Northern Ireland

Planning applications errors lead to review

Environment Minister Alex Attwood
Image caption The errors were discovered after a review initiated by Environment Minister Alex Attwood.

Two major planning applications are to be reconsidered after "serious procedural errors" were found.

The errors were discovered after Environment Minister Alex Attwood called for a review of all Article 31 planning applications.

It revealed that Donegal council was not involved in plans for a food store on the Buncrana Road in Londonderry.

New environmental information about a power plant on Belfast's Ballyutoag Road was not advertised as required.

The final decision on such major planning applications is taken by the Department of Environment.

Mr Attwood described the errors as "unacceptable" and meant that departmental notices of opinion must be withdrawn and the applications reprocessed.

"The identification of these cases validates the need for the review of Article 31 applications. Nevertheless it is not good enough for this to happen and I have told planning officials bluntly of my views and what now needs to happen," he said.

Recently the minister revealed an error in the planning application for a new North-South electricity interconnector planning application.

This led to all other major applications being rechecked.

One of the two companies affected was Veridis which wanted to open an energy-from-waste plant on the outskirts of north Belfast.

Veridis spokesperson Edward Hanna said the cost of a planning application of this type could run into six figures.

"We did feel that we had grounds for appeal and that procedures hadn't been followed.

"The project did go to the Planning Appeals Commission and some of the issues which the minister has brought up in the last 24 hours are actually some of things that we were bringing to the Planning Appeals Commission.

"I can't say at the moment exactly whether we will be looking to seek compensation.

"With an application of this nature, companies do expect to spend large amounts of money."