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Breach planning laws? Prepare to 'face the consequences'

That is the message from Minister Jan O’Sullivan as she released a new policy directive on planning.

THOSE WHO BREACH planning laws will face the consequences of their actions, Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan has said today.

She made the comment while issuing a policy directive on planning enforcement, following on from the announcement earlier this week that the Government was establishing an Independent Planning Regulator.

O’Sullivan, who is the Minister for Housing and Planning, said the directive has three main objectives:

  • To remind planning authorities of their statutory obligations under Part VIII of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2012
  • To require planning authorities to undertake appropriate monitoring of planning enforcement; and
  • To direct planning authorities to prioritise large-scale unauthorised development and enforcement cases.

Minister O’Sullivan described Ireland’s performance on planning enforcement as having been “patchy” and said “we need to address that”.

Those responsible for breaching planning legislation need to know that they will face the consequences of their actions and those that want to see the law upheld need to know that the system has teeth.

As well as the policy directive, O’Sullivan is introducing other actions to ensure “full and effective implementation” of the enforcement provisions set out under Planning Legislation. These include:

  • Two public guides on planning enforcement (published in November)
  • The publication of consolidated versions of the Planning and Development Acts 2000 – 2012 and Planning and Development Regulations 2001 – 2012
  • A commitment to develop a policy statement on planning
  • The establishment of an Independent Planning Regulator.

The directive requires planning authorities to report comprehensively and formally on the enforcement activity they carry out and to provide whatever assistance is necessary in the future to raise public awareness about planning enforcement.

Finally, it provides guidance to planning authorities that, in carrying out their enforcement function, they need to prioritise the most significant breaches of the planning code, for example quarrying activities.

O’Sullivan said that the statutory footing “will also serve as a clear signal to the public, to planning authorities, and to the European Commission that Ireland is taking its planning enforcement function seriously”.

A group will be set up to examine, in conjunction with planning authorities, possible further areas of reform. These may include possible amendments to planning legislation, and the development of a proper enforcement network through which planning authorities can share knowledge, expertise and experience.

Read: New regulator ‘will restore confidence in planning system’>

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