Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 13 December 2011

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

1.33pm  The meeting commenced in Open Session

1. Apologies

None

2. Minutes

Agreed: The Committee agreed the Minutes of the meeting of 6 December 2011.

1.35pm Willie Clarke joined the meeting

3. Matters Arising

Ulster Wildlife Trust – SAC - Strangford Lough

Noted: The Committee noted the letter from the Minister regarding Strangford Lough, and further noted that it will be dealt with under Chairperson’s Business as part of a report on the Chairperson’s meeting with the Chair of the Environment Committee on 12 December 2011.

(a) Correspondence issued

The Committee noted correspondence issued since the meeting on 29 November 2011 including the correspondence to 'key stakeholders' on the NI Executive consultation on the Programme for Government.

(b)  Correspondence received

Agreed: The Committee noted the letter from the Committee for Employment and Learning dated 1 December 2011 in relation to student complaints and tuition fees for veterinary students and agreed to forward it to Vet NI for information.

Agreed: The Committee noted the correspondence from the Committee for the Environment in relation to Septic Tanks and agreed to forward it to the Department.

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for the Environment in relation to Minister Attwood’s response on Farmers for Action correspondence regarding Young Driver Curfews.

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for the Environment in relation to Minister Attwood’s response on Slurry Spreading.

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Education in relation to the Rural Poverty Fund and agreed to forward the correspondence to the Department.

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from the Department in relation to the Committee meeting of 15 November 2011 regarding queries raised by the Committee in relation to ‘The role of the Department in the context of the Committee’s scrutiny role’.

1.39pm Dolores Kelly joined the meeting

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment in relation to the development and implementation of an Action Plan for the Implementation of the Economic Strategy, and further correspondence from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in relation to the Draft Programme for Government and Investment Strategy. The Committee agreed to write to both Committees detailing the approach of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from the Department in relation to the Committee meeting of 22 November 2011 regarding queries raised by the Committee in relation to outstanding Post Project Evaluations.

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from the Environment Committee in relation to River Management.

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from the Department about progress on the recommendations in the O’Hare Report.

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from the Minister in relation to flooding.

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from Professor Chris Elliott of Queens University Belfast in relation to the Committee visit on 22 November 2011 and agreed that a presentation from the Professor should be scheduled into the Committee’s forward work programme.

4. Committee Paper – Written Submission to EFRA Committee on CAP

The Committee had some discussion on the draft submission to EFRA Committee on the Common Agricultural Policy Inquiry on ‘Greening the CAP’.

1.55pm Willie Clarke left the meeting

2.03pm Thomas Buchannan left the meeting

Agreed: The Committee agreed the written submission to the EFRA Committee inquiry ‘greening the CAP’, as amended.

2.18pm Oliver McMullan joined the meeting

2.18pm Trevor Clarke joined the meeting

Agreed: The Committee agreed the executive summary of the written submission to the EFRA Committee inquiry ‘greening the CAP’, as amended.

Agreed: The Committee agreed the covering letter for the written submission to the EFRA Committee inquiry ‘greening the CAP’, as amended.

2.27pm Dolores Kelly left the meeting

2.29pm Trevor Clarke left the meeting

Agreed: The Committee agreed the terms of the draft Press Release, as amended.

2.32pm Willie Clarke re-joined the meeting

5.  Presentation: Consultation TB  – Brian F Walker

The following witnesses joined the meeting:

Brian F Walker, Solicitor

Alan Cleland, British Blue Society

John Martin, Holstein Society

The witnesses briefed the Committee and this was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to invite the Department’s Veterinary staff before the Committee to discuss the charts and issues raised by the witnesses.

3.13pm William Irwin left the meeting

6.  Presentation: DARD - Rural White Paper Action Plan
(Covered by Hansard)

The following officials joined the meeting:

Keith Morrison - Grade 5, Assistant Secretary; and

Niall Heaney - Grade 7, Principal Officer

The officials briefed the Committee and this was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Department should provide the submissions received by all 69 respondents to the consultation.

3.32pm Jo-Anne Dobson joined the meeting

3.35pm William Irwin joined the meeting

3.35pm Conor Murphy left the meeting

3.38pm Robin Swann left the meeting

3.45pm Robin Swann joined the meeting

3.52pm Thomas Buchanan left the meeting

4.05pm Kieran McCarty joined the meeting

4.25pm William Irwin left the meeting

Agreed: The Committee agreed that officials should consider the transcript of the session carefully and return to the Committee in due course with a revised Action Plan.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to other Statutory Committees to ask them to investigate progress on specific points in the draft Rural White Paper Action Plan.

7.  Presentation: DARD – January Monitoring Round

The following officials joined the meeting:

Jim McGuinness - Acting Grade 5, Assistant Secretary;

Shaun Donnelly - Grade 7, Accountant; and

Lynda Lowe - DP, Deputy Principal

The officials briefed the Committee and this was followed by a question and answer session.

4.55pm Thomas Buchanan re-joined the meeting

Agreed: The Committee agreed to support the Department’s proposed response.

8.  Presentation: DARD – Renewable Energy - Alternative Land Use

The following officials joined the meeting:

Peter Scott - Grade 7, Principal Officer; and

Joyce Rutherford - DP, Deputy Principal

The officials briefed the Committee and this was followed by a question and answer session.

5.14pm Thomas Buchanan left the meeting

9.  Chairperson’s Business

The Chairperson reported on the meeting with the Chair of the Environment Committee on Monday 12 December in relation to a number of issues including management of Strangford Lough SAC, legislation for National Parks within Northern Ireland, a potential presentation by Mike Hammel from the European Commission and the Rose Energy planning application

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward correspondence from the DARD Minster on the subject of the Strangford Lough SAC to the Environment Committee and to invite comment.

Noted: The Committee noted that the Chairperson of the Environment Committee had promised to keep this Committee informed, and to share a summary of responses, on proposals for enabling National Parks, once received.

Agreed: The Committee noted that the Chairperson of the Environment Committee welcomed the prospect of a presentation by Mike Hammel. The Committee agreed that other Committees, particularly ETI and OFMDFM, should also be invited.

Noted: The Committee noted that the decision and announcement on the Rose Energy planning application was still awaited.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward correspondence from the PAC, considered at the meeting on 29 November 2011, in relation to Bovine TB to the DARD Minister.

Agreed:  The Committee noted correspondence from representatives of the Portavogie Fishing Fleet and agreed to request a copy of any response the Department might make.

10. Any Other Business

5.28pm Oliver McMullan left the meeting

5.28pm Kieran McCarthy left the meeting

Agreed: The Committee discussed a recent press release by the Minister in relation to Rural Development Spending and agreed to write to the Department seeking some further details.

Agreed: The Committee further agreed to write to the Department to request that Committee is kept updated on a regular basis with timely and accurate information on the Rural Development Programme.

11. Date of next meeting

Agreed: The next meeting of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development will take place on Tuesday 10 January 2012, at 1.30pm, Room 30, in Parliament Buildings.

The meeting was adjourned at 5.35pm

Paul Frew, Chairperson, Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development

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