LANDSCAPE : THE IRISH EXPERIENCE
Planning Inspector, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government
This paper aims to provide an indication of some of the main means by which the Irish planning system and certain programmes approach landscape issues.
prior to dealing directly with the planning system and with programmes, it is
appropriate to highlight a few facts regarding
SOME FACTS ABOUT
strong economic growth is translated into housing and infrastructure development
which are key drivers of the
physical change in rural, urban and partly urbanised areas.
For example in 2004 about 70 000 new houses were built, a very high
building rate in relation to the population base.
The 2005-09 capital expenditure allocations to the Departments of
Environment and Transport together amount to about €19billion, expenditure
which will see the process of physical transformation continued into the future.
PROTECTING AND ENHANCING LANDSCAPES THROUGHT THE
are four main levels of planning in
the national level there is the National Spatial
(NSS) which sets out a framework for guiding development.
Key aims of the NSS are to achieve a more balanced pattern of growth so
that areas outside the
are seen as a key resource in some areas which can assist in promoting tourism
development. In fact the NSS states
that “…the environment is of prime importance in enhancing
NSS recognises the need to promote “sensitive development and conservation of
third level involves Development Plans (DPs) which are produced for each of the 29
administrative counties and five cities
Areas Plans are the produced for smaller towns and villages, or for parts of the
larger towns and cities.
and Development Act 2000
Act sets the legal basis for the types of plans which are referred to above.
It also has provision for the designation of Landscape Conservation Areas
and Architectural Areas.
Act gives the Minister the authority to make Guidelines which need to be taken
into account by Planning Authorities. In
practice the Guidelines are referred to in Development and Local Area Plans and
form the policy basis on which Planning Authorities make decisions about
development applications. A number
of Guidelines which have a more direct relevance for landscapes and planning in
relation to landscapes are:-
Landscape and Landscape Assessment
draft Guidelines (2000). These draft Guidelines set
out a methodology, called the Landscape Character Assessment , which Planning
Authorities should use which should underpin the provisions related to landscape
matters in their Development Plans.
Sustainable Rural Housing Guidelines (2005).
Residential Density Guidelines (1999).
These Guidelines are applicable in urban
areas. A key message is the need to
develop at higher densities and to ensure good quality design.
Other Guidelines. Other
Guidelines of relevance which have been issued include Architectural Heritage
Protection (2005), draft Wind Energy Development (2004), Implementation of the
Strategic Environmental Assessment (2004), Quarries and Ancillary Activities
(2004), Architectural Heritage Protection (2005) and Telecommunications Antennae
and Support Structures (1996)
Department has also released Planning Leaflets,
some of which deal with or have relevance for landscape issues; Architectural
and Farm Development – The Planning Issues (2003), Environmental Impact
Assessment (2003) and a Guide to Architectural Heritage (2003).
full set of Guidelines and Leaflets can be found on www.environ.ie.
A number of programmes operated by the Department have a direct impact on landscapes as set out below.
q Urban and Village Scheme. This scheme has the aim of stimulating the regeneration of areas in towns and villages and has involved 608 schemes in the period 2001 to 2004. These schemes create improved urban landscapes in both functional and aesthetic terms.
q Tidy Towns Competition. The aim of this competition is to create pleasant environments. Currently 650 – 700 communities participate each year in this competition The judging criteria include references to landscape issues.
q Tax Incentive Schemes. The aims are to promote appropriate development, upgrade built environments within historical core areas of towns and cities, turn back processes of social decline etc. These schemes are currently under review by the Department of Finance.
competitions which have an impact on urban landscapes in particular are Irelands
Best Kept Towns Competition, City Neighbourhoods Competition, Entente Florale,
National Spring Clean,
the past decade
 Paper delivered at the Third Meeting of the Workshops for the Implementation of the European Landscape Convention. Cork 16 – 18 June 2005
Only seven RPGs exist because a single set of Guidelines was produced