An Bord Pleanála official changed inspector's report 

An Bord Pleanála official changed inspector's report 

Paul Hyde: Temporarily stepped aside during investigation.

The Bord Pleanála (ABP) official under investigation by a senior counsel made adjustments to an independent inspector’s report which was due to come before him and his colleagues as part of their function in deciding on a planning appeal.

The inspector’s report is part of the “evidence” used by ABP to decide on a planning application or appeal.

According to legal and planning sources, it is very unusual for a board member to make adjustment to a report, as the board member would effectively be sitting in judgement of it.

Last year, ABP deputy chair Paul Hyde, who has temporarily stepped aside while an investigation is being conducted, admitted he suggested changes to an inspector’s report in an appeal about a proposed greenway in South Kerry. The appeal concerned a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to build a road connected to the greenway.

The changes to the inspector’s report were spotted by lawyers and, following that, Mr Hyde swore an affidavit setting out his role.

Sworn statement

“I suggested certain amendments to the original inspector’s report to the inspector’s supervisor and I am aware that she also made her own suggestions to the inspector,” Mr Hyde’s sworn statement declares.

“I understand that the inspector considered these suggestions and made amendments to the report and I can confirm that the suggested amendments are reflected in the updated inspector’s report.”

Mr Hyde’s sworn statement went on to state that, at a board meeting four months later, in October 2020, following the adjustments to the inspector’s report, the board made a decision on the appeal.

“I can confirm that at that meeting on 7 October 2020, myself and other board members considered hard copies of the updated inspector’s report and it is the updated inspector’s report on which the board made its decision to approve the proposed road development and confirm the CPO.”

A senior counsel appointed by the minister for housing is investigating a narrow range of issues concerning Mr Hyde, but there have been calls for a wider investigation into the governance and procedures at the planning board.

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