David Ford said: “We previously knew that the private visitor’s centre proposed for the Giant’s Causeway was opposed by senior professionals within the Environment and Heritage Service. It was also clear that it was contrary to the draft Northern Area plan and raised serious concerns amongst senior professionals within UNESCO. Today’s revelations show that senior planners shared the concerns of their Environment and Heritage Service colleagues and recommended against this planning application.
“On the 20th September, at the Environment Committee, I was told by a senior planning official that when I read the file I would see how UNESCO’s concerns had been taken into account. Today I am left wondering whether he meant that the Planning Management Board had recommended against the proposal and that was how they were taken note of UNESCO’s position. If so, it raises serious questions about the initial opinion of the Minister and her closest advisors.
“The alternative is that the planning service was working with the Minister in defiance of the professional opinion of planning officials.
“Whichever is the case, there are now serious questions to be answered as to how anybody who had taken into account the professional opinion could be “of a mind” to approve this proposal.”