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Invest NI now acquiring additional land in Strabane District - Doherty‏

3 March, 2009

Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP MLA Pat Doherty has been told by Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster and senior officials from Invest NI of the practical steps that are in now being taken to address the shortage of economic development land in Strabane District following a meeting held at Stormont this afternoon.

The local MP who has been vigorously lobbying on the issue said,

"The shortage of Invest NI land in Strabane has been one of the main obstacles standing in the way of new investment/business expansion in this District in recent years. This was amply illustrated in the case I recently highlighted whereby 4 local client companies who could not be accompanied by Invest NI because of this problem.

"This issue topped the agenda of today's meeting with the Minister and senior Invest NI officials and I now welcome, as much needed progress, the practical steps that were outlined to me by them today:

"DETI/Invest NI has now made the acquisition of additional land in Strabane District a "strategic priority" meaning that it does not have to await the outcome of the New Area Plan. 7 locations have been investigated and site surveys have been carried out to establish their suitability and so far financial agreement has been reached on the acquisition of two of the sites. It is expected that planning applications will be lodged for these two sites by the summer. Invest NI officials that it is committed to its "acquisition policy" of securing 30 acres to met projected economic development demand in the District in the medium term and would be willing to talk to other parties interested in selling suitable sites for this purpose.

"I raised the continued low levels of financial assistance being provided by Invest NI for projects in the District compared to other areas of a similar size as well as raising specific cases whereby clients/potential local clients feel that they have been failed by Invest NI and there was a commitment given that these issues would be followed up.

"Today's meeting was constructive, but the progress made today needs to be built upon in the time ahead." ENDS

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