The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr. Alan Kelly TD, has today Monday, 14th March 2016 published the Organisational Review of An Bord Pleanála. The review was undertaken to ensure that An Bord Pleanála would be best positioned to fulfil its legislative mandate, taking account of considerations including
- an anticipated increase in construction activity
- the increasingly complex legislative and policy context within which the Board operates
- the increase in functions assigned to the Board.
The report acknowledges the achievements of the Board since its establishment in 1977 and notes the high level of public and institutional confidence developed over this time-span. To build on the track record of the Board and ensure its fitness for purpose in a fast-changing and more complex operational environment, the report contains over 100 recommendations across a number of themes, including:
- a more cohesive planning system
- communication with stakeholders
- an improved legislative base.
Some of the key findings and recommendations of the review relate to:
- simplification of the planning legislation
- more open arrangements for Board membership
- improvements to the processes, systems and practices of An Bord Pleanála
- access to environmental and other specialist advice
- mandatory pre-application discussions for all potential Strategic Infrastructure Development applications
- changes to the statutory objective timeframes for the work of the Board
The Minister, when thanking the group, commended its work in producing the report and confirmed that his Department would now consider the findings and recommendations and stated that:
“This report confirms the reputation of the Board for thoroughness, integrity and professionalism and points towards a range of practical but also strategic reforms that can and should be progressed to ensure that the Board’s crucial role in the planning process is upheld in meeting an increased workload driven by Ireland’s economic recovery”.
Minister Kelly added: “I would like to thank the members of the Review Group under the chairmanship of Mr. Gregory Jones QC, Dr. Mary Kelly, Chairperson of An Bord Pleanála, her colleagues and the Partnership Committee and staff of the Board for their assistance and cooperation in bringing the review to fruition. I would also like to thank all those who contributed to the review as part of the consultation process.’
The Minister continued ‘I have asked An Bord Pleanála to forward its views in the coming weeks. Given the importance of the report and the number of recommendations, it would be important to allow some time to decide on and to develop the appropriate actions arising from the report but this will be done as expeditiously as possible.”