Submission to consultation on housing & Planning & development bill 2019

Today was the final day for submissions to the consultation on the proposed Housing & Planning & Development Bill 2019. Its title belies its intended impact which would be to vastly restrict access to justice in environmental matters. Access to the courts for judicial review is already very difficult in Ireland, so difficult that our procedures have been called into question by the European Commission. Any NGO or community group who has attempted to have a planning decision examined through the courts will attest to the magnitude of the hurdles that must be jumped.

The Housing & Planning & Development Bill would raise those hurdles even higher. It proposes the following for all NGOs or community groups who seek access to justice:

-to be established for a minimum of three years (rather than the current one year),

-to have a minimum of 100 affiliated members,

-to have a constitution or a set of rules establishing their area of environmental protection for at least three years, with the additional requirement that such aims and objectives must relate / be relevant to the subject matter of the leave application they wish to make,

-to satisfy a ‘substantial’ (rather than ‘sufficient’) interest test and be directly affected by a proposed development in a way which is ‘peculiar or personal’,

-to bear the burden of new cost capping arrangements of €10,000 (or €5,000 for individuals)

Our courts are currently our only mechanism of appeal for large-scale projects. The proposals outlined in this Bill would massively undermine the right of participation to which Irish communities and NGOs are entitled under the Aarhus Convention. I made a submission to the consultation which you can read here:

Planning Application for Marino Point

Anything that happens at Marino Point affects Passage West. The Marino Point jetty is merely 500 metres directly across the water from Passage West town centre. The site has lain derelict since IFI ceased operating in 2002. Some clearance has taken place under the guidance of the EPA but many of the old structures still remain. The Port of Cork has purchased the site in partnership with Lanber Holdings to form the new Belvelly Marino Development Company. They have applied to Cork County Council for planning permission to clear these old structures, to install a new surface and foul drainage system, to infill the lagoon, construct flood defences and essentially prepare serviced sites for industrial development. Gouldings fertilisers is expected to move their operations on Centre Park Road to Marino Point and a planning application for this is due in early 2020.

It’s good to see life at Marino Point but I’m also conscious that anything taking place there will likely have an impact on Passage West. Marino Point is in the Cobh Municipal District and there is a risk that because water rather than land separates us, the vulnerability of Passage West may be underplayed or overlooked during the planning process. So I made a submission to the Port of Cork/Belvelly Marino Development Company’s planning application. A local residents group in Passage West also made a submission and I have been given permission to make it generally available. You will find links to both here …