The Dáil’s powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is set to jail the bosses of An Bord Pleanála (ABP) for over $1 million.
he Irish Independent As previously announced, €1.05 million was paid out by ABP to property developers this year due to delays in planning applications.
The planning body has been plagued by controversy and last week its chairman, Dave Walsh, took an early retirement.
Their former vice chairman, Paul Hyde, is currently being prosecuted and several investigations are ongoing into alleged conflicts of interest at the organization.
The PAC has now requested that the ABP appear before the Oireachtas Committee in January.
PAC member Fianna Fáil, TD James O’Connor, said the planning appellate body was no longer “fit for purpose”.
“They are arguably the biggest stumbling block to development in Ireland. We’ve seen it impact government infrastructure projects, private housing development and the SHD (Strategic Housing Development) process,” he said.
“The SHD process has been extremely problematic within An Bord Pleanála and they must provide a fair and full explanation as to why such delays are occurring within the organisation.
“The question they need to answer is why did they allow everything to pile up like this. The consequences of the company with the delays in this organization are almost unpredictable.”
He said the “internal combustion” within the organization had had a knock-on effect on society.
“You see a slowdown in housing development, new healthcare infrastructure and new railroad projects,” he added. “It’s incredible why it was allowed to drag on for so long.”
The planning authority made 105 payments of €10,000 to 84 developers this year, totaling €1.05 million. If ABP takes more than 16 weeks to decide on an SHD application, they will be liable for the €10,000 fine.
For comparison: Last year, a total of just 10,000 euros was paid to a single developer.
High-profile developers receiving payouts included the firm behind the €2 billion children’s hospital and builders looking to build apartments in the former mother and child home in Bessborough, Cork.
Payments have been received by some of the country’s largest developer groups, with builder Cairn Homes receiving the highest payout, with €90,000 paid to the company due to delays in nine applications for a total of over 2,600 homes.
The revelations come as the Planning Board continues to be embroiled in scandals.
Earlier this year, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien referred an independent report he commissioned to make decisions at An Bord Pleanála to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Gardaí and the Standards in Public Office (Sipo).
In July, Paul Hyde resigned as vice chairman of the Planning Appellate Body.
Since the conflict of interest allegations surfaced, the organization has been under intense scrutiny.
Following further media reports, An Bord Pleanála said Mr Walsh had commissioned a forensic investigation into whether an internal report had been released by anyone within the organisation.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/its-no-longer-fit-for-purpose-dail-committee-to-grill-an-bord-pleanala-chiefs-on-1m-paid-out-to-developers-42123462.html ‘It’s no longer fit for purpose’ – Dáil committee to order Pleanála chiefs over 1m on board