Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Thursday, 26 January 2012

Venue: Room 21, 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 19 January 2011 were agreed.

3.      Matters Arising

Members noted a copy of the review of the North South Interconnector planning application.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the work it is carrying out as part of the Barroso Taskforce.

Agreed: That the Committee writes to the Department to request an update on the status of the 4 officials recently appointed to European posts. 

Members noted a Ministerial letter on the repatriation of waste.

Members noted a copy of the Chief Nuclear Officer’s report on the circumstances of the Fukushima accident and a progress report on the stress tests of non-power plant licensed unclear installations in the UK.

Ms. Bradley joined the meeting at 10:15

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on sequence of events that led to the transfer of oil from the Genmar Companion.

Agreed: That the Committee would like further information on why the Genmar Companion was kept at sea for the oil exchange process and not taken into Belfast port. Members also agreed to ask the Department how UK-wide emergency planning measures impact on Northern Ireland and what influence and input the Northern Ireland Executive Departments have on the preparation implementation of UK emergency plans.

Members also wanted it noted that the Committee does not have to be meeting to be appraised of any issue likely to be of concern to it or the wider public. The Chairperson and/or the Secretariat are always contactable and can relay information to members accordingly.

Mr. Clarke joined the meeting at 10:17

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Cross Departmental Working Group on climate change.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Modiolus Restoration Committee.

Agreed: That the Committee would consider this response again when it received an oral Departmental briefing at a future meeting. 

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on funding for gating orders.

Members noted that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the synopsis of responses to the Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations.

Agreed: That the Committee was content for the Department to proceed with the regulations. 

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Sustainable Framework for UK Aviation.

Agreed: That the Committee requests a time frame for the Aviation Strategy

4.      Consultations

Synopsis of responses to consultation on Noise and Statutory Nuisances.

Agreed: That the Committee is content for the Department to proceed with the policy but members wanted confirmation that noise emanating from illegal race tracks could be dealt with under the proposed regulations.

5.      Proposals for Secondary Legislation

SL1 – The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) –

Driving Licence Standards – Diabetes.

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

6.       Statutory Rules

SR 2012/7 – The Motor Vehicles (Taxi Drivers’ Licences) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012.

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2012/7 – The Motor Vehicles (Taxi Drivers’ Licences) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012 and has no objection to the rule subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

SR 2012/8 – The Local Government (Specified Bodies) Regulations (NI) 2012.

The following members declared an interest:

Mr. Weir as a member of North Down Borough Council

Mr. Clarke as a member of Down District Council

Lord Morrow as a member of Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council

Ms. Bradley as a member of Newtownabbey Borough Council

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2012/8 – The Local Government (Specified Bodies) Regulations (NI) 2012 and has no objection to the rule subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

7.       Inquiry into used tyre disposal

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with an Environmental Protection Agency reply to Committee queries on the management of used tyres.

Agreed: That the reply would be included in and inform the Committee’s Inquiry report

Mr. Weir left the meeting at 10:25

8.      Departmental updates

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with an update on MOT pass/fail rates and a comparison of the pass rates with previous updates.

The Committee discussed the issue of disciplinary action against DVA employees and request more information on this

Agreed: That the Committee requests details of any disciplinary action that has been taken recently against any DVA employees who have operated in breach of the regulations governing the MOT process. The Committee also agreed to request details of the process for employees to declare their interests when conducting MOT tests and a copy of the “conflict of interest” book.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a chart indicating the pass rates in percentages compared to previous updates.

Agreed:  That the Committee would continue to receive further briefings

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with an update of the number of outstanding post project evaluations.

Agreed: That the Committee will request an explanation of the difference between an internal and external purpose and if this refers to the assessment or the project.

10.     Departmental briefing on the waste management procurement process.

Departmental Officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the waste management procurement process.

The following members declared an interest:

Mr. Weir as a member of North Down Borough Council

The main areas of discussion were the procurement process, the Gateway Review, risk assessment and value for money.

Agreed: That the Committee would email a list of further questions to the Department for reply.

Mr. Weir returned to the meeting at 10:38

11.     Briefing by the Consumer Council on the cost of car insurance in Northern Ireland.     

Representatives from the Consumer Council briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the cost of car insurance in Northern Ireland.

The main areas of discussion were the reasons why the Consumer Council believed that the cost of insurance was higher in Northern Ireland compared to the rest of the UK and how to address Northern Ireland’s 30,000 uninsured drivers.

Mr. McGlone left the meeting at 11.00

Mr. McGlone returned to the meeting at 11.06

Ms. Bradley left the meeting at 11.20

Mr. Dallat left the meeting at 11.25

Agreed: The Committee agreed to ask the department for an update on measures to improve insurance enforcement in Northern Ireland.

Ms. Bradley returned to the meeting at 11.35

Mr. Dallat returned to the meeting at 11.38

Mr. Clarke left the meeting at 11:53

Mr. Kinihan left the meeting at 12.27

12.    Briefing by Association of British Insurers on the cost of car insurance in Northern Ireland.

Representatives from the Association of British Insurers briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the cost of car insurance in Northern Ireland.

The main areas of discussion were the failure by some UK insurance companies to provide their services in Northern Ireland and why there was a difference in price compared to the UK

13.     Briefing by the Law Society Northern Ireland on the cost of car insurance in Northern Ireland.

Representatives from the Law Society Northern Ireland briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the cost of car insurance in Northern Ireland.

The main areas of discussion were the advances of Claims Management companies operating in Northern Ireland and the payment of referral fees to Law companies and other third party companies by the insurance companies.

Ms. Bradley left the meeting at 1.14

Ms. Bradley returned to the meeting at 1.34

Agreed: That the Law Society would forward a copy of its Judicial Studies Report to the Committee.

14.     Correspondence

Letter to the Minister from the Belfast Hills Partnership Trust regarding their concerns to the culverting of urban river valleys, and subsequent applications for retrospective planning permission.

Agreed: That the Committee will request a copy of the Minister’s response

Email from the Labour Party European Officer regarding applications for funding under LIFE+ and LIFE.

Agreed: That the Committee will forward to the Department for comment.

Copy of paper from the Department of Finance & Personnel regarding the implementation of Savings Delivery Plans.

Agreed: That the Committee will ask the Department why it has only provided Saving Delivery Plans for the current year & when will it be providing the additional information

Email from the Chairman of the Driving Instructors Association regarding the Compulsory Basic Training courses in Northern Ireland.

Agreed: That the Committee will forward to the Department for Comment

Member’s noted the following correspondence:

Ministerial response to Committee queries raised by the Committee Chairperson during the Assembly debate on planning enforcement.

Copy of Historic Houses Association response to the Draft National Planning Policy Framework.

Letter of response from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in relation to septic tanks.

15.     Any other business

16.     Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 2 February 2012 at 10.00a.m. in the Senate Chamber.

The Deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 13:35

Anna Lo, MLA
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
02 February 2012

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