A fresh approach to implementing climate change policies was adopted in the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010. This represents a new and more ambitious attempt to mainstream climate change adaption principles into land use planning controls. It requires an extensive adaptation of zoning, building and transport policies to reduce GHGs.
It amends the earlier Planning Acts to specifically require local planning and regional authorities to set objectives for reducing GHG emissions and for integrating climate change adaption policies into their Development Plans and Regional Planning Guidelines respectively. Section 7 of the 2010 Act provides that objectives must be included in all development plans, inter alia, for the promotion of sustainable settlement and to:
- reduce energy demand in response to the likelihood of increases in energy and other costs due to long-term decline in non-renewable resources,
- reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, and
- address the necessity of adaptation to climate change; in particular, having regard to location, layout and design of new development.
There are s similar objectives for Regional Authorities making Regional Planning Guidelines (RPG). A function of RPGs is to implement the updated National Spatial Strategy 2002-2020 which strongly promotes sustainable transport and settlement policies consistent with climate change adaption requirements.
A planning authority is required to ensure that its development plan is consistent with RPGs and is required to take account of Government and ministerial climate change policies in making the plan. It is also mandated to secure the objectives of its development plan which must now include the promotion of renewable energy and climate change mitigation. It may not grant planning permission for anything which materially contravenes it without going through complicated legal procedures.
Regional authorities are also given an enhanced role in the procedures for making draft Development Plans under the 2010 Act. They must make a submission to planning authorities on, inter alia:
“collaboration between the planning authority and the regional authority in respect of integrated planning for transport and land use, in particular in relation to large scale developments and the promotion of sustainable transportation strategies in urban and rural areas, including the promotion of measures to reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and address the necessity of adaptation to climate change”.
Development Plan policies are currently under review in certain locations such as Donegal and Cork to facilitate the development of wind farms. The Cork Lower Harbour Energy Group, a partnership of four major industries located in the Cork area, is planning to build an eight-turbine wind farm on four sites in the Cork region.Procedural controls in ss.31 and 32 are in place which can be used to ensure that the requirements made by regional authorities and the Minister relating to climate change are respected by non-compliant local authorities when making their Development and Local Area Plans and in carrying out their functions generally.
Local authorities were required to prepare transport plans to align their development plans with the objectives in Smarter Transport 2009-2016. This means the adoption of more strategic settlement policies, the location and consolidation of developments near public transport hubs, promoting public and non-vehicular transit and ensuring that appropriate transport facilities are available for substantial developments. The Flood Risk Directive 2007/60 is being implemented particularly through the European Communities (Assessment and Management of Flood Risk) Regulations 2010 and work has commenced in identifying flood risk areas and drawing up the flood risk maps which must be made by 2013.
The Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008 established the Dublin Transport Authority (DTA) to co-ordinate transport activities in the areas of the four Dublin local authorities and, inter alia, to develop a strategic planning framework for the integrated development of transport infrastructure and services in the greater Dublin Area (GDA), to integrate land use and transport planning better, to increase use of public transport and walking and cycling and to manage transport and traffic demand.
The Authority has power to give directions to public transport authorities, to finance public transport infrastructure and to influence the development of Regional Planning Guidelines. The National Roads Authority and local authorities performing their roads functions must exercise their functions consistently with the DTA strategy. The DTA may give directions to them to ensure that they act consistently with its strategy and with demand management measures, traffic management plans and its integrated traffic implementation plan. Directions can be enforced by a High Court order.