Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, has published – Better Planning: reforms for sustainable development – as part of its ongoing Better Lives, Better Business campaign to make Ireland a better place to live and work.
Ibec Head of Infrastructure, Dr Neil Walker, said: “As the Irish economy enters the mature phase of its business cycle, it is imperative that we insulate ourselves from future economic shocks and address the serious capacity constraints emerging. Addressing inadequate infrastructure is a key concern for Irish business. Efforts to address such areas are being hindered by a planning regime that is unnecessarily costly and cumbersome.
“Our members now see the area of planning as a critical business issue. Tackling these problems will require political leadership, stronger regulation, streamlined planning processes, reform of planning legislation and ensuring that legal challenges get resolved more speedily.”
In the new report, Ibec calls for a series of policy recommendations across five key action areas including:
- Political leadership – the planning functions of local authorities across the country must operate a consistent level of service.
- Regulation and oversight – full operational capacity to be given to the Office of Planning Regulator as quickly as possible.
- Planning processes – streamlining of procedure by which An Bord Pleanála deals with Strategic Infrastructure Development applications.
- Legislative reform – revisions to legislation governing Compulsory Purchase Orders.
- Legal challenges – Reduce timelines for any legal challenges.
Ireland has many advantages as an attractive place to live and work, but these are under threat from various social and environmental
pressures, particularly relating to housing and associated infrastructure. Addressing these deficits is amongst the Government’s highest priorities. This report has shown that inconsistencies and bottlenecks in our planning and appeals regime constitute serious obstacles to fixing the problems. A streamlined planning and consents regime is a vital component of the reforms needed to deliver future investment in housing and critical infrastructure.
Good planning has the potential to confer significant societal benefits such as:
• Necessary international connectivity for trade and tourism
• Reduced congestion and shorter commute times on our roads
• Reduced air pollution, especially in urban areas
• Fewer greenhouse gas emissions
• Cheaper electricity and gas prices
• Assured adequacy of drinking water supply
• Elimination of landfilling
• Protection of sensitive marine habitats.