West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Environment minister urged to 'wake up and smell the coffee'

Published: 23 July, 2008

Councillor Sean Begley has called on Environment minister Sammy Wilson to 'wake up and smell the coffee' in relation to a replacement policy for PPS14. Councillor Begley reiterated Sinn Fein's opposition to PPS14 and called for a balanced approach to planning. Furthermore Councillor Begley said Sinn Féin would like to see a sub regional approach which would see local district councils being involved with the planning process.

Cllr Begley said

"PPS14 will have a huge detrimental effect on the countryside and the rural way of life. We in Sinn Féin have agreed that there should not be an open door policy in terms of planning but that there should be a balanced approach taken. With the Review of Public Administration (RPA) we would like to see councillors having an input into the planning process. The new council structures, we believe should have more powers than currently exist in relation to planning. We would prefer a sub regional approach.

"The emerging findings report, which is only a basis, dealt with some issues surrounding replacement dwellings, clocks ins and social housing but there remains huge outstanding issues which must be addressed.

"For example 70% of the rural community doesn't come from a farming background. Any replacement policy must take that into account and these people, who have an absolute right to live there, must be provided for. A possible rural social test could be one method used. We believe that if we stuck to planning policy guidelines with the rural social test then these people could be accommodated.

"The minister must also take into account small businesses and tourism. The rural economy relies on tourism and small businesses. Particularly now that with the aid of peace 3 money which will see the development of small business and the diversification of farmer's PPS14 is simply not viable. It is too restrictive to serve rural tourism and see the preservation of small rural businesses.

"I have been disappointed with the minister's attitude to date. He needs to wake up and smell the coffee and to rethink his attitude.

"We want the minister to take on proposals which we made by community technical aid which would compliment a number of our concerns. Finally there must be further consultations particularly with the rural community in order to alley concerns and allow transparency in the planning process.ENDS