At March’s full council meeting my motion was ; ‘ As an exemplar of best practice that the council do a simple check on lobbying i.e that person/s lobbying for re-zoning of land are registered lobbyist/s as required by law and that where the person/s lobbying the council are not registered that
a) it raises a red flag for the council around the application and that
b) council officials advise the applicant/s to register, before proceeding with an
Here is the Report Issued by: Tadhg McDonnell, Director of Service, Housing and Corporate Services: The Act lists the conditions which apply if you are considered to be carrying on lobbying activities and, therefore, are obliged to register as a lobbyist.
You may be carrying on lobbying activities if, for example,:
– You are a professional lobbyist: You are paid to make, manage or direct the making of a relevant communication on behalf of another person and other conditions are met.
– You lobby on behalf of yourself or your business or organisation: You make, manage or direct the making of a relevant communication and certain circumstances apply.
– You lobby about development or zoning of land: You make a relevant communication about the development or zoning of land.
When drawing up development plans or local area plans, local authorities engage in a formal public consultation process. You may make a submission to the local authority setting out your views on the proposed plan. Making your views known to a local authority as part of a formal public consultation process is not lobbying.
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.)
The Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 provides that anyone who communicates with a Designated Public Official about the development or zoning of land is lobbying, and must register.
Examples of communications in relation to zoning and development which are likely to be regarded as lobbying. In the case of zoning and development, the following are examples of communications regarding relevant matters which would be regarded as lobbying:
· A communication to a Designated Public Official about a development plan or local area plan or the zoning or rezoning of land which is outside of a formal consultation process is lobbying.
· A communication to a Designated Public Official about a planning application for a residential development on land that is already zoned residential may be lobbying if the planning application involves a modification of policy, for example, if the application involves a housing density greater than that outlined in the development plan or local area plan.
· A communication with a Designated Public Official about a planning application which is outside of the formal planning process may be regarded as lobbying if the planning application seeks or requires a change in the local authority’s development policy.
· Communicating with Designated Public Officials about development of major infrastructural projects may constitute lobbying.
· A communication to a Designated Public Official in relation to a planning application for the development of a wind farm or the building of pylons on land that is zoned agricultural or amenity (either promoting or opposing same) is lobbying as it involves a modification of a policy.
Submitting a planning application or lodging an objection to a planning application are implementation matters and would not be considered lobbying. A communication in support of an application or an objection MAY be considered lobbying if the application seeks to modify an existing policy or plan. Under the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015, persons who fall within the scope of the Act who communicate with Designated Public Officials about relevant matters must register and submit returns of lobbying activity. Local Authority Members’ interactions when lobbied must be reported by the lobbyists in accordance with the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.
The onus is on the lobbyist to register. The Act provides that anyone who communicates with a Councillor / Designated Public Official about the development or zoning of land is lobbying, and must register.
The Register of Lobbying is maintained by the Standards in Public Office Commission. Provisions contained in the Act give the Standards Commission the authority to investigate possible contraventions of the Act.