Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Gormley signals intention to inquire into planning decisions nationwide

Environment Minister John Gormley has announced that he intends to launch investigations into a number of planning decisions around the country following complaints received by his department.

Opening the Green Party convention in Waterford last week, Mr Gormley said he would begin inquiries under the terms of the Planning Act, following complaints about breaches of the legislation.

Some of the complaints are believed to relate to the way in which some local authorities have contravened their own developments plans, while others relate to the failure of local authorities to dismantle illegal developments.

Mr Gormley told the convention that attempts were now being made to mask questionable rezoning decisions with claims that jobs are at stake. He cited an attempted rezoning decision in south county Dublin as an example of what was happening.

“This type of developer-led planning - the type that got us into this current mess - does not create jobs. It costs - it costs the environment, it costs taxpayers money and it costs jobs,” he said.

Mr Gormley added that last month there was an attempt by some councillors to assist a developer in rezoning a swathe of land for a supermarket beside a motorway in south county Dublin.

“In this, the south Dublin case, years of planning to create a new town centre in south Dublin - and €350 million of public and private investment into a new Luas line - would have been undermined because one developer had other ideas and land elsewhere. It is no surprise, therefore, that our planning Bill ... has been opposed tooth and nail by some Opposition politicians.”

Mr Gormley said that the county councils were the foundations of our political system and he had the utmost respect for most local councillors.

“That said, despite all that we have been through ... some councillors are still engaging in crony capitalism. With business as usual in our council chambers, the noble words on reform and accountability by some political party leaders ring hollow,” he said.

Mr Gormley added that people should remember that too often in the past, planning principles were put aside in the name of commercial and financial expediency and claims about creating and sustaining employment.

The Irish Times

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