The Earth’s Corr: Planning Flaws Leave NI People Traumatized Claims Expert – Shauna Corr

Northern Ireland’s planning system was branded ‘professionally corrupt’ at a Stormont committee this week by a planning expert.

Dean Blackwood was among four people from across Northern Ireland who spoke on behalf of environmental group The Gathering at the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday.

The town planner told MPs he could fill the chamber with people ‘traumatized’ by a dysfunctional planning system that has spawned many community groups who today fight ‘poor planning’ and ‘injustice “.

Read more:Ship carrying coal from Russia en route to Belfast port

And said the European Commission and the United Nations have also found “systemic flaws” in NI’s planning system around the environment and public appeals.

“It’s a damning indictment not only of our planning system, but also a damning indictment of how our courts respond to judicial reviews,” he added.

Speaking via video link, Nuala Crilly said The Gathering was founded in 2017.

She said subsequent planning work “revealed that distinct patterns were emerging in the lived experiences of local people, even in different areas of the council”.

With this in mind, the group began to study the matter with a view to presenting their findings to Stormont.

Ms Crilly said FOIs to local councils revealed that legal advice and judicial reviews against planning decisions lead to “substantial costs” while the decisions harm families.

“There are local communities all over the north and beyond whose daily lives are affected by poor planning and failing environmental regulations and some of those lives are becoming hell,” she added. .

Describing the work of The Gathering, Dean Blackwood said planning “is a very important and emotional issue for many citizens and campaign groups”.

“Many community organizations only exist because of poor planning.

“We have here today two eminent activists who can testify as well as anyone to the impacts of what poor planning inflicts on the public purse, on our environment and, most importantly, on health and well-being. of our citizens.”

Dean was joined by George McLaughlin, who said his biggest planning issues were a lack of transparency and broken promises.

Anne Harper claimed planners and politicians ‘turn a blind eye’ even when something as bad as this has been going on for five years.

“It’s hard to accept that this is reasonable conduct,” she added.

‘It is in everyone’s interest that Northern Ireland has a suitable scheme because frankly we could have filled this room today with people traumatized by a dysfunctional planning system,’ Dean added.

He praised the system’s many dedicated planners, saying many privately shared their fears about its “decline” “but also worryingly express their reluctance to raise concerns”.

“This makes it all the more important that citizens are taken seriously when they speak out about wrongdoing in planning.”

Mr Blackwood said three recurring issues emerged from The Gathering’s sub-group on planning.

They were:

1. Administration and system failures

2. Professional incompetence and skill gaps

3. Professional corruption

“Professional corruption has less to do with bribes, bribery and brown envelopes than with unethical practices and conduct within the public service,” he added.

“Indicators of professional corruption are wide ranging and include deliberate withholding of information and refusal to clarify or explain an action, persistent aversion to record keeping, unauthorized deletion of documents from planning files or portals, a willingness to justify an obvious mistake rather than acknowledging and rectifying things, the use of false and misleading information or evidence and I could go on.

“As a town planner who has spent my entire career in public service in Northern Ireland, I say with deep concern that these are all examples of professional corruption that I experience directly and regularly when raising concerns about planning in central and local government level.

“Such actions should be viewed as breaches of public trust that are not befitting of public officials.”

He said a wide range of evidence shows that such corruption becomes learned, contagious, socialized and ultimately normalized in the culture of public institutions and that the Audit Office has missed a major opportunity to address these issues in its planning report.

Mr Blackwood then called on the Public Accounts Committee to use its powers to probe serious public concerns about “professional corruption” in planning and suggested the creation of a planning oversight body.

“For a fair planning system, the public needs effective oversight…including equal rights of appeal in planning matters,” he added.

Stormont needs to do better.

We need a system that puts the needs of the community, nature, biodiversity and the environment ahead of venture capital.

It’s time for the Stormont Department to start working together to close the many gaps allowing community and environmental degradation company-wide.

Bailey vs. Poots, Round 2



Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots


Sound the progress horn folks – we finally get our own climate crisis legislation in Northern Ireland!

It has taken a long time and while the Climate Bill could be improved, I am delighted that Stormont Departments will finally have to consider the environmental damage and emissions resulting from their decisions.

Green Party NI leader Clare Bailey and the Climate Coalition deserve praise from all for bringing us here.

Ever since Ms Bailey lit a fire behind the back of Environment Minister Edwin Poots with a cross-party coalition bill on the issue – the MP for South Belfast has faced very personal attacks from those who oppose the law on the defining crisis of our time.

It will be interesting to see who comes out on top when they face off in the rather forward-thinking constituency in the upcoming Assembly elections.

Mugs



A petrol station on Antrim Road in Belfast
A petrol station on Antrim Road in Belfast

We’ve all been taken for a ride in the face of soaring fossil fuel prices.

I’m not one to support anti-climate fuels on any level, but given our government’s failure to properly invest in clean energy, we have no other choice.

Companies like Shell, whose pathetic apologies after being publicly shamed for buying Russian oil, don’t care about us.

The disastrous capitalism showcased both internationally and on garage forecourts across the country is proof of that.

They are there to flush us out for every bean they can, while they can, because they know their days are numbered and those in power have done nothing to protect us from their greed.

Ditch the paper towel



kitchen roll
kitchen roll

Do you really need paper towels?

In an effort to rid my life of all the things I don’t need, I stopped buying paper towels a while ago and it didn’t even bother me.

My challenge for you this spring is to think about what you really need.

Dishcloths and rags are just as good at cleaning up messes as disposable paper towels, and you can wash them.

You save pounds and reduce waste – it’s a no-brainer.

Read more:Help available in NI if you’re struggling with skyrocketing household bills

Read more:New figures show skyrocketing cost of 500L fuel oil at NI

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