Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Extraordinary involvement of Minister Planning Application

14 February, 2008

Sinn Féin Mid Ulster MLA Michelle O'Neill has expressed concern at the personal involvement of the Environment Minister Arlene Foster in ordering the removal of a planning application for a much needed community development project in Pomeroy, County Tyrone.

At Tuesday night's Cookstown District council meeting, Councillors were shocked to learn that an application listed for approval was, at the eleventh hour, withdrawn at the request of the minister, Arlene Foster.

The planning application was for a £1.2 million development in the second most deprived ward in Cookstown Council area. The proposals are for a mixture of light industrial units with offices and rooms for community use.

The funding for this project was secured after years of hard work by a local cross community development group. There is urgency around this application because almost £500,000 worth of investment must be drawn down by June 30th. If this does not happen then this funding will be lost.

Ms O'Neill said:

"This is an extraordinary intervention by the Environment Minister. Despite investigations and numerous meetings and correspondence with the Planning Service, the minister, who has not been involved in the case to date, has now taken it upon herself to interfere and pull this item from the list.

"The implications for the viability of this project are huge.

"I am outraged at this personal intervention, as are the cross community development group. I have requested an urgent meeting with the minister and have called on her to come to the Assembly and make a statement about this on Monday." ENDS

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