Re: Re: The Strategic Infrastructure Bill

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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 Pleanála taking on increased powers and there are also likely to be streamlined procedures in the High Court.

The chairperson of An Bord Pleanála, 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 Pleanála 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.

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