A FINGAL County Councillor has criticised the amount of money spent by Fingal County Council during the An Bord Pleanála Oral hearing into the planned second runway at Dublin Airport.
The council revealed that the cost of consultants and legal expertise for the hearing was e153,193.
A council spokesperson also said that e9,497 was spent on administration costs such as room hire, photocopying and other secretarial expenses.
Planning permission for a second runway at Dublin Airport was granted by the council on April 12, 2006 and was subsequently appealed to An Bord Pleanála.
The oral hearing in relation to the parallel runway commenced on September 26 and finished on October 12, 2006.
The council spokesperson said that due to the complexities of the case it was decided to engage senior legal counsel to act on its behalf.
“Two senior planners, one senior staff officer, three senior legal agents and two clerical officers were also involved in the preparation for, and attendance at the oral hearing which lasted 12 days,” the spokesperson said.
“The work involved is considered to be part of the normal duties of the staff involved.”
However, the spokesperson also acknowledged that the preparation and work involved in the oral hearing impacted on the work schedule of personnel involved which meant the delay in the preparation of local area plans and other major studies.
Cllr Daly sad she was shocked at the amount of expenditure involved on behalf of the council.
“We are taking about public money being spent on what was basically a private planning application,” said Cllr Daly.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous when you think of the expense that concerned members of the public had to personally bear to ensure that the concerns of the local community were heard at the oral hearing.
“I’m talking about time taken off from work and the retention of legal expertise, all of which cost ordinary people money.”
Cllr Day added that she would like more detail from the council as to how the participation of council personnel actually impacted on other council projects and local plans.
“I’d really like to know in monetary terms how much all this really cost taxpayers, having all these council staff tied up,” she said.
However, when informed of Cllr Daly’s remarks, Gilbert Power, Fingal Director of Services and Planning, expressed surprise at the description of the project as “basically a private planning application”.
“The subject of the oral hearing was a strategic national project which justifies a significant input from the council, not just to ensure that the project is developed in a proper and sustainable way but also to ensure that the concerns of the local communities were addressed in so far as possible,” he said.