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OUTLOOK takes a look at the main changes that are to take place within the Authority.

The detailed overhaul of MEPA’s development planning process is imminent with the publication of the Legal Notice that will bring a large part of the Environment and Development Planning Act, 2010 into force. A number of changes that will be brought about by the new law will directly affect MEPA clients, particularly periti and will seek to improve the Authority’s efficiency, consistency and transparency in all processes.

One of the main changes that will take place involving the development application process, will be that development applications, considered to be simple, will be processed and decided upon within a maximum of 12 weeks. This change will do away with the current ‘chess clock’ system which was known to drag the application process for months given that every time a clarification was requested the timeframe was put on hold.

A new screening process is also to be introduced which, at a fixed rate of €50, will involve a review of the application to be submitted by MEPA before the full fees are paid and the application officially submitted for consideration. The aim of the screening process is to ensure that all required information is presented and all aspects of the proposed development are in line with legal requirements.

This screening process aims to ensure that all applicants are well aware of what details and documentation are required for the submission of their applications, and are given ample opportunity to verify that their documentation is handed in full to avoid any inefficiency during the consideration phase.

Yet another interesting change that will soon take place, will be that the public is being given 20 days and not 15 days to submit an objection on a planning application. Additionally the new system has done away with the reconsideration stage for refused planning applications and can only be used by an applicant for a reconsideration to be made on an approved permit condition. The new legal notice will also forbid applicants to submit a planning application to sanction works within scheduled property or works carried out in protected areas / works increasing the volume of buildings in ODZ areas after May 2008.

The Environment and Development Planning Act had been approved by parliament before the summer recess and once the Legal Notice is published, which is expected to happen within the next few days, most provisions within the Act will come into force.

The eagerly awaited MEPA reform process is set to become a tangible reality with the publication of the legal Notice that will bring a major part of the Environment and Development Planning Act into effect.