Housing; Local Government and Heritage | An Bord Pleanála renewable energy incentives for Irish Business
To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage the way in which the Government intends to support indigenous Irish businesses that are seeking to make the transition to carbon neutral operations and are investing heavily in renewable technologies, but are challenged in doing so by local and national stipulations on wind energy and solar energy locations in areas of perceived archaeological sensitivity; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage if the Government is planning to take action by way of legislation to try and rebalance the decision-making process at An Bord Pleanála when applications for renewable technologies are submitted for decision in areas that have a perceived archaeological and geological significance, given the current energy inflation crisis, Ireland’s climate action targets and newfound pressures for businesses to become carbon-neutral; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I wish to explain at the outset that my role as Minister in relation to the planning system is primarily, to provide a policy and legislative framework under which the planning authorities, An Bord Pleanála (the Board) and the Office of the Planning Regulator (the OPR) perform their statutory planning functions. The legislative framework chiefly comprises the Planning and Development Act, 2000, as amended (the 2000 Act), and the Planning and Development Regulations, 2001, as amended (the 2001 Regulations). My Department has also issued Planning guidelines (available on my Department’s website www.housing.gov.ie) under section 28 of the 2000 Act, which planning authorities and the Board are obliged to have regard to in the exercise of their planning functions.
The day-to-day operation of the planning system is, however, a matter for the planning authorities and for the Board in relation to planning appeals and Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID). Under the 2000 Act, the decision as to whether to grant permission on a planning application, with or without conditions, is a matter for the relevant planning authority or the Board.
In making decisions on a planning application, a planning authority, or the Board as appropriate, must consider the proper planning and sustainable development of the area having regard to the provisions of the development plan, any submissions or observations received from the public and the statutory consultees, and any relevant Ministerial or Government policies, such as the Climate Action Plan, as well as any guidelines issued by my Department such as the “Archaeology in the Planning Process” booklet.
Under the 2001 Regulations, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage is prescribed as a statutory consultee where it appears that a development might affect, among other things, a monument or place recorded under section 12 of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1994 (No. 17 of 1994), a historic monument or archaeological area entered in the Register of Historic Monuments under section 5 of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1987 (No. 17 of 1987) and a national monument in the ownership or guardianship of the Minister under the National Monuments Acts 1930 to 2014.
This allows me to recommend that archaeological related conditions be attached to the granting of planning permission where appropriate, or to recommend refusal of planning permission to ensure protection of the archaeological heritage. While carrying out its role in the planning process, the National Monuments Service, on my behalf, makes every effort to ensure that developmental impacts on archaeological heritage are mitigated.
It is a matter for the relevant planning authority or the Board to make a decision on an application or appeal based on all the legislative criteria. Notwithstanding the current climate and energy situation, I have no plans to amend the relevant legislation or obligations with regard to archaeological heritage in the manner suggested at this time.
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