Planning and Citizen Participation
Public consultation, as a core element of participation in planning, is now second nature, but a key question is the extent to which it is merely tokenism, or a genuine attempt by government to involve citizens and stakeholder organisations in shaping policy. In Ireland, for example, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, John Gormley TD, and the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Martin Mansergh TD, published draft guidelines on The Planning System and Flood Risk Management in September 2008. Their joint Foreword stated: ‘these guidelines are being published initially in draft form, with a view to their finalisation in statutory form following consideration of the comments and submissions made during the public consultation. We would urge all interested parties to avail of this opportunity to contribute to policy formulation and make any comment that they consider relevant’ (Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government/Office of Public Works, 2008). A final document was jointly issued in November 2009 along with technical appendices, but nothing is mentioned in these publications about the consultation process, the submissions received, and the responses by the departments to those submissions.