Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Thursday, 27 October 2011

Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

The meeting began in closed session at 10.05a.m.

1. Departmental briefing on the Wild Birds Directive

Departmental officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the transposition of the Wild Birds Directive.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to Department asking for maps showing the protected areas of Strangford Lough in relation to deterioration of the Horse Mussel (Modiolus) Biogenic Reefs and for the Committee to be kept regularly updated on developments in relation to implementation of the Wild Birds Directive.

The Chairperson declared the meeting open to the public at 10.45a.m.

2. Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

3. Chairpersons Business

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a note of the meeting with the NI Renewables Industry Group and a note of their meeting with the Minister.

Agreed: That NIRIG are invited to provide an oral briefing at the meeting on 24 November 2011.

The Chairperson asked members if they would like to ask for more information on the process of fracking.

Agreed: That the Research and Information Service are asked to provide a paper on the issue of fracking including the processes involved and any potential financial benefits for Northern Ireland.

4. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting on 20 October 2011 were agreed subject to a minor amendment.

5. Matters Arising

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental replies to Committee queries on energy use.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department stating the Committee’s disappointment that there does not appear to be a strategic approach to energy reduction across departments or guidance from central government to councils on how to reduce energy usage.

Agreed: To forward responses to Research and Information Services for consideration along with the Committee’s previous request for them to revisit the reasons why carbon reduction initiatives are such a low priority for councils.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Ministerial reply to Committee queries on the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Scheme.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department stating Members’ concern in relation to the size of the CRC levy now that it is no longer recycled and calling for a review of the level of the tax and how the scheme is impacting on businesses.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to queries from the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).

Agreed: That copy of the response is forwarded to the UFU.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental letter in relation to the single use carrier bag levy.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department stating members’ concern about the impact of linking an initiative to protect the environment with revenue raising objectives and that the Committee would like to see black bin bags included within the levy.

Agreed: That the Research and Information Service is asked to provide information on how the Welsh system is operating.

6. Departmental briefing on the rollout of the Road Safety Strategy 2010 – 2020

Ms Bradley joined the meeting at 10.34a.m.

Departmental officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the rollout of the Road Safety Strategy 2010 – 2020.

The main areas of discussion were speed limits, drink driving and enforcement.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department stating the Committee’s support of the Strategy and welcomed the progress that has been made to date and requesting a timescale for all action measures in the Strategy and information on the reasons for the delays in implementing the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act.

Mr Kinahan left the meeting at 11.25a.m

The Chairperson informed members that they have been provided with a Departmental letter in relation to car tax renewal facilities.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Minister for Transport to ask for the same facilities for car tax renewal to be made available to Northern Ireland customers.

Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 11.51a.m.

The Chairperson informed members that they have been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on listed buildings.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking if grants are still available to owners of listed buildings for their upkeep and, if so, the total amount of grant funding available; how the Department is progressing in the process of listing buildings and if there is evidence to substantiate the Department’s claim that a moratorium on construction on a site where a listed building has been destroyed due to vandalism might result in problems of planning blight.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on simplified planning zones.

Members noted the Introduction and Background to the UK Government’s response to the Committee on Climate Change’s 3 rd statutory annual report on the progress towards the Carbon Budget targets set in the UK Climate Change Act

The Chairperson informed members that the proposed briefing from the Committee for Climate Change (CCC) provisionally arranged for this week has been postponed. The CCC has advised that it has not yet submitted its report to DOE and will be contact with Committee staff when the report is forwarded to the Minister.

Agreed: That the future briefing on this issue is to take place via video conference.

7. Proposals for Secondary Legislation

SL1 – Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (Amendment) Regulations 2011

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

SL1 – Removal of blanket ban in NI on insulin treated diabetics holding taxi driver licences

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

SL1 – The Planning (Fees) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011

Agreed: To ask the Department why the GDP deflator forecast in 2011/12 is the same as that applied in 2010/11 (2.9%) as there was a feeling that inflation is rising.

SL1 – The Planning (2011Act) (Transitional Provisions) Order (NI) 2011

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

SL1 – The Nitrates Action Programme (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011

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

8. Consultations

Synopsis of responses to High Hedges Fee Consultation

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

9. Departmental update

Departmental update on MOT pass/fail rates.

Agreed: That the MOT pass/fail rates submitted by the Department in previous years will be compared with current data to assess if rates are changing.

10. Correspondence

Letter from the Clerk of the Committee for Education requesting relevant information the Committee holds regarding home to school transport.

Agreed: To forward information requested to the Education Committee.

Letter to the Minister regarding a proposed ASSI and the development of a Bypass in the Castlecoole area of Enniskillen.

Agreed: To forward correspondence to the Department for comment.

Copy of Department of Finance discussion paper on the Executive’s Review of the Financial Process.

Agreed: Committee secretariat to produce a draft response for the next Committee meeting on Thursday 10 November 2011.

Request to brief the Committee from the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

Agreed: That a meeting is arranged for Tuesday 8 November 2011.

Members noted the following correspondence:

Copy of first edition of the ecar quarterly newsletter

Copy of Chairpersons’ Liaison Group meeting, key issues and decisions taken on 18 October 2011.

Copy of the Marine Climate Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) newsletter.

11. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 10 November at 10.00a.m.in the Burrendale Hotel.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.15p.m.

Anna Lo MLA
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
10 November 2011

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