Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 02 July 2008
COMMITTEE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
THURSDAY 3 JULY 2008,
ROOM 144, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Mr Patsy McGlone (Chairperson)
Mr Trevor Clarke
Mr David Ford
Mr Tommy Gallagher
Mr Samuel Gardiner
Mr Ian McCrea
Mr Alastair Ross
Ms Patricia Casey (Assembly Clerk)
Mr William Long (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Sean McCann (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Iain Elliott (Clerical Officer)
Mr Billy Armstrong
Mr Cathal Boylan
Mr Daithi McKay
Mr Peter Weir
The meeting commenced in public session at 10.34a.m.
Apologies are detailed above.
Agreed – the draft minutes of the meeting on 26 June were agreed.
3. Matters Arising
Report by Carbon Trust – Assessment of Energy Saving Opportunities For Parliament Building, Stormont:
The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a copy of a report by Carbon Trust on energy saving opportunities within Parliament Buildings.
Chairperson’s meeting with Ulster Federation of Rambling Clubs:
The Chairperson informed members that he recently met a representative of the Ulster Federation of Rambling Clubs to discuss concerns in relation to rambling in Northern Ireland.
Agreed: That DOE officials are invited to a future meeting to discuss this matter.
Member’s meeting with Premier Power:
The Chairperson informed members that Mr Weir recently met with representatives from Premier Power but as Mr Weir was unable to attend today’s meeting members would receive a briefing at the next Committee meeting after summer recess.
Committee response on road safety:
The Chairperson informed members that a draft response to the Road Safety consultation had been included in members’ meeting papers.
Agreed: That a copy of the response is sent to the Department with some minor amendments.
The Chairperson informed members that the Clerk would be leaving to take up a post in the Bill Office. The Chairperson and members passed on their thanks for the work and guidance the Clerk had given and wished her well in her new post.
Federation of Passenger Transport paper:
The Chairperson advised members that the DRD Committee had forwarded a paper from the Federation of Passenger Transport.
Agreed: That Committee staff contact the Federation of Passenger Transport to check if they are content for the paper to be treated as a submission in relation to the Committee’s scrutiny of the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Bill.
Correspondence in recess:
The Chairperson asked for members’ views on how to handle correspondence during summer recess.
Agreed: That the Committee delegated authority on the handling of correspondence during summer recess to the Chairperson.
4. Ministerial Briefing
The Minister of the Environment, Sammy Wilson, briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on RPA, PPS14, legislation and climate change.
The main areas of discussion were dual mandates, severance arrangements for councillors, accelerated passage for legislation, council staffing levels, the effect of PPS14 on rural dwellers, the timescale for any new PPS14, plastic bag taxes, the new Northern Ireland Environmental Agency and the progress of legislation.
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 12.05p.m.
5. Briefing by Permanent Secretary on Provisional Outturn 2007-08
The DOE Permanent Secretary briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on Provisional Outturn 2007-08.
The main areas of discussion were the EPIC project and the possibility of more detailed information being provided to the Committee at future meetings.
Agreed: That the Department provides the Committee with an update on discussions with DETI on the idea of a ‘one stop shop’.
Mr Gallagher left the meeting at 12.20p.m.
6. Departmental briefing on Environmental Governance
Departmental officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on environmental governance.
The main areas of discussion were the membership and role of the Better Regulation Board, the working relationship with Northern Ireland Water, the possibility of an agency wide environmental crime unit, the membership of the board of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), the timescale and job descriptions of the independent board members of the NIEA, the Department’s response to the Criminal Justice Inspection (CJI) report on enforcement in the DOE and plans for outreach offices for the NIEA.
Agreed: That the Department forwards the job descriptions of the independent NIEA board members to the Committee.
Agreed: That the Department forwards the CJI response to the Committee when it is finalised.
7. Departmental briefing on PPS5
Departmental officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on PPS5.
Mr Gallagher left the meeting at 12.57p.m.
The main areas of discussion were the protection of town centres, retail impact assessments and the scale of developments within town centres.
Mr Ford left the meeting at 1.06p.m.
The meeting was suspended at 1.06p.m.
The meeting reconvened at 1.15p.m with the following members present: Mr McGlone, Mr Clarke, Mr Ford, Mr Gardiner, Mr Ross.
- Members noted a departmental response to the Committee’s request for further information concerning repute checks for taxi drivers, particularly in cases where drivers incur convictions during the period when they are licensed.
- Members noted a copy of an e-mail from Alex Kay, British Standards Solutions, inviting comments from stakeholders on the draft Public Available Specification (PAS) 2020.
- Members noted a letter from the Department informing the Committee of UK wide fees increase in respect of the Vehicle Identity Check (VIC) scheme and the Certificate of Initial Fitness (COIF) check with effect from 13 July 2008.
The Chairperson advised members that Mr Samuel Egerton had requested, under the Freedom of Information Act, more information in relation to recent Committee deliberations on SL1s regarding proposed taxi licence fee increases and taxi fare increases.
Agreed: That Mr Egerton is provided with copies of recordings of the meetings of 8 May and 12 June 2008.
9. Any other business
Itinerary for Committee visit to Lisburn MOT Centre on Tuesday 8 July.
10. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Thursday, 11 September 2008 at 10.30am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.19p.m.