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Sinn Féin discuss Rural Planning with DRD Officials

5 April, 2006

Speaking from Stormont today after a meeting with DRD officials heading up the controversial Rural Planning Policy (PPS14) proposals, Sinn Féin Environment spokesperson, Philip McGuigan MLA has said that it is essential that during the consultation that the Department for Regional Development and British direct rule Ministers listen to the concerns raised by the rural community.

Mr. McGuigan said:

"This meeting allowed the Party the first real opportunity to take issue with the sustainability arguments proposed in adopting the propensity against rural regeneration, and to tease out the inter-departmental approach which this consultation needs to take to ensure that the right balance of planning and meeting the needs of rural communities is found.

"The development of flexible planning regulations to create the conditions, which do not negatively impact on our unique rural character, whilst at the same time allowing the conservation of that unique rural landscape, must be the objective. Sinn Féin are totally engaged in this process, and intend to reflect and make our views known throughout the consultation process."

The North Antrim Assembly Member commented that with current planning regulation there exist huge anomalies in terms of how planning decisions are arrived at. This is particularly noticeable when current planning regulation is applied in the rural context.

" Whilst acknowledging that there are many social and indeed economic forces at work in this whole process, the move to curtail in such a drastic fashion countryside development needs balanced consideration." ENDS

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