Environment Committee expresses grave concern at Department proposals for Planning Service

Session: 2009/2010

Date: 26 April 2010

Reference: ENV 09/09/10

Chairperson of the Assembly Committee for the Environment, Cathal Boylan MLA, today held an emergency meeting with the Minister for Environment to discuss new proposals for the Planning Service. The meeting was scheduled as a result of a report by the BBC on Friday that nearly 300 members of staff in the Planning Service are to be redeployed.

Following the meeting Mr Boylan said: “This news, which we believe could affect up to a third of the Service, came as a complete surprise to the Committee. Although members had been made aware by the Department that there would be a realignment of the Planning Service as a direct result of reduced income received from planning applications, the Committee was not aware that this was happening now. The Committee is concerned about the impact of these new proposals and the possible disruption to people’s lives and livelihoods.”

The Chairperson asked the Minister to keep the Committee up to date with progress and stated his support for jobs to be retained wherever possible. The Minister provided assurance that the Department is looking at all possible options for redeployment with compulsory redundancy being a last resort. Mr Boylan also asked that employees and the trade unions be kept informed and notified of any new developments as soon as they become available. The Department indicated that more details would be available later this week.

Mr Boylan added: “The Committee recognises the need for efficiencies but this should not just be translated as cuts. We need a Planning Service that is fit for purpose and delivers on the ground in a way that serves people and contributes to economic recovery.”

Ends

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