Ibec seeks overhaul of planning laws to address capacity constraints

Business lobby says current system is unnecessarily costly and cumbersome

Employers’ group Ibec has called for an overhaul of the State’s planning rules to address capacity constraints in the economy, suggesting the current system is “unnecessarily costly and cumbersome”.

In a report entitled, Better Planning: Reforms for Sustainable Development, the business lobby seeks a raft of changes to speed up infrastructural development, including changes to the law governing compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) to make them less complex, particularly when orders are challenged.

It noted that several major infrastructural projects had been held up because of disputes over the CPOs. Ibec also called for measures to discourage "frivolous or vexatious challenges" to An Bord Pleanála planning decisions.

It said sanctions should be imposed on applicants whose case is dismissed by a court because of a reliance on “spurious arguments or false assertions”. The group also mooted the idea of excluding altogether the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal in planning cases.


Failing this, Ibec called for a fast-track route within the Court of Appeal for planning-related judicial review decisions.

The business lobby also wants the procedure by which An Bord Pleanála deals with strategic infrastructure development to be simplified and its decision timescales need to be more predictable.

“Efforts by Government and business to address the worsening shortage of housing and problems of inadequate infrastructure are being hindered by a planning regime that is unnecessarily costly, slow and cumbersome,” it said.

“Huge capital investment is needed to enhance our transport, communications, healthcare, clean energy, waste management, water supply and wastewater treatment services,” it said.

The group claimed that successive local authority plans, prepared in isolation, have exacerbated unsustainable development patterns.

“In the absence of strong policy from central Government, it has been left to developers and third-party objectors to argue the merits or otherwise of individual developments,” it said.

Ibec claimed the central role of An Bord Pleanála within the system was indicative of an over-emphasis on development management. “Many people within the development management process believe the system is characterised by time delays, unnecessary bureaucracy, inconsistency, poor customer service and an anti-development bias,” it said.

Ibec's head of infrastructure Neil Walker said: "As the Irish economy enters the mature phase of its business cycle, it is imperative that we insulate ourselves from future economic shocks and address the serious capacity constraints emerging."

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times