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Rural Planning - secrets to end

12 December, 2006

Sinn Féin Environment Spokesperson, North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan has said that Sinn Féin have demanded the full list of options that were available to British direct rule Minsters prior to the publication of the draconian draft guidelines on rural planning, known as PPS 14, earlier this year.

Mr McGuigan who is member of the Programme for Government working group on the RPA and Rural Planning has said that the committee expects shortly to be given all the relevant information in relation to the options for rural planning that were given to British direct rule ministers.

The working group is meeting tomorrow, Wednesday 13th December, at Stormont.

Commenting on the development Mr McGuigan said:

"There was widespread opposition throughout rural communities to the draconian plans to virtually outlaw building in rural communities that were presented by British direct rule minsters in the planning paper PPS 14.

"It was felt that the department chose a heavy handed path when there were a number of different options on the table that would have both protected the environment and safeguarded our rural communities. The refusal to make public these options was a total disgrace. In our response to the consultation Sinn Féin presented a number of workable solutions.

"In our work on this Programme for Government Committee it is essential that we have all relevant information so that we can plot a reasonable way forward.

"Sinn Féin mounted a concerted campaign during the consultation period and it has now emerged that over 8500 responses were received, more than 40% of which came as a direct result of our campaigning. It has also emerged that 95% of the responses were against PPS14.

"I am confident that when the information on the different options that British ministers had at their disposal comes to light that we will be in a strong position to reject PPS 14 and deliver a balanced approach to rural planning that will give rural communities a long-term sustainable future." ENDS

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