Environment Minister Mark H Durkan withdraws Planning Bill

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan may withdraw his Planning Bill Environment Minister Mark H Durkan may withdraw his Planning Bill

The environment minister has confirmed that he will not move his Planning Bill because of legal concerns.

Mark H Durkan said amendments to the bill backed by the DUP and Sinn Fein could run counter to the European Convention on Human Rights.

He also told the assembly that he had planning and economic concerns.

In June the assembly passed amendments giving the first and deputy first ministers potential power to set up special economic planning zones.

Other changes limited the grounds on which objectors could secure judicial reviews to challenge planning decisions in court.

However, the proposals were opposed by the former environment minister, Alex Attwood, who saw them as a power grab.

Mr Durkan told MLAs the ability of people to challenge decisions in court is a fundamental right of citizens.

He said that legal advice was that the bill was unlawful and would be a breach of human rights.

Mr Durkan rejected a DUP claim that by failing to consult the executive on his decision he has broken the ministerial code.

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