Updated: 10/12/16 : 04:29:18
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Pleanala 'faceless in ivory towers' slated by Scanlon

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

SLIGO PLANNERS twice gave approval for development by a local man already in business for 25 years.

However, Bord Pleanala overturned each local decision after third party objections. 

The statutory appeals agency was slammed in the Dáil this week by Sligo TD Eamon Scanlon.

He described Bord Pleanala as ''faceless people in ivory towers.''

Absolutely Disgraceful

Scanlon also attacked the provision whereby Pleanala decisions can only be challenged by going to the High Court.

He said: ''This man has no recourse except to the High Court, but he cannot go to the Circuit Court, never mind the High Court.''

There was a need for public access to a body to challenge decisions made by Pleanala and ensure ''fair play,'' said the Deputy.

The Ballymote TD also described as ''absolutely disgraceful'' the current practice where Pleanala can ignore the report of its own inspectors.

''I do not know why An Bord Pleanála sends an inspector on a 300 mile round trip to investigate a planning application twice,'' the deputy told Dáil colleagues this week.

Faceless People

He castigated Pleanala powers to ignore any of its own inspectors recommendation that permission be granted.

Pleanala was described by Deputy Scanlon as ''faceless people in ivory towers who, at the stroke of a pen, can take a decision that may affect many people for possibly the rest of their lives.''

There had been ''much discussion and debate'' between the business owner and Sligo County Council before the first permission was given.

Objections on landscaping and the colour of buildings were addressed by the applicant ''at massive expense,'' he added.

One Lorry

However, the second planning permission granted by Sligo County Council was then appealed by An Taisce alone.

Said the TD: ''One of its objections related to the road. 

''What does An Taisce have to do with the traffic safety of a road? 

''This related to a business that has been in the same place for 25 years, so it was not going to cause much extra traffic. 

''There are no big lorries or anything like that; perhaps one a day at 5am or 6am,'' said the Sligo TD.

Fair Play

 He added: ''Decisions are being made that affect people who, if they want to get redress, have to go to court. They cannot afford to go to court. 

''There should be some body in place that these people can go to, explain their situation and at least be seen to get fair play.

''At the moment they are not getting it (fair play),'' said Deputy Scanlon.

He was speaking earlier this week in the resumed Dáil debate on plans to give extra powers to Pleanala.

These powers would add housing in the so-called ''fast track'' process.

Several speakers in the resumed debate criticised Bord Pleanala.