Buckley welcomes Infrastructure Minister's retreat on rural planning policy

DUP MLA Jonathan Buckley has said the decision by Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon to withdraw the Planning Advice Note on the Implementation of Strategic Planning Policy on Development in the Countryside is both welcome and necessary.

By Jonathan Buckley MLA

Upper Bann

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Mr Buckley who is Chair of the Infrastructure Committee said, "This is a welcome but necessary retreat by the Minister on this issue. Despite her attempts to minimise publicity by releasing it late on a Friday afternoon it will be welcomed by all those who had expressed such strong concerns about this policy.

I have listened to concerns, particularly from our Local Councils right across Northern Ireland about the impact this note would have had on rural areas. This note was supposed to 'clarify' guidance to Councils on planning in the countryside but was interpreted as simply a further restriction to rural planning policy and would have negatively impacted rural communities. Concerns came not just from across the political spectrum but from groups including the Rural Community Network.

Having questioned the Chief Planner earlier this week at the Committee I was not satisfied with the Department's rationale and proposed that we call on the Minister to withdraw the Advice Note until proper consultation had taken place. I am glad Nichola Mallon has taken this action, even if the problem should never have arisen in the first place."

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