Belfast Telegraph

Efficient Planning Service is key to growth, says Poots

The Environment Minister has called for "combined efforts" and a revitalised planning system to assist businesses over the current economic low.

Addressing a seminar in Belfast, Edwin Poots said that the Planning Service was vital in supporting a growing economy

The minister said that the Executive was fully engaged in attracting overseas investment and stimulating the internal market.

"One of my key goals is to ensure we have a modern, efficient and effective planning system, which will both promote the economy and meet the needs of all the people in Northern Ireland," he said.

"Notably the Planning Service has made good progress already in this area. It now processes around 50% of all applications within eight weeks and its special project teams have processed 120 strategic and economically significant investment proposals over the last two years, involving investment of £2bn."

Mr Poots said such activity also had a positive impact on both inward investment and helping smaller businesses to grow.

The minister highlighted the future economic development opportunities in the area of marine planning, particularly around harnessing natural and sustainable energy sources such as wind, tidal and wave power.

SDLP MLA Alban Maginness, chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Enterprise Trade and Investment, also spoke at the Agenda NI 'Planning and the Economy' seminar, where he highlighted the many challenges facing the economy.

He said government as a whole must act as a driver and not as a barrier to ensure sustained economic growth.

"Planning Service must adopt a positive attitude to business and economic development and an enhanced understanding of the needs of other departments and government bodies," he said.