Are you engaged in lobbying in relation to zoning and development?
You are if you meet all of the following conditions:
A. You are carrying on lobbying activities.
B. The person being lobbied is a Designated Public Official.
C. You are making a relevant communication.
D. That communication is about a relevant matter.
E. That communication is not an excepted communication.
A Who is carrying on lobbying activities in relation to zoning and development?
Any individual, organisation or group who communicates with a Designated Public Official on a relevant matter concerning the zoning or development of land may be considered to be carrying out lobbying activities.
B Who is being lobbied: Designated Public Officials
Designated Public Officials are:
- Ministers of the Government and Ministers of State
- Other members of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann
- Members of the European Parliament for the three constituencies in Ireland
- Members of local authorities
- Special advisers
- Secretaries-General and Assistant Secretaries-General of Government departments
- Chief Executive, Assistant Chief Executive, Directors of Services, Head of Finance or Head of Human Resources in Dublin City Council
- Chief Executive, Directors of Services or Head of Finance in any other local authority
Other public servants will be prescribed by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform over time.
Public bodies are obliged to publish and maintain a list of the names of their employees who are Designated Public Officials and a brief description of their roles and responsibilities for the purposes of the lobbying legislation. This information will be kept up to date and made available on the websites of the public bodies.
C What is a relevant communication?
A relevant communication is a communication that
- May be written or oral
- Is made personally either directly or indirectly. (A communication is regarded as having been made personally even if you ask someone else to make the communication on your behalf. It is not uncommon for a person to engage a planning consultant to communicate with a local authority on their behalf. If such communications were regarded as a lobbying activity the planning consultant may be required to register and would include the person he/she is representing as a client on his/her return of lobbying activity. If the person also made separate or additional communications him/herself which were regarded as lobbying activities then he/she would also have to register and submit a return.)
- Is made to a Designated Public Official
- Relates to a relevant matter
- Is not an excepted communication
D What is a relevant matter?
A relevant matter is defined in the Act as
- Any matter relating to the initiation, development or modification of any public policy or of any public programme
- The preparation or amendment of any law (including secondary legislation such as statutory instruments and bye-laws)
- The award of any grant, loan or other financial support, contract or other agreement, or of any licence or other authorisation involving public funds
APART FROM the implementation of any such policy, programme, enactment or award or any matter of a technical nature.
E What is an excepted communication
There are a number of specific excepted communications contained in the Act which are not regarded as lobbying. The full list of excepted communications is available here. The following are the relevant excepted communications in relation to zoning and development.
- Your principal private residence: You are not lobbying if you communicate with a Designated Public Official about obtaining planning permission to build or extend your principal private residence. Your principal private residence is a dwelling or part of a dwelling occupied by you as your only or main residence and includes gardens or grounds of not more than one acre (0.4 ha) which are used for your own occupation and enjoyment.
- Factual information: Communications requesting factual information or providing factual information in response to a request for the information (for example, if you ask a local authority member or official about the planning process)
- Published submissions: Communications requested by a public service body and published by it (for example, submissions received in response to a public consultation process on the development plan or local area plan)
- Communications by Designated Public Officials or public servants: Communications by a Designated Public Official with other Designated Public Officials in his or her capacity as such; communications by public servants (or those engaged on contract by a public service body) with other Designated Public Officials made in that capacity and relating to the functions of the public service body. Public servants are employed by or hold office in public service bodies - in general, these are State bodies other than commercial State bodies. Local authorities are public service bodies. (This means that communications by county councillors and other elected representatives to local authority managers or other public servants does not constitute lobbying.)