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An Bord Pleanála welcomes the OPR Review recommendations.

An Bord Pleanála welcomes the OPR Review recommendations.

04 / 10 / 2022

An Bord Pleanála has welcomed the analysis and recommendations arising from the first phase of the review into the Board by the Office of the Planning Regulator published today, and in particular welcomes the general outcome and review finding which contains no specific criticisms of the Board’s practices but rather is aimed at further strengthening the robustness and documentation of its systems and procedures to restore and enhance the Board’s reputation and standing within the planning system.
With the focus of this initial report on examination of the Board’s decision-making practices and governance arrangements, the Review Team has acknowledged the complexity and fluidity of the statutory and judicial environment in which the Board is operating and the significant and ongoing challenges that it is facing to deliver efficient, effective and pragmatic decision-making within an evolving policy and case-law context.   
There are some timely and pragmatic actions recommended in this report, including in relation to urgently appointing Board members and increasing resources to ensure that the organisation has the capacity to manage the significant workload and to ensure that it has the right expertise and structures to deliver effectively on its statutory responsibilities.  It is anticipated that further engagement with the OPR Review Team in the second phase of their work over the coming weeks will provide an opportunity to clarify and refine some of these actions to ensure that they are pragmatic and enhance the efficiency, effectiveness and transparency of the Board’s systems.
It should be noted that actions on some of the issues proposed have already been initiated by the Board, with the cessation of two-person Board meetings, more robust procedures to confirm and record any potential conflicts of interest in respect of any cases coming up to the Board for decision and reviews of the file allocation and declarations processes.  These actions will all feed into the Board’s review of its Code of Conduct, along with many of the recommendations included in this review report.
The Chairperson acknowledged the huge amount of work done to date to address many of the issues raised, and signalled the commitment to continued co-operation with the OPR Review Team and with the Department in implementing these recommendations, and to engaging directly with them as they continue their review work over the coming weeks.