Autumn Planning Conference

McCarthy Keville O’Sullivan Limited were recently in attendance at the Autumn Planning Conference run by the Irish Planning Institute. A wide range of current planning and environmental topics were covered including forthcoming changes to planning legislation aimed at fast-tracking residential planning applications in excess of 100 units, anticipated changes to environmental legislation and guidance to address the new EIA Directive 2014/52 EU, and a number of other relevant topics including the forthcoming National Planning Framework, the proposed office of the Planning Regulator, Planning for Climate Change & Local Authority Adaptation Guidelines, an Integrated Policy Framework for Marine Spatial Planning in Ireland, Fiscal Policy & Incentivising Town Regeneration & Regional Development, Socio- Economic Mapping, Evidence Based Planning & Census 2016, Approaches to Active Land Management & the Urban Regeneration & Housing Act 2015 in practice.

Guest speakers included Senior Planning Officials from the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (DoHPCLG), a leading industry expert in the field of Planning and Environmental Law, Senior Local Government Planning Officials, representatives from the Environment Protection Agency, Private Planning Consultants and Private Sector Consultants. Minister Simon Coveney, although originally scheduled to address the Conference, was unable to attend at due to clash with other appointments. 

Senior Planning Officials from the DoHPCLG discussed the forthcoming anticipated changes to planning legislation which for the first time, and for a limited period of 3 years, will facilitate the assessment of residential planning applications in excess of 100 units, directly by An Bord Pleanála. In addition, the proposed changes to legislation are anticipated to allow for a second Extension of Duration (EOD) applications for certain housing permissions (those over 20 units) and in certain circumstances. This provision is also anticipated to be in place for a limited 3 year period. The proposed measures are presented under the General Scheme of Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016. It is anticipated these changes to Planning Legislation will come into effect by the end of 2016.

EU Directive 2014/52 EU which relates to Environmental Impact Assessment has to be transposed into Irish Law by the middle of May next year (2017). It is anticipated certain measures will be adopted into Irish Law in advance of this deadline in the form of revised Environmental Legislation. Current EIA planning guidelines will also need to be amended and updated to take account of any such changes in Legislation. The main points discussed were that the unchanged list of projects contained in the Directive, the new definition for EIA wherein an EIS will become an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report, changes to the screening and scoping procedures with new annex IIA screening information (wherein the cumulative impacts of the entire lifetime of the project needs to be assessed), Quality Assurance of the EIA Report (to be prepared by competent, qualified experts), new factors/ headings within the EIA Report including population and human health, land, biodiversity and the assessment of ‘reasonable’ alternatives studies by the developer, which are relevant to the project and its specific characteristics, joint and coordinated assessment procedures. An important change identified in the new Directive is the decision and how this is reached. According to the Directive the decision needs to set out the discrete stages in the EIA process, needs to reach conclusions on the significant effects, should set out the reasons and considerations in detail, should identify the reports and information relied upon, should identify the mitigation and conditions proposed and should have regard to Public Participation and Access to Justice. Finally, the new monitoring and remedial requirements identified in the Directive were discussed in addition to new penalties for non – compliance with National Legislation. 

Please contact us at McCarthy Keville O’Sullivan if you would like professional advice on the proposed new legislative measures.

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