The Department of the Environment (Northern Ireland) is responsible for developing and implementing Government planning policies and development plans in Northern Ireland. Following the reinstatement of the Northern Ireland Assembly these decisions are taken under the authority of the Minister for the Environment.
The Department also carries out the main Development Management and Enforcement functions for the region. The overall aim being 'to improve the quality of life of the people of Northern Ireland by planning and managing development in ways which are sustainable and which contribute to creating a better environment'. This overarching aim is supported by a series of business objectives.
In April 2011, Planning Service was restructured into two Divisions – Local Planning Division and Strategic Planning Division, as part of the preparations for the transfer of the majority of planning functions to local government. The Planning Act (NI) 2011, which received Royal Assent on 4th May 2011, provides the legislative basis for this transfer to take place within a timetable to be agreed by the Executive.
The Department's learning and development function is managed via a Departmental Training Commissioner with a Departmental Learning Plan being developed through Departmental Agencies and Core Divisions identifying key learning and development requirements. The Local Planning Division has a professional planning officer with responsibility for co-ordinating these needs with the Learning Commissioner's Team. In addition to in-house training, specific development needs are met via outsourcing of training from external providers and professional bodies, the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) Shared Service Centre, and on-line training.
Training and Development Highlights
- Extensive investment in business specific training and development over the last three years.
- Sponsorship of professional development through attendance at RTPI Conferences and other professional training events.
- Participation in seminars with local universities and other professional/interest groups such as RSUA and DARD.
- Approval to pay RTPI membership fees for all planning staff.