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WARNING – you may be about to enter a lobbying zone – leave this area immediately

A new eruption of red tape

This morning we heard a radio ad warning business owners they could be lobbying, and therefore subject to new regulation, if they made the wrong kind of contact regarding planning permission for their businesses. ISME is all for better regulation. That is why the Standards in Public Office (SIPO) is a ‘good thing’, if it ensures politicians and other public officials keep their hands out of the till. So far its success has been mixed.

SIPO is growing

SIPO has brought lobbying under its remit adding a Head of Lobbying Regulation to its stable. We thought this legislation was aimed at professional lobbyists but it seems it has also got ordinary businesses in its sights, despite government promises there would be less, not more, red tape for business.

A bucket load of it

As Ireland’s foremost enterprise lobby group ISME has gone through the endless SIPO regulations about what is and isn’t covered by these new regulations. And they do go on….and on….and on. We also find them almost impossible to understand. An Taoiseach promised less, not more, red tape. And this is red tape by the bucket load.

Answers please

Have a read of this tiny extract (there’s an entire website dedicated to this stuff) and if you do understand send answers on a postcard to ISME HQ.

When communicating with public officials or representatives regarding the zoning or development of land, individuals and groups who may not ordinarily regard themselves as carrying on lobbying activities, may find that the Act also applies to them…

Communicating, however, with a Designated Public Official outside the formal public consultation process about a development plan or local area plan or a proposal to zone or re-zone particular lands may be lobbying. (For example contacting your local TD or County Councillor about a development plan or a proposal to zone or re-zone particular lands outside the formal public consultation process.)…

Applications for planning permission

Development may require planning permission. In general, applications for planning permission are made to the local authority. These applications are publicly available. An application for planning permission is not lobbying. Seeking declarations/referrals under the Planning Acts on development and exempted development is not lobbying.

Submissions about any application for planning permission are also available for the public to examine. (For example you may object to a particular planning permission.) You are not lobbying if you lodge a submission with your local authority to an application for planning permission.

A communication, however, with a Designated Public Official about a planning application which is outside of the formal planning process may be regarded as lobbying.

If you’re not sure whether your lobbying, not lobbying, may be lobbying but don’t know you’re lobbying, lobbying but don’t want to be lobbying, looking for planning but not wanting to lobby, the best thing to do is to contact ISME.  We lobby on your behalf.