An Bord Pleanála

Public Access to Files under The Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. A Guide to Procedures

1. General

Under provisions in the Planning and Development Act, 2000, any person may inspect files relating to appeals and certain other cases which are decided by the Board. Subject to the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000, copies of documents on files may also be purchased. This guide sets out answers to commonly asked questions concerning access to these files.

2. Which files may I inspect?

A file on an appeal and other case with which the Board is concerned can be inspected free of charge after the case has been determined. Each of these files can be inspected for at least a five year period starting on the third working day following the day on which the appeal or other matter is determined.

3. When can I inspect files?

Files may be inspected at the Board’s offices on weekdays between 9.15am—5.30pm. Except on public holidays and other days on which the offices are closed.  

4. Will all files be available to inspect on demand?

Generally, files will be available on the third working day following the day on which the appeal or other matter is determined. Files up to 2 years old are generally, but not always, available on demand. For example, the Board’s Inspector may have a file out of the Board’s offices for a few days in connection with an inspection relating to a current appeal. Files older than 2 years are generally stored off-site and may take a number of days to retrieve. Please telephone (01) 858 8100 or LoCall 1890 275 175 if you wish to check whether you may inspect a particular file without delay or if you wish to purchase copies of documents.

5. May I purchase copies of documents on files?

Subject to Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 (see question 6 below), copies of any document on the files (including the report of the Board’s inspector, the Board’s direction and the Board’s order) may be purchased during office hours referred to at 3 above. However, depending on the amount of copying involved and/or the backlog of copying requests, it may not always be possible to provide copies at the time of the request. In such cases, the copies will be forwarded to you as soon as possible at no additional cost. The schedule of copying charges is set out in the attached table. Copies of documents may only be collected by or posted to you when the copying charge has been paid and, in appropriate cases, the declaration referred to in question 6 is received. The inspector’s report, Board’s direction and Board’s order may be viewed and downloaded from the Board’s website at www.pleanala.ie at no cost. This (self-service) facility is also available in our Reception area, again at no cost.

6. How does the Copyright and Related Rights Act affect the purchase of documents?

The Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 provides that where material is open for public inspection pursuant to a statutory requirement or is on a statutory register, the copyright is not infringed by the copying or making available to the public of that material for the purposes of enabling the material to be inspected at another time or place. However, the Copyright Act also provides that where material is copied in those circumstances, the person granting access to the material should ensure that it bears a mark clearly indicating that it is provided for the purpose of inspection and that no other use may be made of the material without the licence of the copyright holder. The Act also requires that the person requesting such material must sign a declaration to the effect that the material is required solely for the purpose of inspection. Documents from files which are subject to the Act cannot be released without the signed declaration. Such documents would include drawings, plans and maps. They do not include the Board's decision, direction or the inspector's report.

 7.  Is the Board's decision final?

A person wishing to challenge the validity of a Board decision may do so by way of judicial review only. Sections 50, 50A and 50B of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as substituted by section 13 of the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006, as amended/substituted by sections 32 and 33 of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010 and as amended by sections 20 and 21 of the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011) contain provisions in relation to challenges to the validity of a decision of the Board.

The validity of a decision taken by the Board may only be questioned by making an application for judicial review under Order 84 of The Rules of the Superior Courts (S.I. No. 15 of 1986). Sub-section 50(6) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 requires that subject to any extension to the time period which may be allowed by the High Court in accordance with subsection 50(8), any application for judicial review must be made within 8 weeks of the decision of the Board. It should be noted that any challenge taken under section 50 may question only the validity of the decision and the Courts do not adjudicate on the merits of the development from the perspectives of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area and/or effects on the environment. Section 50A states that leave for judicial review shall not be granted unless the Court is satisfied that there are substantial grounds for contending that the decision is invalid or ought to be quashed and that the applicant has a sufficient interest in the matter which is the subject of the application or in cases involving environmental impact assessment is a body complying with specified criteria.

Section 50B contains provisions in relation to the cost of judicial review proceedings in the High Court relating to specified types of development (including proceedings relating to decisions or actions pursuant to a law of the state that gives effect to the public participation and access to justice provisions of Council Directive 85/337/EEC i.e. the EIA Directive and to the provisions of Directive 2001/12/EC i.e. Directive on the assessment of the effects on the environment of certain plans and programmes). The general provision contained in section 50B is that in such cases each party shall bear its own costs. The Court however may award costs against any party in specified circumstances. There is also provision for the Court to award the costs of proceedings or a portion of such costs to an applicant against a respondent or notice party where relief is obtained to the extent that the action or omission of the respondent or notice party contributed to the relief being obtained.

General information on judicial review procedures is contained on the following website, http://www.citizensinformation.ie.

Disclaimer: The above is intended for information purposes. It does not purport to be a legally binding interpretation of the relevant provisions and it would be advisable for persons contemplating legal action to seek legal advice.

8. Can I seek advice from the Board?

The procedures for inspection and purchase of appeal documents are designed to provide better access by the public to the information on which the decision was based. It is not the practice of the Board's staff to discuss planning or procedural issues relating to an appeal which has been determined since the Board has no power to reopen these issues. Neither would it be appropriate for the Board to give advice on the legal procedures relating to an application for judicial review. While nominated staff may deal with general enquiries, Board members or inspectors should not be contacted in relation to any matter.

9. Who enforces the decision?

Enforcement of planning decisions, whether made by the Board or a planning authority, and interpretation of conditions imposed in decisions are primarily the responsibility of your local planning authority. In accordance with enforcement provisions in Part VIII of the 2000 Planning Act, a planning authority must follow up on genuine complaints made to it by members of the public regarding unauthorised development including non-compliance with planning decisions. The Board has no powers of enforcement. Any person may apply to High or Circuit Court for an injunction in relation to unauthorised development in certain circumstances.

An Bord Pleanála

64 Marlborough Street

Dublin 1

Tel: (01) 858 8100 Web Site: www.pleanala.ie

LoCall: 1890 275 175 Email: publicaccess@pleanala.ie

Fax: (01) 872 2684

 

Note. This document is intended as a guide and does not purport to be a legal interpretation of the law.

 

June, 2012

 

Guide to Rates payable for Public Access

Copy Type

Cost Per Page

A4 Black

€0.20

A4 Colour

€1.25

A3 Black

€0.40

A3 Colour

€1.75

A2 Black

€2.25

A2 Colour

€2.75

A0/A1 Black

€3.00

A0/A1 Colour

€3.50

CD

€6.00 per disc

Last modified: 20/09/2012