Taoiseach warns planning reforms needed to meet climate targets

Delivery of new infrastructure such as offshore windfarms requires new planning process

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has warned that new planning legislation is needed if the country is to meet its climate targets.

There is resistance to the proposed new planning laws, which would restrict some legal challenges to planning decisions, in the Green Party and among environmental groups.

The Green Party is set to seek changes to Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien’s landmark planning Bill after divisions emerged in Government over a key plank of the reforms.

It is understood that two Green Ministers, Catherine Martin and Roderic O’Gorman, raised concerns at Cabinet on Tuesday over aspects of the Bill focused on reform of the judicial review process.


The Taoiseach warned this morning, however, that if new infrastructure to enable Ireland to reach carbon-reduction targets was to be built in time, a faster planning process was necessary.

Disquiet over planning bill, corruption scandal in Brussels

Listen | 45:11
Naomi O'Leary is on the line from Brussels where a money-for-influence corruption scandal has rocked the European Parliament. But first, Jack Horgan-Jones and Cliff Taylor on the significance a proposal to overhaul planning laws and potential opposition to the bill from within government.

Mr Martin’s intervention effectively throws the Greens’ concerns back at the party, challenging it to weigh its concerns about the planning reforms against its priority to reduce carbon emissions.

He said the Bill had been approved by all three parties at Cabinet yesterday, and said that he expected “discussion and analysis” during the legislative process.

“The bottom line then is that we also have needs in terms of meeting the climate change challenges, particularly in the offshore wind area. And a very comprehensive climate plan is in preparation now,” Mr Martin told journalists in Brussels where he is attending a summit between EU and south Asian leaders.

“But that for the climate plan to be realised within the timelines that have been set, this planning Act has to be put in place.”

Mr Martin said that if the country was to “fulfil the obligations that are contained in the draft climate action plan and also in terms of the housing area” then reform of the planning process was urgently needed.

He also insisted that the proposed legislation did not contravene the Aarhus convention, a set of EU rules that requires public consultation in planning and environmental decisions. “It is Aarhus compliant – I have to stress that,” he said.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times