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Sinn Féin proposes appointment of Independent Planning Regulator

7 October, 2015 - by Brian Stanley TD

Sinn Féin has published a Bill which proposes the establishment of an office of Planning Regulator. The Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2015 would provide a Planning Regulator with power to appraise key planning proposals, and to conduct investigations into controversial projects.

Launching the Bill, the Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment Brian Stanley TD pointed out that the appointment of an independent regulator was one of key recommendations of the Mahon Report: “That has not been done and the current Government proposal for a regulator does not meet the need for an independent regulator.”

Deputy Stanley continued;

“There are a number of key reasons why an independent Planning Regulator is needed. At present we supposedly have investigations being conducted into seven counties regarding possible irregularities. A Planning Regulator would be able to conduct such inquiries in a far more thorough and open manner.

“There is also on-going controversy over wind farms, and the need for proper review of decisions. Our wind turbine bill set out a scheme for transparent public consultation prior to approval, and with strict regulations on setback distances, and other issues which impact on communities where wind farms are sited.

“One of areas the independent Planning regulator could act was in relation to the criteria governing the siting and scale of wind farms. The controversial midlands project for export of electricity to Britain illustrated how such large scale developments can be imposed over considerable local opposition.

“Our legislation would also mean that the states critical infrastructure legislation could not be used to railroad such proposals through the planning process, and over-ride democratically agreed local development plans.

“A Planning Regulator would ensure that all such decisions are both made openly, and are subject to full scrutiny.”

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