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Allister expresses concern over planning loophole

24 January 2006

Since our planning legislation has no effect beyond the low water mark on our shorelines in Northern Ireland, I have been raising concerns both with DOE and DETI as to how applications for offshore wind or water generating projects in Northern Ireland would be dealt with.

DETI has advised me of their intention to introduce regulations to transpose the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive to apply it to such applications within Northern Ireland's territorial waters. Till now this EU Directive, which dates from 1985, has been applied in Northern Ireland only to inland planning applications.  Thus there is a distinct lacuna in environmental protection made all the more pertinent by the intensification of the search for further environmentally-friendly energy production, giving rise to possible offshore projects.

While a construction licence under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 ("FEPA") is presently required for offshore projects, it is not the same as being subjected to the rigours of the planning process.  I do not see why a proposed wind farm on a hill top properly requires planning permission, but one at sea does not!  I have, therefore, pressed the DOE Minister further on removing this anomaly.

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Agriculture and Environment