Strategic infrastructure developments
The Planning and Development Act 2000 as amended provides for a special planning application process for strategic infrastructure development (SID). This procedure allows for the local planning authority to be bypassed entirely and the application be made directly to An Bord Pleanála, the Irish State planning appeals board. SID status is afforded to developments which are considered of strategic importance to the State. They most commonly consist of energy infrastructure, transport infrastructure, large housing development and environmental infrastructure projects.
Due to the fact that often these developments are large in scale and complexity, decisions of An Bord Pleanála are challenged on a regular basis by way of judicial review. Applications for consent to launch a judicial review must be made to the High Court.
Practice direction update
On 2 February 2018, the President of the High Court issued a Practice Direction concerning judicial review applications relating to SIDs. According to the Practice Direction, from 26 February 2018 onwards, all applications for consent to launch a judicial review of permissions or decisions concerning strategic infrastructure developments must only be made to an assigned Judge in the Commercial Court. Applications can be made at 10.30am every Thursday.
The applicant must lodge all required papers in a bound, indexed and paginated form with the Central Office marked “Strategic Infrastructure Application” no later than 4.00pm on the preceding Monday.
Where an applicant is granted permission to launch a judicial review, the Judge will provide the parties with all necessary additional directions with a view to ensuring a fair, just and expeditious hearing of the matter.
This new procedure provides clear directions in relation to applications for permission to launch judicial review proceedings relating to SIDs. It also provides for directions to ensure a fair and efficient hearing in instances where permission is granted. This is a very welcome development for all parties concerned including developers and State bodies charged with the development of these projects of critical national importance.