Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

MLAs back restrictions on planning appeals through courts

Green Party leader Steven Agnew
Green Party leader Steven Agnew

New restrictions are set to be imposed on anyone seeking to challenge planning decisions through the courts.

MLAs have voted to push through an amendment which would limit the ability of anyone objecting to a planning decision by seeking a judicial review.

The amendment was proposed by the First and deputy First Ministers, and backed by the DUP and Sinn Fein. If the bill is adopted, objectors would only be able to challenge decisions through the courts if they believed it breached human rights or European law.

The DUP’s Peter Weir said proposed changes in the amendment would stop delays in the planning system.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood said the capacity of a citizen, community or business to challenge public policy by applying for leave for a judicial review “is one that has served this part of the world particularly well”.

Green Party leader Steven Agnew described the amendment as “regrettable and misguided”.

The amendment was passed by 54 votes to 33.

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