TD alleges fake planning appeals from people 'who don't exist' delaying planning applications

TD alleges fake planning appeals from people 'who don't exist' delaying planning applications

Unknown people are filing fake planning application appeals from individuals "who don't exist" in order to block new developments in parts of the country, a TD has claimed.

Labour TD Alan Kelly made the allegation during the Dáil public accounts committee meeting.

He said "fictitious appeals have gone all the way" in cases without any proof the complainant even exists.

During a meeting with An Bord Pleanala officials this morning, Mr Kelly said he is aware of a number of recent cases where concerns have been raised over the lack of transparency in the State's planning body.

He highlighted one case of a 145-bedroom hotel in Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry which was due to be built in recent months but was instead derailed after two appeals were made - including one from someone no one in the area has ever met.

Former junior minister, Alan Kelly
Former junior minister, Alan Kelly

"There have been fictitious appeals that have gone all the way to the board," Mr Kelly claimed. "In Ballinskelligs, nobody knew who this person was, but the An Bord Pleanala decision was influenced by it.

"There were only two appeals. Everybody knows who one person was but nobody knows the other person. I'm saying very clearly, that can't happen.

"It was appealed by somebody who doesn't exist. The letter came from somewhere, but the person doesn't exist. Nobody in Kerry knows if the person exists," Mr Kelly said.

An Bord Pleanála chair Dave Smith said he could not talk about individual cases but confirmed "I'm taking notes". Mr Kelly continued that it is his belief the planning system needs urgent reforms to improve transparency.

Calling on officials "to clean it up because I won't stop my career until it is [cleaned up]", the Labour TD said.

"The people in Ballinskelligs don't need this, the fact they can't even find out who one of the people is because it got all the way through to the board, that is fundamentally and morally wrong. The impact it [the appeal] has on a small place is disproportionate, and it is fundamentally, morally wrong."

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