Report on the Environmental Better Regulation Bill
Session: Session currently unavailable
Date: 23 November 2015
Mandate Number: 2011-16
- This report sets out the Committee for the Environment’s consideration of the Environmental Better Regulation Bill.
- The Bill contains 27 clauses and 3 schedules. The main purpose of the Bill gives the Department of the Environment (the Department) powers to reform the existing environmental regulatory framework through the production of new regulations. The regulations to be made under the Bill will introduce an environmental permitting system and rationalise powers of entry. The Bill also amends existing legislation regarding fuels and fire places, air quality assessments and drinking water regulation.
- The Committee sought a balanced range of views as part of their deliberations of the Bill. It requested evidence from a number of interested organisations and from the Department of the Environment.
- Stakeholders were broadly supportive of the principles of the Bill; however there was recognition that, as this is an enabling Bill, the detail will be in the regulations.
- This was a challenge for the Committee, who sought to future-proof the Bill and ensure that the level of scrutiny afforded to the Northern Ireland Assembly (the Assembly) of the regulations was appropriate.
- The Committee was broadly supportive of the Bill however raised concerns on the following issues:
- As the Bill is in essence a ‘skeleton’ Bill, the Committee noted that it did not know the policy outcome of the Bill, as this would be developed in the subordinate legislation programme at a later date. The Committee ensured that the level of protection afforded to the Assembly in the scrutiny of the regulations was sufficient;
- The Committee expressed concern that the Bill gave the Department broad powers. Therefore it sought the removal of powers provided to the Department in Schedule 1 to further define or modify the definition of “environmental activities” and to specify additional environmental activities. The Committee was satisfied, however, that the Assembly has appropriate scrutiny of the regulations that would be made under the Bill; and
- The Committee also ensured that the purpose of the Bill, that of streamlining and reducing the regulatory burden while protecting and improving the environment, was reflected on the face of the Bill.