The Government plans to introduce new legislation that would see challengers to planning decisions face a legal bill in the event the challenge is unsuccessful.
The dairy sector has found itself at the centre of a high-profile judicial review after An Taisce challenged An Bord Pleanála’s (ABP) decision to grant planning to Glanbia for a new cheese plant.
Minister of State at the Department of Housing Peter Burke is set to reignite plans to reform the judicial review provisions of the planning act.
The legislation was originally proposed by Fine Gael in 2019 before being paused ahead of the last general election.
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Minister Burke said the process was being reformed due to an increasing number of judicial reviews in recent years.
Under the proposals, where an applicant loses a legal challenge, an individual may be ordered to cover the defendant’s legal costs up to €5,000 while a legal entity would face a bill of €10,000.
Under the Aarhus Convention, Ireland is required to ensure the costs of legal challenges related to environmental matters are “not prohibitively expensive”.
Up to now this has seen each party bear their own legal costs.
Where an applicant wins they are entitled to legal costs from the losing party but where the applicant loses they pay only their own costs.
In practice, this means many of those initiating legal challenges face no costs arising from planning-related judicial reviews, if their legal representatives agree to operate on a no-foal/no-fee basis.
Another reform would see parties against whom a judicial review is being taken notified when an applicant seeks leave to appeal. At present 90% of applicants who seek a judicial review get permission, compared to 24% in Sweden.