Government to engage in 'comprehensive' review of Planning and FOI Legislation

The government is to engage in a “comprehensive” review of Irish planning legislation and is also to review the Freedom of Information Act.

The planning review comes about as “planning legislation has become overly complicated and difficult to navigate, contributing to significant delays and additional costs in the delivery of housing”. It promises to be “a key enabler in the delivery of the Housing for All plan” and is projected to be completed by September 2022. Taoiseach Micheál Martin is quoted as follows:

“When we published Housing for All earlier in the month, I reiterated my view that housing is the single most urgent and important social issue facing our country at this time...this large-scale planning reform programme, which will bring about fundamental improvements to our planning laws, reflects the approach we are taking overall, with challenging deadlines and a truly cross-government approach to delivery of Housing for All’s objectives and other major plans.

Our planning laws need a complete overhaul to meet the ambition outlined in Housing For All. Streamlining and simplifying the planning laws will support the accelerated delivery of housing set out under the Housing for All plan."

Meanwhile, the review of FOI legislation is intended to conclude mid-2022, with the publication of a report and recommendations following public and stakeholder consultation.  Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath, stated:

“The FOI system is central to transparency and ensuring the public has confidence in the administration of the State. For the system to work effectively, members of the public and media need to be able to access information from public bodies. Since the current FOI legislation was enacted in 2014, we have witnessed major innovations in communications technology. While these have been broadly positive, they have transformed the ways in which individuals and public bodies interact with each other and it, therefore, represents a challenge to the existing FOI system.

“It is for this reason that a comprehensive review of the FOI framework is timely. This review will seek out ways in which the FOI model can be brought up to date to ensure that it is suitable for today’s needs.

“The review will be a collaborative process, providing a number of opportunities for interested stakeholders to make their voices heard. Following today’s approval by Cabinet, my Department will publish a roadmap document in the coming weeks, setting out the process for the review and the ways in which interested parties can get involved”.

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