Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Thursday, 15 December 2011

Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

The meeting began in public session at 10.17a.m

1. Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting on 1 December 2011 were agreed.

3. Chairperson’s Business

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a note of a meeting held with the Ulster Wildlife Trust in relation to Strangford Lough.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Modiolus Restoration Research Group asking for their comments on this case.

Agreed: That an invitation is sent to Ulster Wildlife Trust asking them to attend a future meeting to brief on this issue.

Agreed: That an invitation is sent to Department of Agriculture and Rural Development officials asking them to attend a future meeting to brief on this issue

Agreed: That a letter is sent to Northern Ireland Environment Agency asking for a copy of the DVD which was shown to members on the Strangford Lough boat trip in September.

Agreed: That an invitation is sent to representatives of the pot fishing sector asking them to attend a future meeting to brief the Committee on this issue.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a note of a meeting with the Chairperson of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development.

Agreed: That the Committee shares any information it receives relating to Strangford Lough and National Parks with the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development.

Agreed: That the Committees for the Environment and Agriculture and Rural Development arrange an event for all interested members on the greening of the CAP with Mr Hamell from DG Environment as the keynote speaker.

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

Agreed: That the Committee asks the Ulster Farmers’ Union for the position on national parks of its members within the Mourne area.

Agreed: That the Committee studies various models of national park when the legislation is being developed.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Department’s engagement with the European Commission on this issue and maps of protected areas of the lough.

Mr McGlone left the meeting at 10.40am.

4. Matters Arising

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the white paper on enabling legislation for national parks.

Agreed: That the response is forwarded to the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the legal costs of the Judicial Review into the seats for sale issue at George Best City Airport.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for the costs for the legal teams representing the applicant in this case once they are available.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on wind energy planning applications.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for clarification on the process for refusing planning applications for turbines within airport zones, expressing members’ concern that a number of applications were pending and that this could lead to a logjam which could result in incentives for renewable energy projects being lost and what action the Department is taking to ensure this does not occur; why only 55% of wind turbine applications were processed within the 23 week target and asking for an updated map every quarter.

Mr McGlone rejoined the meeting at 11.15a.m.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the timetable for implementation of the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a copy of the Committee on Climate Change’s Report on the Appropriateness of a Climate Change Act for Northern Ireland.

Agreed: That a video conference briefing is arranged for a future Committee meeting.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for a written update on the work of the Inter Departmental Working Group on Climate Change focusing specifically on the group’s goals, objectives, targets and achievements and asking how often the Independent Working Group meets and asking for copies of reports produced by the group.

Agreed: That Assembly Research and Information Service provides details on initiatives in England and Scotland in relation to Climate Change.

Members noted that they had been provided with an Assembly Research paper on the introduction of a charge on single use carrier bags in Wales.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on river basin management plans, grants issued under the Water Environment Community Award and the Lough Neagh Advisory Group.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department stating members’ concern with this response and that they feel it illustrates a lack of priority being given to this issue, a lack of a strategic approach and that more cross Departmental work is needed on this issue as well as more work with local councils.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a correspondence from River Faughan Anglers and a letter from Friends of the Earth to the Minister in relation to immunity timeframes for unauthorised development.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for comment on the issues raised and a copy of the response to Friends of the Earth.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on redeployed planning staff and management of workload in planning offices during periods of absence.

Agreed: That Departmental officials brief the Committee on this issue at a future meeting.

Members noted a DSD reply to Committee queries on the Boiler Replacement Scheme.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on its Disability Action Plan.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the impact of an 11 council model on waste management groups.

5.  Ministerial briefing on implementation of the 11 Council Model

Mr Clarke declared an interest as a member of Down District Council

Mr Kinahan declared an interest as an owner of a historic building.

Ms Bradley left the meeting at 11.45a.m.

Mr Hamilton joined the meeting at 12.14p.m.  

The main areas of discussion were the model chosen and the financial implications. Members also asked the Minister about severance arrangements for councilors, encouraging renewables and implementing taxi legislation.

Ms Bradley rejoined the meeting at 12.16p.m.

Mr Clarke left the meeting at 12.16p.m.           

6. Departmental briefing on the January Monitoring Round

Departmental officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the rollout of the January Monitoring Round.

The main areas of discussion were funding applications.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for information on the detail of the Barroso projects and the reasons for their delay.

Agreed: That the Committee is unable to support the Department’s Monitoring Round submission to DFP until more detail on actual amounts has been provided.

7. NI Ombudsman briefing on the performance of the Planning Service 

Mr Boylan left the meeting at 1.35p.m.

Representatives from the NI Ombudsman Departmental officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the performance of the Planning Service.

The main areas of discussion were enforcement, the Ombudsman’s powers and the review of the Ombudsman’s office.

8. Proposals for Secondary Legislation

SL1 – The Valuation Tribunal (Amendment) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2011

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a response from DOJ explaining why it believes the existing legislative and judicial structures address this concern and that it is not minded to include a time limit.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department for Justice Committee stating that the Committee is content for it to proceed with the policy.         

9. Statutory Rules

SR 2011/402 – The Pollution Prevention and Control (Amendment No 2) Regulations (NI) 2011.

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2011/402 – The Pollution Prevention and Control (Amendment No 2) Regulations (NI) 2011 and has no objection to these rules subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

Mr Boylan rejoined the meeting at 1.40p.m

SR 2011/403 – The Waste Management (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2011/403 – The Waste Management (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011 and has no objection to these rules subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

SR 2011/404 – The Planning (General Development) (Amendment No 2) Order (NI) 2011

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2011/404 – The Planning (General Development) (Amendment No 2) Order (NI) 2011 and has no objection to these rules.

10. Inquiry into used tyre disposal

The Chairperson informed members that they had now received the last of its planned oral briefing sessions.

Agreed: That members are content for the Secretariat to prepare a first draft on an interim report for consideration in the New Year.

Members noted a letter in relation to obtaining energy from waste tyres.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on OM Tyre Recycling.

Members noted a request to meet another Tyre Recycling company.

Agreed: That the Chairperson would meet the energy from tyres and tyres recycling companies and report back to the Committee.

11. Consultations

Consultation on proposals for Goods Vehicles Operators’ Fees.

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

Consultation on proposals for the Transitional Provisions of the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act.

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

Consultation proposed changes to the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulation (NI) 2007.

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

Consultation on draft Guidance on the High Hedges Act (NI) 2011 – synopsis of responses.

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

Consultation on proposals for a change on single use carrier bags – synopsis of responses and a tabled letter from the British Hospitality Association and a report commissioned by them on the food safety implications of the reuse of plastic bags.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking how it intends dealing with the concerns raised.

12. Departmental updates

Members noted a Departmental update on infractions.

13. Correspondence

Correspondence from the Ulster Federation of Rambling Clubs regarding the law on occupier’s liability and the establishment of long distance trails.

Agreed: That the correspondence is forwarded to the Department for comment and an update on its position that ‘existing Occupiers Liability Legislation is satisfactory’.

Request from the Chief Executive of NILGA to meet with the Committee Chair regarding the relationship and services portfolio between central and local government.

Agreed: That a meeting is arranged between the Chairperson and the Chief Executive of NILGA.

Departmental response to queries forwarded by the Committee on behalf of the Ulster Farmers’ Union.

Agreed: That the response is forwarded to the Ulster Farmers' Union.

Copy of Reservoirs Bill indicative timetable.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for details on any reservoirs it owns or has responsibility for.

Letter of concern from Ms Wilma Killen regarding planning application U/2011/0126/F and Abandonment Order U/2008/0665/F.

Agreed: That the letter is forwarded to the Department asking that the Committee be copied into any response and that a letter is sent to Ms Killen stating the Committee’s position.

Letter from the Chair of the ETI Committee regarding the DETI coordination and implementation of an Action Plan for the implementation of the Economic Strategy.

Agreed: That the letter forwarded to the Department for comment.

Members noted the following correspondence:

Letter of thank you from the Freight Transport Association NI.

Letter of thank you to the Committee Chair from the Chair of the Social Development Committee in relation to the SDC Fuel Poverty Event.

DETI response to Committee queries in relation to Hydraulic Fracturing.

Copy of presentation and discussion paper on the Young Peoples Strategy Outcomes Model.

Copy of Air Quality Summary Report for Northern Ireland in 2010.

Copy of papers for the Belfast Healthy Cities Annual General December meeting.

Copy of Playboard briefing paper – ‘Making Connections Trough Play’.

Letter of response from Naomi Long MP to Committee concerns in relation to the cost of car insurance in Northern Ireland.

Copy of RSPB – ‘Natural Foundations – Conservation and local employment in the UK’.

Further information from the Freight Transport Association regarding the Goods Vehicles Act.

Copy of Meta Morphosis November 2011 newsletter.

14. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 12 January 2012 at 10.00a.m. in the Senate Chamber.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.50p.m.

Anna Lo MLA
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
12 January 2012

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