Help us fighting the “Housing and Planning and Development Bill 2019”

Your help is needed to fight against the ‘Housing and Planning and Development Bill 2019’

What it is about

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There is a government proposal to introduce a bill that can be of harm to our wildlife.

The bill will give carte blanche to developers and may harm current wildlife areas and their level of protection. It will also stop individuals and groups in challenging decisions. Charges will be put on challenges and those organisations with a small membership will not be allowed to challenge decisions.

We believe this will all enable further damage to our natural environment and wildlife species plus stop individuals and groups in making challenges to decisions that they feel are not in the interest of society.

You can help by sending a letter to your local TD and to submit a submission of objection. Cork Nature Network and Cork Environmental Forum have prepared a letter that you can send or amend as you wish.
It is attached to this post.

For further info go to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government website. 
To find your local TD go to Whoismytd website.

Deadline for submissions. 5pm on Monday 27th January 2020 by: emailing planning@housing.gov.ie with the subject line ‘Housing and Planning and Development Bill 2019’; or
Writing to: Housing and Planning and Development Bill 2019 Submissions, Planning Policy and Legislation Section, Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, Custom House,
Dublin D01 W6X0

Sample of letter

Dear TD xxx

Mr Eoghan Murphy, T.D., Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government has put forward the General Scheme on the Housing and Planning and Development Bill 2019 for public consultation purposes.

The key changes envisaged within the Housing and Planning and Development Bill 2019, as detailed within the ‘General Scheme Document’, include;

  1. A change to existing cost rules for environmental cases whereby costs should “not be prohibitively expensive” to a cost cap rules system;

  2. A change in standing rights requirements for applicants from “sufficient interest” to “substantial interest” and a requirement that they must be “directly affected by a proposed development”;

  3. A requirement that the applicant must have had prior participation in the planning process;

  4. An extension of the minimum time that an NGO must be in existence before it can challenge a planning decision from 12 months to 3 years; and

  5. A requirement that NGOs must have at least 100 affiliated members.

We have two main concerns regarding these changes. These are impact on the environment and secondly the right to be involved in decision making.

  1. I/We consider that these aspects of the proposed bill, among others will potentially result in extreme deterioration of environmental and ecological impacts to native habitats and species in Ireland. The National Parks and Wildlife Service in a 2019 highlighted the status of native species and habitats in Ireland. They stated that:

  • 85% of protected habitats are in an unfavourable status,

  • 46% of protected habitats demonstrating ongoing declining trends.

These protected habitats provide highly important services such as pollination, water filtration, carbon sequestration, provide wildlife corridors and eco-tourism both locally and nationally. If this envisaged bill is passed, with particular aspects including those detailed above, it would make it harder for NGOs, groups and individuals to be able to express their concerns and/ or object to local or national planning issues that impact upon our natural environment.

Whilst many existing organisations are highly skilled in their own individual aspects of the environment, it is likely that they won’t reach the desired affiliated members requirement of 100 in order to challenge a plan or project, therefore limiting the number of stakeholder opinions being considered and putting the environment at risk as a result of proposed developments. Such developments, depending on location and scale could result in direct, indirect and or cumulative impacts upon the environment and Ireland’s native habitats, species and protected areas. It will also impact greatly upon an individual or community that is directly impacted by a given development and who wish to coalesce in challenging a proposed development and will only establish themselves in this regard. We do not feel that this is fair and that our environment should be given high priority in terms of protection for future generations.

  1. Decision making.

This bill also makes it impossible for these groups or individuals to rightfully have a voice in consultation issues and in public oversight to planning. Given the historical problem and legacy issues in relation to poor planning this Bill will further exacerbate poor decision making.

The Aarhus convention which was adopted on the 25 June 1989 of which Ireland has signed up to gives two commitments.

  1. Public participation in environmental decision making and

  2. Access to justice in environmental matters.

(ref.https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/environment/environmental_law/aarhus_convention.html)

I/We ask that you honour these commitments of enabling an individual or a group to be involved in the decision making process without being impeded by economic costs.

In summary, I/We object to this bill. Firstly, the potential ecological, environmental, societal and economic implications which could occur as a result of the development of projects without proper consultation of stakeholders and adequate allowances with which to challenge. And secondly that the bill will afford the lack of proper consultation and does not support basic rights of involvement in decision making.

Yours sincerely,

Company No. 560881 CHY 21602 Charitable No. RCN.20103200
Company limited by guarantee registered under Part 18 of the Companies Act 2014
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