Irish planning law under the spotlight

Environmental group sparks European Commission interest in "restrictive" public access rules

The European Commission has sent a letter to Ireland expressing concern that a new planning law could breach the Århus convention on public participation in environmental decision making (ENDS Daily 25 June 1998). Its action was prompted by a complaint from environmental group Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE).

FIE alleges that a new planning law due to enter into force this autumn threatens public access to environmental impact assessments and other planning procedures (ENDS Daily 9 February). Yesterday, the group said that the Commission had informed it that inquiries had been made to the Irish government as to whether the planning law contained any "disincentives" to public participation.

The planning law allows for the introduction of a fee to be paid by anyone making a comment on a planning application. The law also changes the rules on who can appeal against an approved planning application and who can request a judicial review.

Follow Up:
Irish environment ministry, +353 1 888 2000; planning and development bill; Friends of the Irish Environment, tel: +353 27 73 025.

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