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Minister was right to axe the planning Bill

ENVIRONMENT Minister Mark H Durkan's decision to abandon the Northern Ireland Planning Bill was the correct one.

What we don't need in Northern Ireland at this time is more complex, confusing and controversial legislation. The inevitable legal challenges would be of benefit only to the lawyers.

The power to set up simplified planning zones has been available to the Executive under current legislation for more than 20 years, yet there have been no serious attempts to introduce these.

Similarly, economic considerations are already an important factor in planning decisions.

The Bushmills Golf Resort is one high-profile example of this, but there are many others, such as the recent, welcome decision to approve a large redevelopment proposal in Newtownards.

Instead of wasting resources on legislative crusades, the Executive should ensure that our planning system is well-resourced, energetic and accountable.

Planning must be at the heart of our recovery, but it can play its part by applying current policy which states planning permission should be granted unless there are convincing reasons otherwise.

DAVID S DONALDSON

Chartered planning consultant

Holywood, Co Down

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