The planning process is being used by certain companies and corporate interests "as a tool to stymie others from getting a foothold in their market area", an "abuse" of the system that needs to be stamped out.
This is the view of Labour Galway senator Lorraine Higgins who, this week in Seanád Éireann, raised concerns about the way in which some businesses use objections in the planning process. She told fellow senators that the majority of objections are made by individuals and community groups "with real concerns", and that her focus was on "a number of body corporates in particular that use the process as a strategic tool so as to clamp down on competition in their chosen field".
She alleged that there are "serial objectors" with one who has "objected north of 70 times to planning applications made by competitors", with half of this number being successful. She criticised such actions saying "naysayers are costing towns jobs not only in the retail sector but also in the construction sector".
She added that to continue to "turn a blind eye to what’s going on" would be "nothing short of negligent".
"The integrity of the system is being called into question where some large companies are effectively abusing the process for their own commercial gain," she said. "This is wrong. We need to look perhaps at strengthening our planning legislation so as not to leave it open to abuse.”