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Omagh District Council to seek legal advice on rural planning proposals

29 March, 2006


At a special meeting of Omagh District Council on Monday night the Council decided to seek legal advice on the rural planning policy proposals and to enlist the support of other Councils west of the Bann in a combined strategy to oppose the Direct Rule administrations rural planning proposals.

Sinn Féin Councillor Seán Begley, who requested that Council convene the special meeting on the issue, has said that there was agreement among councillors that the rural planning proposals would have a huge impact upon the fabric of local rural communities.

Cllr Begley said:

"While no one disagrees about the need to reform the planning process and to protect the rural environment for this and future generations, these proposals give no equal consideration about how rural communities will survive what is in effect a moratorium on natural indigenous growth.

"In areas West of the Bann, where small holdings predominate, few planning applications would meet the qualifying criteria for what the proposals describe as a 'viable unit'. Given the demographic make up west of the Bann the proposals would undoubtedly have a disproportionate impact upon one side of the community.

"The Department of Regional Development‚s own Draft Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) on the draft proposals concludes that they will impact greatest west of the Bann and have a negative differential impact on Catholics and those with Nationalist community backgrounds.

"Given this and other issues, it is quite possible that these proposals could be the subject of a judicial review." ENDS

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