Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Thursday, 20 September 2012

Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

The meeting began in public session at 10:04am

1.       Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2.       Minutes

The minutes of the meeting on 13 September 2012 were agreed.

3.      Chairpersons business

The Chairperson informed members the briefing that had been requested for today on draft Policy HS3 (Amended) Travellers’ Accommodation has been put back to the meeting on 25 October 2012 at the Department’s request.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a letter from Holywell Trust on Prehen Wood, additional correspondence that has been sent to the Committee during recess and Departmental replies on this issue.  The Committee reiterated its position of not engaging in individual planning applications and members were content with the decision it had made previously on this issue.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental press release on Dunluce.  The Chairperson also informed members that she had recently visited the Dunluce excavation site and provided a brief update on the visit.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Minister asking what plans he has to progress a visitor’s centre at Dunluce and how the issue of car parking facilities will be addressed.

Mr Elliott joined the meeting at 10:17am

The Chairperson informed members that she had recently met the Chief Executive of NILGA to discuss the Local Government Reform process.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Minister asking for a breakdown of the bid for local government reform and if he has an alternative plan if the Executive rejects his request for additional funding.  Also to ask for an updated timeline for the reform process noting in particular the start date.

4.       Matters arising 

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a copy of the Departmental forward work programme for September – December 2012 and an analysis of the work programme from April – July 2012.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for an update on the enabling legislation for National Parks and further information on the introduction of the Water Framework Directive Regulations 2012.  Also ask whether the introduction of the Single Use Carrier Bag Levy is on target and what exactly will happen in April 2013 in relation to this.  Ask the Department the reason for the withdrawal of the Planning Fees Consultation and whether the original consultation was ever in the public domain.  Also request sight of the Department’s response to the Committee on Climate Change – Meeting Carbon Budgets – before it is sent to the UK Government.

Members noted a copy of the Committee’s draft forward work programme.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with three Assembly Research papers: Privately Owned Land Within National Parks, Regulations – Other than Planning – in UK National Parks and Tourism Promotion in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to NI Assembly Research to thank them for the preparation of these papers.

Agreed: That the Research papers are included in the Committee packs for the visit to UK national parks on 26-27 September 2012.

Members noted the itinerary for the upcoming visit to UK national parks and newspaper articles in relation to national parks.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Committee End of Session Report.

Agreed: That the report is published on the NI Assembly website.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a draft Committee response to the Department on the NI Marine Taskforce report on the Committee’s report into the Marine Bill.

Agreed: That the response is issued to the Department.

5.       Consultations

Consultation on European Territorial Co-Operation 2014-2020

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking what input it intends to make to this consultation as regards these European programmes being available for DOE projects such as built heritage.

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

Consultation on proposed amendment to the Local Government Pension Scheme Regulations

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

6.       Departmental Update

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with information on compliance with the planning agreement at George Best Belfast City Airport covering the period January 2011 – September 2012.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department requesting statistics on late flights from November 2010 – October 2011.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to OFMdFM informing them that the Committee believes the Planning Appeals Commission should be afforded the appropriate resources to allow it to come to a decision as quickly as possible on George Best Belfast City Airport. 

7.       Proposals for secondary legislation

SL1 – The Smoke Control Areas (Exempted Fireplaces) (No 2) Regulations (NI) 2012

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

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on SL1 – Increase in Driver Licensing Fees and a copy of the SL1

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

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking them to consider an incremental increase in fees in future rather than large hikes.  Also for the Department to demonstrate how it exhausted all possibilities of internal efficiencies before resorting to fee increases.

 8.      Statutory Rules

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with an Examiner of Statutory Rules Report on four Goods Vehicles Statutory Rules which the Committee agreed at the meeting on 5 July 2012.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department seeking an assurance that it will endeavor to meet the 21 day rule in future, especially when the regulations are large and complex.

9.       Council Access Officers/Dedicated Walking Routes

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a synopsis of responses from local councils to Committee queries on access officers and dedicated walking routes.

The Chairperson informed members that they had also been provided with an article from the Belfast Telegraph on access for rambling.

Agreed: That a Research Paper is requested on the experiences of local authorities in relation to liability and provision of access in Northern Ireland and the UK.

Agreed: Forward a copy of the synopsis of responses to the Ulster Federation of Rambling Clubs.

Agreed: Forward a copy of the synopsis of responses to the Department.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking if this issue will tie in with the power of wellbeing being devolved to local councils.  Also ask if the Department has considered providing incentives to encourage greater access.

10.     Departmental Response to Committee Inquiry Report into Used Tyre Disposal

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with the Departmental response to the Committee inquiry into used tyre disposal.

Agreed: That the Department’s response is published on the Committee’s page of the NI Assembly website.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Office of Fair Trading in relation to the discrepancies between the rates of tyre recycling levies charged by retailers.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department expressing the Committee’s disappointment at the Department’s reply and ask if the Department is now considering the introduction of primary legislation.  Also ask for clarification on recommendations 16 and 19, as members felt the responses received were vague. 

Agreed: That a press release is issued in relation to the Departmental response.

 11.   Correspondence

Letter and associated correspondence in relation to PAC investigation into development at 21 Larch Hill, Holywood

Agreed: That a copy of the correspondence is forwarded to the Department for comment

Invitation to meet with representatives of the Freshwater Taskforce at Clotworthy House, Antrim to discuss issues relating to sustainable water.

Agreed: That the Committee accept the invitation and combine this with an external Committee meeting on Thursday 15 November 2012.

Correspondence from the Met Office seeking to brief the Committee on the latest scientific understanding of climate change.

Agreed: That Mr Hill from the Met Office is invited to brief the Committee on this issue.

Request from Phil Flanagan MLA to brief the Committee on his proposed Private Members Bill relating to the protection Townlands receive in the numbering of properties.

Agreed: That Mr Flanagan is invited to brief the Committee on this issue.

Correspondence from the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure in relation to issues raised by the Minister of the Environment during the Motion on the protection of archaeological artefacts.

Agreed: That a copy of the correspondence is forwarded to the Minister of the Environment.

Correspondence from the UFU in relation to a Northern Ireland Climate Change Act and the concerns of the agri-food sector.

Agreed: That a copy of the correspondence is forwarded to the Department for comment

Request from Farmers for Action to brief the Committee on planning, Corporate Social Responsibility and National Parks

Agreed: That a representative from Farmers for Action is invited to the next Committee stakeholder event

Correspondence from the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure and the Committee for Finance and Personnel detailing their position in relation to the launch of the Northern Ireland Place-Names Project.

Agreed: That a letter is forwarded to the Committee for Finance and Personnel and the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure to inform them that members will attend the launch.

Members noted the following correspondence:

Letter from the Northern Ireland Government Affairs Group in relation to the provision of evidence material to NI Assembly Committees

Copy of DVA Compendium of Key Statistics 2011/2012

Copy of DVA Annual Report and Statement of Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2012

Copy of DOE Resource Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2012

Copy of Public Accounts Committee Report on Safeguarding Northern Ireland’s Listed Buildings

Copy of the Executive’s European Priorities 2012/2013 Implementation Plan

Copy of NIEL News – September 2012

Article 31 notice to approve planning application X/2004/1800/F – two-storey extension to Ards Shopping Centre

Correspondence in relation to the Departmental response on sea dumping of munitions

Copy of ECNI press release in relation to a public information meeting on new vehicle licensing regulations

Copy of Development Control Advice Note 10 (revised 2012) Environmental Impact Assessment

12.    Departmental briefing on Metal Theft

Departmental Officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on metal theft.

The main areas of discussion were the increase in the number of reported thefts and the work being carried out to develop ways forward in tackling this issue.

Mr Campbell left the meeting at 11:36am

Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 12:08pm

Agreed: That the PSNI are invited to brief the Committee on this issue.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the PSNI asking what percentage of all crime does metal theft account for.

Agreed: That a press release is issued in relation to metal theft

13.    Any other business

14.    Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 4 October 2012 at 10:00am in the Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12:18pm.

Anna Lo, MLA
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
27 September 2012

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