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Sinn Féin voice concern over discrimination against West Tyrone communitities

30 January, 2006

Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty, as part of his submission to the new West Tyrone Area Plan consultation, has requested that an Equality Impact Assessment be carried out into how the designation as an "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty" (AONB) severely disadvantages the Sperrin upperland communities of Glenelly and Mid-Tyrone because the most restrictive of planning regulations of all are applied to people living in these areas.

In addressing this issue in his submission West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty said,

"A large proportion of Glenelly and Mid-Tyrone were designated as areas of outstanding natural beauty in 1968, with the total AONB area comprising of over one third of the total area of the West Tyrone Plan Area.

"Like the Sperrin AONB areas within Magherafelt and Cookstown Council areas, the West Tyrone AONB area is predominantly nationalist. The severely restrictive planning policy and lack of opportunity in these areas down through the years has forced many young people to leave the area and emigrate.

"Many people in the Glenelly and Mid-Tyrone areas believe that they are being discriminated against because of the AONB designation. They feel that they are being denied 'equality of opportunity' given that they are subject to the most restrictive of all planning regulations.

"Young families are being refused planning permission to build homes beside their parents‚ homes and on land which they have inherited from family members. There is also far less of a likelihood for agricultural diversification projects to be given the go ahead in AONB areas.

"Communities in these areas rightly feel that their way of life is under threat and that the depopulation affects of planning policies will ultimately lead to the destruction of the economic, social, educational and cultural fabric which sustain them.

"Given the religious composition of the Glenelly and Mid-Tyrone areas within the AONB, I have requested, in my submission, that an 'Equality Impact Assessment' be carried out into the impact of the AONB policy in line with Section 75 obligations." ENDS

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