Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Ministerial interference raises more questions than answers

18 February, 2008

Sinn Féin Cookstown councillor, Oliver Molloy and local MLA Michelle O'Neill have has said that the interference by Environment Minister has raised serious questions about the reasons behind objections to the planning approval to a Pomeroy business development.

The project was due to have come before Cookstown Council with a recommendation for approval - however the Ministers own statement throws up more questions than it answers claims the council vice chairperson.

Ms O'Neill said:

"Last week we had a planning approval dramatically withdrawn on the direction of the Minister at the eleventh hour. Now this week the Minister seems to be passing the buck back to the local office. Let it be very clear to everyone, the local office were in the process of approving this application until the Minister or her officials directed that it be withdrawn.

Cllr Molloy said,

"Every single issue around this application has been thoroughly gone through and queries from a whole host of politicians have been answered very clearly by the community group involved in the development. Obviously someone does not want this £1.2m project to proceed and are using every tactic to stall the progress.

"Had the Environment Minister such serious concerns they could easily have been dealt with by the planning office in Omagh who by now know this case inside out.

"Therefore the Minister has a number of further questions to answer including:

  • What are the objections which led to the withdrawal of the application from the schedule?
  • Who are the objections from?
  • When were these objections received?
  • When were they brought to the Minister's attention?
  • How many applications which are being recommended for approval has the Minister or her office directly instructed to be withdrawn from a Council schedule?
  • How many planning applications with £1.2m of funding for a community project are brought to the Ministers direct attention every day/week or month?
  • When will the Minister sort this mess out and allow the approval of this project before the funding package runs out of time?

Councillor Molloy concluded,

"As a local councillor for the area I have raised the matter within council and proposed that an urgent meeting the Minister takes place." ENDS

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