The Northern Ireland Assembly has been dissolved. The election will take place on Thursday 5 May 2016.

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 08 December 2011

Venue: Ballymena Town Hall, ''The Braid'', 1-29 Bridge Street, BT43 5EJ

The meeting began at 10.38am in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Minutes of meeting held on 24 November 2011 and 1 December 2011

Agreed:  The draft minutes of the meetings on 24 November and 1 December were agreed.

Agreed: Chair to raise the issue of late Departmental papers at the Chairperson’s Liaison Group.

3. Chairperson’s Business

The Chair informed members that he attended the Committee for OFMDFM’s event on the EU Advisory Panel on 5 December with Robin Newton and in the course of the event, learned that the Department is leading a working group to consider a support model for Northern Ireland companies to better access FP7 and to consider the approach to Horizon 2020.

Agreed:  To ask the Department to provide the Committee with details of the outcomes of the working group to date and any recommendations the Group has brought forward.

Members noted a letter from the Committee for Social Development regarding the Fuel Poverty Event.

Members noted that the Chair will be sending out Christmas cards on behalf of the Committee to organisations that have given evidence to the Committee this year.

Members discussed a press article regarding the Common Arrangements for Gas (CAG) project.

Agreed:  To write to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communication, Natural Resources and Agriculture to obtain its views.

Agreed: To write to the Utility Regulator regarding the consultation periods for policy documents.

4. Matters Arising

Members discussed correspondence from a member of the public requesting papers from the previous mandate regarding the Hydrocarbons Licensing Directive.

Agreed: To forward the papers to the members of the public.

Members noted a briefing paper from the Assembly External Liaison Unit regarding the Turkish Ambassador’s visit to the Assembly.

5. Ballymena Borough Council: Draft Economic Strategy

Officials joined the meeting at 10.52am.

Members received an oral briefing from Anne Donaghy, Town Clerk and Chief Executive, Councillor Hubert Nicholl, Mayor of Ballymena, Alderman Martin Clarke, Chair of Council’s Economic Development Committee and Dr Esmond Birnie, PriceWaterhouseCoopers.  Key issues discussed included barriers to local economic development and the Council’s proposals for implementation of the draft economic strategy at a local level.

Agreed: To forward information on energy brokering to the Council.

Paul Frew declared an interest as a Ballymena Borough Councillor.

Officials left the meeting at 12.09pm.

6. Lord Whitty and Consumer Council: Review of Northern Ireland Energy Strategy

Officials joined the meeting at 12.10pm.

Members received an oral briefing from Lord Whitty and John French, Head of Energy, Consumer Council.  Key issues discussed included issues relating to energy infrastructure, lack of energy efficiency and regulation of the oil industry. 

Mike Nesbitt left the meeting at 12.54pm.

Officials left the meeting at 1.02pm.

7. Draft Economic Strategy & Implementation of Independent Review of Economic Policy (IREP)

Members discussed the written briefing.

Agreed:  To write to relevant stakeholders regarding their views on the draft economic strategy.

Agreed:  To forward the draft action plan to relevant committees for comment when it is received.

Agreed:  To write to the Chairs of the relevant Committees and the Minister regarding comments and views and draft approach to gathering evidence for the draft economic strategy and action plan.

8. Proposals for the Control of Asbestos Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

Members noted the written briefing.

9. Correspondence

Members noted the following items of correspondence:

Letter to the Chair from the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) regarding the Renewable Heat Incentive.

Agreed:  To forward the letter to the Department for information.

Correspondence from NI Water regarding the Inquiry into Research and Development.

Correspondence from GROW NI requesting a joint Committee meeting between OFMDFM, Finance and Personnel and this Committee.

Agreed:  To suggest that the Committee for Finance and Personnel take the lead on this request, as the issue mostly falls within its remit. 

Correspondence from the Centre for Competitiveness regarding “Smart Grid Ireland”.

Agreed:  Chair and Deputy Chair to meet the organisation and report back to the Committee.

Correspondence from Employers for Childcare requesting a meeting with the Committee.

Agreed:  To advise the organisation that it may wish to contact the Committees for Employment and Learning and Health, Social Services and Public Safety, as the issue falls within those Committees. 

Response from DETI on the OFT Study into Home Heating Oil.

Agreed:  To forward the paper to the Consumer Council for information.

Correspondence from the Committee for Environment regarding the North/South Interconnector.

Agreed:  To forward to the Department and for it to respond directly to the Committee for Environment and copy this Committee.

Correspondence from:

a)  OFMDFM Committee regarding Children and Young People’s Strategy Outcomes Model.

b)  Social Development Committee regarding Welfare Reform Briefing.

10. Any other business

There were no other items of business.

11. Date, time and place of next meeting 

The next meeting of the Committee will take place on Thursday 15 December at 10.30am, Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The Chair adjourned the meeting at 1.07pm.

Mr Alban Maginness
Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment

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