Planning (Human-Rights Law)

The Environment – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:30 pm on 18th September 2000.

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Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 3:30 pm, 18th September 2000

1. asked the Minister of the Environment if he is satisfied that the current system of planning and appeals in his Department will meet the requirements of the proposed new human-rights legislation.

(AQO 9/00)

Photo of Mr Sam Foster Mr Sam Foster UUP

My Department has been examining the current system of planning and appeals in Northern Ireland in the context of human rights legislation and believes that current arrangements will meet the requirements of that legislation. This, of course, is an evolving area, and in consultation with relevant Departments throughout the United Kingdom, I will continue to keep procedures and policy under review.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Is the Minister aware that a case has already been taken against the Scottish Executive under the human rights legislation, and that that case was lost by the Scottish Executive? The situation in Northern Ireland is that the Planning Service can overrule the decisions of the Planning Appeals Commission. Does he believe that in that situation, human rights legislation will rule against this Administration as it did against the Scottish Administration?

Photo of Mr Sam Foster Mr Sam Foster UUP

I am aware of the current interest in human rights and the possible implications for the planning process. We will be keeping related policies under review. I must emphasise, again, that my Department, in consultation with its legal advisors and with relevant Departments in Great Britain, has examined its key processes and procedures. My Department is generally satisfied that current procedures will meet the European Convention on Human Rights requirements.