Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Sunday, 25 November 2012

Venue: The Senate Chamber

The meeting began in public session at 10:02am with the Deputy Chairperson in the Chair.

1. Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting on 18 October 2012 were agreed.

3. Matters arising 

Members noted Departmental replies to Committee queries on the consultation process for SAC designation and assistance to non-farming landowners in ASSI designated areas along with consultee lists.  Members welcomed the Departmental replies.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on Local Government Reform raised during the October Monitoring Round briefing on 4 October.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the proposed modification of the Planning Agreement between the Department and George Best Belfast City Airport.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to OFMdFM to ask for clarification on the PAC timetable.  Ask if the case can be looked at as soon as the information on noise issues is available, possibly in May 2013, instead of waiting until Autumn 2013.

Agreed: That a copy of the Departmental reply is forwarded to George Best Belfast City Airport and ask if they can provide a written response on this issue.

Mr Elliott joined the meeting at 10:10am.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on EU Vehicles Test proposals and a copy of the conclusion drawn by the House of Commons EU Scrutiny Committee.  Members were also provided with a copy of a letter from the Chairperson of the House of Lords EU Committee to the Under Secretary of State for Transport and a copy of a letter from the Under Secretary of State for Transport to the Chairperson of the House of Commons EU Scrutiny Committee.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking what it is doing to clarify the difference between existing Goods Vehicles regulations and these new EU Vehicles Tests proposals in order to avoid confusion.  Also remind the Department of the Assembly’s role in assessing subsidiarity of EU proposals and the need for early information.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the use of fuels in smokeless areas.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on Supplementary Planning Guidance of Policy PED 8 of PPS 4.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on Bus Operator Licensing.

Mr Boylan joined the meeting at 10:17am.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries following the Departmental briefing on the single use carrier bag charge regulations.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department requesting information on the initiation of a communications plan on the levy as outlined in its PfG Delivery Plans.  Also highlight the Committee’s concerns in relation to the Department’s approach to biodegradable bags as members feel it could lead to confusion and undermine the purpose of the levy.

Members noted replies from the Department of Justice and PSNI on metal theft.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Political Reference Group on local government.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking if it has given guidance to the Green Party and TUV as to whether their representative on the Political Reference Group should be from local or central government or if this is being left up to the party to decide.

4. Consultations

Consultation on the reintroduction of a Fixed Penalty for an offence of using a goods vehicle without an operator’s licence.

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

5. Marine Bill

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with replies from both the Anglo North Irish Fish Producers Organisation and the Northern Ireland Marine Task Force on displacement.  Members have also been provided with an extract from ANIFPO’s response to the Committee’s call for evidence on the Marine Bill.

Agreed: That a draft amendment to cover displacement is prepared by the Bill Clerk for consideration at the next meeting.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department requesting a briefing from officials at the meeting on 8 November 2012.  Also ask the Department if it has any areas in mind for MCZ designation at this stage.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with replies from stakeholders on the three proposed Departmental amendments.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to all MLAs informing them that the Department has proposed three new amendments for the Marine Bill and that the Committee will not be tabling their amendment at Consideration Stage of the Bill.

6. Retail Planning in Border Areas Event

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a secretariat report on the event along with a report from the academics that facilitated the event.

Agreed: That copies of the reports are forwarded to the Minister for the Environment, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and the Parliamentary Association for information.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to Newry and Mourne District Council requesting a copy of their Memorandum of Understanding with Louth County Council.

7. Correspondence

Copy of Belfast City Airport Watch reply to the Department for Transport’s Draft Aviation Policy Framework.

Agreed: That a copy of the correspondence is forwarded to the Department for a response on its input into the consultation in relation to noise and to the Regional Development Committee for information.

Copy of the Northern Ireland input to the final UK Government Response to the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) annual progress report on the performance of UK Government in moving towards Carbon Budget targets.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking why it believes only a 4-fold increase is required to reach its 40% electricity from renewables target when the CCC Report anticipated a 5-fold increase.

Correspondence from National Beef Association NI in relation to the payment of the Northern Ireland countryside management scheme and single farm payments by the Department of Agriculture & Rural Development.

Agreed: That a copy of the correspondence is forwarded to the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development.

Correspondence from the Committee for Health, Social Service and Public Safety in relation to Health Inequalities.

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

Copy of the DOE and DVA Corporate Plans (2012/15) and Business Plans (2012/13).

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for updates on the report, plan, strategy and review referred to in R1.9, R1.10, R2.12, and R3.11 respectively of the Business Plan.

Members noted the following correspondence:

Copy of Friends of the Earth’s briefing document, ‘Who Pulls the Strings?’

Departmental reply to the Committee’s request for additional information on how much the Department has drawn down from INTERREG III Programme for tyre recycling projects.

Copy of a Research and Information Service briefing paper on – World Heritage Sites – Developments and Delistings.

Departmental reply to correspondence forwarded by the Committee from Mr McElgunn in relation to a proposed Special Area of Conservation.

Email of concern regarding the UK Government planned cull of badgers.

Article 31 – letter to advise the Ministers intention to grant planning permission X/2005/0653/O – retail development, Court Street Newtownards.

8. Ulster Wildlife Trust briefing on Modiolus Restoration Plan for Strangford Lough

Representatives from the Ulster Wildlife Trust briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the Modiolus Restoration Plan for Strangford Lough.

The main areas of discussion were the likely causes of the deterioration of the Modiolus reefs in Strangford Lough and the next steps in the process of the restoration plan.

Mr McElduff joined the meeting at 10:33am.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Ulster Wildlife Trust asking for a list of the contacts and engagements it made prior to writing to the EU in relation to Strangford Lough.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department requesting a briefing from officials at the meeting on 15 November 2012. 

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Northern Ireland Fish Producers Organisation requesting a briefing at the meeting on 15 November 2012. 

9. Departmental briefing on synopsis of responses to consultation on Draft Policy HS 3 (Amended) Traveller’s Accommodation

Departmental Officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the synopsis of responses to consultation on Draft Policy HS 3 (Amended) Travellers’ Accommodation.

The main areas of discussion were responses to the Department’s consultation and how this will effect planning when the functions are transferred to local councils.

Mr McElduff left the meeting at 11:33am.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for the definition of ’Traveller’ that the Department uses.

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

10. Any other business

11. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 8 November 2012 at 10:00am in Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11:53am.

Anna Lo, MLA
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
8 November 2012

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