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NI planning fees to rise by 20pc

Fees for planning applications will rise by 20 per cent in Northern Ireland, government officials have revealed.

Department of Environment permanent secretary Stephen Peover said annual revenue from applications, which is usually about £21 million, dropped by almost £4.5 million last year because of the downturn.

He said the hike was essential to save jobs in the planning service.

Mr Peover told Stormont’s Environment committee that his minister Sammy Wilson had now agreed to the increase in tariffs, which currently range from £130 for certificates for minor home building work to thousands for major commercial and business developments.

The decision attracted criticism, with committee members questioning what impact the hike would have on the already struggling construction industry.