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Government seeks to avoid vote on National Planning Framework - Eoin Ó Broin TD

13 February, 2018 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD


Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson, Eoin Ó Broin TD, has slammed the government for seeking to avoid a vote in Oireachtas on placing the National Planning Framework (NPF) on a statutory footing. 

Speaking in the Dáil during order of business, Deputy Ó Broin said:

“Information received in response to a parliamentary question today confirmed that the government has no intention of having a formal vote on the final draft of the NPF before it is placed on a statutory footing.

“Minister Murphy’s PQ response says: 'A formal vote on the final NPF was never envisaged under the legislation, rather that both Houses would have a formal chance to input to the drafting process'.

“Unfortunately this intransigence does not tally with what the legislation contains. The Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016 section on the NPF clearly states that: 'The Government shall submit the draft of the revised or new National Planning Framework, together with the Environment Report and Appropriate Assessment Report for the approval of each house of the Oireachtas before it is published'.

“The government is attempting to circumvent a clear provision contained in their own legislation that is going through the Seanad at the moment. The NPF must be approved by both houses of the Oireachtas before it is published. This means a vote of the members.

“Junior Minister English did not provide any clarity on this for me in Dáil just now. His response only muddied the waters further. I am still none the wiser as to what approach the government will be taking in order to give the NPF legislative force.

“I will raise this issue again with the Taoiseach during questions in the Dáil today. It is simply unacceptable that a legal document of such huge importance that will frame development across the state for the next 20 years is not subject to a Dáil vote.”

- ENDS -

Note to Editor 

PQ response and legislation referenced below.

For Written Answer on : 08/02/2018Question Number(s)286 Question Reference(s): 6572/18Department: Housing, Planning and Local Government

QUESTION - 

To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the procedure to put the national planning framework on a statutory footing; if the final document will be presented to the Houses of the Oireachtas for a debate and vote; and if there will be an opportunity for the Houses of the Oireachtas to amend the document. 

REPLY - 

The Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016 will, once it is finalised and enacted, establish a legislative mechanism for preparing and adopting National Planning Frameworks (NPF) into the future, as well as placing the Framework on a formal statutory footing,much like the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) already provides a legislative process for the preparation and adoption of local authority development plans.

Enactment of the Bill also provides for oversight in the implementation of this new national element in the tier of statutory plans by an independent Office for Planning Regulation and for Oireachtas involvement in monitoring, reviewing and updating the framework.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Bill has now concluded its passage through the Dáil and is currently before the Seanad but is unlikely to advance to enactment in the near term, given that a significant number of amendments will need to be considered in the Seanad and these  will then require to be approved by the Dáil.

Given that the work on the NPF and the associated 10-year Capital Investment Plan has been ongoing for some time and will be finalised in the coming weeks, the statutory process envisaged in the Bill in relation to the national planning framework will not be in place.

Notwithstanding this, the arrangements made for consultation and participation in the preparation of the NPF have taken into account the relevant provisions in the draft legislation, particularly in terms of -

- Submitting the draft Framework for consideration and approval by both Houses of the Oireachtas, and

- The Government having regard to any resolution or report from the Oireachtas in finalising the Framework.

Specifically, both Houses adopted a motion to refer the draft NPF to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government requesting that Committee to prepare a report on the draft document that would be considered in finalising the document. Through consideration of the report prepared by the Committee, coupled with the extensive debate in the Dáil over nine hours to which many Deputies contributed, from all sides of the House, the spirit of the legislative arrangements set out in the Bill has been respected, and we have carefully listened and taken on board many of the issues raised.

In addition, there has been an extensive wider consultation process, including formal engagement with the elected members of Regional Assemblies and Local Authorities, and the wide range of views received are being considered in finalising the NPF.

Having devoted a huge amount of effort on engagement and integrating views from across all parties into the final document, the priority now is to finalise and adopt this Framework, and the complementary 10-year Capital Plan so that there is effective strategic planning and infrastructure investment to meet the pressing needs of a resurgent economy and wider society.  

A formal vote on the final NPF was never envisaged under the legislation, rather that both Houses would have a formal chance to input to the drafting process.  Notwithstanding the extensive Oireachtas discussions that have already taken place on the draft NPF, I would be happy to facilitate further debate in the Houses on the final published NPF.  The scheduling of Oireachtas business is, of course, ultimately a matter for both Houses themselves.

It should be noted also that there will be further opportunities to elaborate on the NPF at regional and local levels through forthcoming Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSES’s), the preparation of which has begun in each of the three regions and which are due for completion by early 2019. In addition, in line with the proposed legislative framework, the NPF will be subject to periodic review and amendment, as necessary.

Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016

Page 46 Section 8 National Planning Framework

(8) The Government shall submit the draft of the revised or new National Planning Framework, together with the Environmental Report and Appropriate Assessment Report for the approval of each House of the Oireachtas before it is published.

https://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/bills28/bills/2016/116/b01b16d.pdf

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