ASSEMBLY BUSINESS

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Tuesday, 07 February 2012

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

1.39 pm The meeting commenced in Open Session

1. Apologies

There were no apologies.

2. Chairperson’s business

The Chairperson advised that to date there had been a low response rate to the stakeholder event scheduled for 16 February 2012. He further advised that committee office staff will be contacting the invitees to ascertain if they will be attending. The Committee agreed that the Chairperson could make the decision on Friday as to whether or not to proceed with the stakeholder event if confirmed numbers were low.  Members also decided to revisit this matter at the next meeting.

3. Minutes

Agreed: The Committee agreed the Minutes of the meeting of 31 January 2012.

4. Matters Arising

The Chairperson reminded the Committee that the ETI Committee will receive a briefing from InterTradeIreland on the Agri Food report on Thursday 9 February 2012 and that he will be in attendance to represent the Committee and bring forward any questions Committee Members may have. Members were advised to forward questions they would like raised to the Committee Office.

(a)   Correspondence received

Agreed: The Committee noted the correspondence dated 31 January 2012 from the Minister regarding the rejection of DARD inspected and approved seed potatoes in Morocco and agreed to forward the correspondence to the Ulster Potato Association. The Committee agreed to write to the Department to ask how prepared it was  for another rejection of this type, what, if any, lessons have been learned, and whether any action taken or planned.

Noted: The Committee noted the correspondence dated 31 January 2012 from the Public Accounts Committee regarding the Whistleblower correspondence alleging agricultural subsidy fraud and agreed that the matter will be pursued via local MLAs.

1.55 p.m. Mr McCarthy left the meeting

Noted: The Committee noted the correspondence dated 26 January 2012 from the Chairman of the EFRA Committee acknowledging the ARD Committee request to present evidence on the EFRA Inquiry on Greening the CAP.

Noted: The Committee noted the correspondence dated 26 January 2012 from Margaret Ritchie MP advising that she has made representations to the EFRA Committee to have a meeting with the ARD Committee Chair and Deputy Chair. The Chairperson advised that a meeting will be organised within the coming weeks.

Agreed: The Committee noted the correspondence dated 31 January 2012 from the Department regarding Lay Tuberculosis (Tb) Testing Pilot. The Committee agreed to write to the Department to request an update on the evaluation of the pilot at the end of March 2012.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing in the coming weeks from the Ulster Wildlife Trust.

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence on Draft European Priorities from the OFMDFM Committee and the Department. The Committee agreed to respond to the request for comments from the Department, and to copy its response to the OFMDFM Committee, noted the Department’s agreement to extend the response deadline to after the meeting on 28 February 2012

2.01 p.m. Mr Irwin left the meeting

Agreed: To note correspondence from the Environment Committee regarding the postponed briefing by the Department on the protection of Modiolus in Strangford Lough.

2.07 p.m. Mr T Clarke joined the meeting

2.15 p.m. Mr Irwin re-joined the meeting

2.20 p.m. Mr Buchanan left the meeting

Agreed: The Committee noted the correspondence from Mrs Jo-Anne Dobson MLA and Mr Robin Swann MLA regarding the problem of rural crime. The Committee agreed that the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson should meet with their counterparts in the Justice Committee to explore options on how to take this issue forward, and to arrange an informal, cross-party meeting with the Policing Board and the Chief Constable’s office. The Committee also agreed to request that the Minister provides an update to the Committee on her meetings on this issue when she briefs the Committee on 14 February 2012. The Committee also decided to return to consider this matter following receipt of the Research paper on Rural Crime, including the possibility of the Committee bringing a motion to the floor of the Assembly.  Further options could be explored.

2.31 p.m. Mr Buchanan re-joined the meeting

2.31 p.m. Mr Swann joined the meeting

5.    Presentation Rural Support Network: Anti- Poverty and Rural Development Programmes                   

The following representatives joined the meeting:

Wendy Kerr

Brenda Morris

Barry Boyle

Nicholas McCrickland

The representatives briefed the Committee and this was followed by a question and answer session.

2.53 p.m. Mrs Dobson left the meeting

3.05 p.m. Mrs Kelly left the meeting

3.05 p.m. Mr Buchanan left the meeting

6.    Presentation: DARD: Reservoirs Bill Policy Proposals Consultation                 

The following departmental official joined the meeting:

David Porter, Director of Development, Rivers Agency

The official briefed the Committee and this was followed by a question and answer session.

3.15 p.m. Mrs Kelly re-joined the meeting

3.16 p.m. Mr Buchanan re-joined the meeting

3.16 p.m. Mrs Dobson re-joined the meeting

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to consider the consultation paper at the next meeting and forward any comments it may have to the Department.

7.    Presentation DARD: Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment

The following departmental officials joined the meeting:

David Porter, Director of Development, Rivers Agency

Philliip Mehaffey, Director of Operations, Rivers Agency

The officials briefed the Committee and this was followed by a question and answer session.

3.33 p.m. Mr Irwin left the meeting

3.45 p.m. Mr McCarthy re-joined the meeting

3.46 p.m. Mr McMullan left the meeting

3.49 p.m. Mr Irwin re-joined the meeting

3.51 p.m. Ms Boyle left the meeting

3.55 p.m. Mr Swann left the meeting

4.07 p.m. Mr McCarthy left the meeting

4.08 p.m. Mr Irwin left the meeting

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister to urge her to make strong representations in the PPS 15 review to eradicate the ambiguity which exists in relation to planning applications on which Rivers Agency is not, but should be, consulted.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister to ask if her Department has an estimated cost for implementing the recommendations made in the Pat Doherty MLA report entitled “Review into the Operational Performance of the Rivers Agency” and if so could the Committee have sight of it.

4.20 p.m. Mr Swann re-joined the meeting

4.20 p.m. Mrs Dobson left the meeting

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to write to the Minister to ask if she can provide an estimate of the capital and resource costs involved in the yearly maintenance of flood risk. The Committee also requested details of any contingency funding arrangements or mechanisms in place, in the Department or between DARD and the Executive,  to compensate those affected by flooding, including farmers suffering crop damage.

Agreed: The Departmental officials agreed to forward a copy of the report entitled “Roles and Responsibilities for Surface Water”.

4.44 p.m. Mr T Clarke left the meeting

8.    S.R. 435/2011 The Northern Ireland Poultry Health Assurance Scheme (Fees) Order (NI) 2011

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has considered the Northern Ireland Poultry Health Assurance Scheme (Fees) Order (NI) 2011 and has no objection to the rule.

9.    S.R. 436/2011 The Northern Ireland Poultry Health Assurance Scheme Order (NI) 2011

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has considered the Northern Ireland Poultry Health Assurance Scheme Order (NI) 2011 and has no objection to the rule.

10. S.R. 437/2011 The Zoonoses (Amendment) Order (NI) 2011

The Committee noted the Zoonoses (Amendment) Order (NI) 2011.

11. S.R. 438/2011 The Trade in Animals and Related Products Regulations (NI) 2011

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has considered the Trade in Animals and Related Products Regulations (NI) 2011 and has no objection to the rule.

12. S.R. 440/2011 The Non-Commercial Movement of Pet Animals Order (NI) 2011

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has considered the Non-Commercial Movement of Pet Animals Order (NI) 2011 and has no objection to the rule.

13. Forward Work Programme

Agreed: The Committee agreed to host a seminar with Mike Hamell on “Greening the CAP” and agreed to invite the Environment Committee and other interested stakeholders. An options paper will be included in the meeting pack for the next meeting.

14. Any other business

A Member raised recent media coverage on the forthcoming EU Pig Welfare Regulations, to be in full compliance by 31 January 2013, which may have a detrimental effect on the Pig Industry in Northern Ireland.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to ask the Department for a briefing on the forthcoming EU Pig Welfare Regulations.

15. Date of next meeting

Agreed: The next meeting of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development will take place on Tuesday 14 February 2012, at 1.30pm, Room 30, in Parliament Buildings.

The meeting was adjourned at 4.49 pm

Paul Frew, Chairperson, Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development

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