Liam Reid in the Irish Tinmes writes that the Green Party has proposed to establish a new national transport and planning watchdog agency to ensure sustainable development. The body, which would operate independently of Government, would have final approval on county development plans.
It would co-ordinate transport investment with planning policies to ensure that large housing developments are of sufficient density and have access to proper public transport facilities. The proposed agency would also act as a watchdog on local planning applications to ensure that traffic issues are taken into account when approval is being decided.
It would remove the involvement of the Department of the Environment in an effective veto right on county development plans. The proposal was part of an urban development policy launched by the party yesterday.
The party's environment spokesman, Ciarán Cuffe, said: "The legacy of corrupt rezoning has left people without trust in the planning process. Communities continue to suffer from a lack of schools, shopping and sports facilities. A damaged planning system has left people without alternatives to the car, and has generated mistrust amongst the general public."
He added: "More than ever, we need to concentrate development in the right places, rather than allowing developers to call the shots.
"As climate change predictions emphasise the need to limit emissions, we have to give people the option of leaving the car at home. That means building new Luas lines and investing in rail services and planning for new communities within walking distance of public transport."
He said there was also a need to promote a social mix and provide for the needs of children within new developments.
"We're also calling for ministerial guidelines to be issued for high rise developments," he said. "Communities are living in fear that tall buildings will
be built next to them without their consent. Our policy also promotes lower-energy housing so that people's homes cost less to heat, and are easier to maintain."
The Government had proposed a transport and land use agency for the Greater Dublin Area five years ago, but this plan was abandoned in favour of a single transport agency.