Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Thursday, 04 October 2012

Venue: Devenish Room, Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen

The meeting began in public session at 10:15am          

Agreed: That a letter of thanks is sent to Mr Gregory Campbell for his work on the Committee

1. Apologies

There were no apologies

2. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting on 20 September 2012 were agreed.

3. Matters arising 

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on DVA services

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking if any DVA services are being transferred to Post Offices

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Conservation (Natural Habitat) (Amendment) Regulations

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department expressing the Committee’s concern at the slippage in the laying of these regulations and  requesting a briefing on this issue at next week’s meeting

Mr Weir joined the meeting at 10:22am

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee comments on the Examiner of Statutory Rules’ report on Nitrates Action Programme Regulations

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for an update on the Rose Energy planning application

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Water Framework Directive Regulations

4. Consultations

Consultation on the draft Northern Ireland Marine Litter Strategy

Agreed: That a copy of the synopsis of responses is requested.

Departmental reply on the consultation on proposed Special Areas of Conservation in the Antrim Coast Area

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for clarity on the consultation process, especially with those farmers whose land is affected.  Also ask about the Department’s relationship with DARD in relation to the Countryside Management Scheme.  Inform the Department that the Committee believes that local MLAs and MPs should be notified directly, especially in light of recent moves to separate central and local government representation. 

5. Proposals for secondary legislation

SL1 – The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) – Driving Licence Standards – Vision and Epilepsy

Agreed: That the Committee is content for the Department to proceed with the policy.  

6. Statutory Rules

Members noted SR 2012/337 – The Road Traffic (2007 Order) (Commencement No 5) (Amendment) Order

SR 2012/354 – The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department requesting a briefing on this issue at next week’s meeting

7. EU Vehicle Tests

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on EU vehicle tests

Agreed: That the Committee’s opposition to the proposals is communicated to the Department, the Department for Transport, OFMdFM and the NIO Executive Office in Brussels, MEPs, the EU Transport and Tourism Committee and the Ulster Farmers’ Union. 

8. Correspondence

Letter from Craigavon Borough Council in relation to the Council’s concern at the number of abandoned building sites and unfinished housing developments throughout the Borough.

Agreed: That a copy of the correspondence is forwarded to the Committee for Regional Development as part of their Inquiry into Unadopted Roads and ask what stage the inquiry is at.

Request from Green Action and Cyclists of Critical Mass to meet the Chairperson to discuss the aims of the Department in relation to transport and road safety.

Agreed: That the Chairperson meets with a representative from Green Action and Cyclists of Critical Mass on behalf of the Committee and report back.

Request from Nivan Taggart to meet the Chairperson in relation to events at Torr and the Planning Service

Agreed: That a copy of the correspondence is forwarded to the Department for comment before considering if the Chairperson should meet Mr Taggart

Correspondence from the Committee for Social Development in relation to their potential investigation into the extent of cross-departmental co-operation regarding poverty and social deprivation. 

Agreed: That a copy of the correspondence is forwarded to the Department for comment on how its strategies, policies and programmes are contributing towards the alleviation of poverty and social deprivation

Departmental response in relation to the handling of the Lennox case by Belfast City Council

Agreed: That the correspondence is noted as this issue does not come under the Department’s local government remit

Copy of NIEA Annual Report and Accounts 2011/12

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking what measures it will be taking to ensure that it meets its target for responding to planning consultations in the coming year

Correspondence from the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development asking to be kept informed of any developments regarding Rose Energy planning applications

Agreed: That any further developments on this issue are forwarded to the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development

Members noted the following correspondence:

Copy of the Consumer Council Annual Report and Accounts 2011/12

Correspondence from Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment in relation to hydraulic fracturing

Copy of second round of noise maps based on 2011 data

Article 31 notice to approve planning application Y/2007/0612/F – Carryduff Shopping Centre

Copy of Department of Education briefing paper ‘Priorities for Youth Education’

Correspondence from Ulster Federation of Rambling Clubs in relation to Access Officers and dedicated walking routes

Ministerial reply to Committee for Education in relation to school transport health and safety

9. Departmental briefing on October Monitoring Round

Departmental Officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on October Monitoring Round.

The main areas of discussion were the Department’s latest in-year financial position and the proposed content of the Department’s submission to DFP.

Mr Ross joined the meeting at 10:59am

The Chairperson welcomed Mr Alastair Ross to the Committee.

Mr Hamilton joined the meeting at 11:04am

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for a breakdown on how Local Councils spend money received through the Scheme of Emergency Financial Assistance.  Also inform the Department that the Committee feels there is little purpose in providing training to Councillors that may not stand at the next election and express the Committee’s concern at how long it still takes planning decisions to be made despite the 50% fall in applications.  Express the Committee’s concern that they were not officially informed of the amount of the Minister’s bid for Local Government Reform and were only made aware of this through conversations with an external body.

Agreed:  That a letter is sent to the Department informing them that the Committee is content to support its Monitoring Round bids.

10. Fermanagh Ulster Farmers Union Branch briefing on National Parks

Fermanagh UFU Branch representatives briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on national parks.

The main areas of discussion were the work of the local farming community in Fermanagh and their concerns with the enabling legislation for national parks.

Mr Elliott declared an interest as a member of the Ulster Farmers Union

Mr McElduff joined the meeting at 11:37am

11. Fermanagh District Council briefing on National Parks

Fermanagh District Council representatives briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on national parks.

The main area of discussion was the Council’s position regarding the proposed designation of national parks in Northern Ireland and in particular in County Fermanagh.

Mrs Kelly left the meeting at 12:39pm 

12. Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism briefing on National Parks

Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism representatives briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on national parks.

The main area of discussion was the views of Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism members in relation to national parks designation.

Mr Ross left the meeting at 1:00pm

13.    Any other business

14.    Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 11 October 2012 at 10:00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1:14pm.

Anna Lo, MLA
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
11 October 2012

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