Project reaches planning milestone
Earlier this summer, the Minister for Infrastructure, Nichola Mallon, announced her intention to refer Dalradian’s planning application for an environmentally responsible mine to a public inquiry.
This is a welcome development that will offer another forum for the public to engage with the facts of the project and provide further independent scrutiny.
The detail required by Northern Ireland’s planning system for this regionally significant project is – quite rightly – meticulous. It has taken the best part of a decade to research and develop the project and progress the planning application.
The application was submitted in 2017 with further environmental information provided last year. The application includes a series of detailed reports looking at issues such as the environment, the economy, health, habitats and transport.
The planning process also requires ongoing engagement with the authorities to provide clarification and further information. So far, we’ve held around 100 meetings with a wide range of consultees such as the Public Health Agency, the Health & Safety Executive and the agencies responsible for
environment, economy, roads and rivers.
Following the submission of further information last year, the majority of statutory consultees have now responded and no major issues with respect to human health, tourism or the environment have been raised. These responses are available on the Planning Portal.
The purpose of the public inquiry, according to Minister Mallon, is to “allow for robust scrutiny of the application in a public forum”.
We are confident that we have designed a world-class project which will bring economic and community benefits to the region – including some 1,000 direct and indirect jobs – whilst using modern technology and design that meets or exceeds Northern Ireland’s strict environmental standards.
Ultimately, however, it is for the planning system to test whether the project meets the exacting standards demanded of it and the public inquiry is a key part of the process.
We expect that the application will be referred to the Planning Appeals Commission for a public inquiry this year with a final decision being made in 2021.
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