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Friends of the Earth launches into Northern Ireland planning debate

Friends of the Earth (FoE) has launched a campaign in a bid to 'empower the people of Northern Ireland' by involving them in the province's planning system.

The militant green lobbying organisation has become the latest critic of the planning system in Northern Ireland, which has been subject to heavy criticism in recent years.

The group has launched a new guide, Planning for the Environment in Northern Ireland, which, among other things, aims to educate people on how to counter 'bungalow blight in the countryside'.

The province's record on protecting its many listed buildings fails in any comparison to most western European countries.

In addition, consents to demolish buildings in conservation areas have accelerated in recent years, as local politicians aim to trigger regeneration.

The FoE campaign is a direct response to this. Its other objectives are involving people in community campaigns, halting unsympathetic coastal development and bringing to an end unfettered development in conservation areas.

FoE's Deborah McLaughlin said: 'Participants will find out how the planning system works and discover ways to use it to their advantage.

'They will also learn how to write an objection letter, how to get involved in their area plans, learn about tree preservation orders and obtain practical tips for shaping their community.'

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by Ed Dorrell

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