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Strategic Infrastructure Bill 2006

The Fianna Fail Roadshow lumbered down to the dept of the Environment* headed up by Dick Roche to unveil the new Planning and development Bill, subtitled the Strategic Infrastructure Bill (2006). The crony lobby headed up by IBEC, CIF and other nice organisations involved in heritage grabbing (KMPG, and NRA) had their day.Since the abolition of Duchas in 2003 , the outdated(undated) Code of Practice governing the NRA re the identification, excavation and destruction of our history, there have beentwo planning acts. when Mr Roche was asked if there'd be a separate and equivalent legislation
put in place to define heritage landscape/monuments he said that there would be a consolidation of the National Monuments Act (not in months) . Thus we have an organisation founded in 2000 dedicated to the road lobby, acting without charter or statutory limitations. There is no defintion of landscape in our legislation, nor is there any protection for Tara or any other archaeological landscape.In terms of protection of our natural and built heritage there is simply a paucity of protections. An Bord Pleanala will be restructured to allow for the establishment of a 'Strategic Infrastructure Division' to handle all the magor infrastructure progects before the board. This is a one Stop shop, wherin persons or bodies seeking permission for those types of strategic infrastructure willapply first to ABP for a decision on whether the progected project will:be of strategic econmic or social importance to the State or region.will contribute to the fulfillment of the National spatial strategy.would have a significant impact on the area of more than one local authority.The Board will be permitted to take more flexible decisions to ensure that the project is right for the locality and country, it will not be confined to accepting or regecting a proposal.In exchange for this minister Roche intends to transpose elements of the Aarhus convention into Irish law.The idea of a specialised section in the Irish courts to fast-track the planning objections was also mooted.The Fine Print:(pg 34)The provisions of the order with respect to an application for judicial review being madeby motion ex parte, will not be satisfyed unless-There are substantial grounds for contending that the decision or act concerned is invalidor ought to be quashed and(b). the applicant has a substantial interest in the matter which is the subject of the application, or(d). is a body or organisation the aims and objectives of which relate to the promotion of environmental protection,has , during the previous 12 months preceding the date of the application, pursued those aims or objectives,satisfies such requirements as a body or organisation, if it were to make an appeal under section37(4)(c).This is treated in his speech as''expanding the rights of recognised environmental NGO's to access the courts as providedfor in the Aarhus convention.The SIB will apply to all incinerator projects(except Poolbeg), will be expanded to coverrailway, ESB will cover roads, tunnels etc.The right to object is eroded for communities.''I intend to amend the bill to include the consent process for gas pipelines during its passage through the Oireachtas.A copy of the bill can be obtained from the Government publications office.*There is no State body charged with implementing the National Monuments Act 1930-2004.*There is no definition of archaeological landscape in current legislation.*There has been no audit of the NRA since the abolition of Duchas in 2003.*There is no equivalent statutory protection for heritage in Irish law*'Recognised environmental NGO's must be operating for 12 months preceding application ex parte for judicial review of ABP decisions.
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Posted Date: 
19 February 2006 - 6:19am