Regulation of Outdoor Events
The use of venues for large events on an occasional basis had been thought possibly to require planning permission, Ultimately the Supreme Court held that fleeting changes of use such as one or two day concerts on an occasional basis, would not necessarily represent a material change of use, so as to require planning permission.
The Planning and Development Act, 2000 introduced a separate system of licensing for outdoor events. Where planning authorities had granted planning permission for events under the old legislation, that will continue to govern the position. The licensing of events provisions apply to new venues and events, which did not have specific planning permission prior to the 2000 Act.
If an event is a public performance which takes place wholly or mainly in the open air or in a structure with no roof or partial, temporary, retractable roof, a tent or similar structure. It must comprise music, dancing, displays of entertainment or other similar activities. Events covered may be expanded by Regulations made by the Minister for the Environment.
A licence is required for prescribed events. A present, events with audiences of 5,000 or more people are prescribed. The audience means the number of attendees on a particular day, other than performers and persons working at the event. Where there is more than one performance or location, the audience is the total number of persons attending all such performances.
Persons who organise, promote, hold or are involved in the organisation of a prescribed event, or are in control of land where it is held, must obtain and comply with the terms of the licence. Failure to do is an offence.
The Planning and Development Regulations set out the procedure for application for a licence. A pre-application consultation is possible, in the same manner as with a planning application. The pre-application consultation may be also undertaken with the HSE and the Garda Siochana. The draft proposal and plan for the management of the event may be discussed and agreed. Relevant bodies are obliged not to unreasonably refuse to participate in the pre-application procedure.
The application must be made at least 16 days before the first event to which the application relates. The Local Authority may make a decision not earlier than five weeks after the receipt of the application. Within two weeks before the application, public notice must be given by way of publication in a local and national newspaper. Persons may make submissions or observations within five weeks of receipt of the application.
Considering the Application
The Local Authority is to make the application, drawings, maps, plans, submissions and observations available for public inspection during its office hours, during the five-week period mentioned above. The Authority is to make available, copies of the application to persons on paying the reasonable cost of copying.
The Local Authority must consult with certain prescribed bodies. In particular, it must consult with Garda Siochana, the HSE, and any other local authorities for the area in which the event is to be held. The Local Authority may request further information from the applicant. It may seek further information from any of the prescribed bodies or from persons who have made a submission or observation. It may invite others to make submissions and observations. The Local Authority may convene meetings, for the purpose of obtaining verbal submissions and for seeking the views of the relevant party.
In deciding the application, the Local Authority is to have regard to the information furnished, consultations, submissions and observation, previous events held on the land, conditions which may be attached and any guidelines and codes published by the Minister for the Environment and Local Government.
The licence may be granted with or without conditions or may be refused. Conditions may require compliance with guidelines and codes of practice issued by the Minister. There may be conditions for the purpose of securing the safety of persons at the event. There may be conditions providing for adequate facilities for health and welfare, including the provision of sanitary facilities.
Conditions may be imposed for the protection of the environment, including the control of litter. Provisions may be made for public order, the avoidance and minimisation of disruption to the neighbourhood and provision of adequate means of transport.
The licence may specify the number of events which may be held at the venue within a certain period, up to a year. It may provide for payment of financial contributions towards the estimated cost of measures to be taken by the Authority. It may require financial contributions towards cost of other measures taken in connection with the event. It may require public liability insurance and the display of notices, including notices setting out the obligations on the organisers.
The Minister for the Environment may draw up codes of practice in order to give guidance in relation to events. Before finalising a code of practice, the Minister / Department must consult with other Departments and appropriate bodies. The code may be varied and amended from time to time.
Enforcement and Duties
Where a Local Authority has reasons to believe that an event is occurring or likely to take place without a licence, or may take place in contravention of a licence, it may serve an enforcement notice. The enforcement notice may require cessation or discontinuation of the preparations in relation to the event. It may require removal of a temporary building, structures, plant, machinery and equipment from land. It may require restoration of land to its pre-existing condition. Breach of the terms of the enforcement notice is an offence.
The Local Authority may prosecute offences under the legislation. Persons convicted of offences may be deprived of licences held or refused the grant of licences in the future.
A person who obtains a licence must take care in the circumstances, having regard to the care which a person attending the event may reasonably be expected to take for his own safety. If the person at the event is in the company of another, the extent of supervision by the latter person (e.g. a child’s parent) may be taken into account. Subject to this, the organiser, controller, etc., must take steps to ensure that persons on the land in connection with the event do not suffer injury or damage by reason of dangers arising out of the event or associated activities.
It is the duty of persons on land in connection with a licensed event conduct insofar as reasonably practicable, to ensure that he is not exposed to a danger in consequence of his acts or omission.
Local Authority Events
The Local Authority does not require a licence to hold an event. However, it must undertake a public consultation procedure, similar to that undertaken in connection with proposed local authority development. The Manager must publish the proposal and seek submissions and observations. He prepares a written report for the elected members.
The report specifies the event, the types of conditions to which the event is proposed to be subject and details of submissions and observations. He must summarise the issues raised and comment. He must include recommendations as to whether the event should be held or not. Unless the elected members vote otherwise within six weeks, the event is deemed approved. The elected members may vary or modify the proposed event or require that it should not proceed.
Funfairs are subject to a special scheme of control, in addition to planning permission. A notice must be given to the Local authority at least two weeks in advance, of an intention to hold or organise a fun fair, other than at a place where the funfair has been operated by planning permission or is not otherwise an unauthorised use.
A funfair is an entertainment which involves fairground equipment. This includes fairground rides and similar equipment, designed to be in motion for entertainment purposes for members of the public. That includes equipment use as slides, for bouncing on swings, dodgems and other equipment, wholly or partly in motion.
The organiser and owner of funfair equipment have a statutory duty to take all care as is reasonable in the circumstances, having regard to the care which persons attending should take, for their own safety. In the case of persons attending with others such as children, account is to be taken of the care which the person with them, would be expected to take.
It is a duty of a person on land in connection with a funfair to conduct himself in such a way in so far as reasonably practicable so that no other person is exposed to danger in consequence of his acts or omissions.
It is an offence for an organiser or owner of a funfair to make equipment available for use unless the equipment has a valid safety certificate in accordance with Regulations or is exempted from them.
A person who intends to hold or organise a funfair other than at a place where its operation is permitted by planning permission or is not otherwise in an authorised use must give two weeks’ notice in the prescribed form in writing to the Local Authority. It must be accompanied by safety certificates for fairground equipment. It must give particulars of the organisers, owners, controllers, locations and the proposed date.
Where a local authority has reason to believe that a funfair is taking place or may take place other than in compliance with the obligation or the safety certificate, it may serve a notice on persons whom it believes are holding organising or involved in the organisation of the event. The notice may require cessation of activities including proprietary activities. It may require removal of equipment, temporary structures, plant and equipment. It may require restoration of land to its prior condition.
Failure to comply with the notice is an offence. The Local Authority may enter, undertake the requisite corrective works, removing equipment etc. and charge the cost to the owners and organisers. It is an offence to obstruct the authorities in the performance of its functions.
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