Just noting this one for now. The Belfast Telegraph reports unease within the Department of Environment’s Planning Service about the minister’s “ongoing correspondence on individual [planning] cases.”
Concern has been expressed about avoiding potential conflict of interests, arising from Mr Wilsons roles as both Environment Minister and constituency politician. But a DoE spokesman said: As an MP and MLA, the Minister can raise issues around planning applications in his constituency with the Planning Service. Planning files are open to the public and transparent. Any representation made by any constituency representative is openly recorded. A conflict of interest would only arise where the Minister is involved in the final decision making process. Any such conflict will be avoided.
Mr Wilson told the Belfast Telegraph: It would be absurd, when planning is such a big issue, for an elected MP or elected MLA to be prevented from contacting planning officials. I will not allow myself to be corralled in that way. I have a job to do.