Re: Re: Dick Roche Bins the Critical Infrastructure Bill
Ring breaks ranks over ‘dangerous’ planning Bill
Friday, 16th June, 2006
Fine Gael TD Michael Ring broke ranks with his party to vote against a Bill to fast-track major infrastructure projects through the DÃ¡il. The Mayo deputy described it as the “most dangerous legislation” ever to come before the House.
Minister for the Environment Dick Roche said, however, that the legislation was about streamlining the system to provide people with basic infrastructure they had demanded for years. “We should be honest enough in our political debates to accept that there has been a great deal of unnecessary delay in the delivery of key infrastructure in this country over the years.”
Some 70 TDs spoke in the DÃ¡il on the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Bill, which passed second stage by 63 votes to 29. Labour, the Green Party, Sinn FÃ©in, some Independent deputies and the Socialist party opposed. Fine Gael supported the Government. The legislation, which creates a new division within An Bord PleanÃ¡la to deal specifically with major infrastructure projects, now goes to committee for debate.
Mr Ring, who has fallen out with his party leadership on previous occasions, said the Bill showed the State was becoming a dictatorship. “This is the most dangerous legislation that has ever come before the House because it seeks to deprive people of the power to make observations and objections in regard to planning matters. We are told its provisions relate only to critical infrastructure but we can be certain it will only be critical for developers.
“Evidence from successive tribunals indicates who this Bill will ultimately benefit. In time, another Minister will introduce additional legislation that will further expand the provisions of this Bill to ensure developers are making enough money and paying enough of it to politicians. “Developers may eventually be given such extensive powers that they will no longer require planning permission for building projects.”
Jimmy Deenihan (FG, Kerry North), who said Fine Gael supported the principle of the Bill, expressed concern that local councillors would be seen as redundant because An Bord PleanÃ¡la’s new planning division would decide on incinerators and landfill instead of local authorities. “If local people cannot have an input into the planning process, they will see their local councillors as being irrelevant.”
Apart from making a submission to the new division, a local council would have little input into the final decision, he said.
Mr Roche insisted, however, that the Bill did not threaten local democracy and it gave a very specific role to councillors. “The abuse of the planning system means that people are gridlocked on the roads and are waiting for basic infrastructure. We should not lose sight of that.
“My constituents in Arklow have been waiting for a sewerage system for 13 years. Successive governments have provided funding but a small group of people exercising their rights have used every device to delay that process.”
Back on the agenda and it would appear that the Ringer is representing the views of some if not many of his constituents