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An Bord Pleanála Review

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The Report of the Independent Review Group was published on 14 March 2016

The Review Group delivered the final version of their Report to the Minister on Tuesday, 16 February 2016.

Review Group

On 26 July 2015, Mr Alan Kelly TD, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, announced an organisational review of An Bord Pleanála. An expert and experienced external Review Group was appointed to undertake this independent review.  The Review Group comprised:

Mr Gregory Jones, QC, London (Chair)

Gregory Jones QC (Chair) is in independent practice at the bar of England & Wales at Francis Taylor Building, Temple, London specialising in town & country planning, environmental, European and compulsory purchase law.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Gregory is also called to bars of Northern Ireland and King’s Inns. Educated at New College, Oxford University and University College, London, Gregory was a stagiaire at the European Commission and Jean Pierre Warner Scholar at the European Court of Justice.  Elected in 2013 as an independent Common Councilman of the City of London, he is a member of its planning and transportation committee.  Gregory is the Deputy Chancellor of the Dioceses of both Exeter and Truro.

Dr Áine Ryall, School of Law, University College Cork (Vice-Chair)

Dr Áine Ryall (Vice Chair) teaches and researches environmental law and European Union law at the School of Law, University College Cork.  A qualified barrister, she is a member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Advisory Committee, the Royal Irish Academy’s Climate Change and Environmental Sciences Committee and the European Commission Expert Group of Academics on Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.  She served as a member of the Environmental Protection Agency Review Group which reported in May 2011.  Her research focuses in particular on environmental assessment, access to justice, environmental law enforcement and implementation of the Aarhus Convention.

Mr Michael Malone, former County Manager, Kildare County Council

Mr Michael Malone MBA is the former County Manager, Kildare County Council.  Michael retired from Kildare CC in June 2014 following a 42-year career in local government. Starting off at North Tipperary County Council he worked in Galway City, South Tipperary, North Tipperary  (as County Secretary), Kerry (Assistant Manager) and in Laois, Kilkenny and Kildare as County Manager.

Ms Mary Hughes, Director of HRA Planning.

Mary Hughes BA MSc Town Planning Dip. EIA/SEA is a Director of HRA Planning and current President of the Irish Planning Institute (2014/2015).  With in excess of 17 years’ experience in planning, Mary spent her first years working for different planning authorities throughout Ireland.  In 2002 she left the public sector and became Associate Director of an international transport and planning consultancy, before establishing HRA Planning in 2005.  Mary provides planning services to both public and private sector clients throughout Ireland.  Mary also sat on the steering group which coordinated the preparation of the Local Authority Renewable Energy Guidelines prepared by SEAI.

Terms of Reference

The review group shall have regard to the following in compiling its report and in making recommendations to the Minister to support the Board in its operations, with a view to ensuring that it is appropriately positioned and fit for purpose from an organisational perspective to achieve its legislative mandate:

  • The anticipated increase in construction activity, including on strategic infrastructure projects and Strategic Development Zones (SDZs), and the related volume of planning applications and appeals as the economy recovers, including measures to ensure that appeal and non-appeal cases are discharged in an efficient and timely manner.
  • The increasingly complex and changing national and EU legislative and policy context within which the Board operates.
  • The need for more effective co-ordination of the planning permission process with other development consent and licencing systems to, inter alia, facilitate compliance with relevant EU Directive requirements.
  • The increase in litigation in the area of the Board’s work and measures required to address same.
  • The appropriateness of the current legislation governing the functions of the Board, its corporate governance structures and the Board appointment process.
  • The increase in functions being assigned to the Board, including foreshore licensing under the proposed Maritime Area and Foreshore Bill, co-ordination of “projects of common interest” (cross-border energy infrastructure projects) etc.
  • The systems, procedures and administrative practices employed in the Board, including decision making processes in determining planning appeals and determinations.
  • The optimal organisational structure, including required skillsets, ICT requirements, human resource development and capacity requirements, as well as financial resources, to enable it to effectively carry out its functions and meet its statutory remit drawing, as appropriate, on the current internal business process review as part of the ongoing implementation of the ABP ICT strategy.
  • The implications of proposed changes to the planning system, both legislative and structural, including the establishment of the Office of the Planning Regulator.


An Bord Pleanála,, (external link) is an independent body, established initially under the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act 1976, responsible for the determination of appeals and certain other matters under planning legislation and determination of applications for strategic infrastructure development.  It is also responsible for dealing with proposals for the compulsory acquisition of land by local authorities and others under various enactments.  An Bord Pleanála also determines appeals under water and air pollution legislation and building control legislation.  It is the competent authority for the granting of permits for Projects of Common Interest, typically major trans-boundary infrastructure projects.

An Bord Pleanála will have additional functions assigned to it in the future, including foreshore licensing under the proposed Maritime Area and Foreshore legislation.

The Board consists of a Chairperson appointed by the Government and Board members (currently eight) appointed by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government. 

An Bord Pleanála’s most recent Annual Report (2014)