I refer to previous correspondence about complaint P99/4449 concerning the failure to undertake an environmental impact assessment (EIA) in respect of the redevelopment of Ballymun Dublin.
EU Directorate IX

12 December 2000

Dear Sir;

I refer to previous correspondence about complaint P99/4449 concerning the failure to undertake an environmental impact assessment (EIA) in respect of the redevelopment of Ballymun Dublin.

I would like to confirm that the Commission has recently notified a Letter of Formal Notice (first warning letter) to Ireland arising out of the failure of Dublin Corporation to ensure the EIA of Phase 1 of the redevelopment.

The Commission notes that the thirteen separate developments making up Phase I were all closely related and that when taken together they exceeded the relevant threshold of the Irish legislation for EIA. Nonetheless the Corporation did not require EIA in respect of the developments.

In its decision of 21 September 1999 in Case C-392/96 Commission v Ireland the European Court of Justice points to the need for Member States to ensure that a requirement of EIA is not circumvented by project splitting.

In the Commission's view Phase 1 of the re-development of Ballymun represents an example of project splitting circumventing the requirement of EIA. As an example it is of particular concern given firstly the close connection between the applicant Ballymun Regeneration Ltd. and the decision-maker Dublin Corporation and secondly the major responsibilities the latter has for urban development.

In notifying this Letter of Formal Notice the Commission is not calling into question the merits of re-development of Ballymun. Substantial investments to improve the quality of life in Ballymun are clearly welcome and have the Community's support via the Structural Funds. However the scale of redevelopment the size of the population concerned and the environmental challenges presented (including potential flooding risks) all point to the need for and wisdom of EIA in respect of key phases.

The Commission acknowledges and welcomes the steps taken by Ireland's Planning Appeals Board to ensure the EIA of those developments appealed to it. However the Board's role cannot be considered as completely off-setting the deficient practice of a local authority decision-maker. In particular there is no guarantee that the Board will be involved by way of an appeal. In this case only three of the thirteen development consent applications forming part of Phase 1 of the Ballymun redevelopment were appealed. The cumulatively high administrative charges that appeals would have entailed are also noteworthy.

The response of the Irish authorities is now awaited. If you have any comments or additional information I would welcome hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

G.KREMLIS

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