Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Thursday, 06 December 2012

Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

The meeting began in public session at 10:13am.

1. Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2. Departmental update briefing on the work of the Barroso Taskforce Desk Officers

Departmental Officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the work of the Barroso Taskforce Desk Officers.

The main areas of discussion were the background and establishment of the Barroso Taskforce Desk Officers, their engagement with other Member States in Brussels and the funding streams available to the Department.

Mrs Kelly joined the meeting at 10:20am.

Lord Morrow joined the meeting at 10:22am.

Mr Elliott joined the meeting at 10:24am.

3. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting on 29 November 2012 were agreed.

Mr Weir left the meeting at 10:35am.

4. Chairperson’s business 

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a note of a recent meeting with Community Transport Association on bus operator licensing.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department inviting officials to brief the Committee on this issue at a future meeting.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking why formal records of stakeholder meetings are not kept and how the Department is capturing information produced at these meetings.


Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Rural Community Network and the Rural Development Council asking for their comments on the current bus operator licensing proposals.  Also ask what engagement has taken place to date with the Department for the Environment on this issue.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to Community Transport Association inviting their representatives to brief the Committee at a future meeting.

5. Matters arising 

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on archaeological artefacts, sites and finds.

Agreed: That a copy of the Departmental reply is forwarded to the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on surplus Planning staff.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for further details on the Department’s future plans for returning staff and whether there is enough work within the Planning Service to sustain them.  Also ask how the numbers of planning staff returning will impact on the Voluntary Redundancy Scheme and whether those currently on secondment can apply to be considered for the scheme.  Also ask if the Department is confident that the money secured for the scheme in October monitoring will be spent by the end of the financial year.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on financial forecasting.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the progress of the Marine Bill.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Committee on Climate Change Report.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Ministerial reply to Committee queries on the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act.

Agreed: That a copy of the Ministerial reply is forwarded to Mr Paul Givan MLA, who had raised the initial query.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with an updated Departmental Forward Work Programme.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department requesting further information on the reasons for slippage in the Department’s forward work programme.

Mr Weir re-joined the meeting at 10:48am.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Rose Energy planning application, a copy of an article from the Irish News and an Assembly Research paper on the impact of incineration on phosphate in chicken litter.

Agreed: That a copy of the Departmental reply and Assembly Research Paper is forwarded to the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a copy of minutes from the meeting of the Cross Departmental Working Group on Climate Change held in April 2012.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking who is responsible for the actions from this meeting and what the timescales are for completion.

Members noted a Departmental update on the EU Roadworthiness Proposals. 

6. Consultations

Departmental reply on Consultation on Human Trafficking and Exploitation Draft Bill.

Agreed: That a copy of the Departmental reply is forwarded to the sponsor of the Bill.

Members noted the synopsis of responses to Consultation on the Amendments to 2011 Waste Regulations.

Departmental reply on synopsis of responses to Consultation on Pollution Prevention and Control (Industrial Emissions – NIEA) Charging Scheme 2012 and a copy of synopsis of responses.

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

7. Proposal for Secondary Legislation

SL1 – The Water Framework Directive (Priority Substances and Classification) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

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

Departmental reply on SL1 – The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 and copy of SL1.

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

 8. NI Audit Office Report on The Grange, Waringstown

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a copy of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on The Grange, Waringstown.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department inviting officials to brief the Committee on this issue, after the Northern Ireland Audit Office has reported back to the Public Accounts Committee.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department requesting details of the actions in place to address the issues raised in the Northern Ireland Audit Office Report along with a timeline for their completion.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Northern Ireland Audit Office inviting their representatives to brief the Committee after it has reported back to the Public Accounts Committee.

9. Waste Management Procurement Process

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Ministerial reply on future capacity, replies from the three Waste Management Groups on future capacity and a reply from the NI Association of Independent Recyclers on future capacity.

Members were also provided with a Department of Finance and Personnel reply on the waste infrastructure programme and Analysis of 2020 Residual Waste Infrastructure Requirements in Northern Ireland.

Agreed: That the Waste Management Procurement Process is added to the agenda for the Minister’s briefing at next week’s meeting.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for an update on its position on the reclassification of recyclates.

10. Correspondence

Departmental reply to Committee queries on planning applications at 72 Torr Road, Ballycastle and Prehen Wood.

Agreed: That a copy of the Departmental reply is forwarded to the original correspondent.

Letter from Craigavon Borough Council on their previous correspondence to the Committee regarding abandoned building sites, properties and unfinished housing developments.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to Craigavon Borough Council informing them that their previous correspondence was forwarded to the Committee for Regional Development for consideration as part of their Inquiry into Unadopted Roads in Northern Ireland.

Copy of paper from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the Review of the Balance of Competences.

Agreed: That a copy of the paper is forwarded to the Department asking what action it intends to take in relation to the review and when.

Members noted the following correspondence:

Correspondence from George Best Belfast City Airport in reply to Committee queries on the proposed modification of the planning agreement between the Department and GBBCA.

Departmental letter to notify the Committee of the intention of the NIEA to publish the 2010 & 2011 compliance data for water utility discharges from Northern Ireland Water on its website.

Departmental letter informing the Committee of the Minister’s actions regarding Westminster proposals on future nuclear power stations and consultation with Northern Ireland.

Letter from Causeway Coast Communities Consortium in support of the potential benefits of a national park.

Additional papers from Cyclists of Critical Mass & Green Action on their meeting with the Committee Chair on 14 November regarding the DOE and road safety.

Mrs Kelly left the meeting at 11:15am.

Mr Weir left the meeting at 11:15am.
 

11. Briefing by B9 Organic Energy Ltd

A representative from B9 Organic Energy Ltd briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on their work in the field of Anaerobic Digestion.

The main areas of discussion were the background to B9 Organic Energy Ltd’s work, their new facility in Dungannon and the potential for renewable energy in the agricultural sector.

Mrs Kelly re-joined the meeting at 11:31am.

Mr Ross left the meeting at 11:32am.

Agreed: That a research paper is requested on best practices in the area of Anaerobic Digestion and what is being done on this issue in Europe and the rest of the world.

12. Any other business

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a letter from NILGA requesting a meeting with the Chairperson and members on Local Government Reform.

Agreed: That a meeting between the Chairperson, members and representatives from NILGA is arranged for a date in January.  

13. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 13 December 2012 at 10:00am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11:52am.

Anna Lo, MLA
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
13 December 2012

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