Information Leaflet 11: Applications raising matters relating to National Security
Article 21 of the Planning Reform (NI) Order 2006 (the Reform Order) inserts a new Article 112A in the Planning (NI) Order 1991 (the 1991 Order). This Article applies the provisions of the 1991 Order to the Crown, with the exception of enforcement functions covered by Articles 74, 76B, 80 and 82B of the 1991 Order, subject to express provisions detailed in Articles 112B-112E. This means, in effect, that from 10 June 2006 the Crown requires planning permission or consent as required by the 1991 Order and relevant subordinate legislation.
- Article 22 of the Reform Order also inserts new Articles 123A and 123B in the 1991 Order. These Articles provide the planning framework for dealing with those rare planning applications etc. or exceptional cases of evidence at any public local inquiry or independent examination, where the public disclosure of information would be contrary to the national interest.
- Article 123B provides, in relation to an application for planning permission or an application for any consent, certificate, approval or determination under the 1991 Order or a development order, that the Secretary of State may certify the application as one to which Article 123B applies, if he is of the opinion that consideration by the Department of the application or of any representations or objections made in respect of it, will raise matters relating to national security or to the measures taken or to be taken to ensure the security of any premises or property and that public disclosure of information relating to such matters would be contrary to the national interest.
- Where a certificate is issued under Article 123B, the Department is required by Article 123B (2) to hold a public local inquiry (an inquiry) for the purpose of determining the planning application unless it may dispense with an inquiry because either no objections or representations are received in respect of the application to which a certificate relates or objections or representations made are withdrawn.
- Under Article 123B (3) the Secretary of State may by rules – the Planning (Issue of Certificate) Rules (NI) 2006 - provide for the procedure to be followed in relation to the issue of a certificate and enabling the Department to dispense with an inquiry where no objections or representations are received in relation to an application or where those are withdrawn.
- The Department is empowered under Article 123 (2) of the 1991 Order to make rules regulating the procedure to be followed in connection with inquiries and independent examinations held by or on behalf of the Department under the Order. The Planning (Inquiry Procedure) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2006 (the Inquiry Procedure rules) detail the procedures for an inquiry required as a consequence of a certificate issued under Article 123B.
- Article 123A (2) provides that, where the Secretary of State is satisfied in the case of an inquiry or examination that the giving or making available of evidence would be likely to result in the disclosure of information in relation to national security and/or the measures taken or to be taken to ensure the security of any premises or property and public disclosure of that information would be contrary to the national interest, he may direct that evidence described in the direction may only be heard or be open to inspection at the inquiry or examination by specified persons.
- Where the Secretary of State is considering giving a direction under Article 123A (2), the Advocate General for Northern Ireland may appoint a person, known as an Appointed Representative, to represent the interests of any person who will be prevented from hearing or inspecting any evidence at an inquiry or examination, if the direction is given. He may also appoint a person at any time for the purposes of the inquiry or examination.
- Article 123A (6) provides that the Lord Chancellor may by rules make provision as to the procedure to be followed by the Secretary of State before he gives a direction and as to the functions of Appointed Representatives - The Planning (National Security Directions and Appointed Representatives) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2006 (the NSD&AR rules).