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Matthews Welcomes New Planning and Environment Court

Green TD Steven Matthews has announced that his party has delivered an important Programme for Government commitment to establish a new division of the High Court to specialise in environmental and planning issues. This is a major reform that will allow planning law to operate in a more efficient manner to address complex planning judicial reviews which he says will be a particularly positive development for Wicklow.

Discussing the basis for establishing the new court, Deputy Matthews said:

“The goal is to ensure that our judicial system has the capacity to decide cases as quickly as possible within a growing and increasingly complex body of Irish and EU environmental law. Timely access to justice is a cornerstone of the effective rule of law and an international legal commitment Ireland has entered under the Aarhus Convention. This is extremely pressing given the urgent need to ease the pressure on the housing system and develop the infrastructure we need to transition to a zero-carbon economy."

The Green Party is committed to ensuring the new Court will have the resources to fulfil its role. The Government will pass new legislation to allow the number of judges to be increased and provide the necessary exchequer funding to pay for these judges.

The new Court will hear all the cases currently taken by the High Court’s Commercial Planning and Strategic Infrastructure Development List and other major environmental cases. This is likely to include all major infrastructure cases as well as many cases relating to EU Environmental Law such as Environmental Impact Assessment, Strategic Environmental Assessment, Birds and Habitats Directives, the Water Framework Directive and the Industrial Emissions Directive.

“This is particularly pertinent for Wicklow for our Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protected Areas and the sensitive and varied landscape and coastline we have. The critical delivery of offshore wind, higher density housing and public transport infrastructure provision may be challenged in court and that right and access to justice must be maintained. This new court will ensure that these cases are dealt with speedily and comprehensively”, concluded Deputy Matthews.


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