Council calls for An Taisce to recall ‘flawed’ report

Leitrim County Council along with The County and City Managers’ Association (CCMA) is calling on An Taisce to recall its recent report into planning among local authorities.

Leitrim County Council along with The County and City Managers’ Association (CCMA) is calling on An Taisce to recall its recent report into planning among local authorities.

Leitrim County Council said that they believe the report is “highly subjective and self-aggrandising language in favour of An Taisce.” A spokesperson for the council said the report which ranked Leitrim as the third worst planning Department in the country two weeks ago “is patently not an independent review, in terms of being objective, non-partisan or neutral. It is considered that the report should more correctly be described as An Taisce’s review of the planning system, rather than an independent review.”

Leitrim County Council also commented that the report “lacks any research methodology and that it is without any statistical foundation.” In light of that the council said “going on to publish a ‘Ranking’, is not alone inaccurate but also inappropriate based on the assessment of indicators chosen apparently at random given the lack of evidence to the contrary within the report. In addition the ranking system used lacks any value balance between the indicators used and a rural/urban context and therefore cannot be relied on as a ranking exercise.”

With particular reference to the upholding of appeals by An Bord Pleanala the context surrounding the use of this indicator as a contributor to the findings of the report “lacks any clear definition and lacks context as no reference is made to matters such as the number of planning decisions granted and refused by each planning authority, the number of those decisions appealed to An Bord Pleanála etc” according to the council.

Leitrim County Council will be continuing to review the detail of the report in the coming weeks but concurs fully with the view of the CCMA that the report is flawed and calling for the report to be withdrawn by An Taisce.

The CCMA says An Taisce’s report is fundamentally flawed from a number of perspectives; “both the presentation of indicators and the reporting of statistics throughout the report are flawed and require further major revisions”, says Hubert Kearns, CCMA Chairman. The logic and justification for choosing the particular battery of indicators chosen by An Taisce is not given in the report. Eight indicators were used to grade the councils.

Following initial queries which challenged the presentation of the results, An Taisce withdrew the original report. They have now republished the report with amended tables; however, the CCMA still have serious issues with the report. They have used statistics in a blind fashion without appropriate quantitative analysis to back up their figures. “There is a lack of clarity on what weighting, if any, has been applied to individual indicators chosen by An Taisce”, says Kearns. “The grading system developed by An Taisce is an ‘unbalanced scorecard’. The unknown authors of the An Taisce report ought to have attached greater importance to the accurate use of statistics and the report is missing a chapter to explain clearly how the ranking model deals with weighting issues to ensure there is no urban or rural bias.”

Amending the report, An Taisce said “While there is some movement of councils in terms of grading there is no impact on the key messages of the report, including that there is a strong correlation between councils that have scored poorly and a range of negative socio-economic and environmental outcomes.”