Planning Bill: Further Consideration Stage

Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 1:00 pm on 21st March 2011.

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Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent 1:00 pm, 21st March 2011

I call the Minister of the Environment, Mr Edwin Poots, to move the Further Consideration Stage of the Planning Bill.

Moved. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent

Members will have a copy of the Marshalled List of amendments detailing the order for consideration. The amendments have been grouped for debate in the provisional grouping of amendments selected list.

I inform Members that a valid petition of concern was presented on Friday 18 March on amendment No 2. I remind Members that the effect of the petition is that the vote on that amendment will require cross-community support.

There are three groups of amendments, and we will debate the amendments in each group in turn. The first debate will be on amendment Nos 1, 2, 5, 6 and 13, which deal with planning control, including third-party appeals and the protection of trees. The second debate will be on amendment Nos 3, 4, 7 to 12 and 18 to 23, which are technical amendments. The third debate will be on amendment Nos 14 to 17 and 24, which deal with changing certain penalties and time limits under the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 to reflect some of the changes made to the present Bill.

I remind Members intending to speak that they should confine their comments to the amendments. Once the debate on each group is completed, any further amendments in the group will be moved formally as we go through the Bill, and the Question on each will be put without further debate. If that is clear, we shall proceed.

Clause 53 (Power to impose aftercare conditions on grant of mineral planning permission)

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent

We now come to the first group of amendments for debate. With amendment No 1, it will be convenient to debate amendment Nos 2, 5, 6 and 13. The amendments deal with planning control, including third-party appeals and the protection of trees. Members will note that amendment Nos 5 and 6 are mutually exclusive and that amendment No 13 is consequential to amendment No 2.

Photo of Willie Clarke Willie Clarke Sinn Féin

I beg to move amendment No 1: In page 32, line 17, at end insert “(iv) use for ecological purposes”.

The following amendments stood on the Marshalled List:

No 2: In clause 58, page 35, line 37, at end insert

“(1A) The Department may by regulations provide for an appeal under subsection (1) to be made by a person other than the applicant, subject to such limits as may be specified.” — [Ms Lo.]

No 5: In clause 122, page 79, line 22, leave out “are dying or dead or”. — [Ms Lo.]

No 6: In clause 122, page 79, line 22, leave out “dying or”. — [Ms Lo.]

No 13: In clause 247, page 158, line 3, after “sections” insert

“58(subsection to be inserted by Amendment 2)”. — [Ms Lo.]

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. The amendment would add “use for ecological purposes” to clause 53, which specifies the conditions to which land must be restored after planning permission for mineral extraction and so on. The RSPB has worked with industry representatives involved in mineral extraction — the Quarry Products Association NI — to show how important restored quarries can be in achieving government biodiversity targets, and that should be facilitated wherever possible. It would be in line with sustainable development and biodiversity duties, and it builds on good practice already in place. Quarries provide a great opportunity to have aquatic habitats and to provide biodiversity across the board.

By their very nature, quarries are isolated and quiet areas. After mineral extraction has taken place, they are generally undisturbed most of the time, so they provide a good opportunity for birds to nest on high ledges. Given the nature of extraction, quarries also have ponds, and there is a good opportunity to build on that. The amendment would add to that by looking at wildlife habitats, grasslands, heathland, woodlands and wetlands and by using those conditions to simulate what occurs in the natural environment. In such cases, local native species of trees and cuttings should be used, as they show the greatest capacity for survival in, at times, very hostile and isolated environments. That in turn will result in ecological compatibility between the quarry that is restored under the restoration scheme and the surrounding landscapes. That has received sympathy from the conservation and amenity lobbies. I, therefore, ask Members to support that very worthy amendment.

Amendment No 2 was discussed in a lot more detail at Consideration Stage. It seeks regulations to allow third parties to appeal planning decisions. In Sinn Féin’s opinion, that is the only way to make the planning system fair for all citizens and to remove the bias in favour of developers. We previously discussed the fact that the new Planning Bill provides a good opportunity because it front-loads the system. That should ensure that ordinary residents have a great say in planning, particularly in community and local planning. The amendment states that regulations “may” be introduced, and it seems reasonable to put that in the Bill now. We have also called for a review to be carried out three years after the transfer of powers to local authorities. We are not saying that the planning system will have an awful back-load. Rather, we are saying that, if it is not working, there should be that flexibility to look at third-party appeals, and a good time to do that is when the Department is carrying out the review. That is all I want to say about amendment No 2. I will listen to the debate, and, in my winding-up speech, I will say what I think about the petition of concern. I will leave that to the next aspect of this.

Amendment Nos 5 and 6 were also discussed at Consideration Stage. The Minister was going to seek legal advice on the issue of dead trees. As I said before, I can see the rationale in relation to, for example, large oak trees. They take a considerable period to die and could be dying for 100 years. As I said the last time, all forms of life, even human life, are dying. As soon as we are born, we are dying, and the same can be said of trees. As we get older, we are dying, but we are not put down or cut down. The same can be said about trees. The caveat is that dying trees do not pose a risk to the general public’s health and safety, and that is a very important aspect. They provide important wildlife habitats, and, in my and Sinn Féin’s opinion, they should not be removed. We feel pretty strongly about that. I will listen to the rest of the debate on the issue of dead trees. The Minister was to come back to the House with some legal advice, so I will wait for that.

Amendment No 13 is consequential to amendment No 2, so we will see how that debate pans out.

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent

Thank you for brightening up our Monday by talking about the fact that we are dying from the moment that we are born.

Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP

I will try to keep that little ray of sunshine going.

I welcome the fact that we are at Further Consideration Stage. So as not to detain the House for too long, I will deal briefly with each amendment.

I welcome amendment No 1, standing in the name of Mr Willie Clarke. He spelled out the case for that amendment, and there is consensus on it between the quarry industry and the RSPB. It is important that we look after our ecology, and the amendment could benefit biodiversity, which I welcome.

Members may not be surprised to learn that I do not greet amendment No 2 with the same enthusiasm. Although I appreciate that the language in amendment No 2 has, to some degree, been softened by the word “may”, reference has already been made to the fact that there would be a review. Consequently, I am not sure that there is a particular need for amendment No 2. It is slightly superfluous. One cannot look inside the mind of a future Environment Minister, who may desire to produce proposals on anything, including third-party appeals. We still view with concern the prospect of third-party appeals, because of their potential impact on the Planning Service.

If amendment No 2 is not needed, what purpose does it serve? It serves only to send a clear signal that appeals should be foremost in the mind of any Environment Minister. That is, I suppose, where we have a problem with it. The whole purpose of the Bill is to have a Planning Service that is fit for purpose and can be the envy of the world. A situation that is not only front-loaded but back-loaded has a danger of producing such a high level of red tape and creating such delay that it would, in many ways, simply defeat the purpose of the Bill. That is why we are quite hostile to amendment No 2. However, we appreciate that there has been at least some movement on it. That has implications for amendment No 13, which is consequential and depends on the fate of amendment No 2.

Amendment Nos 5 and 6 are on trees of the dead and dying variety. We still have the same concern about amendment No 5 as we expressed previously, relating to whether dead trees should be included That is why I am much more content with amendment No 6, which removes “dying”. The point was made at Consideration Stage that it seems slightly ridiculous to protect a dead tree, but a dying tree could exist for decades, possibly even stretching into centuries. Consequently, I can see some logic in the amendment and believe that the distinction between the two is important. We will wait and see what happens. I do not know whether the Member intends to move amendment No 5. However, there could be a high level of consensus on amendment No 6, because it is a sensible enough compromise.

So as not to depress the House any longer, I will sit down now. I look forward to the rest of the debate.

Photo of Danny Kinahan Danny Kinahan UUP

I, too, am pleased to see the Bill reach its closing stages, although I still have concerns as to whether we will get it introduced with the right resources for councils.

Amendment No 1 is extremely good. Including ecological purposes in the future uses of our quarries is absolutely the right thing to do. I praise, as others have, the RSPB and the Quarry Products Association Northern Ireland, particularly Laverne Bell, for promoting that at all times through all the quarries. At the Mallusk quarry, which was and may still be a problem for me locally, we had rare newts and peregrine falcons. We now have a community that is acutely aware of what exactly that quarry can be used for. Therefore, amendment No 1 reflects exactly what we would like to happen in quarries. However, it must not happen alone. There must be an allowance, subject to agreements and laws, for landfill and the many other uses for which quarries, as large holes in the ground, are absolutely ideal. However, the end use must be ecological. That is absolutely right, so I support amendment No 1.

Turning to amendment No 2, I find it disgraceful that there is another petition of concern on a measure that is not protecting a minority. We have listened to the arguments from the party on the Benches to my left and accept that it uses the petition of concern because it is there. However, I think that that use is wrong. I have concerns that the public will see it as another dose of DUP arrogance and that that party’s view is that it will get what it wants, so there.

I tabled amendment No 2 along with the other parties, and it is excellent. It is only an enabling power, and it is there so that the Department may put in place third-party appeals if it needs to as part of its review. The Minister and the Department have not supported amendment No 2 and have fought it all along, in the same way as they fought the measure for the review within three years. They are uncomfortable with it. However, look at everything that we are throwing at councils. Councils have to carry out a survey, which will be a big learning process. They have to work with the community and find out how community involvement will work, which will be another learning process. They have to produce the local development plan, which will be another learning process.

There should not be all sorts of ifs and buts as people learn, but there will. If everything is done well, the appeals and everything else should happen at the beginning. All of us will work towards that. We do not want delays in development, and we understand where the Minister and the Department are coming from. However, amendment No 2 is really just an enabling power. We have changed “should” to “may”. It is a belt-and-braces approach aimed at protecting the public, who still believe that big developers get their way because they can and because they are wealthier. It is one way of giving the public protection. Therefore, it is right that amendment No 2 is made and that the protection is left for the Department and the next Minister, whoever that is, to put in place. I support amendment No 2.

Amendment Nos 5 and 6 would remove references to dead or dying trees. I rather enjoyed the thought of whether Mr Clarke should be put down because we are all dying. I even thought that we could maybe go for a cull — no, I take that back. It is an extremely good amendment. The last time the issue of dead or dying trees was raised, we had a little bit of a debate in the Chamber. The Woodland Trust will say that a standing tree that is dying or dead is of much more use to nature than a tree that is cut down and left rotting on the ground. It is also less of an eyesore. It can be pollarded, cut down, trimmed, made as safe as possible and even supported as long as tree specialists, who know what they are talking about and are not in the pay of developers, are always listened to. Pretty ugly stumps can be made to look extremely pretty by planting around them climbers, roses and other plants that also support nature. I support amendment No 5. It is absolutely right that we protect dead or dying trees through tree preservation orders. We should use the skills of those in the world of tree surgery, who know what they are doing, rather than making the issue a bind or battle among ourselves.

Amendment No 13 is consequential to the other amendments in the group. I support all the group 1 amendments.

Photo of John Dallat John Dallat Social Democratic and Labour Party 1:15 pm, 21st March 2011

I assure the House that I have never felt better, although I am going downstairs later for the free blood pressure check, which might change my mind.

Turning to the amendments, on which we must speak, I find the whole idea of returning something to its natural state appealing on the surface. However, as you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, if you were a resident around Ringsend, where four quarries will potentially become super dumps, you might want to give a second thought to the wording. In the past, Mr Deputy Speaker, you and I have seen very good examples of that in Germany, where excavation works were turned into leisure space. Those were constructive projects that did not force people to go through a 50 to 100-year process of receiving rubbish from all over the country before getting to that stage. I urge caution on the matter. I support it in principle, but I want to see a great deal more work being done.

I feel extremely passionate about third-party appeals. I am extremely disappointed that, once again, a petition of concern has been tabled. It is an awful abuse of that device, which was never intended for that purpose. However, the Minister and all Members present will know that the Planning Service has gone through a very bad period and that there is a total lack of confidence in the decisions that it has reached in the past. [Interruption.] I am happy to give way to the Minister, if he wants to intervene. He has obviously changed his mind.

There is a lack of confidence in the Planning Service. Indeed, the Audit Office deemed it not fit for purpose, so you can understand that the provision of third-party appeals would go a long way towards restoring confidence in the Planning Service. It would, in a way, convince people that, if there are brown envelopes around and things happening that are wrong, third parties would, at least, have the right to appeal against decisions. That issue will not go away; it is a major issue for the public. You and I know, Mr Deputy Speaker, of areas with high-density populations in which development land has not always been used for the right purposes. We must not give up the battle on that issue.

I was certainly interested in amendment No 5, which is to do with trees. On basic evidence, it appears to be an exceptionally good amendment. We all know that, in the past, when trees were getting in the way of squeezing in an extra house or two, it was not difficult to find a tree surgeon who would deem any tree, no matter how healthy, as dead or dying. That is a fact; that happened in the past. Nevertheless, I wonder what happens, for example, when trees are cropped. If one tree dies, can it be taken away and replaced with a healthy tree? That concerns me a little, but, generally, we do not have any problems with the amendments in this group. We support them and hope that, when the Bill is enacted, after it has been agreed by all the political parties and there is total and absolute consent to it, it will improve the planning process, which is very badly in need of change.

Photo of Anna Lo Anna Lo Alliance

I will speak on all the amendments in the first group. We fully support amendment No 1. I will first speak on amendment No 2, in my name and those of Mr Kinahan, Mr Alex Maskey and Mr Dallat, which deals with third-party appeals. It is slightly different from the amendment that was debated at Consideration Stage. It takes into account the Minister’s concerns about the use of the words “shall” or “may”. We have changed it, using the word “may” in order to give more flexibility and to take into account other people’s views about limited grounds for third-party appeals. I stress that clause 58 is an enabling clause that would allow third-party appeals to be brought forward by the Department in an appropriate manner and an appropriate timescale. We are not asking that it be introduced right away.

It is disappointing that the DUP has again submitted a petition of concern. I spoke to a number of my constituents after the debate at Consideration Stage, and I can tell the Minister that people were very angry. I shall not repeat here, in the Chamber, some of the remarks made. Many of my constituents were critical, and some urged me to go to the media. There is a perception about the relationship or connections between the DUP and developers. We have to be very careful when it comes to public opinion. It is important that our planning system is seen to be fair and accessible to all. I understand that, through front-loading, there will be consultation with communities, but it is also important that people have the means to voice their concerns if they are not happy at the end of the process.

It is extremely regrettable that the petition of concern is being used. I request a review of the use of petitions of concern in future, to consider whether they are relevant and within the criteria and whether the issue concerned is contentious or concerns community relations and would therefore require cross-community support. If we do not have such a review, we will continue to see this abuse of power by the DUP and possibly the other major party in the next mandate.

Amendment Nos 5 and 6 relate to the protection of trees. We tabled the amendments because we believe that dead or dying trees can still benefit the ecosystem. As others have said, it can take a long time — hundreds of years — for an oak tree to die. It is important that we review the situation, and I hope that we will receive the support of other Members.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. I will make a few, brief remarks in favour of amendment No 2. A number of colleagues referred to that amendment today, which is about enabling the Department, through the Planning Appeals Commission, to facilitate third-party appeal where necessary and appropriate. Several Members addressed it, including my colleague Willie Clarke. I was not too sure where his philosophical musings were taking us when he claimed that we were dying as soon as we were born. Now and then, I have heard people say that they are dying after the weekend.

I wish to express my disappointment that the initial amendment was not accepted by the Minister and the Department or in the Chamber, under the rules used. I commend the amendment to the House, although it falls short of what I think is appropriate, given our experience of planning decisions in various constituencies. The amendment is modest. It merely provides the ability for the Planning Appeals Commission to facilitate the right of appeal.

Obviously, the amendment relates to specific conditions. Therefore, there would never be any notion that people could just automatically have the right to a third-party appeal; there would clearly be limitations on that. What I welcome about the Planning Bill is that its whole emphasis is on trying to make sure that the system is fairer and that the process is sped up, with decisions being taken much more quickly. However, we still have to protect people’s rights, particularly, in my view, the rights of the residents of the areas on which the decisions have implications. For the most part, I think that the rights of the residents of an area should be paramount in these matters.

This amendment is designed to add to the protections that are built in to the Bill. I appreciate that the new system will provide for what is called front-loading the system, which is designed to make sure that all the various objections or concerns may be addressed and hopefully resolved at an early stage. I do not accept that adding the third-party right to appeal will automatically snarl up the planning system. I believe and hope that we will find in due course that the front-loading of the system will mean that many of the issues that would have been outstanding in the minds of the people who would have cause to object will instead be resolved. I believe that if the front-loaded system works, there would be less cause for objection or people seeking a right to appeal at the latter end of the process.

Overall, we commend the Bill. However, I have been a representative in South Belfast for a number of years now, and, in my experience, I have found that many people felt that quite a number of decisions that the planners took were completely unjustifiable. In fact, a number of those examples have been raised in this Chamber, certainly with all the previous Environment Ministers.

The amendment is a belt-and-braces exercise. It will ensure that, along with the front-loading of the planning system, we, ultimately, provide the opportunity for people to raise concerns if they feel the need to, provided that they have already been involved in the objections process earlier in the system and any other limitations that the Department may feel appropriate to add in. As I said, this is merely a belt-and-braces exercise that would enable the Planning Appeals Commission to give the right of appeal if concerns still need to be addressed. However, it would neither guarantee nor ensure that that happens.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 1:30 pm, 21st March 2011

Unlike Mr Clarke, who may be dying from the day he was born, I intend living until the day I die, and, thereafter, I will only start living and will enjoy that for ever.

A number of issues have been raised today in debating the amendments. Clause 53 provides for used mineral sites to be restored for agricultural, forestry or amenity uses. Amendment No 1 would expand that to ecological uses, and I am quite happy to accept it. The work of the Quarry Products Association has been mentioned, and that is significant. I think that amendment No 1 has the potential to further increase our biodiversity, and that is something that would be good for Northern Ireland.

Amendment No 2 proposes that the Department make regulations that would allow us to introduce the third-party right of appeal. I previously set out the Executive’s position, which has not changed. I said that further consideration of third-party appeals should be deferred until the extensive changes to the planning system under planning and local government reform have settled down and are working effectively. I listened to the arguments then, and many were advanced in favour of third-party appeals during the Bill’s Consideration Stage and, indeed, this afternoon, but I have not heard anything that would persuade me to move from our position.

It has been suggested that third-party appeals would address fairness and create a level playing field, whereby objectors could challenge the granting of permissions in the same way as a developer can appeal refusals. However, the Bill’s fundamental reforms are designed to include third parties at every stage, particularly at the early stages. Statements of community involvement will require councils to set out how they will involve the public in their development plan and development management activities. Likewise, developers will have to demonstrate effective public engagement via pre-application community consultation before their planning applications can be determined.

The whole point of the Planning Bill is to strengthen local democracy by transferring planning powers to councils. Planning decisions will be in the hands of democratically elected public representatives as opposed to an independent Planning Appeals Commission. Those who promote third-party planning appeals appear to have little faith in our councils and councillors to make fair decisions on behalf of the people who elected them.

I heard Ms Lo’s comments about developers. As Minister of the Environment, with responsibility for planning, I state categorically that I am in favour of development in Northern Ireland. In fact, before I was Minister of the Environment, the previous Ministers all took the same stance. There is a presumption in favour of development in Northern Ireland. A whole series of criteria have to be met, and we seek to update those through our planning policy statements, but development is a good thing. It provides the community with homes to live in. It also provides us with our shops, leisure facilities, roads, hospitals and schools. Development is not a bad word; it is positive and good for Northern Ireland when it is carried out in the right context. I will continue to support development that is carried out in the right context.

The Bill will introduce a new emphasis on community involvement. In that front-loaded system will be public consultation. At the earliest stages of the process, that will be a legal requirement — not some touchy-feely thing, but something that is absolutely required of the developers and councils. It is only common sense to allow a new system to mature and bed down. Thanks to amendments at Consideration Stage, the Department of the Environment is required to review the implementation of the Bill after three years, which is not a very long time. During that review, any need for third-party appeals will become apparent. The House can then decide whether to introduce third-party appeals at that point. However, let us wait until we see how the Planning Bill is implemented before we do that.

I turn to amendment Nos 5 and 6. At Consideration Stage, I asked for the similar amendment not to be moved so that I could seek legal advice on the possible liability issues for councils. Legal advice did not indicate that liability was a serious issue. Nonetheless, more trees that are subject to tree preservation orders are in urban or suburban areas, where they may be close to roads or footpaths. As trees die, they deteriorate and lose strength, with the additional risk of shedding branches or even falling. It may be necessary to remove diseased trees to prevent the infection of healthy specimens. That should always be kept in consideration. For both of those practical reasons, I urge Members not to support those amendments. However, there is little benefit in having dead trees in place where they potentially pose a risk. Therefore, we should allow common sense to prevail on that matter.

I quite recently received a letter from one of Mr Dallat’s colleagues, complaining that we had instituted proceedings against an individual who had cut down trees in a conservation area that had the benefit of protection. It was wholly right that the Department did that. It is wholly right that the legislation has increased the level of fines for people who cut down protected trees. However, the benefit to the public of keeping dead trees cannot be reasonably argued in any cogent form.

Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP

I thank the Minister for giving way. Presumably, he is not at liberty to give indications as to which Member wrote to him, but, by any chance, were those trees Spanish?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I do not think that they were Spanish trees. Malone is a very well respected conservation area. I know that Dr McDonnell would always support the preservation of trees in the Malone area.

However, on dead trees —

Photo of John Dallat John Dallat Social Democratic and Labour Party

Mr Deputy Speaker, you will forgive me for being somewhat confused, but I am almost picking up from the Minister that I am in favour of cutting down trees. Have I misread the Minister or my party colleagues, who have become engrossed in a conversation about place of origin or where they grew up? I thought that we were discussing the amendments. I know that you give Members liberty, but I believe that we have gone off the subject. We are also in danger of misleading people. There are enough writs to do with misleading information flying around here, so we do not need to indulge in any more in the last days of the Assembly.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Mr Deputy Speaker, I remind the Member, who is also a Deputy Speaker, that this is a debating Chamber. Therefore, things can fly backwards and forwards. I assure him that no writs will be launched as a consequence of anything that I said. If Members wish to refer to what I have said, they will find that it is accurate. The nature of argument here is to demonstrate that, on some issues, there is not always unanimity among parties and that Members do not always speak with one voice.

As I was saying before Mr Weir’s intervention, there is no cogent argument in law for retaining dead trees. If someone wishes to do so, it is a matter for them, and, if someone wishes to encourage biodiversity by keeping a dead tree in place or by cutting it down and not removing the trunk from their property, it is wholly a matter for them. However, as for putting it in law, do we want to make the Assembly look completely daft? That would be the case if we were to go down that route. The argument was made that, although a tree can be dying for a considerable time, it can still be quite active. In those circumstances, it would not be unreasonable for people to ask for a TPO to be removed, albeit that, as I pointed out, doing so can create problems, particularly where a disease that has affected a tree has the potential to spread to others. Applying a TPO, which cannot be removed, to such a tree does not appear to be awfully logical either. However, I will leave that one in the hands of the House.

I urge Members to support the amendments that I indicated and to oppose amendment Nos 2, 5 and 6.

Photo of Willie Clarke Willie Clarke Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. I thank everybody for their contributions. Mr Weir, Mr Kinahan, Ms Lo and the Minister broadly welcomed amendment No 1, all seeing the need for the ecological restoration of quarries. John Dallat had doubts. However, I would tell him that the Bill will put in place amenity and agriculture conditions, so it will work in tandem with what already happens. I understand his anxiety about landfill sites. As I said, the Minister supported the amendment, which he thought would increase biodiversity opportunities. Indeed, it is refreshing to see that quarrying industry representatives want ecological matters to be included in clause 53. That is very welcome, and I pay tribute to everyone involved.

Amendment No 2 is more controversial. Mr Weir saw no need for it whatsoever, feeling that it would clog up the system. Danny Kinahan pointed out that enabling powers are needed and that nobody wants the system to be slowed up. However, he rightly pointed out that, at times, the odds are stacked against ordinary citizens, because developers have more resources and greater opportunities. John Dallat believed that there is widespread corruption in the planning system, and he shared residents’ concerns about how certain areas are zoned. He felt strongly that residents are not getting a fair crack of the whip and that third-party appeals should be introduced, even going beyond what amendment No 2 states.

One of the proposers of the amendment, Anna Lo, saw that the amendment provided an enabling power; it will allow the Department to introduce third-party appeals if needed. She said that the DUP is very close to developers and she was very concerned about the petition of concern.

Alex Maskey thought that the amendment fell short of the one proposed at Consideration Stage. However, as Alex said, this amendment is a compromise and that is what it is trying to achieve. It is an attempt to give everyone a bit of cover in this situation. As Alex pointed out, the rights of a number of residents have not been protected. Alex believes that residents were fighting a losing battle on large-scale developments in his constituency. He said that front loading should give us all a better planning system. However, the amendment is necessary to ensure that residents have some protection in the future. I hope that I have covered the views of all Members in regard to that.

I agree with Alex and all the Members who spoke regarding the petition of concern. The amendment proposes only an enabling power. It is unfortunate that the DUP introduced a petition of concern, as the mechanism was not created for this type of circumstance. Planning impacts on the lives of all citizens; it impacts across all divides and across the whole community. There is no need to use the petition of concern in this way.

The amendment — sorry, I have so many pages before me, a LeasCheann Comhairle.

With regard to amendment Nos 5 and 6, Mr Weir and the Minister saw logic in protecting dying trees. The whole House is in agreement in that. Amendment No 5 caused difficulty and amendment No 6 was supported by the whole House in general. Dying trees provide more opportunity for biodiversity and have a role in nature conservation.

Some Members feel strongly about amendment No 6. Mr Kinahan supported amendment Nos 5 and 6 and thought that they brought great benefits in biodiversity. Mr Dallat spoke about trees being removed for the purposes of development. Getting a tree surgeon round to sign a certificate to remove trees willy-nilly, where it can be said that they are diseased or dead, allows for large developments to be created. Great financial gains can be created for developers through the demise and sacrifice of our woodlands. Anna Lo supported amendment Nos 5 and 6.

I agree with the Minister. He said he lives every day to the full. I do the same. However, to talk realities, as soon as you are born, you are dying. It is the same with trees.

As regards amendment No 2, the Minister thought that we should allow the system to settle down. Developers will have to carry out effective consultation with communities across the board and the Minister felt that that gave a great deal of protection to concerned residents.

He also pointed out, rightly, that planning matters, particularly enforcement, will now be in the hands of local politicians. It has always been a luxury for local politicians to be able to blame others for issues. Now, powers will be transferred and, where developments affect the lives of residents in a community, their views will have to be taken on board. Large-scale and out-of-place developments will have to go into local community plans, and councils, the community in general and developers will need to sit around the table and discuss them. I understand that front-loading the system is vital to get a good planning system.

The Minister also said that the review will see whether there is need for third-party appeals when all the powers have been transferred. If the review shows that there is need, he feels that it could be introduced at that stage. He also said that dead trees serve no purpose whatsoever and thinks that it is far safer to remove the dead tree — to cut the tree and let it basically waste into the ground and decompose. He thinks that that is a better use and that it would still provide a habitat for different species. I will leave it there.

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent 1:45 pm, 21st March 2011

Unfortunately, we lack a quorum. I will have to ring the Bell.

Notice taken that 10 Members were not present.

House counted, and there being fewer than 10 Members present, the Deputy Speaker ordered the Division Bells to be rung.

Upon 10 Members being present —

Question, That amendment No 1 be made, put and agreed to.

Clause 58 (Appeals)

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent

I remind Members that, as the Speaker has received a valid petition of concern on amendment No 2, the vote will be on a cross-community basis.

Amendment No 2 proposed: In page 35, line 37, at end insert

“(1A) The Department may by regulations provide for an appeal under subsection (1) to be made by a person other than the applicant, subject to such limits as may be specified.” — [Ms Lo.]

Question put.

The Assembly divided: Ayes 45; Noes 31.

AYES

NATIONALIST:

Ms M Anderson, Mr Boylan, Mrs M Bradley, Mr P J Bradley, Mr Brady, Mr Burns, Mr Butler, Mr W Clarke, Mr Dallat, Mr Doherty, Mr Gallagher, Mr A Maginness, Mr A Maskey, Mr P Maskey, Mr F McCann, Ms J McCann, Mr McCartney, Mr McDevitt, Dr McDonnell, Mr McElduff, Mr McGlone, Mr McKay, Mr McLaughlin, Ms Ní Chuilín, Mr O’Dowd, Mr O’Loan, Mrs O’Neill, Mr P Ramsey, Ms S Ramsey, Mr Sheehan.

UNIONIST:

Mr Armstrong, Mr Beggs, Mr Cobain, Mr Cree, Mr Gardiner, Mr Kinahan, Mr McCallister, Mr K Robinson.

OTHER:

Mr Ford, Ms Lo, Mr Lunn, Mr Lyttle, Mr McCarthy, Mr Neeson, Mr B Wilson.

Tellers for the Ayes: Mr Kinahan and Ms Lo.

NOES

UNIONIST:

Mr S Anderson, Mr Bell, Mr Bresland, Lord Browne, Mr Buchanan, Mr Campbell, Mr T Clarke, Mr Craig, Mr Easton, Mrs Foster, Mr Frew, Mr Gibson, Mr Girvan, Mr Givan, Mr Hamilton, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey, Mr Irwin, Mr McCausland, Mr I McCrea, Miss McIlveen, Mr McQuillan, Lord Morrow, Mr Moutray, Mr Newton, Mr Poots, Mr G Robinson, Mr P Robinson, Mr Ross, Mr Spratt, Mr Weir.

Tellers for the Noes: Mr McQuillan and Mr G Robinson.

Total votes     76   Total Ayes        45  [59.2%]

Nationalist Votes   30                    Nationalist Ayes      30         [100%]

Unionist Votes      39                    Unionist Ayes         8          [20.5%]

Other Votes   7     Other Ayes       7    [100%]

Question accordingly negatived (cross-community vote).

Clause 103 (Acts causing or likely to result in damage to listed buildings)

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent

We now come to the second group of amendments for debate, which are technical in nature. With amendment No 3, it will be convenient to debate amendment No 4, amendment Nos 7 to 12 and amendment Nos 18 to 23. I call the Minister of the Environment, Mr Edwin Poots, to move amendment No 3 and to speak to the other amendments in the group.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I beg to move amendment No 3: In page 64, line 20, leave out

“level 5 on the standard scale” and insert “the statutory maximum”.

The following amendments stood on the Marshalled List:

No 4: In clause 105, page 66, line 16, leave out “under this section”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 7: In clause 179, page 119, line 22, after “as” insert

“section 27(3) applies section 23 and”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 8: In clause 179, page 119, line 22, at end insert

“(c) section 40, in so far as that section relates to claims for compensation under the provisions mentioned in paragraph (a)”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 9: In clause 189, page 124, line 31, after “council” insert “or the Department”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 10: In clause 228, page 145, line 35, after “of’ insert “Part 3 of”. — [Mr Boylan.]

No 11: In clause 232, page 148, line 20, at end insert

“except where those matters are matters of national security”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 12: In clause 246, page 157, line 35, leave out from “by” to “Department” on line 36. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 18: In schedule 3, page 188, line 38, leave out “(6), (7) and (8)” and insert “(5) and (6)”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 19: In schedule 6, page 193, line 32, at end insert

“9A. In Article 68(1) for ‘Order’ substitute ‘Act’.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 20: In schedule 6, page 195, line 6, at end insert

“The Estate Agents Act 1979 (c. 38)

22A. In section 1(2)(e) for ‘Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991’ substitute ‘Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011’.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 21: In schedule 6, page 206, line 14, at end insert

“The Caravans Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 (c. 12)

109. In section 17(1), in the definition of ‘planning permission’, for ‘Part 4 of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991’ substitute ‘Part 3 of the Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011’.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 22: In schedule 7, page 206, leave out lines 31 to 35. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 23: In schedule 7, page 206, line 37, after “131” insert “and 132”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

The amendments in this group are technical and do not involve any change in policy. They include textual amendments to ensure a consistent approach throughout the Bill, typographical corrections and updating amendments. I urge Members to support the amendments.

Photo of Cathal Boylan Cathal Boylan Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. Ar son an Choiste Comhshaoil cuirim fáilte roimh BhreisChéim an Bhreithnithe den Bhille Pleanála. On behalf of the Environment Committee, I welcome the Further Consideration Stage of the Planning Bill. The Committee had no position on the amendments in the first debate on planning control. However, two of the amendments in this group are connected to amendments brought forward by the Committee at Consideration Stage.

First, I will refer to amendment No 3. Following its scrutiny of the Bill, not only did the Committee recommend that penalties should be increased for acts causing or likely to result in damage to listed buildings, but called for an additional penalty of conviction on indictment to an unlimited fine. That was to ensure that the protection of listed buildings was seen to be a serious issue and that penalties could be reflective of damage caused.

I am pleased that the House supported the Committee’s recommendations at Consideration Stage. The level of fine liable on summary conviction was raised from level 3 to level 5, and the option of an unlimited fine on conviction on indictment was added to the Bill. However, it appears that when provision is made for two alternative penalties for an offence, it is conventional for the upper limit of the fine liable on summary conviction to be the statutory maximum. Amendment No 3 brings clause 103 into line with that convention, but still reflects the Committee’s wish for tougher penalties to deter and punish wilful damage to listed buildings. On behalf of the Committee, therefore, I welcome amendment No 3.

Amendment No 9 amends the new clause that was introduced by a Committee amendment at Consideration Stage. New clause 189 ensures that councils would not be liable for compensation if they had to revoke a decision made in the absence of a response from a statutory consultee if that consultee had not responded by the required deadline. The Minister’s amendment seeks to include the Department, as well as councils, in that exemption from compensation under those circumstances. That appears to be consistent with the Committee’s amendment, as we know that some planning applications will be referred to the Department for decision, and it is feasible that it too could end up liable for compensation if it made a decision that later had to be revoked because of the late provision of information by a statutory consultee. Amendment No 9 is therefore consistent with the Committee’s position on that aspect of the Bill, but in the absence of an opportunity to discuss the amendment, it does not have an official position on it.

The other amendments in the group were not discussed by the Committee and neither do they relate to any of the recommendations made by the Committee.

Begging your indulgence, Mr Deputy Speaker, I would like to say a few words on behalf of Sinn Féin, as a Member for Newry and Armagh. Amendment No 10 relates to a review of the Bill and seeks to clarify when that review will take place. The review will take place after all of the powers are transferred down to local councils and when they are fully operational. That review will take place within a three-year period. That is welcome. Having listened to what the debate has been about this morning, I think that that is another mechanism to ensure that councils are operating properly and that the resources are in place. This is a proper review to keep that in check. I would like the House to support amendment No 10. On behalf of Sinn Féin, I support all the other amendments in the group.

Photo of Danny Kinahan Danny Kinahan UUP

As most of these amendments are largely technical, I support all of them.

The Minister implied that most Members were anti-development. We are not. The Ulster Unionist Party in particular is not anti-development. Development is absolutely vital to Northern Ireland.

I very much support amendment No 9. However, I have one query for the Minister. I do not think that this is a problem, but if councils and the Department are not liable, I assume that the legal system would deal with cases in which something is ultra vires, for instance, so that there is not a gap in which we are allowing government to be free suddenly to do what they like without some form of control.

I am slightly concerned that amendment No 10 seems to put things off for the review yet again. I hope that the Bill is in place and working quickly, but if, like with the RPA, it were to take time to get it in place, that time will be added on to the three years, and it could be a long time before we review it. I ask the Minister to ensure that the Department will make sure that everything happens as quickly as possible, because we do not want to delay the Bill being enacted or to delay the review. I support the amendments.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I thank the two Members who spoke for their contributions. As was indicated, the amendments are technical, so there is little to add. Mr Kinahan asked for some assurance that it was not a get-out clause for all Departments. The amendment will clearly put the onus on those Departments that have to respond within a time frame but sometimes do not meet that time frame. It will be an indication to those Departments and their permanent secretaries that they need to step up to the mark and ensure that the responses that they give are delivered within the time set out.

Departments often allow things to run for months and months, thus delaying the entire planning process. Planners are criticised, but, very often, it is not the planners who are holding the process back; it is consultees. The amendment is a good one, which will put considerably more pressure on consultees to deliver their responses in a timely fashion. I urge Members to support the amendments.

Question, That amendment No 3 be made, put and agreed to.

Clause 105 (Control of demolition in conservation areas)

Amendment No 4 made: In page 66, line 16, leave out “under this section”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Clause 122 (Tree preservation orders: councils)

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent

Amendment No 5 has already been debated and is mutually exclusive with amendment No 6.

Amendment No 5 not moved.

Amendment No 6 made: In page 79, line 22, leave out “dying or”. — [Ms Lo.]

Clause 179 (Compensation where planning permission is revoked or modified)

Amendment No 7 made: In page 119, line 22, after “as” insert

“section 27(3) applies section 23 and”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Amendment No 8 made: In page 119, line 22, at end insert

“(c) section 40, in so far as that section relates to claims for compensation under the provisions mentioned in paragraph (a)”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Clause 189 (Compensation: failure of consultee to respond under section 229)

Amendment No 9 made: In page 124, line 31, after “council” insert “or the Department”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Clause 228 (Review of Planning Act)

Amendment No 10 made: In page 145, line 35, after “of” insert “Part 3 of”. — [Mr Boylan.]

Clause 232 (Inquiries to be held in public subject to certain exceptions)

Amendment No 11 made: In page 148, line 20 at end insert

“except where those matters are matters of national security” . — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Clause 246 (Directions)

Amendment No 12 made: In page 157, line 35 leave out from “by” to “Department” on line 36. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Clause 247 (Regulations and orders)

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent 2:15 pm, 21st March 2011

I will not call amendment No 13, as it is consequential to amendment No 2, which was not made.

New Clause

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent

We now come to the third group of amendments for debate. With amendment No 14, it will be convenient to debate amendment Nos 15, 16, 17 and 24, which deal with changing certain penalties and time limits under the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 to reflect some of the changes made to the present Bill. Members will note that amendment Nos 16, 17 and 24 are consequential to amendment No 14.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I beg to move amendment No 14: After clause 247 insert the following new clause:

Amendment of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991

Increased penalties for certain offences under the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991

247A.—(1) In Article 44(6) of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 (in this section referred to as ‘the 1991 Order’) (control of works for demolition, alteration or extension of listed building) for ‘£30,000’ substitute ‘£100,000’.

(2) In Article 66(1) of the 1991 Order (penalties for contravention of tree preservation orders) for ‘£30,000’ substitute ‘£100,000’.

(3) The amendments of the 1991 Order set out in this section do not have effect in relation to any offence committed before the coming into operation of this section.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

The following amendments stood on the Marshalled List:

No 15: After clause 247 insert the following new clause:

“Amendment of certain time periods in relation to enforcement

247B.—(1) In Article 23 of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 (in this section referred to as ‘the 1991 Order’) (notice requiring planning application) in paragraph (2) for ‘4’ substitute ‘5’.

(2) In Article 24 of the 1991 Order (appeal against notice under Article 23) in paragraph (2)(c) for ‘4’ substitute ‘5’.

(3) In Article 67B of the 1991 Order (time limits)—

(a) in paragraphs (1), (2) and (4)(b) for ‘4’ substitute ‘5’;

(b) in paragraph (3) for ‘10’ substitute ‘5’.

(4) In Article 67F of the 1991 Order (temporary stop notice: restrictions) in paragraph (2) for ‘4’ substitute ‘5’.

(5) In Article 73 of the 1991 Order (service of stop notice) in paragraph (3D) for ‘4’ substitute ‘5’.

(6) In Article 82 of the 1991 Order (enforcement of duties as to replacement of trees) in paragraph (2) for ‘4’ substitute ‘5’.” — [Mr Boylan.]

No 16: In clause 252, page 162, line 12 leave out “248” and insert “247A, 248” . — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 17: In clause 252, page 162, line 18, leave out “Sections 85 and 126 come” and insert “Section 247A comes”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 24: In Schedule 7, page 207, line 41 at end insert

“The Planning (Northern Ireland) Act 2011.

Section 247A.”

— [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

The amendments in the third group are designed to bring in operational dates for certain enforcement provisions. At Consideration Stage, amendments were passed to raise the fines for certain offences related to listed buildings and protected trees from £30,000 to £100,000 and that will come into effect when the Bill receives Royal Assent. The previous comments would seem to indicate that such a provision would not be a particular friend of developers, and I wholly support it.

Amendment Nos 14, 16, 17 and 24 together introduce a new clause and provide a more legally sound approach to delivering the agreed policy objective. The Chairperson of the Committee for the Environment has tabled amendment No 15, which will amend the time limits for enforcement action and will provide for an early introduction of the new five-year limits on enforcement actions for breaches of planning control that were passed at Consideration Stage. Those are the amendments in group three.

Photo of Cathal Boylan Cathal Boylan Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. I want to refer to amendments Nos 14, 16 and 17 on behalf of the Committee for the Environment. At Committee Stage, Committee members realised that, with the introduction of more stringent penalties to punish and deter damage to listed buildings and protected trees, there was a risk that those buildings and trees — and those likely to merit such protection in the future — would come under significant pressure in the interim period between the intention of the Assembly being known and the fines coming into force. The Committee recommended that the Department should put in place greater enforcement to prevent that occurring during the interim period, and, in keeping with that, it supported Mr Kinahan’s amendment to bring the new penalties into force as soon as the Bill achieved Royal Assent. Amendment Nos 14, 16 and 17 ensure that the intention of Mr Kinahan’s amendment is deliverable, and the Committee, therefore, supports them.

On amendment No 15, Committee members were fully supportive of introducing a five-year period after which no planning breaches could be enforced. During its discussions on the issue, the Committee noted that one of the justifications for that change was that local authorities will be in a better position to enforce breaches of planning controls in their areas. However, although Committee members sought clarification on how the transition might be managed with those who are currently being considered for a breach, the Committee did not specifically indicate at what point it felt that the new single time period should come into force. Therefore, I must indicate to the House that the Committee has no position on amendment No 15.

The Minister said that I was tabling amendment No 15 as the Chairperson of the Committee for the Environment, but I am actually tabling it as a Member of Sinn Féin. The House supported the notion of the five-year rule, and through amendment No 15, I want to ensure that that part of the legislation will be introduced as soon as possible after Royal Assent. That is why I am proposing to include the five-year rule in the Bill, and I hope that the House will support my amendment. With that in mind, I support all the amendments in the group.

Photo of Danny Kinahan Danny Kinahan UUP

I am very grateful to the Department and the Minister for tabling amendment Nos 14, 16, 17 and 24, particularly amendment No 14, which seeks to raise the level of fines. That is something that we all wanted. We may in future still have to look at a percentage rather than at £100,000, but that can be done in the review. However, I am very grateful that the Minister took on board my concern about tree preservation orders and the fact that trees or buildings might be cut down and knocked down in the meantime. It is absolutely right to get those provisions in place.

I had wanted to do the same with Part 2 but did not table an amendment to it that would have ensured that councils were getting the right resources. I urge the Minister, and we debate this matter often, to get the pilot projects in place so that councils really have an idea of the resources that they need. I fully agree with amendment No 15, which, if made, will ensure that enforcement starts at an early opportunity. The Ulster Unionist Party supports the amendments in the group and congratulates the Department and all those who worked incredibly hard to get the Bill through.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I thank Members for the points that they raised. They adequately clarified their positions. I think that no objections were raised to any of the amendments that Mr Boylan and I tabled. I again thank my staff and the Committee for their work in getting the Bill to this point.

Question, That amendment No 14 be made, put and agreed to.

New clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause

Amendment No 15 made: After clause 247, insert the following new clause

“Amendment of certain time periods in relation to enforcement

247B.—(1) In Article 23 of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 (in this section referred to as ‘the 1991 Order’) (notice requiring planning application) in paragraph (2) for ‘4’ substitute ‘5’.

(2) In Article 24 of the 1991 Order (appeal against notice under Article 23) in paragraph (2)(c) for ‘4’ substitute ‘5’.

(3) In Article 67B of the 1991 Order (time limits)—

(a) in paragraphs (1), (2) and (4)(b) for ‘4’ substitute ‘5’;

(b) in paragraph (3) for ‘10’ substitute ‘5’.

(4) In Article 67F of the 1991 Order (temporary stop notice: restrictions) in paragraph (2) for ‘4’ substitute ‘5’.

(5) In Article 73 of the 1991 Order (service of stop notice) in paragraph (3D) for ‘4’ substitute ‘5’.

(6) In Article 82 of the 1991 Order (enforcement of duties as to replacement of trees) in paragraph (2) for ‘4’ substitute ‘5’.” — [Mr Boylan.]

New clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 252 (Commencement)

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent

Amendment No 16 is consequential to amendment No 14.

Amendment No 16 made: In page 162, line 12, leave out “248” and insert “247A, 248”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent

Amendment No 17 is consequential to amendment No 14.

Amendment No 17 made: In page 162, line 18, leave out “Sections 85 and 126 come” and insert “Section 247A comes”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Schedule 3 (Periodic review of mineral planning permissions)

Amendment No 18 made: In page 188, line 38, leave out “(6), (7) and (8)” and insert “(5) and (6)”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Schedule 6 (Minor and consequential amendments)

Amendment No 19 made: In page 193, line 32, at end insert

“9A. In Article 68(1) for ‘Order’ substitute ‘Act’.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Amendment No 20 made: In page 195, line 6, at end insert

“The Estate Agents Act 1979 (c. 38)

22A. In section 1(2)(e) for ‘Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991’ substitute ‘Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011’.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Amendment No 21 made: In page 206, line 14, at end insert

“The Caravans Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 (c. 12)

109. In section 17(1), in the definition of ‘planning permission’, for ‘Part 4 of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991’ substitute ‘Part 3 of the Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011’.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Schedule 7 (Repeals)

Amendment No 22 made: In page 206, leave out lines 31 to 35. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Amendment No 23 made: In page 206, line 37, after “131” insert “and 132”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent

Amendment No 24 is consequential to amendment No 14.

Amendment No 24 made: In page 207, line 41, at end insert

“The Planning (Northern Ireland) Act 2011.

Section 247A.”

— [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent

That concludes the Further Consideration Stage of the Planning Bill. The Bill stands referred to the Speaker.

As Question Time commences at 2.30 pm, I suggest that the House takes its ease until that time.

On resuming (Mr Speaker in the Chair)—