Thursday 23 February 2012

Planning approval for hotel criticised by Greens

The Lagan Valley Green Party has criticised the SDLP Minister of the Environment for approving plans for a luxury hotel within Lagan Valley Regional Park.

Green Party Lisburn Town South spokesperson, Dr Luke Robinson, emphasised that the project is opposed by the Lagan Valley Regional Park and by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

Dr Robinson said, “In our opinion the project on the Hillsborough Road is in breach of several of the policy statements within the Lagan Valley Regional Park Local Plan. Specifically within the Park there should be a presumption against development unless strict criteria are met. In addition, there will be loss of habitat and risk to biodiversity. Unfortunately, in this instance, Minister Attwood appears to have given undue weight to economic arguments. Good planning needs to take place regardless of short term economic demands and must always strike the right balance between the concerns of the local area, the environment and the broader economy.

Dr Robinson continued, “More generally we are concerned that if this project proceeds it will continue to shift the seat of economic activity within Lisburn to Sprucefield rather than the city centre. With potentially two hotels operating in close proximity at Sprucefield there is little incentive for an operator to establish a city centre hotel that could be the hub of a rejuvenated night time economy. This decision by Minister Attwood highlights all that is wrong with the planning system in Northern Ireland. This is the right project in the wrong location.”


Photograph features Dr Luke Robinson, Lagan Valley Green Party, Lisburn Town South spokesperson, with the proposed Hotel site in the background.

Lagan Valley Regional Park is Northern Ireland’s first and only Regional Park and lies along the River Lagan stretching for 17.6 km from Stranmillis, Belfast to Union Locks, Lisburn. Read more about the Lagan Valley Regional Park at

Thursday 16 February 2012

Green MLA highly critical of Wilson’s attack on proposed Climate Change Bill

Green Party MLA Steven Agnew has hit back at Finance Minister Sammy Wilson’s attack on the Environment Minister when he branded the Climate Change Bill a ‘madcap policy’.

“We are all well aware that Mr Wilson is an unashamed climate change denier which he clearly demonstrated during his stint as Environment Minister.

“He carries on regardless with his views despite the fact that every national scientific body across the globe now agrees that human activity does influence the climate.

“It is even more dismaying as his statement comes on the same day that Northern Ireland’s first Climate Change Risk Assessment report has flagged up just some of the huge problems we will face in the future due to climate change such as coastal erosion, destruction of our delicate eco-system, increased flooding and water shortages.

“Climate change is an issue that we need to take seriously and simply burying one’s head in the sand by denying that there is nothing we can do to lessen its effects is simply not an option.

“Mr Wilson claims that legislation to protect our environment will damage our economy, put people out of work and increase fuel poverty.

“This shows his complete lack of understanding in terms of planning for the future and preparing our society and economy for a world that is rapidly changing.

“He claims that jobs will be lost but this effectively ignores the investment and export potential for the Green technology sector which will be the future base of global industry as resources grow increasingly scarce.

“We have a fantastic opportunity to lead the field in this area with our high level of skills in research and design and long tradition of industry.

“The global market for environmental goods and services is worth over £3,000 billion and the UK's share is £107 billion.

“Proper investment and commitment from the Finance Minister in the Green New Deal would see homes retrofitted for insulation thus reducing fuel poverty and it would create thousands of new jobs.

“We currently lose £2billion per year out of our economy on imported fossil fuels which previous DUP policies have locked us into.

“The spiralling cost of fossil fuels on the global wholesale market is the main contributing factor why so many people are in fuel poverty.

“The health of our environment is also directly linked to the health of our population so reducing pollution will actually ease the financial strain on the health service through preventative knock on effects.

“As far as a Climate Change Bill is concerned it is not that we can’t afford to put it in place – we can’t afford not to.

“At the very least we must cut our carbon emissions and the amount of waste dumped in landfill or face heavy penalties from the EU.

“It is crucial for our economy that the Finance Minister supports Mr Attwood’s Climate Change Bill for the health of our economy, our people and our environment.”