Dáil Éireann - Volume 614 - 07 February, 2006

Written Answers. - EU Directives.

  319. Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 121 to 125 of 4 February 1997 that set out the procedures relating to the position of landowners affected by special areas of conservation, if in the forthcoming transposition of Council Directive 2003/105/EC, generally known as Seveso II, into Irish law, he proposes to establish similar fair procedures relating to consultation, the provision of maps, compensation and so on in the case of landowners similarly affected by Seveso zones some of which are not alone massive but draconian in terms of property rights and thus an affront to both natural and constitutional justice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3921/06]

  Mr. Killeen: The aims of the Seveso II Directive, [271] Council Directive 96/82/EC, which is transposed into Irish law through the European Communities (Control of Major Accidents Involving Dangerous Substances) Regulations 2000, S.I. No. 476/2000, as amended by Council Directive 2003/105/EC, which will soon be transposed, are to prevent major accident hazards involving dangerous substances, and to limit the adverse human and environmental consequences where accidents do occur.

Under the directive, one of the means of achieving these aims is ensuring that land-use policies take account of the need to maintain appropriate distances around establishments which process or store dangerous substances. The Health and Safety Authority, under the terms of these regulations, provides technical advice in the interest of safety to the planning authorities.

The planning authorities are the major decision makers in regard to the siting of plants which fall under the terms of the regulations and the subsequent granting of permission for additional developments. All plants affected by the directives are subject to the planning process, which in itself has an appeals process built in and is transparent. Likewise, property owners whose land use may be restricted or otherwise affected by a proposed plant are entitled to avail of the planning and appeal process.

However, the Planning and Development Act 2000, No. 30 of 2000, provides that compensation under section 190 of that Act shall not be payable in respect of the refusal of permission for any proposed development which (a) could, due to the risk of a major accident or if a major accident were to occur, lead to serious danger to human health or the environment, or (b) is in an area where it is necessary to limit the risk of there being any serious danger to human health or the environment.

The special areas of conservation referred to in the question are designated under the terms of the EU Habitats Directive, which is within the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Compensation is available in some cases where there is a prohibition on the continuation of economic activity which has been carried out on land which is subsequently designated as a special area of conservation. There is no compensation available for a prohibition of any possible future economic use of such land.