David Ford said: “When the Minister made her announcement on 10 September, she totally failed to take account of the draft Northern Area Plan, the seven fundamental objections from the Environment and Heritage Service and UNESCO’s concerns. I am glad that she has finally come to her senses.
“Today’s announcement however begs many questions. In the Assembly, she failed to answer the question – ‘What has led her to change her mind?’ This underlines the awful reputation that this Executive has on environmental matters.
“She must never consider selling off the family silver ever again. Our cornerstones of the tourism industry like the Giant’s Causeway must remain in public hands because they are the jewels in the crown of Northern Ireland.”
“This was not just a planning issue – This episode illustrates how little regard is given to environmental protection by this Executive. This failure is all the more staggering given that the Giant’s Causeway is a World Heritage Site.
“The Giant’s Causeway needs a world-class visitors’ centre – the Executive is still failing our tourism industry. The Executive has wasted too much time on this sorry saga and must now start delivering for Northern Ireland.”