Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Rural Planning - Rural Communities must make themselves heard

23 March, 2006

Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew, has urged rural communities to make their voice heard during the consultation on the new draft planning policy (PPS 14) published last week.

Ms Gildernew said:

"This is one of the most hotly debated topics across the rural community. There is particular concern that while this is only a draft position, and consultation does not end until June, that the framework has come into immediate effect.

"It is vital that people in rural communities organise and make sure that their voice is heard.

"There is a particular concern that farmers, who are already in a financially precarious position, will be penalised in how to utilise their own assets in the future.

"It is also frustrating that while people are trying to work out the to full implications of this policy for rural dwellers and the long-term viability of rural communities that Peter Hain has axed one of the most successful rural forums in the shape of the Rural Development Council.

"British ministers need to hear loud and clear, that while no-one in rural communities wants to see our land destroyed by ugly and unsustainable development, we need to make sure that there is space for growth and particularly a commitment to both affordable housing and social housing within rural communities.

"The impact of these guidelines will be to push up house prices and make it harder for people to remain in rural communities. It will particularly hit young people and young families. This will have a knock on effect on the viability of schools and hospitals and undermine the rural way of life and economy." ENDS

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