INVESTIGATIONS will be launched into planning matters in up to six local authorities following what was described as an “alarming and increasing number of complaints” to the Environment Minister.
John Gormley indicated he would announce the investigations shortly in a speech in which he also urged Fine Gael to look at planning problems within its own party instead of pointing the finger of blame elsewhere.
The Environment Minister cannot intervene in any individual planning cases or decisions, but can launch investigations where a local authority is found to be in breach of planning laws, or where they breach their own local development plan.
At least six independent investigations will be launched at the start of next month but some local authorities might be subject to two investigations on separate grounds.
Mr Gormley accused Fine Gael of hypocrisy for promising to reform the political system when local councils, dominated by its party members, are engaging in “crony capitalism”.
Mr Gormley also used the opening speech of his party’s conference in Waterford last night to hit back at “disgraceful” comments made by Fine Gael following the publication of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) report.
He said: “They would be better off talking to their own councillors about their planning decisions.”
The minister promised a strengthening of planning laws and hit back at critics who believe tight planning laws are costing jobs — a concern raised by some Fianna Fáil TDs last week.