Local authorities reminded to enforce planning laws

Directive reminds authorities of statutory obligations to undertake ‘appropriate monitoring’ of planning enforcement and directs them to ‘prioritise large-scale unauthorised development’

Local authorities are being reminded by Minister of State for Planning Jan O'Sullivan that they have a statutory duty to enforce planning laws, particularly in cases involving "large-scale unauthorised development".

Following on from the announcement last week that the Government intends to establish an independent planning regulator, Ms O’Sullivan will today issue a new policy directive on planning enforcement to all local authorities.

“Ireland’s performance on planning enforcement has been patchy and we need to address that,” she said. “Those responsible for breaching planning legislation need to know that they will face the consequences of their actions and . . . that the system has teeth.”

For those who wanted to see the law upheld, Ms O’Sullivan said “a fully effective planning system requires rigorous implementation of policy and legislation throughout the forward planning, development management and enforcement stages”.


The directive reminds local authorities of their statutory obligations under Part 8 of the 2000 Planning Act, which requires local authorities to undertake “appropriate monitoring” of planning enforcement and directs them to “prioritise large-scale unauthorised development”.

She specifically mentioned “significant breaches” of the planning code such as unauthorised quarrying activities, as well as cases involving the EU habitats and environmental impact assessment directives.

'Critical function'
Ms O'Sullivan said planning enforcement was "a critical function that needs to be properly resourced at a sufficiently senior level" and local authorities needed to report on their enforcement to raise public awareness about this function.

Describing the directive as an "important step", the Labour junior minister said it should be "viewed as part of a wider range of actions I am taking to ensure full and effective implementation of the enforcement provisions set out under planning legislation".

Frank McDonald

Frank McDonald

Frank McDonald, a contributor to The Irish Times, is the newspaper's former environment editor