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Foster must confirm if senior planner put forward private developer’s proposal to Moyle Council

6 November, 2007

North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has called on the Minister of Environment to confirm whether or not a senior member of Planning Service put forward proposals regarding a private Visitors Centre at the Giant's Causeway to Moyle Council on behalf of Seaport Investments.

Mr McKay said that such behaviour was 'highly irregular' and that Planning Service should not be relaying information to third parties on behalf of any private developer.

Mr McKay said

"I have been informed that earlier this week a high-ranking member of Planning Service addressed Moyle Council behind closed doors and outlined to them, without prompting, proposals from Seaport Investments regarding a private Visitors Centre at the Giant's Causeway. It is my understanding that a proposal was put to Council requesting that the existing Visitors Centre and car park be demolished and that Council were asked to enter into a binding agreement not to build on this piece of land again.

"It is not the job of Planning Service or the Department of the Environment to present proposals on behalf of private developers and if Seaport Investments wants to put proposals to Moyle Council in regard to the Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre then they should do so themselves.

"I am asking the Minister to comment on this immediately and to ask her to outline in full what her department has done in relation to this private application over the past 2 months. The Department of the Environment has to date failed to provide full transparency on this matter to both the Assembly's Environment Committee and to the general public.

"It seems to me that a lot of effort is now being made to accommodate Seaport Investments' application for a Visitors' Centre at the Causeway and it would greatly concern me if the Department of Environment were involved in trying to initiate discussions between Seaport and a third party such as Moyle Council. It is not their place to do so." ENDS

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