Thursday, 29 March 2012

FOE: 'What Are They Planning' Update

The Friends of the Earth (FOE) 'What Are They Planning?' Campaign is currently campaigning for an end to donor anonymity for Northern Ireland political parties. Northern Ireland is the only region of the UK where citizens cannot access the register of major donors to their ruling parties, and Friends of the Earth believe that this "will have a corrosive effect on trust in democracy when planning powers are devolved to local councils".

The Friends of the Earth vision is that:
  • Planning should deliver sustainable development, wellbeing, and economic resilience.
  • Planning should be just.
  • Planning should be the arbiter of development and mediator between conflicting interests.
  • Planning should be accessible, transparent and challengeable.
  • Plans should be devised by the people, for the people.
  • Legislators should be informed, open, and accountable.
  • Public confidence in planning must be restored.

Planning functions will transfer from DoE to Local Councils.

Friends of the Earth are asking for:

Sound foundations...
  • A new PPS1 enhancing the statutory purpose of delivering sustainable development, as defined by the Brundtland Report of 1987.
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation to become a guiding principle in planning education for planning students, politicians and continuing professional development.
  • A plan-led system that ensures that community and area plans have significant legal weight.
  • A requirement for developers to seek community participation in design and planning much sooner in the application process, with a guarantee that agreements are legally binding.

Improved transparency...
  • A moratorium on the devolution of planning powers to Local Authorities until the Northern Ireland Secretary ends anonymity for party donors.
  • A requirement for planners to publish reasons for approval, just as they publish reasons for refusal.

  • A strict codes of ethics for planners and politicians.
  • The gradual and logical transfer of powers to councils, with compulsory training for councillors, to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible.

Access to justice...
  • Third Party Rights of Appeal.
  • Strengthen enforcement to ensure that breaches of planning conditions are never financially worthwhile.
  • Establishment and promotion of a community’s right to developer contributions, and encouragement of affected citizens to assert this right.
A summary of the campaign policy is available here.

Friends of the Earth invite people to receive regular updates on the What Are They Planning? campaign by emailing niall.bakewell[at]

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