Anna is chair of the Environment Committee but could not put her name to Committee’s official press release as the Committee did not agree to oppose these clauses.
Anna Lo MLA said:”I was disappointed that the Minister appeared to ignore 93% of the stakeholders who wrote to the Committee voicing their opposition to these two clauses. If they are kept in the bill they would give extra weight to economic development over environmental protection or social well-being in planning applications.
“It is ludicrous that we are not listening to stakeholders who are voicing their concerns over these clauses. Instead of making changes to the clauses that these stakeholders suggested, the Department has actually speeded up their implementation. They were original intended to come into force following the public consultation on the new strategic planning policy statement, but will now come into operation immediately once the bill becomes law without the new guidance from the planning policy statement.
“I do support economic development, but it has to be balanced against environmental protection and social well-being. Our planning system should not be solely about the promotion of economic development.
“I fear that if these clauses were passed it could mean that planning applications not in the best interests of communities and the environment may be approved.
“I was disappointed that my colleagues on the Environment Committee would not support my opposition to these clauses which is why I asked for the Committee’s official press release not to be issued in my name.”