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03 Oct 2022

Laois Public Accounts Committee Chair calls for publication of report on planning authority

An Bord Pleanala

An Bord Pleanala

Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and Laois TD Brian Stanley has called for the publication of a report on An Bord Pleanala which was forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions(DPP). 

The Laois Offaly made the call while welcoming promised reforms of An Bord Pleanála. He said the report, which looked at possible conflicts of interest at the planning authority, should be published by the Minister for Housing so its findings can be reviewed. 

Deputy Stanley said: “As Chairperson of the PAC, I welcome the news that there is now a promised overhaul of An Bord Pleanála and a substantial reform of its appointments and decision-making processes. These reforms are long overdue. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has been concerned by the practices, procedures and alarming expenditure on legal costs of An Bord Pleanala for a considerable amount of time now.’’

“In May 2021, when representatives of An Bord Pleanála appeared before the PAC, we raised numerous areas where we had serious concerns. These included - €8.2m being spent on legal fees to defend judicial reviews, conflicts of interest not being declared by board members, An Bord Pleanála losing 90% of Strategic Housing Development judicial reviews, and only two member panels making decisions on large projects, which sometimes included overturning their own inspectors’ reports. If members of the PAC were able to identify these areas of concern, the board of An Bord Pleanála and the Minister of Housing also should have. I believe Minister O’Brien now needs to publish the Remy Farrell report so that we can review its findings. While I welcome the news of promised reforms, we need assurances that these changes will not simply be cosmetic changes, ‘’said Deputy Stanley. 

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“An Bord Pleanala was originally established to review planning decisions made by local authorities that were brought to its attention. Its remit now, however, has been substantially expanded and gone beyond what was initially intended. Greater power and accountability over planning should rest with local authorities,” argued Deputy Stanley. 

He said “An Bord Pleanála’s reputation has been tarnished and its credibility compromised by this debacle and local authorities and members of the public want to see significant changes.”

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