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‘Dire consequences’ of erecting barriers to public participation

category national | worker & community struggles and protests | press release author Sunday August 30, 2020 22:25author by foie - Friends of the Irish Environment Report this post to the editors

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern cited in forestry fee objection ‘Dire consequences’ of erecting barriers to public participation

Bertie Ahern’s desire ‘to have the power of the Mayor of Shanghai’ is cited in an objection to the proposed fee for objection to forestry applications and appeals in a submission to the Draft Agriculture Appeals (Amendment) Bill 2020. The draft legislation follows on from the 2019 McKenna Report which states that the opportunities that people have to comment and object to forestry proposals represents ‘a barrier to efficient decision-making’ and has ‘created further delays with significant administrative costs’ so the case for a fee is ‘unarguable’.

FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT PRESS RELEASE FRIDAY 28 AUGUST 2020

Bertie cited in forestry fee objection

‘Dire consequences’ of erecting barriers to public participation

Bertie Ahern’s desire ‘to have the power of the Mayor of Shanghai’ is cited in an objection to the proposed fee for objection to forestry applications and appeals in a submission to the Draft Agriculture Appeals (Amendment) Bill 2020.

The draft legislation follows on from the 2019 McKenna Report which states that the opportunities that people have to comment and object to forestry proposals represents ‘a barrier to efficient decision-making’ and has ‘created further delays with significant administrative costs’ so the case for a fee is ‘unarguable’.

Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE] says the ex-Taoiseach highlighted this view of a world without objectors when he stated in January 2005:

“I would like to have the power of the Mayor [of Shanghai] when he decides if he wants to do a highway, if he wants to by-pass an area he just goes straight up and over. I know that is not going to happen at home. I would just like that, when I am trying to put it on the ground, that we get through the consultation process as quick as possible.”

The group argues that the precedent, the €20 fee to participate in the planning process introduced in 2000, would itself no longer be acceptable in view of legal developments over the last 20 years.

FIE cites

  • The 2003 EU Directive on public participation which says that participation should be ‘fostered’.
  • The Aarhus Convention ratified by Ireland in 2012 which seeks to ‘guarantee rights of public participation in decision-making in environmental matters in order to contribute to the protection of the right to live in an environment which is adequate for personal health and well-being.’
  • The 2013 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals[SDG] which requires Ireland to ‘Protect, Restore and Promote Sustainable Use of Terrestrial Ecosystems, Sustainably Manage Forests, Combat Desertification, and Halt and Reverse Land Degradation and Halt Biodiversity Loss’ and which is the basis of the current EU Green Deal.

Pointing out that ‘Heavily subsidised tax-free commercial conifer plantations have destroyed vast areas of critical importance to our ecosystems and have had enormous adverse social impact', FIE argues that ‘the case for a fee is only ‘unarguable’ if, like Bertie Ahern, you wish for a world where Government believe the people are to be scorned and disenfranchised and the rulers live in an untouchable privileged world of their own.’

According to the submission by FIE’s Tony Lowes, ‘Democracy is being undermined by the increasing restrictions on public participation in Irish civil society. Bridges have not been built between communities seeking their rights and our local and national authorities. In fact, the opposite has happened: walls are being incrementally erected by administrators to keep out citizens unless they comply with multiplying and onerous conditions’.

The submission concludes ‘It is now understood that full and unhindered participation is the only way that Governments can bring their citizen with them to support the increasing hard decision required as the impacts of climate change undermine our infrastructure and threaten human well being.’



Submissions close at 5 pm today.

Read the submission
https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/Forestry/Forestry_legislation_submission_280820.pdf
Contact:
Tony Lowes 353 (0)87 2176316 / 353 (0)27 74771
Copyright © 2020 Friends of the Irish Environment, All rights reserved.
Press Release

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Friends of the Irish Environment
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Eyeries, Cork P75 CX53
Ireland

Related Link: https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/press-releases/17857-bertie-cited-in-forestry-fee-objection
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