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Appropriate assessment of plans: Experience in Ireland. Dr Julie Fossitt National Parks and Wildlife Service 1st October, 2009. Legal context. Currently no explicit legal requirement for AA of plans C-148/04: Commission vs Ireland (13 December 2007)

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Appropriate assessment of plans experience in ireland
Appropriate assessment of plans:Experience in Ireland

Dr Julie Fossitt

National Parks and Wildlife Service

1st October, 2009

Legal context
Legal context

Currently no explicit legal requirement for AA of plans

C-148/04: Commission vs Ireland (13 December 2007)

Birds Directive case - inadequate transposition and application of Article 6

… national legislation does not contain any provisions designed to ensure that plans, as opposed to projects, are assessed in accordance with Article 6(3) and 6(4)

Interim measure

Circular Letter SEA 1/08 & NPWS 1/08 – Appropriate Assessment of Land Use Plans

Issued to local authorities on 15 February 2008

Available from: - go to Publications

Legal context1
Legal context

Habitats Directive transposed through:

European Communities (Natural Habitats) Regulations, 1997 (as amended)

Also enact Birds Directive

Principal Act – Wildlife Act, 1976

*New Habitats Regulations – in preparation

**New Planning Bill – amending the Planning and Development Act, 2000

Plan hierarchy
Plan hierarchy

  • National Spatial Strategy

  • Regional Planning Guidelines

  • 8 regional authorities

  • 12-20 year plans

  • Development Plans

  • 88 planning authorities

  • Counties, cities, large towns

  • 6 year plans

  • Strategic Development Zones

  • Local Area Plans

  • [Variations to plans / guidelines]

  • Strategic frameworks

  • Landuse zoning


  • Regional planning guidelines

    • Long-term strategic planning framework for development of region

  • Development plans or Local Area Plans

    • Overall strategy or framework for proper planning and sustainable development of plan area

  • Written statements with development objectives and policies

    • including for conservation and protection of European (Natura 2000) sites

  • Lower level plans must be consistent with higher level plans, policies and strategies

  • Must contain information on the likely significant effects on the environment of implementing the guidelines or plan

  • Consultation with prescribed bodies obligatory


  • Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government

    • Spatial Policy / Planning sections

      • - Local and regional authority plans

      • - Policy and guidance on plans and planning

    • National Parks and Wildlife Service

      • - Primary responsibility for implementing the Habitats and Birds Directives

      • - Statutory consultee on all plans

  • EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)

    • SEA

    • All plans and programmes


No figures currently available for the numbers and findings of AA of plans


[numbers of Environmental Reports for plans/programmes]

2008 68

2009 17

(to Sept)

DoEHLG – Spatial Policy

[total number of plans received]

2008 166

2009 109

(to Sept)


[Data not currently extractable]


No statutory procedure for appealing plan adoption

Minister can issue directions on Development Plans

Mainly to correct problems

Counties – Laois, Monaghan, Mayo

Towns – Ennis, Castlebar

[Directions to date not specifically related to AA]

Judicial review
Judicial Review

  • Figures for the numbers of judicial reviews of plans not readily available

  • Judgements mainly made on procedural matters rather than on planning or environmental merits

  • Adare Local Area Plan (LAP)

    • Taken by landowners wanting zoning of their lands

    • Final LAP presented to elected members excluding zonings

    • Resolution passed, adopting plan but including zoning as modification

    • Resolution declared invalid by County Manager

    • Recommended adoption of unmodified final LAP

    • High Court found in favour of County Manager