Cross-border co-operation on land use vital post-Brexit: new report

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A new report on the Irish planning systems has argued cross-border co-operation should continue after Brexit to ensure sustainable development in Derry and Donegal.

The paper by the Oireachtas’ and Assembly’s research services suggests co-operation will be necessary to prevent inappropriate ‘back-to-back’ developments along the border.

Its authors, planning experts Susie Cave and Maggie Semple, point out that though the northern and southern planning systems are distinct, for years they have been influenced by shared European Union (EU) policy frameworks.

“While NI and Ireland operate under different planning systems, both systems have been influenced by developments in the EU, particularly around the areas of spatial planning, environmental requirements and protection, and enforcement.

“Synergies lost in these areas may present new challenges for those operating across jurisdictions in the future.

“Due to this it has been highlighted that continued collaboration and co-operation will prove even more important for development both sides of the border post Brexit,” the authors state.

The paper highlights how central government planning policy in both Belfast and Dublin has been jointly influenced by the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP), which focuses on spatial planning, investment and infrastructure in the border area.

The ESDP is explicitly referenced in both the North’s Regional Development Strategy (RDS) 2035 and in the South’s Project Ireland 2040 National Planning Framework (NPF).

According to Cave and Semple, this is important for somewhere like Derry and Donegal, where the two different planning systems co-exist in an area of massive potential development to the North, South and West of Derry City.

“In line with this, both Governments have developed Spatial Strategies on the Island of Ireland - Framework for Collaboration.

“This is a non-statutory framework which lays down the approach to be taken by both Governments in co-operating with the implementation of their spatial strategies.

“The NPF and RDS identify the North West as an area requiring focused cross-border co-operative working through the promotion of a Derry/Londonderry Letterkenny gateway for economic growth and development,” they report.

They further acknowledge how the “Derry/Londonderry and Strabane Community Plan raises concerns in relation to the impacts of Brexit on cross border trade and investment and highlights the need for integrated and closer cross border planning and delivery structures”.