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Planning process criticised as Government publishes details of public consultation

Ireland has submitted its first report on the implementation of the Aarhus Convention which ensures public participation in environmental planning.

Windfarm at Point in County Wexford.
Windfarm at Point in County Wexford.
Image: Photocall Ireland

A NUMBER OF complaints about Ireland’s implementation of the Aarhus Convention have been published by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.

The Aarhus Convention, which Ireland signed up to in 2012, ensures public participation in the decision making process on environmental planning.

As part of the report, the department has published submissions from 21 agencies who were involved in the first phase of consultation which began in June of last year.

They can be viewed on the department’s website and include submissions from agencies such as An Taisce, Coillte and Eirgrid.

An Taisce in particular was critical of the first draft of the implementation report which it says was “a tick-box response approach detailing Ireland’s legislative response to the implementation”.

Other submissions include one from Westmeath councillor Denis Leonard who says that the consultation process needs to be “streamlined” for local individuals and communities to become more involved with planning issues.

“Communities should not be finding out about large infrastructural process through their local newspaper years down a company’s planning process but should partner from the beginning to protect what is incumbent on all of us to protect,” Leonard wrote.

A second consultation phase was completed in November 2013 with 12 further submissions received.

The report published today by the department outlined a number of the criticisms made by the various submissions and published official response to them. These responses are also available to read online.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan says that public participation is central to the Aarhus Convention and thanked those who made submissions.

“The level of public engagement in the development of the report illustrates the growing interest in this area in Ireland, ” he said.

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Rónán Duffy

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