The Government must withdraw their eleventh-hour amendments to the Planning and Development (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill. It is due for a vote on Wednesday evening, mere hours before the summer recess and just after a major no-confidence vote in Government. The Government’s approach to this Bill is symptomatic of a wider pattern of ramming problematic legislation through the Oirechtas, with no respect for due process or parliamentary custom

Members of the Oireachtas only received the slew of the amendments, which are entirely unrelated to the content of the original bill, late on Thursday [1]. The public did not have sight of the amendments until Friday. Deputies were not briefed on the amendments until after the deadline for input on Monday, and they will have less than three hours of parliamentary debate before being forced to a vote. 

Dr. Elaine McGoff, Natural Environment Officer with An Taisce said:

Not only have the public not had an opportunity to review these amendments, the government themselves could be voting on amendments to primary legislation without the time to fully understand the proposed changes - changes which may fundamentally alter the face of planning legislation in Ireland.

The new provisions create wide ranging and confusing changes, which will lead to further litigation and delays to development as a result. The Government is actively muddying the waters around procedures for planning consent, and introducing further chaos to the planning system. The amendments dramatically increase cost and legal uncertainty around judicial review and will fall foul of EU law, notably around environmental assessment, as well as the Aarhus Convention on the right to public participation. 

Phoebe Duvall, Planning and Environmental Policy Officer with An Taisce said:

“The proposed amendments are a stealth attack on public participation in the planning system - they are not ‘administrative’ or ‘streamlining’ changes as described by Government. These amendments will have far-reaching consequences for the environment, the functioning of our planning system and the public right of access to justice. 

Crucially, these ill-considered amendments will undoubtedly cause a spike in litigation and further planning delays, so by taking this approach the Government is exacerbating the very issues that these amendments purportedly want to address.

Moreover, none of these proposals are urgent, so there is no reason for them to be forced through before the end of Dáil term while evading scrutiny and accountability. In doing so, the Government is creating problems that don’t need to exist.”

This legislative anarchy comes at a time when public trust in the Irish planning system is at an all-time low. These amendments are undemocratic and exclusionary, and will undermine public faith in planning even further. The Green Party have long claimed to stand in opposition to the erosion of planning regulations in defense of public participation, sustainability and transparency. In 2019, Green Party leadership railed against similar Government attempts to circumvent public participation in the planning process, saying then that it was an attempt to  “undermine the rights of Irish citizens to participate in the planning system on parity with developers who have every planning and legal resource at their disposal.”

It is unconscionable that the Green Party now betray that position. Supporting amendments that fundamentally undermine public participation in Irish planning law, and breach European Law, under the cover of the summer recess and a no-confidence vote in the Government, is, to quote the Green Party, ‘deeply cynical’. The Government must withdraw these amendments. 


[1] On the evening of Thursday 7th July, the Government released 48 pages of last minute amendments to what was originally a 16 page bill covering changes to the substitute consent provisions (a planning procedure to deal with large-scale unauthorised developments with significant environmental impacts). The amendments, which have not undergone any pre-legislative scrutiny, were not available to the public until Friday the 8th July. The Bill and the proposed amendments have only been allocated 150 minutes for debate prior to the vote on Wednesday the 13th.


Phoebe Duvall, Planning and Environmental Policy Officer, An Taisce, [email protected]