This December 2006 Parliamentary Question is interesting as it tells us planners the reasons why we have the Act, as though we didn't already know ...
*To ask the Minister for Transport the impact of the Critical Infrastructure Act 2006 on the development of projects contained in Transport 21; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Tom Hayes. (Nominated by: Olivia Mitchell).
Answered by the Minister for Transport
The primary purpose of the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006 is to improve the efficiency of the development consent process for specific types of strategic infrastructure, including major transport projects of the type provided for in Transport 21. It restructures An Bord Pleanála to create a special named division of the Board to deal exclusively with strategic infrastructure projects and provides for a 'fast track' procedure for planning applications for major infrastructure projects directly to the new division.
An Bord Pleanala will also replace the Minister for Transport as the consenting authority for Railway Orders. The effect of this is that proposals for rail infrastructure, which are subject to the Railway Order procedure, will be submitted directly to the Board.
The Act also provides for a number of significant improvements to the consent process for strategic infrastructure, including further provisions regulating judicial review; the removal of the obligation to hold an oral hearing in all cases; pre-application and pre-approval actions by An Bord Pleanala and the requirement on the Board to have regard to the national interest. These improvements will apply, inter alia, to strategic transport infrastructure projects, thereby ensuring their delivery as quickly as possible consistent with good planning and environmental assessment.
Commencement of the relevant provisions of the 2006 Act, is a matter for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.