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Part of Ministerial Statement – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 1:15 pm on 11th May 2009.

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Photo of Danny Kennedy Danny Kennedy UUP 1:15 pm, 11th May 2009

I thank the Minister for his statement. How will he ensure consistency of approach to the new policy on the part of planning officials? He will be aware of Planning Service’s significant staffing problems in recent years because of retirements of senior staff and headhunting by the private sector. It is important that any new policy, or suggested policy, should be applied consistently throughout Northern Ireland.

I am concerned about the application of the new policy. How does the Minister intend to curtail the rather aggressive approach of Planning Service’s enforcement section, which seems to be intent on making it almost impossible for owners of small businesses to operate, particularly in rural areas? The Minister will be aware of a couple of cases that I have raised with him directly. The enforcement section has a potential key role to play in making it possible for owners of small businesses to operate by not being overly restrictive or insistent on some regulations, which, quite frankly, are extreme.