Consultation on the Draft Roscommon County Council Development Plan 2014-2020

29th January 2014
Submission Summary

Thank you for referring the above to An Taisce for comment. We would like to make the following comments which we request the Planning Authority (PA) take into consideration in the finalisation and adoption of the CDP, including the accompanying Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Article 6 Habitats Directive Assessment (HDA). It is wish to advise the PA for future reference, An Taisce will accept forward planning referrals in electronic copy and will then, if required, contact the council directly if a hard copy of specific documents is required in respect of the referral. This should go some way to reducing the councils costs and consumption of paper. We would also request that the PA make An Taisce known of any further consultation periods regarding the making of this CDP and issue An Taisce with notification of any future proposed amendments to the Draft CDP and notification of the final adopted CDP.

In recent years the Irish planning system has been brought into disrepute. Corrupt zoning decisions, bad planning and the link between developers and politicians has brought calamitous consequences. More than ever the planning system is required to address the major challenges of our time. It must be reclaimed with transparent democratic decision making. The PDA 2010 has made significant legislative changes to the forward planning process and these must be adhered to by the PA to ensure the CDP is not subject to legal challenge or intervention. Spatial planning is amongst the most important function of the PA and its elected members. We refer the PA to the Judgment of the High Court in respect of Farrell & Forde v Limerick County Council [2008 No. 1398 J.R]. In this case Mr. Justice McGovern found that the Manager only had to give effect to the lawful resolutions of the elected members. The Manager has the power to treat a resolution as invalid where the Elected Members have ignored the local authority’s expert advice to the effect that the proposal would be unlawful or contrary to the proper planning and development of the area and where they fail to outline any proper planning – based reason for rejecting that advice. Mr. Justice McGovern goes on to state: ‘The planning process involves taking into account many considerations which may involve competing claims. The process exists for the benefit of the community at large and not for sectional interests, whether they be landowners, private individuals or developers, although there may be cases where these interests coincide’ We request that the Manager and Elected Members have full regard to their legal obligations in the consideration of the CDP. An Taisce will be reviewing the final CDP with regard to the above judgment. The new CDP will provide a key policy document of central importance for a critical period in Irish society and will form a contract between the PA and the local community embodying a promise to regulate land use in accordance with its policies and objectives1. It is now two decades since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro when scientists warned humanity that ‘no more than a few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished’. The worldwide response to these messages from those in a position to bring about change has been almost nil. It is now, therefore, imperative that the new CDP set out a clear, rational, evidence based and plan-led strategy for the future spatial development of the locality to address critical emerging global challenges, most importantly energy scarcity and climate change, and is grounded in the principles of sustainable development. An Taisce asks that the PA review the development plan before final adoption to ensure conciseness, clarity and simplicity in use of language, and that planning terms be explained in an appending glossary. The excessive flexibility inherent in many CDPs is a key factor in the long delays experienced in the planning process. This flexibility is evidenced both vagueness and by ‘let-out’ clauses which causes interpretation problems for the developer, the Councillors, the public, and even the officials.

Local Association: