Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Thursday, 22 September 2011

Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

The meeting began in public session at 10.04a.m. with the Deputy Chairperson in the Chair

1. Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting on 15 September 2011 were agreed.

Mr McGlone left the meeting at 10.06a.m.

3.Matters Arising

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental update on their progress report to the Equality Commission.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking if any respondents to the consultations recommended that the policy proposals should be subject to a full EQIA and for further information on why the targets in relation to road safety and vehicle regulation were not met.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking what the Department is doing to contribute to the Executive’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee comments that more pressure needs to be put on DfT to introduce more car tax facilities in Northern Ireland.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department stating that members are not content with the reply and believe that more could be done to increase the facilitation of car tax renewal at post offices.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department stating that members noted that there is inferior access for customers in Northern Ireland to renew their car tax online or via the telephone and that the Committee would like to be kept informed of discussions and progress on these three aspects of this issue.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on co-operation with DRD on odour nuisance from sewage works.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Ministerial letter regarding the High Hedges Act and the Northern Ireland Valuation Tribunal (NIVT).

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for clarification that the proposed rules of procedure for the Northern Ireland Valuation Tribunal will enable it to deal both with appeals from complainants and those who have been the subject of a complaint.

Members noted a Departmental letter regarding the Environment Strategy for Northern Ireland discussion Document and a copy of the Ulster Anglers’ Federation submission.

Mr McGlone joined the meeting at 10.26a.m.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on taxi enforcement.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking if taxi enforcement is intelligence led, the extent and outcome of combined operations with PSNI and statistics for previous years to draw comparison with current operations.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for more detail on what determines roadworthiness and an indication of how unroadworthiness of vehicles used as taxis compares with that of heavy goods vehicles. Members also expressed concern on the numbers of drivers being brought for prosecution and feel that operator licensing needs to be introduced as quickly as possible to raise standards across the industry.

Mr McGlone rejoined the meeting at 10.23a.m.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the implementation of the Planning Act.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department noting that the committee would like the Department to ensure that elements of the Planning Act which can be implemented in advance of the Local Government Reform are not delayed.

Agreed: That a copy of the Departmental reply is forwarded to Causeway Coast Communities Consortium for information.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Budget Exchange Scheme.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the High Hedges Act timetable.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for a briefing at a future meeting.

5. Proposals for secondary legislation

SL1 – The Smoke Control Areas (Authorised Fuels) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011.

Agreed: That the Committee is content for the Department to proceed with the policy and that a letter is sent to the Department asking for reassurance that, considering the high level of fuel poverty in Northern Ireland, the Department has considered the impact of smokeless zones on fuel poverty and how it might be more flexible in relation to smoke control areas to reduce this.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Committee for Social Development asking for statistics on how many boilers have been replaced on the boiler scrappage scheme. Members feel that older boilers are detrimental to human health and the environment and encourage the Committee for Social Development to encourage their Department to give support for the replacement of old boilers.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment outlining the environmental and health impacts of old boilers and encouraging their Department to give support for the replacement of old boilers.

SL1 – Proposed amendments to the Goods Vehicles Testing Regulations (NI) 2003 to provide for trailer logging system.

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

SL1 – Controls on Dogs (Non Application to Designated Land) (Order) (NI) 2012.

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

SL1 – Dog Control Orders (Prescribed Offences and Penalties) Regs (NI) 2012.

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

SL1 – Dog Control Orders (Procedures) Regs (NI) 2011.

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

6. Consultations

High Hedges Act Guidance.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department stating that the Committee feels that more needs to be done to better inform the public of this Act as there is a perception that the Act goes further than it actually does.

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

Consultation on implementing EU Regulations.

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

Mr Weir left the meeting at 10.44a.m.

Consultation on Proposed Access to Driver Licensing Records Regulations – synopsis of responses.

Agreed: That the Committee is content for the Department to proceed with the policy but that members want to see evidence of the Department taking account of the Information Commissioner’s concerns when putting the policy into practice.

7. Flytipping Protocol

Mr Weir rejoined the meeting at 10.47a.m.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a synopsis of responses to the Flytipping Protocol Consultation, a copy of the

proposed framework, recommendations from Committee’s report on the Waste and Contaminated Land (Amendment) Bill and NILGA’s views on the Protocol

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for clarification of the status of the flytipping protocol, justification of the proposed hazardous waste threshold and an explanation of the inclusion of flytipping in the NILAS targets.

8. Departmental updates

Members noted a review of taxi fare structure and a benchmarking report.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a response to Committee queries on Article 31 planning applications.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department stating the Committee’s concerns over the validity of the list as it would appear that the Department relies on applicants to withdraw applications that have been superseded.

9. Ministerial briefing on PPS 23 and 24

The Minister of the Environment and Departmental officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on PPS 23 and 24.

The main areas of discussion were the redeployment of planning staff, the introduction of a planning reform bill, wind energy planning applications, the withdrawal of PPS 24 and the Review of Public Administration.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for further information on the experience of the introduction of Simplified Planning Zones in England.

Agreed: That Departmental officials provide the Committee with information on the Scottish model for planning policy statements.

The Chairperson suspended the meeting at 12.25p.m.

The meeting restarted at 12.30p.m. with the following members present: Mr Hamilton, Ms Bradley, Mr Dallat, Mr Boylan.

10. Departmental briefing on inquiry into used tyre disposal

Departmental officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on used tyre disposal.

Mr McGlone rejoined the meeting at 12.42p.m.

The main areas of discussion were producer responsibility schemes, tyre audit trails, tyre recycling and enforcement.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for clarification on the recruitment of staff to the Environmental Crime Unit, specifically the numbers being recruited and the reasons for the unit being significantly under its staff compliment.

Agreed: That a copy of the letter from the NIEA to Belfast City Council is forwarded to the Department.

Agreed: That the Committee will continue gathering evidence in relation to the Committee inquiry.

Agreed: That the reporting period of the inquiry is extended to allow time for the Department to provide the outcome of their Waste Data Survey and develop and implement their Action Plan.

Agreed: That a press release is issued welcoming the Department’s proposals to review and develop an Action Plan for used tyres and indicate an extension to the Committee’s Inquiry report to accommodate the data this will generate.

The Chairperson informed members that they have been provided with all the submissions to the inquiry in their master file.

Agreed: That Belfast City Council, Newline Waste Solutions, Ballymena Borough Council, Arc 21, SwAMP, Michelin, the Tyre Recovery Asscoation and PPP Group are invited to brief the Committee at future meetings.

Agreed: That a tyre retailer is invited to brief the Committee at a future meeting.

11. NILGA briefing on inquiry into used tyre disposal

Representatives from NILGA briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on used tyre disposal.

The main areas of discussion were the lack of an audit trail for the disposal of tyres, the need for partnership working between councils, the Department and other statutory agencies, flytipping and enforcement.

12. Correspondence

Correspondence from the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure to the Department regarding the review into PPS 6.

Agreed: That the correspondence is forwarded to the Department for comment.

Letter requesting to brief the Committee from Northern Ireland Renewables Industry Group (NIRIG).

Agreed: That a meeting is arranged between members and NIRIG to discuss the issues raised.

Correspondence from the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development to the Department regarding the Rose Energy Incinerator.

Agreed: That the correspondence is forwarded to the Department.

Members noted the following correspondence

Email from the Consumer Council regarding their response to the banking reform report.

Copy of the Department of the Department of the Environment Resource Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2011.

Email detailing the Consumer Council’s petition to lower the cost of car insurance in Northern Ireland.

Copy of the Ulster Farmer’s Union (UFU) response to the Department of the Environment consultation on Environmental Governance in Northern Ireland.

Copy of the Consumer Council’s Annual Report and Accounts 2010 – 2011.

Departmental response to the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment request for further information on recommendations in the Committee Inquiry into barriers to the development of renewable energy.

13. AOB

A member raised the issue of the senior member of staff recently suspended by the Department.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for an update on this issue.

14. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 29 September at 10.00a.m. in the Senate Chamber.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.25p.m.

Simon Hamilton MLA
Deputy Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
29 September 2011

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