“The Department is therefore under a statutory duty..”

When the Environment Minister, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson, rescinded Lisnaragh’s designation as an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) a departmental spokesman emerged to claim that – “Given that the decision to confirm or rescind the declaration had to be made by 30 October and that there was insufficient time to discuss the committee’s concerns with the Minister, the decision was taken to rescind the declaration.” Now, after re-designating Lisnaragh as an ASSI, the Belfast Telegraph reports that the Minister has admitted to the Assembly Environment Committee

Mr Wilson said his officials had advised that a scientific report prepared on behalf of the landowners did not dispute the importance of the earth science or invalidate its selection as an ASSI. “The Department is therefore under a statutory duty to make a further declaration. I therefore propose to instruct NIEA to re-declare Lisnaragh ASSI and re-consult the landowners,” he said.

Except that the re-consultation appears to be a result of the re-designation, after the Ministerial rescinding, of the ASSI. And that official advice [pdf file] was given in advance of the Minister’s decision to rescind. So why, given the statutory duty now referenced, did the Minister rescind the designation in the first place?

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