Northern Ireland

NI planners told of redeployment

Staff at the NI Planning Service have been told if they are to be redeployed within the Civil Service.

In April, the BBC revealed that 270 workers were to be moved to other departments.

The Department of Environment said staff identified for redeployment "were aware they had been selected".

Their names have been placed in what is called a "priority surplus pool" to which all Civil Service departments have access when filling vacancies.

The members of staff affected do not know where they will be redeployed to.

Unions are warning that planning service staff might be made redundant.

On Wednesday, Michael Robinson from the public service union, NIPSA, said it would be hard for them to find work for skilled staff in other departments.

He said that the "professional staff will have to volunteer for regrading".

"If they cannot be found posts, if they regrade, then they have been told very clearly that there will be a redundancy situation."

Staff

One in three staff working for the Planning Service are to be moved. One hundred and sixty are professional planners and technical staff.

The other 110 work in planning administration.

The Department of Environment said the decision to move staff was due to an £8m gap in funding for the Planning Service blamed a fall in applications during the economic downturn.

The number of planning applications has fallen by 45% from 2004-05 when 36,593 were made.

It is estimated that a total of 20,000 planning applications will be received during the year 2010-11

Also in April, the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) confirmed that all departments within the NI Executive were assessing staff levels for 2010/11.

The current number of posts in Planning Service is 767.

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