Molloy raises concerns over Planning Bill

MID-ULSTER MLA Francie Molloy MLA has raised concerns with the Environment Minister over the direction of the Planning Bill, he has said.

Mr Molloy says Minister Alex Attwood’s general approach to planning has “stifled” economic development and job creation in the constituency area.

Speaking in the Assembly on Tuesday, Mr Molloy said: “There has been a lot of talk today about the economic benefits of sites and developments. I take it in good faith that the Bill will promote that.

“Clause 2 talks about furthering sustainable development, promoting or improving well-being and promoting economic development.

“However, I have to say that has not been my experience to date.

“Hopefully, the legislation will change that. This Minister has certainly not changed it. This Minister has not followed that line. I have concerns about whether what is in the Bill will be reflected by any future Minister.”

Mr Molloy described how a factory in Coalisland had been trying to obtain planning permission for development at its site for six years with hopes of doubling it’s workforce.

“It has been trying to get planning permission on that site for the last six years. It has made a very determined effort in the last two years,” said the MLA.

“That development would provide jobs in an area of very high unemployment, an area that is renowned for its engineering experience and exports materials across the world.

“In fact, 82% of the world’s mobile crushing and sand and gravel equipment is made in that area of east Tyrone.

“Yet, a factory that wants to double its workforce cannot do that because the Minister is holding the application on his desk, despite the fact that the planners have already approved it,” HE SAID.

“Hopefully, the Bill will be improved by the time that it comes out of the Committee and that the various aspects can be dealt with there.

Mr Molloy concluded: “It is a very important step forward, and it is important, in this document, we have the three aspects of furthering sustainable development, promoting and improving well-being and promoting economic development for the future.”