the measures. He said they would put new pressures on objectors to planning applications.
The Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, formally published the Bill today.
Under its terms, a new division will be established within An Bord PleanÃ¡la to take decisions on such projects.
This effectively means that there will be a one-step planning process for major infrastructure.
Speaking at the launch, Mr Roche denied that the changes would make it more difficult for people to object as part of the planning process. He said that one of the novel features of the Bill was a statutory obligation for local councillors to have their views heard.
However, he confirmed that the controversial Corrib gas line and the proposed Ringsend incinerator would be dealt with under existing legislation.
The Bill also introduces a provision to refuse planning permission to developers with a poor record of compliance.
Mr Roche said he understood that the High Court would also be introducing new arrangements to speed up procedures for big planning cases including designating specific judges who would manage the process.
- PVC King