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Planning delays to infrastructure

  • 01-10-2021 10:34pm
    Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    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: 9,911 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: 18,854 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.

  • 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".

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    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: 18,854 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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  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    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: 18,854 Mod ✭✭✭✭Sam Russell

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

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,362 ✭✭✭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

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    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: 9,911 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: 26,397 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.

  • Posts: 25,611 ✭✭✭✭ Harper Scruffy Nomad

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

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    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

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    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: 9,911 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.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    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

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    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.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    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.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

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  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 9,911 Mod ✭✭✭✭CatInABox

    About time.

    In other planning news, the ABP chairperson has now retired early, for "family reasons". Rather convenient timing, what with the report on some of his underlings coming back with a vague "no case to answer", but with no intention of actually publishing the report.

    Serious need for transparency from the next chairperson.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Burke and the Fine Gael lads won't like this. They are looking to make it prohibitively expensive as a way of discouraging challenges. The Supreme Court has just made a mess of that for them by aligning with the Aarhaus Convention criteria

    The court’s interpretation renders the section consistent with the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 and causes it to align with the Aarhus Convention’s requirement that such proceedings are “not prohibitively expensive”, he added.

    This ruling alone, will have massive impacts on Burkes plans to limit access to justice. He's been warned consistently that his plans would lose to legal challenges and this ruling is a good indication of how the courts will rule when it comes to some of his other plans

    Full judgement

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,068 ✭✭✭Murph85

    There is a vested interest at every level on planning. The vast majority of decision makers are homeowners, with a vested interest in maintaining and increasing property prices...

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Burke keeps pushing with his legislation to allow him to take over the planning system from top to bottom

    The Bill would hand the Minister for Housing untrammelled power and complete discretion in determining the process for appointing Board members to the State’s top planning body, with a removal of existing oversight mechanisms. In introducing these new provisions, the Bill scraps the existing Board appointments system which, while in need of some reforms, does provide for significant input from civil society, something which is crucial for the independence of the Board. The new Bill provides no safeguards or provisions for Oireachtas oversight of this new appointments process, concentrating power in the hands of one Minister. 

    This is yet another eleventh-hour planning bill being rushed through the Oireachtas by the Government immediately before a recess. The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing was in the midst of pre-legislative scrutiny on the Bill, but the Government is now rushing the Bill to the Seanad this week, effectively circumventing the rest of the scrutiny process. In keeping with a highly disturbing pattern of rushed planning legislation in recent months and years, there has been no public consultation on the proposed changes and the Bill’s progress through the Oireachtas will be expedited, once again curtailing opportunity for scrutiny and debate.

    The Bill also proposes changes to the foreshore legislation and the regulation of marine surveying, with potentially significant consequences for the interests of various marine users, including fishers and the public. It has also been reported that Government amendments will be added regarding social and affordable housing, but these have not yet been published, despite the Bill being rushed through the Seanad this week.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,456 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    the IT said 'scores' of developments had been delayed by resident's challenges - but IIRC, most of them won? which might suggest that the residents were correct to take them?

    streamlining CPOs on derelict/vacant buildings would be welcome though.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Yup, there's very few that lost.

    Also it keeps being stated that there's too many JR's but there was also no other avenue to challenge a SHD application.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,362 ✭✭✭Pete_Cavan

    From the article;

    The law on the legal standing of litigants will be changed so a judicial review can be taken either by a person affected by the case or by an environmental NGO that meets certain criteria in relation to its establishment and its purposes.

    So individuals and certain NGOs can still take JRs, just collections of individuals wont be able to join together to do it. I don't think there would be many legal issues with that, I would have thought that would make the system more transparent. People would have to prove the specific issue effecting them, rather than a broad we're not happy/it reduces the value of our houses type stuff.

    The other interesting part from the article is;

    The new laws will also allow An Bord Pleanála or a local authority correct an “error of fact or law” in its planning decision and give them the right to seek a stay on the determination of the case while doing so.

    I'm not sure exactly what they mean by that but I assume it to mean that certain errors can be corrected without rejecting the entire application due to the error and requiring a new application. That would be very sensible, if that is the case.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    The new laws will also allow An Bord Pleanála or a local authority correct an “error of fact or law” in its planning decision and give them the right to seek a stay on the determination of the case while doing so.

    I'm not sure exactly what they mean by that but I assume it to mean that certain errors can be corrected without rejecting the entire application due to the error and requiring a new application. That would be very sensible, if that is the case

    This is what caused huge grief for Burke the last time he tried this.

    Basically it allows ABP etc, who are being challenged on a decision, to alter the decision or add conditions to the approval at any stage during a challenge thereby negating the point the challenge is based on. Its to dissuade challenges again.

    You could spend thousands challenging a decision, only for it to be modified to address your challenge and then have the case thrown out.

    This could happen years into a case, the day before a court rules etc and there would be no recourse for costs as the case would be voided.

    It's the legal equivalent of moving the goalposts as the shot is being taken. You wouldn't bother playing if you could never score a goal. Maybe I'm stretching the analogy lol.

    My point is, since O'Brien got in his objective has not been to fix any of the problems but rather make it as difficult as possible to take a case and make that option as unappealing as possible.

    Post edited by [Deleted User] on

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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,362 ✭✭✭Pete_Cavan

    I assume that there would be rules on when a correction could be made. I think the point is to avoid the challenge progressing to the courts so would make sense to limit any correction to an early stage.

    I am not overly familiar with the system, but I assume the issue it aims to rectify is that ABP can't currently accept a challengers point and retrospectively impose a condition which in theory should make everyone happy (applicant gets their permission, challenger gets condition addressing their concern imposed, ABP gets project off their desk, everybody else benefits from ABP resources getting freed up). Seems like reasonable idea to allow them to do so.

    It probably does discourage challenges which are less about correcting an issue and are intended simply to delay a project in the hope it doesn't happen, but that wouldn't be a bad thing. Currently, the applicant could address the issue in a new application and get the same permission, just several months later. That is just procedural nonsense and benefits nobody.

    And who is Burke?