SPURIOUS objections to legitimate planning applications are being lodged in a bid to extort money from developers, according to Environment Minister Dick Roche.
However, a spokesperson for the Department of the Environment was unable to give examples of dubious challenges, citing "anecdotal evidence" from An Bord Pleanala.
The Construction Industry Federation said it had no evidence of bogus objections. One industry source said: "It is one of those urban tales you hear."
Dozens of spurious objections are lodged with An Bord Pleanala every year.
Hairdressers objecting to other hairdressers looking to open a new salon, and residents claiming that people seeking permission to build a home would be bad neighbours are among the "vexatious" complaints received.
Environment Minister Dick Roche says he is planning a crack-down on such claims.
And he said that some appeals were more sinister. "People are using planning objections to extort money from neighbours," he said.
The most recent An Bord Pleanala figures show that dozens of spurious appeals are dismissed every year because they have no basis in planning.
In 2005, 34 were dismissed while in 2004 48 appeals were declared to be invalid. The total dismissed equates to about 1pc of all appeals received every year.
A spokesman for the board said it had powers under the Planning and Development Act 2000, to dismiss any appeal it considered "vexatious, frivolous or without substance or foundation".
It can also dismiss an appeal where it considers that the appeal has been made with the intention of obtaining money.
© Irish Independent