Review to blame planning system for slow progress on climate targets

The review is to be presented to ministers at the weekly Cabinet meeting, due on Thursday

Delays in the planning system are responsible for slow progress in achieving climate action targets, ministers will be told this week.

The quarterly review of Government’s progress in implementing its climate action plan will find that one of the main reasons for delays in implementing the wide-ranging plans to lower Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions has been the slow pace of planning decisions.

The review is to be presented to ministers at the weekly Cabinet meeting, due on Thursday this week.

Controversies at An Bord Pleanála, which led to the departure of its chairman Paul Hyde last year, has led to lengthy delays in reaching decisions at the planning body. This has had a knock-on effect in delaying infrastructure and public transport projects, according to a person with knowledge of issue.


Aspects of the Dublin Metro project, Bus Connects, Dart Plus as well as rail projects in Limerick and Cork are all awaiting decisions from the board, according to one senior Government source.

“It’s the main issue – the resourcing of the planning system,” said the source.

However, the board has been restaffed in recent months and a large number of new staff have been hired in a bit to cut delays. The board currently has about a year’s worth of files to process, it’s new head Oonagh Buckley said recently.

Another senior figure voiced scepticism, however, suggesting that blaming the planning process was “a bit convenient” and distracted from the failures at the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, and the Department of Transport.

Far-reaching climate action plans have been adopted by the Government, and driven by the Green Party. Targets for the reduction of carbon emissions are set in law, mandating a 50 per cent cut in emissions by 2030, and Government departments are obliged to adopt plans to reach them. But the process of achieving the targets is difficult, and the most recent review of the plan last November found that a quarter of the measures required to meet the targets had been delayed.

The climate agenda has also aroused fierce opposition from independent rural TDs, who accuse the Greens of undermining the rural economy.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times