Local government reforms won’t deliver on sustainable development unless changes made

7 November 2013:  The Environmental Pillar is warning that proposed local government reforms have excluded sustainable development from their core structures, putting the stability of our economy and communities at risk.
Environmental Pillar spokesperson Michael Ewing said:
“Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past. During the Celtic tiger, environmental sustainability was left out of government decision-making.  As a result we saw a rampant rise in poor planning decisions, corruption and the dominance of bankers and developers over local government planning.  This finding was made clear in the Mahon report. Now we’re dealing with the fallout of ghost estates, homes on flood-plains, the property crash, the bank bailouts and austerity.”
“Sustainability should be fundamental to the Local Government (Amendment) Bill and should underline the terms of reference of the all the new local government structures,” said Mr Ewing. “Sustainable development means local green jobs in energy and food production, tourism, transport and green infrastructure.”
The Environmental Pillar recommends the following changes to embed sustainable development into the new local structures:

  • The new Local Community Development Committees (which are replacing the City and County Development Boards) should instead be titled ‘Sustainable Community Development Committees’.
    “If it’s not on the tin, it won’t get done,” said Mr Ewing.
  • Sustainable development should be the guiding principle for the work of the new Committees, as well as the Regional Authorities which will be developing regional plans that will guide local development.
  • Civil society engagement should be built into local Government processes. The Environmental Pillar and the Community and Voluntary Pillar should have permanent representation on the new Committees, as elected through the respective Pillars’ own internal processes. This should include the proposed Economic and Enterprise Strategic Policy Committees, the Local Community Development Committees and the Regional Authorities.

The Environmental Pillar will meet the Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht at 12.45 pm today in Committee Room 4 to discuss these recommendations.

The Environmental Pillar’s submission to the Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht can be downloaded here.