Hogan to review 2010 planning legislation

 

MINISTER FOR the Environment Phil Hogan has promised to review the Planning Act, one of the Green Party’s major legislative achievements, and also to bring forward a Climate Change Bill.

Mr Hogan criticised the existing 2010 Planning and Development Act, claiming it centralised power in the office of the minister of the day.

“Giving enormous powers to the minister of the day is unhealthy and not the way to deal with planning matters. Each region has different strengths. Centralisation of powers and planning functions in the Custom House is not the way to exploit that potential,” Mr Hogan said.

He said he would review the Act in conjunction with the Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Willie Penrose.

Mr Hogan said the climate change legislation he would implement would be different from the Bill his predecessor, John Gormley, had hoped to progress.

“I will be implementing a Climate Change Act, which John Gormley failed to do. It will be a different type of Bill. We will meet our 2020 targets by working with our EU partners, not by isolating ourselves.”

Referring to Mr Gormley, Mr Hogan said: “He announced a lot of things but didn’t implement too much.”

The threat to dismantle or alter key Green legislation comes ahead of a meeting on Saturday to assess the party’s potential political future.

Mr Gormley has already signalled he will be stepping down as leader, following a disastrous general election for the party in which it failed to retain any of its six seats.

Former Green leader Trevor Sargent yesterday accused Mr Hogan of “playing to a certain gallery” by criticising the Green-sponsored legislation and proposals advanced by the party in the last Dáil.

“The electorate will begin to see that without the Greens in government there won’t be the kind of progressive environmental legislation that all parties claim to favour,” Mr Sargent said.

“Phil Hogan is probably playing to a certain gallery. That’s a sad state of affairs for politics.”

Meanwhile, Mr Hogan said direct elections for a Dublin mayor will be postponed until 2014.

During heated exchanges in a committee debate on the proposals last December, Mr Hogan said the timing of the mayoralty legislation was bizarre, coming as it did at a time when national finances and the citizens of Dublin were under extreme pressure.

He also said the new office of mayor, as envisaged by Mr Gormley, was an expensive but powerless position and Fine Gael would prefer to see what he described as proper devolution.

Mr Hogan yesterday promised a “different type of mayor”.

Mr Hogan has previously said he wanted to see the ban on stag hunting, introduced by the last government, overturned.

Controversy also surrounded dog breeding legislation brought forward by the previous administration.

Asked about these pieces of legislation yesterday, Mr Hogan said: “I haven’t come to any conclusions on those matters.”