Frew seeks Council hearing for KellsVocal

Members of Kells Vocal with a model of the area and how the proposed Solar Farm would look at a recent public meeting in Kells & Connor Community Centre. Included are Mervyn McMullan, Jane Burnside (vice-chairperson), Tom McGarry Arthurs, Nikki Nesbett, Pamela Dennison (secretary), Ed Crawford (chairman) and Eileen Russell. INBT 32-101JC
Members of Kells Vocal with a model of the area and how the proposed Solar Farm would look at a recent public meeting in Kells & Connor Community Centre. Included are Mervyn McMullan, Jane Burnside (vice-chairperson), Tom McGarry Arthurs, Nikki Nesbett, Pamela Dennison (secretary), Ed Crawford (chairman) and Eileen Russell. INBT 32-101JC

A DUP assemblyman wants to know why a delegation from KellsVocal - who are campaigning against a huge solar farm scheme - have been ‘denied permission’ to make their case to Mid & East Antrim Council.

Paul Frew has asked Anne Donaghy, Chief Executive of Council, to clarify the situation.

He said: “ When Ballymena Borough Council was still in existence they received a presentation from the applicants. I understand the planning process has changed and Council now have greater powers and responsibilities in planning but surely that’s even more reason for objectors to be heard? We are not asking Council or Councillors to form an opinion or to make a decision. KellsVocal simply want to put their points across the same way the applicant was afforded.”

He acknowledged that the planning decision has been ‘called in’.

“This is a term which means that it (the application) goes to the central planning service and then to the DOE Minister (Mark Durkan) to make a decision. Council may well become consultees instead of being the sole decision makers. I can see no reason at present why Council shouldn’t inform itself with as much information as possible about this planning application.”

And he argued: “Councillors are elected to represent their electorate , to make difficult decisions that will impact their communities. They need to be armed with as much information as possible to make those decisions otherwise the process could be flawed.

“What signal does this send out to the people? They are desperately concerned about a process that is taking place which will affect their lives, yet contact with their elected representatives has been denied.”

The Ballymena and Antrim Times has asked Mid & East Antrim Council for a response.