Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on the Environment and Local Government Barry Cowen said that the new Planning Regulator to be established by the Government must be fully resourced with clear powers and a transparent appointment process to make a positive impact on spatial planning in Ireland.
Deputy Cowen said: “A Planning Regulator is vital to restoring public trust and upholding the highest standards. However, I have real concerns about the current government proposals which risk turning it into a token gesture without real teeth” Deputy Cowen stated.
Deputy Cowen said that without adequate resources and public trust the Regulator would be unable to fulfil its objectives. “So far there has been no clarification on the appointment process behind the Regulator position. If it is simply a political gift from Fine Gael or Labour as we have seen with so many appointments by this government the public will have no faith it”. Commenting on the need for adequate resources Deputy Cowen said that “It’s important that An Bord Pleanála is not simply deprived of staff to equip the new regulator, which would simply be a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Instead there could for example be a secondment programme from under-utilised planners in Local Authorities to ensure it is fully staffed with able people”.
Reviewing the important new training aspects of the Regulator’s job Deputy Cowen stated that “this cannot be a token gesture by the government. Mandatory attendance at training modules covering the core areas of planning for all councillors with a research facility available to councillors for future issues should be at the heart of the proposal if we want to establish better planning standards across the country”.