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Public Inquiry for Proposed Gold Mining Plant

Minister for Infrastructure, Chris Hazzard, has announced his intention to hold a public inquiry into a proposal for a gold mining plant near Greencastle in Co Tyrone.  Pre-application community consultation has been undertaken but no planning application has yet been submitted.  Community Places has been providing advice to the Save Our Sperrins group which is opposing the proposed mining development.  The group’s grounds for objection include protecting the Sperrins as a community and tourism asset; the proposed use of cyanide during the gold mining process; and the visual and environmental impacts of the proposal.  

In acknowledging that the planning application will be complex and controversial, the Minister said: “I will ultimately be the final decision maker, but I would like the benefit of a public inquiry and report which has independently considered the views of stakeholders, including the local community, and has scrutinised the information provided by all interested parties”.   

13 December 2016

Revised National Standards for Community Engagement

The Scottish National Standards for Community Engagement have been revised to reflect recent changes in policy and legislation relating to community empowerment in Scotland.  The revised standards known as the ‘Magnificent Seven’ are good practice principles designed to support and inform the process of community engagement and to achieve more influential engagement in public services. The Standards are available at

13 October 2016

Minister Hazzard Announces Review of Planning Policies

Infrastructure Minister, Chris Hazzard, has announced a review of planning policies on renewable energy and countryside development.

Specialist research and advice consultants will undertake the review which will look at the rapidly changing technologies and types of renewable energy development - including wind turbines and solar farms -  and recommend the best policy approach going forward. 

In announcing the review, the Minister said he wanted to continue to improve the planning system to make it effective and efficient and to make sure that it operates in the wider public interest.  He said:

“I am committed to ensuring that the SPPS delivers for local communities and the North as a whole and that the planning system addresses the present as well as the long-term future needs of our society.  There will be opportunities for stakeholder engagement and public consultation next year and I would encourage people to give their views.  Any future changes to the policy would be subject to public consultation.”

It is expected that the review will be completed in 2018. 

Further details and progress updates on the review will soon be be available at

29 September 2016

Planning Advice Drop In Sessions - Enniskillen, Derry, Banbridge

We're continuing our region-wide planning advice drop in sessions.  

If you need advice on how to object to a planning application, how your local council’s planning department deals with development that is built without planning permission or any other information on the planning system drop in to one of our advice sessions:

You don’t need to make an appointment.  If you are not able to drop in to the advice session, we can provide planning advice by telephone (9023 9444) or by email ( 

27 September 2016

Rural Micro Capital Grant Scheme 2016

The Rural Community Network has asked us to share details of the Rural Micro Capital Grant Scheme 2016 (Phase 3)

The Scheme (which is now open for applications) is funded under the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Programme. Micro capital grants of between £200 and £1,500 are available to rural community-led, voluntary organisations for projects tackling issues of local poverty and/or social isolation.  The total project cost must not exceed £3,000.  Projects must clearly address an issue of rural poverty and/or social isolation and applicants must provide a minimum of 15% match funding.  Projects must focus on one of the following three themes (1) Modernisation [of premises or assets]; (2) ICT; or (3) Health and Wellbeing.

The scheme is being delivered by the Rural Support Networks on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.  Application forms, guidance notes and further advice and information is available from the Rural Support Network in your council area.  The Scheme is open for applications until noon on 30 September 2016.

6 September 2016