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Planning delays to infrastructure

  • 01-10-2021 11:34pm
    Registered Users Posts: 9,894 ✭✭✭ DaCor

    I often see posters complaining about appeals and objections to various infrastructure projects and how much this impacts on the time lines.

    What many people don't take into account is the lack of resources in planning depts, ABP and the courts.

    Case in point, the President of the High Court requested 15-20 new High Court judges to be appointed, 5 were approved but the delays in approving them for the court resulted in the announcement of multiple very high profile cases being removed from the docket.

    The resulting embarrassment from this motivated the govt to get 4 of the 5 judges appointed asap to allow these cases to proceed as scheduled

    Judicial appointments to be rushed through after High Court President announced cancellation of murder and rape trials

    My point is, it suits the govt to have the blame for delays to be laid at the feet of objectors when a lot of the blame resides with the govt themselves through the poor provision of resources to the relevant bodies.


  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 9,198 Mod ✭✭✭✭ CatInABox

    Yes, ABP has been screaming for resources too. In fairness, they underestimated the amount of work that the SHD scheme would generate, which is a bit foolish.

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,073 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell

    Courts only sit for a few hours a day. Could they not start the court day at 9 AM and continue until 5 PM with an hour for lunch? It would double the amount of court time.

    A lot of court time is wasted by poor efficiency of their procedures. That should be addressed also.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,987 ✭✭✭ haphaphap

    You do realise that the Judge needs time to consider the cases presented to him or her? More Judges are needed.

    Justice system is ignored in Ireland. Gardai, Judges, DPP, Prison and youth diversion systems are under-resourced but there is plenty of money for support of Horse and Greyhound racing "pastimes".

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,894 ✭✭✭ DaCor

    Someone more well versed in the procedures than I should be able to elaborate more but as I understand it, what happens in the courtroom is only one part of the courts operations.

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,073 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell

    I am not versed in the court system in any way.

    I have been called for jury service twice and was surprised at how poorly the procedure was organised. Much court time is taken up selecting a jury - much of this could be done outside of court time. Plus, it would be a good idea to have a few extra reserve jurors to cover for jurors falling sick. An important trial was stopped because a third juror had fallen sick, and has to be rescheduled. With say 15 jurors empanelled with the 12 selected randomly when the jury is sent to consider the verdict would work.

    I understand that much work is done by judges away from court, but more time in court will shorten cases. That would obviously help throughput of the cases before the court.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,894 ✭✭✭ DaCor

    I understand that much work is done by judges away from court, but more time in court will shorten cases.

    No doubt, but as I said, presentation of cases in court is only 1 part.

    At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how many hours are in the courtroom, if there are not enough judges then cases are not going to be heard a la the article above.

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,073 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell

    True, we need more judges. So why the reluctance to appoint them?

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,262 ✭✭✭ Pete_Cavan

    Looks like ye are getting your wish lads;

    The Working Group is now issuing on open call to interested parties for submissions in relation to the following themes:

    the number and type of judges required in Ireland in the next five years, and longer term to ensure the efficient administration of justice

    the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, demographic changes, and implications of Brexit in regard to court caseloads and the subsequent resource requirements

    the development of judicial skills

    the extent to which efficiencies in case management and working practices, as well as enhanced digital technology, could help in meeting additional service demands, improving services, and access to justice

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,894 ✭✭✭ DaCor

    Nice one

    I'm particularly happy to see the OECD being involved as their recommendations will form part of the final reports so if they don't at least give them serious consideration it'll look like a farce

    Also, regarding

    "The government’s commitment to ensuring the courts are adequately resourced is illustrated by the recent increase in the number of High Court judges by five. This was one of the largest increases in living memory, bringing the total number of High Court judges to 42.

    As highlighted in the first post on this thread, the only reason we even got those 5 was because the govt had to be shamed in the national papers into appointing them. Its also only 33% of the total qty requested so really, there should be 52 justices, not 42.

    Its a step in the right direction at least

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  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 9,198 Mod ✭✭✭✭ CatInABox

    Yeah, this was the approach that I thought they'd take, and it's a complete waste of time. Will fall at the EU level, if it doesn't fall beforehand.

  • Moderators, Education Moderators Posts: 26,304 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Peregrine

    All this is going to do is take up more time and resources trying to implement something that's going to result in even more court cases.

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,921 ✭✭✭✭ Buttonftw

    Yup, and more people getting paid. Almost like it's deliberate.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,894 ✭✭✭ DaCor

    Some good points raised today during leaders questions in relation to planning delays by SD TD Jennifer Whitmore

    See 21:35 to 31:00

    Points raised by Leo were fair enough but the actions being taken to address the issues with judicial reviews are not i.e. limiting access to justice

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,894 ✭✭✭ DaCor

    So Brukes attempts to limit the publics access to justice is dead.

    As expected several challenges were made to his plans which I'm guessing painted a pretty clear picture of how likely it was to fail.

    What they are doing instead is the following

    1. Setting up a separate division of the high Court specifically to deal with planning and environmental cases. Once that's done it will shine a bright light on resourcing issues if they don't staff it properly.
    2. Reverting back to the 2 tier approval system (1st loop through the local council, 2nd loop through ABP). The SHD process will not be used.
    3. Doing an overhaul of the planning and development acts to tidy up the legislation.

    All in all this is good news. No apparent dilution of rights, from the looks of it a simplified set of legislation and dedicated resources.

    The only one that has me a bit worried is the overhaul of the legislation. This will be the one to watch to see will Burke try to cut back on the right to appeal again. I hope not as even those with a basic understanding (myself included) will detect it and raise issues with it before it even gets through the Dail.

  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 9,198 Mod ✭✭✭✭ CatInABox

    Yeah, with the amount of construction required in this country, and the propensity for Irish people to complain about everything, these new courts are going to be busy. As you say, staffing them properly is going to be key.

    All in all, some sensible proposals in there. Staffing is really the key though, at all points of the process. No point in having quick courts if the councils and ABP are completely backlogged.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,894 ✭✭✭ DaCor


    however, as regards people appealing decisions, I think its safe to say that given the volume of successful appeals against SHD projects, that the vast majority had sufficient grounds to start with.

    The same can be said for challenges on environmental grounds. The amount of these that are successful is very high due to the most basic requirements not being followed.

    But yeah, having appeals is not an issue if you staff the system properly. You could have an application in, reviewed, approved by council, appealed to ABP, ABP ruling, High Court appeal, all done in a matter of months if its resourced appropriately.

    To be honest, a lot of these issues could be sorted right at the beginning if requirements were followed at the outset though I suspect thats where the overhaul of the legislation will be of benefit

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,894 ✭✭✭ DaCor

    Eamonn O Cuiv highlighting the resources issue in the dail, causing delays to planning applications

    In the audio extract, you can hear Eamonn Ryan respond saying DPER are putting together a list of additional roles for ABP to flesh out the body of expertise within it. Also mentioned is the cleaning up of the legislation.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,894 ✭✭✭ DaCor

    So after all the promises of a proper reform of planning laws without impacting access to justice, the govt have, in a roundabout way, took aim at rights to access justice. In all likelihood this bill will end up before the courts and will end up being quashed, resulting in it going back to square one again. To give you and idea, the bill itself is 18 pages, but the amendments run to 48 pages.

    The bill in question

    A good review of what the govt are it

    Another very good article on it which concludes that this is going to cause more problems than fix and will likely have to be rewritten again if its not killed by the courts

    Also a long twitter thread on it below by Solicitor Joe Noonan covering the period when it made it to the floor of the Dail

    Referenced by both, comments by the Chief Justice, Frank Clarke in 2018 when speaking about planning, the courts, delays etc

    I acknowledge that we in the courts need to play our part in ensuring that our systems are as good as they can be so as to lead to timely disposition of environmental litigation. But as long as legislators both in Europe and in Leinster House produce unclear or unduly complex legislation there will undoubtedly be arguments which will go beyond the unstateable or the trivial and which will take a lot of effort to resolve. As long as that remains the case then projects are going to be held up.

    The solution lies at least as much in the hands of legislators in producing greater clarity as it does in the courts and, from my perspective, lies even more on the legislative side. This is a cry which is not based on a complaint that the policy behind any particular piece of legislation is wrong. That is not a judge’s business. It is a cry for clearer legislation which will make the resolution of environmental litigation easier and therefore quicker. And a final point.

    If we keep amending legislation, as we have been doing a lot in recent times, then we create constant and shifting uncertainty. It is almost inevitable that there will be some issues of interpretation with any new model. If we keep changing the model than we perpetuate the period during which the interpretation of the existing model has not settled down. 

    One amendment did get killed, the one where a judicial review might be taken against ABP, ABP could, at any point (even hours before a court ruling) change their original decision to whatever they want thereby nullifying the reason for the case against them. A particularly sly move that would have severely curtailed access to justice.