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Explanatory Memorandum to Planning Amendment (Northern Ireland) Order 2003

New enforcement powers

Article 3 ‑ Planning contravention notices

This Article provides for the issue of a planning contravention notice, the purpose of which is to strengthen the Department's power to obtain information prior to taking enforcement action, to encourage dialogue with any persons thought to be in breach of planning control and to secure their co‑operation in taking corrective action. Failure to comply with such a notice within 21 days of its service is an offence, liable on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale (currently £1,000). In addition any person who makes a false or misleading statement in respect of a notice is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (currently £5,000). Failure to comply with a notice could also affect any future entitlement to compensation payable in connection with stop notices.

Article 4 ‑ Enforcement of conditions

This Article provides for the issue of a breach of condition notice for breaches of conditions attached to a planning permission. It may be served if there is clear evidence that a planning condition has not been complied with. Non‑compliance with a breach of condition notice shall be an offence liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale (currently £1,000).

Article 5 – Injunctions

This Article gives the Department an express power to apply to the Courts for an injunction to prevent any actual or threatened breach of planning control. This power also applies in relation to unauthorised works to a listed building, breaches of a tree preservation order and certain acts in respect of trees in a conservation area; and, any actual or apprehended breach of a hazardous substances contravention order. The intention is to integrate injunctions into the range of enforcement powers available to the Department so that they may be used, whether or not other enforcement powers have been, or are intended to be, used. Rules of court may provide for an injunction to be granted against a person whose identity is unknown.

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