28 January 2006

Army has ‘veto’ on house plans

Daily Ireland

By Connla Young

a homeowners in Co Armagh has complained after the British army confirmed it had an input into planning applications in the area.
The British army's involvement in the planning process came to light this week when south Armagh man Martin Clarke revealed that the Ministry of Defence had held up an application by Northern Ireland Electricity to connect his new home in Dromintee to the electricity grid.
NIE requires planning permission to erect five electricity poles that will carry power to Mr Clarke's new home. After a delay of several months, the angry Armagh man was told this week that planners had finally received approval from the British army for the poles.
“This caused me a major inconvenience. NIE did a survey and got permission from the landowners and it was referred to the planners.
“I was told that they then referred the matter to the Ministry of Defence in London, where it was probably left in a corner somewhere. This job should have been done in September but I'm still waiting to get into my new home. I was very surprised to learn that the hold-up was caused by the British army,” he said.
Newry and Mourne district councillor Anthony Flynn said he was concerned at revelations that the British army had a say in approving planning applications in south Armagh.
“It appears to be a fact that the British army have the veto over planning applications in south Armagh, and I am led to believe that this does not happen in any other area throughout the Six Counties,” said Mr Flynn.
He said he would seek full clarification on the issue at the council’s next planning committee meeting.
The Sinn Féin councillor added: “It is essential to learn how far-reaching this veto is. People are asking have the British army an input to all planning applications including housing, which in effect is a veto,” he said.
A spokesperson for the British army maintained it had no veto.
“Just like other public bodies, utility companies and local councils, the MOD is one of many consultees on planning applications.
“Any objection that the MOD has must be fully within the current planning legislation and therefore the MOD has no power of veto on planning applications in Northern Ireland,” said the army spokesperson.
A spokesman for the Department of the Environment’s Planning Service said: “The Craigavon divisional planning office routinely consults Defence Estates on all applications for overhead powerlines.”

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