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Unauthorised Development

What is Planning Enforcement?

Meath County Council has powers under the Local Government Planning and Development Act to take enforcement action where development (either works or uses) is in breach of planning laws and is therefore, considered to be unauthorised .

When is a development unauthorised?

A development is unauthorised when:

  • The Development is not exempted development (see below).
  • Planning permission is required but has not been obtained.
  • Planning permission was granted but not completed in accordance with the conditions attached by the planning authority.

What is exempt development?

Exempt development is development for which planning permission is not required.  It generally relates to developments of a minor nature such as:

  • Works of improvement, maintenance or other alterations that affect only the interior of a structure.
  • Works that do not materially affect the external appearance of a structure.
  • Building of an extension, shed, garage, boundary walls etc. within the curtilage of a house, subject to conditions and limitations.
  • Certain categories of changes of use.

Section 4 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 refers.

Further information on exempted development is available from:  

In relation to Farm Development - some exemptions are as follows:

  • Use of land for agriculture or forestry.
  • Maintenance of land for agricultural purposes.
  • The temporary use of land for camping or mooring a boat (for 10 days or less) conditions and restrictions apply
  • The temporary use of land by a scouting organisation for a period of 30 days or less per year.
  • Works involving the construction of or maintenance of a gully, drain, pit or water course.

Booklets on doing work around the house and in relation to Agriculture and farm development are available from the DOEHLG at,1586,en.pdf


Protected Structures and Architectural Conservation Areas - It is important to note that most exemptions do not apply to structures that are included on the Register of Protected Structures or situated in an architectural conservation area.

How can I find out if a development has planning permission?

You can inspect the Planning Register in the Planning Department.  This can be done in person by calling to the public counter or you can also check online at

What should I do if I think that there is a breach of the planning regulations?

If you are aware of an unauthorised development taking place, you can fill out an unauthorised development submission form (below) which can be found at the public counter or downloaded from this website.   Complaints must be made in writing and addressed to the Planning Department. As much details should be submitted with this form including maps photos and directions to the location of the unauthorised development.

What information do I need to provide when making a complaint?

The exact location and directions to the site, details of the suspected breach, any details you have concerning the owner or person carrying out the unauthorised activity including their name and address.  When the development began, your own name and address and daytime contact telephone number.  (This will be treated in strictest confidence.  Complaint’s names are not part of the public register.)

What are the statutory time limits for taking enforcement action?

Under the Planning and Development Act 2000, if enforcement proceedings were initiated on or after11th March 2002, the time limits is 7 years.  Action prior to that date should be completed within five years.

Section 164 of the Act refers.

How can I be of assistance during the investigation?

  • By supplying as much relevant and accurate information as possible;
  • By keeping a log of dates, times and other relevant information in cases where an unauthorised use is intermittent;
  • By agreeing to give evidence or sign a sworn affidavit, if required.

What is the procedure that is followed?

On receipt of a complaint, an unauthorised development file is set up.  The Enforcement Inspector will carry out an inspection and will recommend in his report the enforcement action that is deemed necessary, this can be the issuing of a warning letter or an enforcement notice.

The matter can be referred for legal action should the warning letter and Enforcement Notice not be complied with.

If I breach the planning laws unintentionally what should I do?

If you think that you may be in breach of planning laws you should contact Meath County Council’s Planning Department by completing and submitting the form below.  Even if the unauthorised development is outside the timeframe for taking enforcement action, it is in the interest of every property owner to ensure that any unauthorised development is regularised.  In addition, the normal exemptions do not apply to unauthorised structures or structure where any unauthorised use is being carried on.

What are the penalties for breeches of the planning laws?

The penalties for breeches of the planning law depend on the nature of the offence, but may result in a fine and/or a prison sentence.

How can I find out about Council’s planning policies?

The development policies and objectives for County Meath are contained in the County Development Plan 2013-2019 and its related Local Area Plans. You can view the plans at the offices of Meath County Council or local libraries or on our website.

What is the current planning legislation?

The Planning and Development Act, 2000 is the most recent piece of legislation dealing with Planning in Ireland. It has since been amended by the Planning and Development Regulations, 2001, the Planning and Development Regulations, 2002 and the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act, 2002. All of which are available online at 

Planning and development Regulations 2001 - 
All Planning and Development Acts, Bills and Regulations -

Please note that complaints which are deemed to be vexatious, frivolous, without substance or foundation will not be investigated.

The identity of the complainant is protected under the Freedom of Information Act 1997 (Section 23 (1)(b) ttp://

Submission form - Unauthorised Development doc, 36kb


The Planning Enforcement Section
Buvinda House
Dublin Road
Co. Meath

Phone 046 9097561/7563/7576   Fax 046 9097001