Opposition Parties Express Deep Concern at Planning Bill Committee Schedule

Ivana Bacik TD
05 March 2024

Labour, Sinn Féin, People Before Profit and the Social Democrats have today jointly expressed ‘deep concern’ at the schedule imposed on the Oireachtas Select Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage dealing with the Planning Bill.

Deputies Bacik, Ó Broin, Boyd Barrett and O’Callaghan have said that ‘by trying to compress consideration of the legislation into this onerous schedule the Government members of the Committee are preventing proper scrutiny of a Bill that will impact the lives of millions of people for decades to come.’

This evening the four Deputies have issued the following joint statement:

“During a private session of the Select Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage today the Government members of the Committee imposed a meeting schedule for March 19th, 20th and 21stinvolving 24 hours of meetings over three days. For the last three weeks the Committee has held 17 to 19 hours of meetings a week on the Bill.

“As opposition Deputies on the Committee or who have submitted amendments to the Bill, we had all previously written to the Committee Chair Steven Matthews outlining that the schedule to date does not allow for proper consideration of what is a complex and controversial piece of legislation.  It does not allow the Ministers taking the Bill to properly prepare for what can be very detailed and exacting scrutiny sessions. Nor does it allow all members who have tabled amendments to be present to discuss their concerns.

“The Bill it over 700 pages in length. More than 1100 amendments have been tabled by Government and Opposition. The Bill has been the subject of significant criticism from a range of sectors involved in the planning and development process.

“In February Gavin Lawlor, the President of the Irish Planning Institute, speaking on behalf of the professional body that represents professional planners, raised a series of concerns with the Bill in an opinion piece in the Irish Independent (21.2.24). He concluded that ‘Addressing all these issues will require further section-by-section consultation and review with practitioners so the implications in practice of the new measures can be considered and the bill amended accordingly throughout report and committee stage.

“To date there has been little indication that Government is willing to address the concerns of the Irish Planning Institute and others. Worse still they are trying to compress committee consideration in a manner that is totally unworkable.

“We are united in our desire to get planning right, to make the necessary changes to the Bill. We need a planning system that makes for good quality planning decisions, in a timely manner, following meaningful public participation. In turn this will enable the public, semi-state and private sectors to meet the social, economic and environmental needs of society, while reducing carbon emissions and halting and reversing bio-diversity loss.

“The Governments management of the Committee stage process is a recipe for poorly considered legislation, leading to a whole host of unintended consequences. That in turn will create increased confusion and conflict in the planning process, leading to increased appeals and legal challenges which in turn will lead to longer delays in the delivery of much needed housing, renewable energy, and critical infrastructure.’

“We are appealing to the Government members of Committee to adopt a more reasonable Committee schedule to allow both Committee members and other interested TDs to consider the legislation in a full and proper manner.”

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