In a statement this week Kildare South Fianna Fáil TD Seán Ó Fearghaíl has said that the country should take the opportunity presented by the Garth Brooks controversy to look in detail at our planning system to examine whether the system currently in place actually serves the public interest.
Deputy Ó Fearghaíl commented, “It is clear when we look at it now that the 2000 Planning Act had a number of deficiencies. One such deficiency has dominated the news cycle across the country in recent weeks as the lack of any provision for appeals in the process surrounding granting of licences was central to the entire Garth Brooks fiasco.
“This specific deficiency could be addressed by the legislation brought forward by Fianna Fáil, but the emergence of this issue should present the country with the opportunity to also have a wider ranging conversation about how well the system serves the national agenda and whether it is time for more fundamental reform.
“My experience of dealing with the system as a constituency TD suggests to me that a planning system has emerged which is excessively autocratic and fails to take account, in an integrated way, of human and economic concerns.
“For example, in Kildare we have a dysfunctional planning system, which ignores human and job creation considerations. More fundamentally, it also seems unable to recognise or deal with basic social infrastructural issues – so for example, we have an acute and escalating problem with planning for schools in the constituency.
“At a time when the political system is gearing up for a detailed examination of the banking crisis, I think that there is also scope for looking at the role of our planning services during the building boom which fed into the banking problems.
Deputy Ó Fearghaíl concluded, “The inappropriate activity of a small number of political representatives on the issue of planning in the past is well recognised and well understood. However, are we really comfortable with a society and a planning system which, because of mistakes in the past, is going to be completely immune from democratic examination and accountability in the future?”