Site visits are an important part of the information gathering process on a case. The law allows An Bord Pleanála's inspectors to enter a site for a proposed development to help an inspector prepare their report for the Board. On rare occasions, the Board may also visit a site.
Before the site visit
Before the inspector makes the site visit, the inspector or another staff member may contact you to arrange a date and time. Arrangements before a site visit are likely to be made where we believe there might be restricted access or where an accompanied site visit might be appropriate.
Otherwise inspectors will generally visit at reasonable times between 9am to 6pm without making an appointment. If the premises or appeal site is normally open outside the 9am to 6pm time period, an inspector may visit during normal business hours.
Inspectors do not always need to enter the site. Some site inspections will only involve a visit to the surrounding area. Sometimes an inspector will want to visit an appellant's property which borders the proposed development as well as the site of the proposed development.
What do I need to do?
Please let us know if there are requirements for the site such as:
- Personal protection equipment will be required due to possible dangerous site conditions.
- The inspector will need to sign in / out at a security or reception desk.
- Access issues. Examples include:
- there is livestock in a field that will need to be moved.
- there is a guard dog or a working dog on the site that will need to be secured.
- there are gates that will need to be unlocked.
- the site is hard to access and certain arrangements are needed.
If the site area currently has livestock on it, we request that livestock be moved off the site. If this is not possible, we ask that they are placed into a secure enclosure on the site. Some site areas may have dogs and we ask that they be kept away from the site area or secured during the site visit.
During the Site Visit
The inspector will not discuss the case at any point during the visit. You may ask to see the inspector's warrant card. A warrant card is a document which An Bord Pleanála issues to our inspectors to say that they are authorised persons to make site visits. The warrant card will contain the inspector's photograph, name, signature, an expiry date, and the signature of the Secretary of An Bord Pleanála.
The inspector will have consulted the case file before arriving on site and will be familiar with the proposed development and the issues raised in the appeal or application.
During their visit, inspectors may take photographs to help them prepare their report and recommendation to the Board. The law also allows an inspector to do all things that are reasonably necessary for their report. This allows the inspector to:
- make plans
- take levels
- make excavations
- examine the depth and nature of the subsoil
However, the vast majority of site visits only require a visual appraisal by the Inspector.
Can I stop an inspector from entering the site?
Most site visits are done in an informal way with the co-operation and assistance of the applicants, appellants and public.
An inspector's power to make a site visit is provided for under Section 252 of the Planning and Development Acts, as amended. If you do not give permission to the inspector to enter the site, the Board may apply to a judge of the District Court for that district for permission to enter the site. The Board will give you notice that it has applied to the District Court for permission. If a judge gives an order giving authorisation, the occupier will be given at least 24 hours' notice of the intended entry by an inspector.
It is an offence to prevent an authorised inspector from doing a site visit. An inspector can call for the assistance of a Garda if necessary.