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Rural Planning - opposition campaign gathering momentum

17 May, 2006

Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has said that the campaign to force British direct rule ministers back to the drawing board over their proposals on rural planning is growing.

Speaking ahead of tonight's public meeting in East Derry Ms Gildernew said:

"Earlier this month Sinn Féin launched a campaign to force the British government to go back to the drawing board and revise their draft proposals on rural planning.

"We have met with the Rural Development Council, the Rural Community Network, and the Ulster Council of the GAA. In the coming days we will also meet the Ulster Farmers Union. We have held public meetings in South Armagh, County Fermanagh and County Antrim. Tonight we will be in East Derry.

"We have also published 50,000 leaflets that people can use to make submissions directly to the department and we will be taking them from door-to-door in many rural areas.

"It is clear that opposition to the punitive elements of these draft British proposals is growing.

"These planning proposals will be very damaging and take absolutely no account of what we need to do in order to ensure that our rural communities can prosper. We need to look at what was wrong in the past, and certainly the way planning services operated has created problems and led to building in rural areas that is detrimental.

"However, we need to take a look at this in the round and bring forward proposals that govern rural planning as well as measures that address housing shortages and planning in our rural villages and towns." ENDS

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