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Stormont should plan to look at Westminster

The Executive should study urgently the Government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which will simplify planning procedure and enable growth in the economy, while also protecting the environment.

Greg Clark, the planning minister, has reformed planning regulations in order to cut through the delays and bureaucracy which hamper economic growth, while ensuring that the beauty of the countryside and our natural heritage are protected.

The resulting document has been welcomed by business organisations and by countryside campaigners, who recognise that it safeguards the environment.

In Northern Ireland, the Executive should take note.

Our byzantine planning regulations have seen key economic projects being tied up in red tape for 10 years or more.

The NPPF strikes a fine balance; making a presumption in favour of 'sustainable development', encouraging new building to take place in town-centres, or on brown-field sites, if at all possible, safeguarding playing fields for communities and protecting greenbelts.

It's high time the Executive started to tackle planning regulations in Northern Ireland, which are acting as a brake on our economy.

The Government has shown that it's possible to produce a streamlined, thorough system, which is good for business and good for the environment.

DEAN RUSSELL

Northern Ireland Conservatives

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