Geology in Local Authority Planning

Geology is now recognised as an intrinsic component of natural heritage in three separate pieces of legislation or regulations, which empower and require various branches of Government, and statutory agencies, to consult and take due regard for conservation of geological heritage features: Planning and Development Act 2000 [e.g. Sections 212 (1) f; Part IV, 6; Fifth Schedule Condition 21], Planning and Development Regulations 2001, Heritage Act 1995, and the Wildlife (Amendment) Act, 2000. The Heritage Act, and the Planning Regulations in particular, place responsibility upon Local Authorities to ensure that geological heritage is adequately addressed within Heritage Plans, as well as integrated into revised County Development Plans. This can be difficult for Local Authorities if they do not employ any geologists, and few Heritage Officers possess any advanced training in geology. This is often difficult for Local Authorities as none employ any geologists, and very few Heritage Officers possess any specific knowledge or expertise in geology.

To remedy this expertise deficit, and assist statutory bodies meet their statutory obligations, the Geological Survey of Ireland established the Irish Geological Heritage (IGH) Programme in 1998. The programme has the primary objective of identifying and selecting those sites that best represent the geological heritage of Ireland, for designation as Natural Heritage Areas.

The GSI now has the expertise, knowledge and experience to be able to assist Local Authorities in all matters relating to geological heritage, including incorporation into Development and Heritage Plans.

For further information or advice please contact: Sarah Gatley, 01-6782837 or sarah.gatley@gsi.ie, or visit the IGH planning pages of GSI website.

Matthew Parkes, who formerly implemented much of the IGH programme work, can still be contacted in The National Museum of Ireland at 01-6777444 or mparkes@museum.ie on certain Heritage issues, such as Mining Heritage.

The full "Geology in Local Authority Planning" document can be downloaded here.