The designation of An Taisce as a prescribed body under planning regulations has come under criticisms from members of Mayo County Council. This follows An Taisce’s decision to appeal to An Bord Pleanála the planning permission for Mayo Power to construct a 50 Mw power station at Killala. As a prescribed body, An Taisce is notified about almost all planning applications in the country, and can ultimately appeal those applications to An Bord Pleanála.
Fine Gael councillors Jarlath Munnelly and Peter Flynn have claimed that this appeal by An Taisce has shown that one organisation can restrict employment creation in Mayo, and that this must end.
Cllr Munnelly explained his disappointment at this development. “I am really disappointed by the decision of An Taisce to appeal this planning decision to An Bord Pleanála,” he said. “I think it is time to say stop to faceless organisations who can act as judge on almost every planning application across the country. What they don’t understand is that they are making it extremely difficult for any company that is trying to create jobs in Mayo.”
Cllr Flynn, chairman of the environment SPC, also expressed disappointment at this decision. “I think it is time that the special role that An Taisce has as a prescribed body under the planning regulations needs to be questioned,” Cllr Flynn said. “They basically have the power to appeal almost any planning application across the country to An Bord Pleanála. This has to end.”
Cllr Flynn also added that Mayo County Council is in the process of adopting a renewable energy strategy, and that the north Mayo area is being targeted by the council as a renewable energy hub.
“The renewable energy strategy is a major part of the future of this county, and it could create a very exciting future for Mayo. Mayo Power was one of the first major renewable energy projects to go through planning, so appealing this decision runs against everything that the council are trying to do in terms of renewable energy.”
Cllr Munnelly added that he was going to write to the Minister for Environment on this matter, expressing the disappointment of the local community at the eleventh hour interventions of An Taisce, and asking the Minister to review the planning regulations, in particular the status of An Taisce as a prescribed body. “I agree that the role of An Taisce as a prescribed body needs to be addressed. If we are serious about creating jobs in this country, having a faceless, unaccountable, body with the power to appeal planning decisions as they see fit will have to end. In the particular case of Mayo Power, this project has previously been examined by An Bord Pleanála, and any issues that were identified then as problematic have been removed. It’s crazy that this project is going back in front of the board again.”