Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Thursday, 24 January 2013

Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

The meeting began in public session at 10:08am.

1. Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting on 17 January 2013 were agreed.

Mr Ross joined the meeting at 10:10am.

Mr McElduff joined the meeting at 10:10am.

3. Chairperson’s business 

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a note of a recent meeting with NILGA.

Agreed: That a copy of the note of the meeting with NILGA is forwarded to the Department for comment.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department inviting officials to brief the Committee on the progress of Local Government Reform at a future meeting.

4. Matters Arising 

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Voluntary Early Retirement Scheme for planners.

Mr Boylan joined the meeting at 10:17am.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Roe Valley Hydro Electric Scheme.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the establishment of the Marine Division.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on EU funding programmes.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking how many dedicated officers they have working on EU funding programmes.  Also ask what partnerships they have with Local Councils in relation to these programmes and if they have considered a secondment arrangement with Republic of Ireland to share information and expertise in drawing down EU funding.

Mr Elliott joined the meeting at 10:24am.

5. Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill and an extract from the PSNI report on Police Recorded Injury Road Traffic Collisions and Casualties Northern Ireland Annual Report 2011.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking what work is being done with schools to influence changes in driver behaviour and what collaborative work the Department carries out with other departments on road safety.  Also inform them that the Committee feels that local communities need to be listened to when introducing road safety measures as well as looking at scientific research.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Road Safety Association to ask for their views on tackling road safety in rural areas and the apparent discrepancy in the number of deaths on rural roads compared to urban areas.

6. Planning Bill

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with an Assembly Research paper on the Planning Bill.

Agreed: That a briefing is requested from NI Assembly Research on the Planning Bill and that the Research paper is uploaded to the Committee’s webpage and placed in the Planning Bill master file.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department requesting a response to the legal questions and other issues raised during the 2nd stage debate of the Bill.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Draft timetable for the Committee Stage of the Bill.

Agreed: That the timetable is accepted and a letter is sent to the Department informing them that members have agreed the extended Committee Stage of the Bill.

Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 10:42am.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Draft Committee motion to extend the Committee Stage of the Bill until 7 June 2013.

Agreed: That the Committee motion is signed by the Chairperson and forwarded to the Business Office.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a draft signposting advert.

Agreed: That the NI Assembly Communication Office is informed that the signposting advert can be published.

Mr Hamilton re-joined the meeting at 10:52am.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Draft Stakeholder list.

Agreed: That all the stakeholders listed are invited to submit written evidence on the Planning Bill and that a number of groups/individuals are added to the list.

Agreed: That the issue of possible duplication in Departments’ consultation process and Committees’ evidence gathering process is raised by the Chairperson at the Chairpersons Liaison Group.

7. Correspondence

Correspondence from the Committee for Regional Development inviting the Department to give a presentation in relation to their Inquiry into the Better Use of Public and Community Sector Funds for the Delivery of Bus Transport Options.

Agreed: That a copy of the correspondence is forwarded to the Department asking that they reply directly to the Committee for Regional Development.

Correspondence highlighting the dangers of the use of HID and Xenon conversion kits for cars, bikes and trucks.

Agreed: That a copy of the correspondence is forwarded to the Department to comment on the road safety implications in Northern Ireland.

Copy of letter from the Secretary of State in relation to Enterprise Zones.

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

Correspondence in relation to the MOT PFI contract.

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

Letter of concern in relation to the threat to the shoreline and environs of Strangford Lough by builders and developers.

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

Copy of a response from the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment in relation to the New Energy Efficiency Directive.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking what measures they are taking or intend to take to deliver their responsibilities under the Energy Efficiency Directive.

Email of concern in relation to a number of issues including the implementation of the Taxi Act

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

Members noted the following correspondence:

Memo from the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure in relation to the proposed joint Committee visit to Drumclay Crannog, Fermanagh.

Copy of correspondence from the Barroso Taskforce Working Group to the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure in relation to the Europe for Citizens programmes.

Letter from the Chairperson of the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure in relation to the possible co-ordination of all statutory committee’s visits to Derry – UK City of Culture 2013.

Copy of transcript of joint departmental briefing on the Lough Neagh Partnership forwarded by the Committee for Agriculture & Rural Development for the Committee’s information.

Copy of Assembly Research Paper of an overview of the “UK Guarantees” CBI Event held on 12 December 2012.

Copy of European Funding Summaries – Climate Change and Energy related EU funds.

Summary of progress on the Department’s delivery of their capital projects – Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland Investing Activity Report – January 2013.

8. PSNI briefing on Metal Theft

A representative from PSNI briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on Metal Theft.

The main areas of discussion were the current statistics for metal theft, the multi-agency strategy and the voluntary code with recyclers.

Mr McElduff left the meeting at 11:12am.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking how many annual visits and inspections have been carried out by NIEA on scrap metal dealers over the past 5 years.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the PSNI thanking them for their briefing and requesting a copy of the evaluation of the current voluntary initiative when it becomes available.

9. George Best Belfast City Airport briefing on proposed modification to planning agreement

Representatives from George Best Belfast City Airport briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the proposed modification to planning agreement.

The main areas of discussion were the timeframe of the proposed modification of the planning agreement and the additional information requested from Planning Service.

Mr Molloy left the meeting at 11:41am.

Mr McElduff re-joined the meeting at 11:48am.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking what the delay was in issuing guidance on the Environmental Noise Directive, when the guidance will be issued and if it will allow sufficient time for the 12 week consultation to take place for the Airport to meet its deadline for reply to the European Union.

10. Departmental briefing on proposed modification to George Best Belfast City Airport planning agreement

Departmental Officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the proposed modification to George Best Belfast City Airport planning agreement.

The main areas of discussion were the original planning agreement and the proposed timetable moving forward on this issue.

Mr McElduff left the meeting at 12:33pm.

Mr Ross left the meeting at 12:44pm.

Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 1:17pm.

11. Any other business
12. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 31 January 2013 at 10:00am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1:32pm.

Anna Lo, MLA
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
31 January 2013

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