High time for new guidance: Chambers Ireland calls for improved Strategic Environmental Assessment Guidelines to build healthier communities

Nov 19, 2021

Chambers Ireland, the voice of business throughout Ireland, has today called for strengthened Strategic Environmental Assessment Guidelines for Local Authorities and Regional Assemblies to create healthier communities and ecosystems in the coming years.

On the day following its Excellence in Local Government Awards, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot has called for strengthened Strategic Environmental Assessment training for local authority and regional assembly in-house staff and elected members so that they can continue to conduct their outstanding work in a climate-conscious manner that will benefit communities right across the country:

“The threats posed by climate change and the global decline in biodiversity has meant that we must re-evaluate many of the ways that we plan and develop for the future. This includes a reassessment of the national Strategic Environmental Assessment Guidelines for Local Authorities and Regional Assemblies to ensure that plans and programmes are compliant with the relevant local, regional, and national environmental objectives and targets.

“It has been 15 years since the previous Guidelines were drafted. The lessons we have learned in that timeframe regarding planning and development must be built on and improved for the continued benefit of the health of our communities and collective ecosystems. COP26 demonstrated the scale of the task at hand. Our collective response must be translated into tangible action.”

In its submission to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage’s consultation on the Strategic Environmental Assessment Guidelines, Chambers Ireland proposed concrete recommendations that will help to achieve this scale of action, ensuring that all areas of future planning and development plans comply with the highest levels of environmental assessment guidance.

Mr. Talbot continued:

“We sometimes forget the positive impacts that some developments can have on an area, its biodiversity, water, sewage treatment infrastructure and integrated transport solutions. Regional assemblies and local authority planning departments should therefore be encouraged to promote the identification and evaluation of positive elements of proposed developments and the beneficial impacts it will have for the wider environs to further incentivise more sustainable development practices.

“In addition, the important role of public participation in the planning consultation process must not be overlooked. The wide circulation of open public consultations, combined with adequate timeframes for participation, must be ensured so as to promote wide engagement from all interested stakeholders.

“While future development will continue to be a requirement in many towns and cities across the country, we remind planning authorities that the more efficient use of existing building stock will help us the most in reducing carbon emissions and accelerating our climate commitments.”

— ENDS —

For more information, please contact Jonathan Baxter, communications and media executive at Chambers Ireland on 086 608 1605 or jonathan.baxter@chambers.ie.

Notes to the editor

The Strategic Environmental Assessment aims to provide for a high level of protection of the environment and to contribute to the integration of environmental considerations into the preparation and adoption of plans with a view to promoting sustainable development.

For the full Chambers Ireland submission to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage on the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment Guidelines for Regional Assemblies and Planning Authorities please see here.

Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment Guidelines for Regional Assemblies and Planning Authorities

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