Top ten things builders and developers need to know about lobbying on zoning and development.
Don’t think you are lobbying? Check out this list to find out!
1) Any person who contacts Designated Public Officials (DPOs) about the zoning or development of land is lobbying under the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.
2) DPOs include city and county councillors, senior council officials, TDs and Senators, Ministers and their advisers, and senior officials in departments/local authorities.
3) Communications outside the formal application process about local authority development plans, rezoning requests, planning variances etc. count as lobbying.
4) Emails, phone calls, meetings, even tweets can count as lobbying. So can casual conversations and indirect contacts through friends or associates. And it doesn’t matter who initiates the contact.
5) Anyone lobbying must register and make returns to the Register of Lobbying. It’s the law.
6) Not all communications are lobbying. Certain exemptions are provided in the Act, such as implementation matters or formal processes (planning applications, submissions in response to a call for submissions by a public body).
7) Registrations and returns must be completed online at www.lobbying.ie, and have to be submitted by set deadlines. Anyone lobbying in February, for example, has until 21 May to register and submit their returns.
8) It is an offence to lobby without registering; to fail to submit a return; or to submit a late return. Consequences include fines or even imprisonment.
9) The Standards Commission has published guidelines on lobbying in relation to zoning or development. These are available on www.lobbying.ie.
10) The website is an excellent source for more information, including videos, sample returns, and the Three Step Test to see if you are lobbying – go check it out!
Still unsure if you need to register? Contact the Commission’s Lobbying Regulation Unit on 01-6395722 or by email at email@example.com.