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Poots scared of doing right thing

Ryanair's decision to cease |operations at George Best Belfast City Airport is proof that our |convoluted planning procedures are not fit for purpose.

If Northern Ireland wants to attract inward investment in this time of recession then we have to have a planning process which is simple, quick and predictable for potential investors.

This situation is epitomised by the shameful case of John Lewis in Sprucefield. Objectors have delayed the scheme for seven years by dragging the planning procedure out to its absolute end and using every delaying tactic under the sun.

I am frankly amazed that John Lewis retains faith in our ability to facilitate the firm and I fear that if we do not reform our planning procedures then more potential investment will be lost.

What lies at the heart of the problem is political cowardice.

It is an inescapable rule of government that unpopular decisions have to be made.

However, in cases like John Lewis and the Belfast City runway extension, which are both in DUP areas, the DUP planning minister, Edwin Poots, lacks the courage to lose votes in order to do the right thing for Northern Ireland.

Alexander Redpath

Chairman, Lagan Valley Young Unionists

Belfast Telegraph

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