Dáil Éireann - Volume 584 - 29 April, 2004
Written Answers - Planning Issues.
Mr. Cuffe Mr. Cuffe
22. Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he intends reviewing the position of An Taisce under the Planning Acts; if he intends to provide sufficient funding for the organisation to carry out its remit adequately under the Planning Acts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12279/04]
Mr. Quinn Mr. Quinn
24. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he is considering change in the role of An Taisce as a prescribed body under the Planning Acts;  and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12224/04]
Mr. N. Ahern Mr. N. Ahern
Mr. N. Ahern: I propose to take Questions Nos. 22 and 24 together.
Section 33 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 provides that regulations regarding applications for permission may be made requiring, inter alia, that planning authorities must notify prescribed bodies of the receipt of certain classes of development. Article 28 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 lists the bodies prescribed for this purpose. An Taisce is given notice of planning applications only in circumstances where it appears to the planning authority that the proposed development might impact on matters such as areas of special amenity, protected structures, national monuments and nature conservation. The current list of bodies prescribed for the purposes of planning applications is kept under review.
An Taisce is an independent voluntary body whose financing, through membership subscriptions and otherwise, is properly a matter for itself. In 2001, my Department agreed to pay An Taisce an annual grant of €69,836 for the three year period 2001-2003 to assist it in its role as a prescribed body under planning legislation. There was no commitment to a continuation of this funding and there is no provision in my Department’s Vote to provide similar funding in 2004.
My Department provides grant aid to An Taisce under a number of initiatives, namely administration expenses of the blue flag scheme in Ireland —€75,156 in 2003; an An Taisce led anti-litter initiative national spring clean —€250,000 in 2003; local agenda 21 from the environmental partnership fund —€6,875 in 2003 and core funding of €1,000 in 2003. In addition, An Taisce was given financial assistance of €500 in 2003 towards anti-litter advertising.
Mr. Penrose Mr. Penrose
23. Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the latest position regarding the threat by the European Commission to take legal action arising from the decision of the Government to introduce a €20 charge for making a submission on a planning application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12217/04]
Mr. N. Ahern Mr. N. Ahern
Mr. N. Ahern: On 23 January 2003, the European Commission issued Ireland with a reasoned opinion to the effect that the €20 fee for the making of a submission on a planning application which requires environmental impact assessment is contrary to the public participation provisions of Directive 85/337/EEC on environmental impact assessment, EIA. A reply, responding to each of the points raised in the  reasoned opinion and issued to the European Commission on 16 May 2003, set out our contention that the imposition of a €20 participation fee is not in conflict with the provisions of the directive.
On 22 July 2003, the European Commission issued a press release in which it stated its intention to refer the case to the European Court of Justice. No official communication has been received from the Commission to date. I have no proposal to amend the relevant regulations, which reflect an approach endorsed by the Oireachtas in the context of the Planning and Development Act 2000.
Question No. 24 answered with Question No. 22.
Dáil Éireann 584 Written Answers Planning Issues.