Meath council asked if it will investigate false information from planning applicants

Move understood to refer to controversy involving former minister of state Damien English

Meath County Council has been asked if it will carry out an investigation into planning applicants who in the past have provided false information in their planning applications.

Although not named in a notice of question put by Aontú Cllr Emer Tóibín at Monday’s meeting of the council, it is understood to refer to the controversy involving former minister of state and Meath West TD Damien English, who resigned recently after it was revealed he gave incorrect information to Meath County Council when making a planning application to build a house in a rural area.

Mr English did not disclose that he already owned the Castlemartin property in a planning application to Meath County Council for a one-off rural home in 2008.

People who wish to build houses in rural areas must comply with a series of criteria showing links to the location and a need for the housing.


Cllr Tóibín asked: “What actions or inquiry process does Meath County Council engage in in the event of it giving planning permission to an applicant where information falsely provided by the applicant and contrary to planning criteria comes to light?”

Council rules forbid discussion on notices of question but Cllr Tóibín said after the meeting that she understood the council worked according to planning guidelines but said they might not be enough to ensure that propriety underpinned every planning application.

“Probably every councillor in this chamber has worked with applicants trying to get planning permission for housing on their own land and failed for one reason or another. It can be a massive disappointment, a huge blow for the individual concerned if they are refused. And then to hear of someone else getting planning permission after providing false information – it is another blow and reduces confidence in the planning system,” she said.

The Taoiseach said two weeks ago that it was a matter for Meath County Council, she said.

“So does Meath County Council plan to hold an inquiry? I recognise Meath County Council is statute barred from bringing about an enforcement but it is not precluded from carrying out an inquiry”.

The Taoiseach had also said he was seeking legal advice to see if planning legislation had been breached.

“Can Meath County Council say whether it was breached? Can we leave it today on the understanding that there will be an investigation into this matter?”

A council official responded to the notice of question that all planning applications were assessed in accordance with national regional and local policy and ministerial guidelines that are in operation at the time of the decision.

Once a final grant of a planning permission is issued, the role of the planning authority is to ensure compliance with the conditions of the planning permission.

“It has been, and continues to be, the policy of the council not to comment on any aspect of individual planning applications,” the official said.