Mayo Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherin has called for decision making on all planning matters relating to foreshore and immediate offshore areas to be left to local councils in the first instance. Deputy Mulherin made her comments in relation to the Maritime Area and Foreshore Amendment Bill 2013 which is being prepared by the Department of the Environment and which proposes making An Bord Pleanála the lead decision maker on planning related issues for coastal and marine areas.
Deputy Mulherin commented: “I am concerned about the prospect of a centralised body such as An Bord Pleanála deciding on local planning issues for our marine and coastal areas. This should be presided over by local councils who will make planning decisions based on their knowledge of local circumstances. This measure will have a huge bearing on the development of counties with large coastal areas such as Mayo. Local government and the local planning authority of maritime counties must have meaningful input in planning and decision making when it comes to the development of their coastal areas and regions which affects the people of their county.”
The Deputy said: “Given that the majority of the coastline in Mayo is designated as Special Areas of Conservation or Special Protection Areas, it is envisaged that most developments in the nearshore area would be subject to environmental assessment, meaning An Bord Pleanála would be the decision maker. This centralisation would in effect erode local democracy and minimise the ability of local authorities in coastal counties to make decisions for developments in coastal areas within their jurisdiction.”
In conclusion the Deputy called on the Minister for Environment Phil Hogan, “to consider ensuring that responsibility for planning for marine and coastal areas is entrusted to local authorities as opposed to An Bord Pleanála, and that a national marine spatial strategy is developed alongside a county marine development plan in each of the coastal counties.”