Planning authority, An Bord Pleanála, saw its legal costs escalate to record levels last year, as Strategic Housing Development (SHD) legislation to speed up planning permissions kicked in.
An Bord Pleanála fees in 2020 will top €5.6 million, a jump from €3.39 million the previous year, and €3.25 million in 2018.
In 2020, there were 92 High Court challenges to An Bord Pleanála decisions, up from 53 in 2019. A full 15% of SHD decisions have resulted in High Court challenges.
Commentators have pointed to the link between an upswing in challenges, and the rule protecting those who don’t succeed from having to pay An Bord Pleanála legal costs.
Public decisions made by administrative bodies and the lower courts may be judicially reviewed by the High Court, if an arguable case and “sufficient interest” can be shown.
The Planning and Development Act as amended, by way of section 50B, provides special rules in order to comply with the Public Participation Directive and the Aarhus Convention.
Not liable for costs
In cases involving the Environmental Impact Assessment, Strategic Environmental Assessment, and Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directives, a member of the public seeking a review of a public decision will generally not be liable for their costs if they lose, and may be entitled to their costs from the losing party if they win.