Bill to implement Mahon Tribunal recommendations needs to be prioritised

Fine Gael TD for Dublin Fingal, Alan Farrell, has said the passage of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016 must be prioritised to give effect to the planning related recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal report.

“The Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016 is important in terms of giving legislative effect to the planning related recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal. While I understand this Bill has made it to second stage debate in Dáil Éireann twice in the past few months, it cannot be delayed any longer. The simple fact is that this Bill is long overdue and, as such, I believe it must now be fast-tracked in order to ensure our planning systems are properly regulated and the events of the past do not happen again.

“In my own constituency in the past, we have seen first-hand the planning irregularities which result from a planning system beholden to corrupt influence. Preventing the irresponsible and corrupt planning decisions, of which we are all too aware, from reoccurring in my own constituency in North County Dublin is one of the reasons for which I first became involved in politics.

“It is essential now that we ensure the principles of proper planning are followed by all involved in the planning process at all stages, and that the level of transparency in the system is enhanced greatly. The passage of this Bill would do this, and it would allow a newly established, independent Office of the Planning Regulator to carry out reviews into the organisation of, and the systems and procedures used, by planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála. Furthermore, this independent body would have responsibility for the overall assessment and evaluation of many planning decisions including local authority development plans, and proposals on land zoning.

“I would hope that the lessons of the Mahon Tribunal have been learned, however the  implementation of the recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal report, and the establishment of the Office of the Planning Regulator, must be treated as a matter of urgency. An independent body which can provide comprehensive oversight of our planning system is exactly what is needed to ensure the planning process in Ireland is both robust and beyond reproach.

“The final report of the Mahon Tribunal was published in March 2012, it would certainly not be unreasonable to expect its recommendations to be implemented now in 2017.”