Dublin Light Rail Act
The Transport Dublin Light Rail Act 1996 provided for the establishment of the light railway system known as the Luas. There are procedures for application for a light railway order. The application is made to the Minister with details of the proposed order, books of reference and environmental impact assessment. Works associated with the light railway enjoy wide exemptions.
There are specific provisions regarding environmental impact assessment requirements in relation to a light railway order. The act was later repealed by Transport (Railway Infrastructure) Act which provides more comprehensive light rail provisions.
After publication of a application for a light railway order, there was provision for public enquiry into the proposed order. Persons who might be owners and occupiers of land which might be affected by the light railway order were to be notified and given entitlements to make submission
The inspector may hold the public enquiry. Alternative might be considered. After the enquiry and consideration of the enquiry report, the Minister is to decide whether to make the relevant order considering the application, reports of the public enquiry, submissions made and not withdrawn and other information.
A light railway order contains the necessary mandate to authorise construction of light railway works. There was provisions designed to prevent challenges to light railways orders by way of judicial review by limiting the rights of challenge.
There was provision for compulsory acquisition of lands and rights of officers and servants to enter land for the purpose of putting the scheme into place. They were given authority to lop trees and breakup streets.
The minister was entitled to make regulations relating to anything to be done under the legislation.
Railway Procurement Agency
The Transport Railway Infrastructure Act 2001 established the Railway Procurement Agency. The function of the Agency was to
- procure and provide light railway, metro railway infrastructure as may be determined from time to time by the Minister —
- monitor and publish regular reports on rail safety.
- to enter into public-private partnerships or arrangements, joint ventures, concessions and other arrangements to procure railway infrastructure.
- to acquire land for railway works by way of a railway order under the legislation.
The functions of the Agency are established under the Transport (Dublin Light Rail) Act 1996 for the construction of the metro. LUAS was transferred to the Agency.
That legislation had authorized construction, operation and maintenance by CIE of a light railway systems serving Dublin and certain surrounding areas. The 2001 Act transferred the property rights and liabilities of CIE under that legislation.
The Agency is responsible generally to the Minister. It is obliged to furnish reports and information, accounts and audits thereof to the Minister.
The members of the Agency are appointed by the Minister. One needs to be a member of the staff elected by secret ballot of the staff. Other members were to be appointed by the Ministers on the basis of experience in the area of transport, planning, urban development, railways, industry, trade union, law, commerce, finance, engineering, environmental matters. A chairman is appointed for a five-year period.
Agency as Operator
The Agency is also empowered to exploit commercial opportunities as might be carried on by railway undertaking or business on behalf of the Agency.
The Agency may act as a railway operator only where specifically authorized by the Minister. Generally the Agency was empowered to incorporate subsidiaries and do all necessary acts for the purpose of establishing public-private partnership provision and other arrangements as authorized.
The Agency was authorized to borrow up to €600 million for the purpose of its functions. The Minister for finance may guarantee its financial obligations and borrowings.
Surveys & Inspection
The Agency or CIE may authorize persons to undertake surveys and inspection of land for the purpose of examining suitability of the construction of a railway or light railway. This includes drilling, probing, excavating and taking samples.
The Agency may authorize inspections and surveys of land. Private dwelling house may not be entered without a warrant from the District Court.
Railway Order Application
The Agency, CIE or another person authorized by the Agency may apply to the Minister for a railway order. The application must provide for
- a draft of the proposed order,
- draft plan of the proposed railway works,
- plan of proposed commercial development adjacent to the railway works if applicable reference identifying the owners and occupiers,
- environmental impact assessment statement
The development of railway works including the use of the land for the purpose of the railway and carrying out maintenance, improvement and works for the railway built pursuant to that order is not subject to planning control. It is subject to the consent procedures under the legislation.
When an application for a railway order is made, the Minister is to publicize it and make it available for inspection for not less than 28 days. Publication is to take place in newspapers
- publicising the application
- saying where the plans are to be inspected,
- stating a public enquiry is to be held
- stating that submissions would be considered if made within the requisite time.
- confirming that the copies of the draft order may be purchased for a fee not exceeding its reasonable cost.
The Minister must direct a public enquiry to be held into the application. The Minister may appoint an inspector to hold the enquiry. The person is to have competence in the areas of transport, planning, civil engineering, land use, architecture, finance, law, administration, if not more of the above.
The enquiry must be publicized. Interested persons are entitled to appear and be heard.
The purpose of the enquiry is to consider the application, submissions made, alternatives, impact on the environment and such other matters as appropriate. Persons may be summoned to attend and bring documentation.
Making of Order
The Minister is to consider the application, draft order, report of the enquiry and submissions made by the public planning authority and other additional information in making a railway order. The railway order is to come into affect within eight weeks unless an application is made for judicial review within that period and not withdrawn. The Minister may amend or revoke a railway order. A less formal procedure is involved.
Once the railway order has been granted, the Agency or other entity may make arrangements for its construction, maintenance and operation of the railway works there under.
Special circumscribed rules apply to a judicial application in respect of a railway order. It must be made within eight weeks. An application for review must be on notice to the Minister and the railway undertaking.
Contents of Order
The railway order must contain such details such as is prescribed. It must specify land, f land, the acquisition of which is necessary to be approved to give effect to the order. It may specify rights in or over land or water or in under the public road, the acquisition of which is required for the order.
The order may fix the date for construction of railway works. It may direct the manner in which the railway is to be constructed. It may make provisions as to the manner in which the railway works are to be operated and maintained. It may provide for the protection of the public and local communities.
The railway order authorizes the railway undertaking to carry out the works concerned. It may enter land both to do works and to maintain and improve the railway once constructed.
The Agency, CIE or a railway undertaking may lop remove or cut trees or other thigs which obstruct or interfere with the railways or works required for the construction of railways, electric lines etc. 28 days’ notice is to be given to the owner or occupier of the land concerned. The owner or the occupier may do the work in which event the costs must be paid by the Agency or CIE.
Railways shall not be opened until the requisite testing and commissioning from a safety perspective for both passenger and freight traffic is complete. The safety of the railway and infrastructure and of vehicles must be used must be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Minister under the Regulation of Railways Act 1871.
Interference with Land
The Agency and CIE are authorized upon commencement of a railway order to acquire compulsorily land and interests in land or substrata of n land as is necessary to give effect to the order. The railway order is the equivalent of a compulsory purchase order.
It may attach (to walls, houses and buildings) fixture, cables wires etc. It may enter land and underpin any house or building affected. Generally it may do such works as necessary for the purpose of giving effect to the order.
Generally before exercising the above powers, the undertaking is to obtain the consent of the owner or the occupier. Alternatively it may give notice of not less than 14 days in writing during which time the owner or the occupier may apply to the District Court for an order prohibiting entry. In case of emergency the power may be exercised without notice.
An owner or occupier who suffers loss or damage or incurs expense in connection with the exercise of the powers is entitled to compensation in accordance with general compulsory purchase provisions.
Notices in connection with the works proposed to be undertaken under the above provisions are to be given to the owner, occupier etc there are detailed provisions in relation to the service where persons cannot be found. Application may be made to dispense service of notice.