23/06/2013 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


The latest political news, interviews and debate in Northern Ireland.

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 23/06/2013. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Ministers want the power to make planning decisions. Is it a power


grab? Or does it make economic sense? We'll hear from the Planning


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2107 seconds


Minister, the chair of the committee Politics in Northern Ireland.


Planning decisions always have the potential to cause controversy. But


now a row is brewing over who will make major economic planning


decisions. A proposal by the DUP and Sinn Fein to take away powers from


the Department of the Environment and give them to the office of the


First and Deputy First Ministers will go before the Assembly


tomorrow. Alex Attwood, the Minister with responsibility for planning


joins me. And we'll also hear from the chair of the Environment


Committee, Anna Lo, and the DUP's Peter Weir. Also today - the world's


most powerful leaders have come and gone, but what will be the legacy of


the G8 in Fermanagh? We'll have the views of PR expert Sheila Davidson


and Jim Flanagan of the Ballymena conservation groups and the chair of


the Environment Committee about his proposed Planning Bill, which his


critics claim favours economic factors rather than the protection


of the environment. But now the DUP and Sinn Fein have tabled amendments


to the legislation which would take power away from the Minister and


also make it harder to challenge planning decisions in the courts.


The Environment Minister, Alex Attwood, joins me. Thank you for


joining us, do you see this as an attempted power-grab by Sinn Fein


the the DUP? I think in law and politics this is folly. In law I


don't think they can do this. Because the amendments are hostile


and do violence to Northern Ireland and European legislation. But it is


also is bad politics, because we have seen over the last couple of


years where First Minister and deputy First Minister took power on


to themselves with a neighbourhood renewal project ap it has fallen


flat on its face. How much worse if you had another planning authority


that don't have the resources, the capacity, or the history of doing


planning, what catastrophe this could be at a time when planning has


turned many corners. Their view is planning decisions are slow and this


is designed to speed things up. you Fawlkes to the development


community, they will tell you, unlike two years ago applications by


the minister, articles 31s, they are being made more quick Liverpool look


at the -- more quickly. Look at the football ground and others, and we


are meeting our targets for ordinary application and we are making more


decisions is. So I have demonstrated, the planned system can


turn corners. What First Minister and deputy First Minister is they


want to put it back down a dead end. We have had the G8 leaders here and


talked about a new future and a conference that will take place here


in October of this year. This ties in with that. What is wrong with a


fast track approach to planning decisions in economically


significant areas. More and more there is a fast track approach to


planning in Northern Ireland. More and people people are recognising


that. Look at John Lewis...It is also the case that unther the law at


the moment -- under the law at the moment we can have special planning


zones, why would FM and DFM beat their chest about them becoming the


planning authority when they don't have the legal authority or the ka


pas difficult I want to get -- capacity to do it. What they would


argue and they're not here, but we have Peter Weir, what they would say


is they want to make sure there is no at repeat of the slow de-Igs --


decision making process that surrounded the John Lewis


application at Sprucefield. That is the something I inherited. There was


a lot of delay in the planning system. What I have done and what I


think others can do in the future is ensure that planning is fit for


purpose and John Lewis is a case in point, as is Runkerry. Let's not


give authority to those who don't have is competence to do the job and


have demonstrated, be it on a shared future or the functions that they


now have they sometimes fall flat on their face. This is bad policy, bad


politics and in a situation where we are getting planning better. How do


you think they can't do this? This is democracy at work, this is the


cut and thrust of politics at Stormont F they get a majority in


the House, they will get it through. And they will get a majority,


because between them Sinn Fein and the DUP can do that. Democracy can


come up with bad law and can express bad politics. The issue is that for


example in one of their amendments tabled by the DUP on behalf of Peter


Robinson and Martin McGuinness, it is mainly Peter Robinson. He is not


here to defend himself, but he is the First Minister, it is being done


in the name of his party and Sinn Fein. Whether you like it or not, it


is a Sinn Fein o'/DUP amendment. Yes, butt #i9 is being driven by the


DUP and Peter Robinson. Meys Most things are driven by the DUP. Under


European law and thankfully we are still members of the European Union,


there are certain areas in the North that are designated when you come to


applications, you have to go through certain procedures. This law


proposes you don't do that. That is bad law and hostile to European


requirements. You don't like it, because it exposes you as a puppet


in the Executive. They can pull your strings. You know, that is the


reality. I make one judgment, are they in government, are they in


power. I would like to think I for one around the Executive table has


demonstrated a difference. The problem is that you can end up with


politicians in power who have bad policy and bad politics as part of


their story. That will be bad for Northern Ireland and the economic


aye hope the DUP and Sinn Fein think again. Stay us with. I want to hear


more for you. Peter Weir has proposed the amendments for the DUP


and Anna Lo chairs the Environment Committee at Stormont. Fear Weir --


Peter Weir, he says it has been driven by the DUP and Peter


Robinson? It has been driven by both. We are seeing a knee-jerk


reaction. This is adding to what is there. If Northern Ireland is going


to show a signal that it is open for business, it will need every


economic tool. Without taking power from the minister. We are not


creating a new planning authority, we are enabling the authority to


make application for economically significant planning zones. The work


will Gou through planning service -- go through planning service and at


the end it requires the approval of the planning service or the


Assembly. So you know, Alex is wrong in relation to that. He mentioned


about the European law, but within the amendments we have put in


provision that in terms of judiciary review that any planning decision is


still challengeable on the ground of breach of European law. That side is


protected. This is about trying to give the maximum amount of economic


too manies to Northern Ireland. We have an investment conference coming


up. If we're saying we are ambitious for investment and jobs. But other


people see it as you being ambitious for you. Sinn Fein and the DUP being


ambitious for their own parties. we are ambitious for the people of


Northern Ireland. The biggest challenge is the economy and lack of


investment, lack of jobs. We are making no apology for ambition in


trying to grasp every aspect we can. We want to use the current system


and add to it where necessary. I don't see a great deal wrong with


that. The minister sees a great deal wrong with it. Well he is having his


nose put out of joint. Do you have no sympathy with that? I'm sure if I


was a minister and saw a role for the Executive to hold in my


department, tinge reaction -- I think the reaction is natural. But


it is not looking at the wider issues. And a lot of parties such as


the Alliance Party, they will be, they will talk the talk about


supporting the economy, but when it comes to taking action to Su fort


economy, they are not prepared to do that. Let's hear from Anna Lo. You a


chair the environment Committee, you're not happy with the proposals


being put forward. Why not? Absolutely no. This if it goes


through it is very bad law. I don't always see eye to eye with the


minister, particularly on Runkerry. But I support the minister this time


and it is setting a very bad precedent of taking away power. This


is really power-grabbing. This is taking power. Any proposal can only


take effect if it is endorsed by the DOE or the Assembly as in relation


to any application, it will have to have that approval. How is it taking


power away? No ministers now outside of DUP and Sinn Fein should feel


safe and nowhere in Northern Ireland will be safe when this planning


amendments go through. If and when they go through. What needs to


happen tomorrow? Alex Attwood said he doesn't think they can go


through. Do you think they can? I am asking the minister to postpone for


this for us to look at it. The committee of the environment has not


scrutinised this. This is our role to scrutinise planning role to see


that we also talk to our stake holders and ask for their view.


Dropping this like a bombshell on the Friday morning, to let us know,


it not right. I have been open with my colleagues in the committee that


I oppose the clauses two and six, they haven't the courtesy to tell us


that they have have been working on this. The alliance put down eleven


amendment, most haven't been discussed. But not as dramatic as


those put forward by yourself. the esigned to put two fingers up to


the Runkerry development. Let's not get into that. Minister, there is a


clear plea from the chair of the environment Committee, that you not


bring this to the House tomorrow. That is one way of trying to deal


with it. So everyone gets a chance to draw breath at look at the


implications of the proposals. DUP/Sinn Fein amendments are about


bad law and bad politics. If somebody tomorrow should not move


amendments understand it should be the DUP and Sinn Fein. Because they


have created the problems. They can't move amendments if you don't


move the main body of the legislation. The authorities of the


Northern Ireland Assembly, which has been diminished by the way this has


been handled, I'm not going to say to the people of Northern Ireland,


let's abandon the law, let's abandon politics, because of the conduct of


others. This is the fundamental point, the DUP and Sinn Fein for


four and five years have had responsibility for the office of


first and deputy First Minister and stumbled around. You have made that


point. Why would you want to give to those who have stumbled around on a


range of issues more responsibility to stumble around planning? What do


you do tomorrow, will you ignore the call from Anna Lo to draw breath and


think about it again, will you move the motion tomorrow? I intend to


move the bill tomorrow. Which is my responsibility as a minister further


to the committee stage of the bill. Even though you're not happy and you


know what is coming down the tracks? Yes, it may be as weight of numbers


as often happens is greater than the weight of argument. Maybe that will


happen again. If that were to happen, I would make one guess and


that is that this law will be challenged all the way to the


Supreme Court if not beyond on the basis that you cannot do what they


are proposing to do under the Northern Ireland Act and around


European convention. You will see them in court, that is what you're


saying? Somebody will see them in court if they don't pull back and


let good argument prevail and good planning prevail, the way it has


been in the last two years. Peter Weir, what are the chances of that


happening? I don't think that challenge would be successful. We


have made provision where any application is incompatible with


European law, it can be challenged. We will move our amendments, because


we want to see investment and all the tools that can be there to bring


jobs. Although there has been no proper consultation. That is the


same with every amendment that has been put and that is the nature of


consideration stage. Its not as dra mat yibgt as your -- dramatic as


your amendments. Others have put forward amendments that have not


gone forward. It is there to make law. This is the point. First, the


First Minister says he won't take your advice. I think we will have a


debate on Monday. Nobody would say that they do not support economic


development. But we are not going to give developers blank cheques. We


need sustainable development. need to leave it there. We will hear


more about this in the days and weeks ahead. Thank you all very much


indeed. For two days this week Northern Ireland was the focus of


international attention for the G8 summit. From President Obama's


speech in Belfast to David Cameron's early morning dip in Lough Erne,


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2107 seconds


here's a look back at some of those Davidson and Jim Flanagan. Let's


talk about planning first. Clearly there is a row brewing in the


Assembly tomorrow one would imagine. Fouled FFDFM be trying to muscle in


on the Environment Minister? there are issues around planning and


they have been rehearsed for years, I have been involved in a number of


thing, such as an insit rater in my area. -- incinerator. One thing that


come out of the row, the biggest deficit is for ordinary people who


don't have the resources to be able to appeal anything. The problem is


there is no overview for what guidance there is for developers or


communities. So this kind of debate about how will take control over an


ultimate decision is for me a way from where ordinary people are. They


will want to watch a debate that has nothing do with them. Do you have


any sympathy for the minister, he is feeling bruised at the possibility


of the First Minister and deputy First Minister taking decisions over


his head. Some may say fair enough. The whole debate shows the


difficulties when you have five-party coalition government. We


have three parties all disagreeing with the way ahead. I will predict


it will all end up in the court. Because there doesn't appear to be a


meeting of minds. The sooner the question of planning is devolved to


the new super councils in 2015 and local people will take decisions,


the sooner the better that happens. The last thing people would want is


for the this to get mired in the courts again. That is what often


happens with planning. That is where it will always end up, because


people have a right to their opinion and a right to be able to express


what they want in their own backyard. But you have to give


people that opportunity and you have to have clarity in where they are


going. If its not one First Minister and it is go to another #2k79, there


is no -- department, there is no sclarty. It -- clarity. Anna Lo's


point that no other minister other than a DUP or Sinn Fein minister can


feel safe is the biggest message from this. Thank I yochlt Now for a


look back at what proved to be one of the more entertaining weeks in


political life here with Stephen Walker. -- thank you now for a look


at what proved to be one of the more entertaining weeks in political life


with Stephen Walker. As for how to prepare for a hard day's


negotiatation, I can recommend a swim in the Loch. In Belfast the


president and the first lady took centre stage. To those who take the


path of peace, I promise you, the United States will support you every


step of the way, we will always be a wind at your back. Similary Wilson


and Gerry Adams got up close and personal. We get with the guy with


no talent on the football field goes and kicks everyone. I have been on


the pitch longer than you. Japanese company said they would


create 400 job, but one minister was asked to fund a flute band.


haven't any money on me, but... Stephen Walker reporting. A few


final thoughts. Jim Flanagan, your thoughts on G8, as successful as we


might have expected. Yes it is only good that we are here. The new


teenager stole the show and took the spotlight from the world leaders,


her speech was positive and talking to want to live for the future was a


powerful message. So I predict she will be at the White House next


March. What about the legacy, we have got this G8 economic investment


conference in October. A thought on that? I think this a positive and we


need to get behind, whether you're in the business community or


Download Subtitles