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Monday 25 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C
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# Plan Ahead
Underfunded planning system puts climate action at risk, Government warned
The Climate Change Advisory Council has written to the coalition leaders to highlight specific issues with the planning system.

A PANEL OF climate experts has warned the government that underfunding of the planning system is creating challenges for climate action.

The Climate Change Advisory Council, a panel of experts tasked with advising the government on climate change, has written to the leaders of the three coalition parties to highlight specific issues with the planning system that are “crucial to address” in 2023.

Ireland’s overarching climate targets are to reduce emissions by 51% by 2030 (compared to 2018) and to reach net-zero by 2050 to play its part in thwarting the climate crisis, which has already caused “substantial damages” and “irreversible losses” to the planet.  

The Council’s letter is addressed to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Micheál Martin and Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan, with a copy also sent to Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien.

“As we approach the mid-point of the first carbon budget, the Climate Change Advisory Council remains concerned that the timelines for delivery of core measures within the Climate Action Plan are not progressing fast enough,” the letter outlines. 

The Council is concerned that it will “be challenging to address the many interdependencies between climate action and planning without addressing historic and structural underfunding of the planning process”.

“Ireland’s planning service is significantly under-resourced in particular at the local authority level.”

The Council called for an urgent increase in staff numbers at local authority planning offices to help effectively deliver national climate policies.  

The amount of planning applications necessary to achieve targets for renewable energy such as offshore wind, as well as essential expansions and upgrading of the electricity grid, represent a “significant challenge” for the planning system, the Council said. It is also concerned that “many of the older fleet of onshore wind farms are due to lose their planning consent before 2030″.

The Council warns in its letter that the compact growth target in the current National Planning Framework is “insufficiently ambitious” to cut emissions in the transport sector. Furthermore, “more effort” is needed to ensure across all counties to ensure that compact growth targets are met.

Additionally, the Council is concerned about the “continuing backlog of cases” awaiting a planning decision.

“It is essential that the planning process performs efficiently for all its users by providing clear and effective forward planning which supports the achievement of our climate goals and specific targets in each sector,” the letter details.

“A refined planning process must ensure coherence and clarity of approach across the different key policy areas including housing supply, climate action, protection of natural and public resources and public safety matters.”

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