The Local Government Reform Act 2014 reforms the legislation in relation to Regional Assemblies. The Minister for Environment with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure may declare and establish regions and Regional Assemblies. The members consist of the members of every county council or city council within the relevant area in the region. Their functions are set out below or as conferred by law.
The Regional Assembly is known by the title specified in the establishment order. It is to be a body corporate with its own official CEO and corporate name. Powers may be conferred on regional authorities by the establishment order including
- Regional Spatial And Economic Strategy under the Planning and Development Acts
- functions in connection with assistance from the EU with national investment programs
- the role of the National Oversight and Audit Commission,
- administration generally
- publication of a corporate plan and report
- financial accounts,
- meetings and procedures of meetings,
- use of the seal,
- making of grants by to Minister with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure,
- payment of expenses,
- expenditure of the regional authority by the underlying local authorities,
- furnishing from time to time by the Assembly to the Minister or specified local authorities or other public authorities of information in relation to the performance of its functions,
- the making by the Assembly of arrangements with other public authorities for the use of its premises and equipment and the services of its employees,
- matters to which the Assembly is to have regard in the performance of its functions,
- dissolution of the Assembly,
- designation of the Assembly to be the successor of one or more existing regional authority.
An establishment order may contain provisions that the Minister considers necessary or expedient. An establishment order may contain such provisions as is considered expedient or consequential on the dissolution of previous authorities. The order may make provision for modifications and adoption of references to a pre-existing prior regional authority to the new regional authority.
A Regional Assembly has such powers as are necessary or expedient for the performance of its functions. The establishment order may make necessary modifications in the application of the provisions of local government law to the authority.
The establishment order shall apply for the appointment of a chief officer to be known as the director of the Assembly and for the powers, functions, and other provisions relating to the director of the Assembly.
The existing Assemblies are to continue until replaced by establishment order made under the 2014 Act. References to regional authorities in the prior legislation as to refer to the Regional Assemblies.
The Planning and Development Act is amended by giving Regional Assemblies power to make regional spatial and economic strategy. They are to consult with the planning authorities within the region prior to so doing.
In the case of Regional Assemblies in the Greater Dublin area they are to consult with the National Transport Authority and the planning authorities. The, Regional Assembly shall make a regional spatial and economic strategy at the direction of the Minister, so that it is mandatory if the Minister so direct.
Regional spatial and economic strategy maybe for the whole region or part of it. Where there are Regional Assemblies in respect of the Greater Dublin Area it should be made jointly by such Regional Assembly. The regional planning guidelines prepared by the dissolved regional authorities continue in force until regional and spatial and economic strategies are prepared by the new Regional Assembly.The Minister makes regulations regarding the making of the strategies and related matter.
Planning authorities must cooperate with Regional Assemblies in relation to the preparation of the plan. This is to include financial assessments, provision of staff and services. Where a Regional Assembly intends to make a regional spatial and economic strategy or view an existing strategy, it shall consult with public bodies and bodies under their aegis which in their opinion are relevant to the making of the strategy. The public body shall assist and cooperate insofar as practicable with the Regional Assembly in the preparation of the strategy and thereafter supporting its implementation.
Each public body shall consult with the Regional Assemblies as appropriate in preparing the strategies, plans and programs which will ensure they are consistent with the national and regional objectives set out in the National Spatial Strategy and regional spatial and economic strategies.
The Minister may require cooperation between Regional Assemblies, public bodies departments and bodies under the aegis.
The objective of a regional spatial and economic strategy is to support the implementation of the national spatial strategy and the economic policies and objectives of the government by providing long-term strategic planning and economic framework for the development of the region, which strategies are prepared. It is to be consistent with the national spatial strategy and the economic policies and objectives of the government.
The planning and economic framework shall consider the future development of the region prepared in not less than 12 and not more than 20 years.
The strategy shall be for the whole region to which it relates and in accordance with principles of planning and proper planning and sustainable development. The policies and objectives shall address the following matters,
- policies and objectives of the government in the national planning strategy,
- conditions for creating and sustaining jobs,
- enhancing overall economic performance
- supporting the eocnomic performance of the region across relevant economic sectors,
- enhancing economic innovation capacity,
- identifying regional attributes that are enhancing regional economic performance.
- augmenting environmental quality, quality of cities, physical infrastructure, social community, and cultural facilities.
Account is to be taken of
- location of employment, industrial and commercial development,
- location of retail development,
- location of housing,
- provision of transport,
- provision of education, healthcare, sports and community facilities,
- preservation and protection of the environment including archaeological heritage and national heritage,
- landscape policies,
- promotion of sustainable settlement
If the Minister is of the opinion that the adoption of a draft regional spatial or economic strategy would be inconsistent with policy it may direct the Assembly not to adopt the plan or may require to incorporate appropriate amendments to ensure consistency with government policy. When making a strategy the Assembly is to take account of the proper planning and sustainable development of the whole region, statutory obligations of local authority on any government policy.
When making an economy strategy which affects the Gaeltacht they are to have regard to the need to protect the linguistic and cultural heritage of the Gaeltacht . It is make strategy consistent with the transport strategy of the NTA.
There are provisions for consultation regarding the regional spatial and economic strategy. The proposed plan is to be published and notice is to be given to departments and a range of other public bodies, Submissions made are to be considered. A draft plan is to be prepared and circulated to certain bodies. Notice of its making is to be published.
Further written submissions and observations maybe made. There is provision for amendment of the plan and publication of amendments.
There are procedures for consultation between Regional Assemblies and planning authorities in the making of the plan. A committee shall be established to oversee the preparation of the strategy. The authority and Assembly are to agree membership of the committees and the roles of both committees in preparing to draft strategy.
In respect of the regional spatial and economic strategy the assembly the above public bodies and each local authority shall within two years prepare and submit a report to the Assembly setting out progress in supporting objectives relevant to that body of the strategy.
Each Assembly shall every years prepare a report monitoring progress in implementing the strategy. The monitoring report shall specify the progress made in securing the overall objectives of the regional spatial and economic strategy including specific actions and outcomes.
The regional and spatial strategy is to be reviewed not less than six years after it is made. It may revoke the existing strategy and make a new strategy.
Planning authority shall ensure in making a development plan or a local area plan that is consistent with the regional spatial and economic strategy enforced for the area, the Minister may by order determine that the planning authority shall comply with any regional spatial and economic strategy in force for their area. it may require that an existing development plan comply with any regional spatial and economic strategy In force.
Following the making of the regional spatial and economic strategy, each planning authority is to review its existing development plan and consider whether any variation is necessary in order to achieve the objectives of the regional spatial and economic strategy.
Where a Regional Assembly receives a notice from a planning authority it shall prepare submissions and observations in respect of its development plan. Submissions and observations by the Regional Assembly shall contain a report to state whether in the opinion of the Assembly the draft development plan and its core strategy in particular are consistent with the regional spatial and economic strategy in force for the area of the plan.
Where it is of the opinion that it is not so consistent, it shall include recommendations of the changes necessary to ensure that development plan and its core strategy are so consistent. Copies of the submissions and observations are send and a report are send to the Minister.
Provision is made for the making of joint regional spatial and economic strategies by a number of regional authorities. Regional Assemblies are given a role in variation of the national development plan. They are to receive notices and may make observations and submissions. They are ro contain an opinion as to whether the draft variation is consistent with the strategy et cetera.
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