Monday 20 April 2009

Abolish planning objection fees – FG

FINE Gael has called for the abolition of controversial planning 'objection fees' after it was revealed that only €3m was raised in a period of four years.

The charges – applied to anyone who files objections or submissions on proposed developments – have been criticised as a barrier to people's involvement in the planning process.

Fine Gael spokesman on the environment Phil Hogan said that the total revenue raised from the fees, which amounts to less than €1m a year, was "miniscule" in the overall scale of local government finances.

Opposition to their introduction went as far as the European Court of Justice in 2006 although it was later ruled that the government could maintain them.

But now, as a result of figures obtained by Fine Gael, the value of the controversial levies has again come under scrutiny. Under the Planning and Development Act 2000, anyone wishing to lodge a submission or objection to a planning application must pay an initial fee of €20 to the local authority.

Costs then range from €50 to €210 for third-party submissions to An Bord Pleanála.

However, figures show that from 2004 to 2007 just €3,047,943 was collected by local authorities.

"The planning fees are miniscule in the overall scale of the finances of local government," said Hogan. "It costs as much to administer the charge as the amount they collect. This figure is so small it indicates that this charge should be terminated."

The amount collected from the contentious fees rose from €597,779 in 2004 to €897,398 in 2007. It is unclear what effect the downturn will have on that revenue given that the building industry has taken a severe hit.

Sunday Tribune

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