Speaking in the Assembly, the Strangford Assembly member stated: “The proposed Government changes to planning regulations are focused on a laudable objective. It is essential we protect the environment around us, particularly our visual surroundings.
“We also note the concern put forward by Friends of the Earth that more and more houses in rural locations require more and more individual septic tanks, with potential damage to the environment, even though new technology would be expected to see off that problem in the near future.
“However, I would fear that in practice over-strict regulations could come to de-populate the rural community, forcing people into urban settlements in which they are not comfortable.
“Therefore, we would urge a re-think on how to put these laudable objectives into practice. We must get this right now, or our countryside risks being blighted forever, and we could be risking damage to the heart of rural communities.”