Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 10 November 2011

Venue: Glen Suite, Burrendale Hotel, Newcastle

The meeting began in public session at 10.00am

1. Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting on 27 October 2011 were agreed.

3. Chairperson’s Business

The Chairperson informed members that, as requested by the Committee, a member of Assembly Research attended the launch of the Northern Ireland Chapter of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment and has produced a provided a short report.

Agreed: That the author of the Northern Ireland section of this assessment is invited to brief the Committee.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with

a note of the meeting with the Freight Transport Association.

Agreed: That the note is forwarded to the Department for comment on the action points outlined.

Ms Bradley joined the meeting at 10.05a.m.

4. Matters Arising

Members noted a reply from the DOE Permanent Secretary to Committee queries on the reasons for cancellation of Departmental briefings.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with Departmental replies and a reply from NIE to UFU queries raised in a recent meeting with Committee members.

Agreed: That the replies are forwarded to UFU for information.

Members noted a Departmental reply to the Committee’s view that hazardous waste should be dealt with by NIEA.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with an article on the planning agreement at Belfast City Airport and a response to Committee queries on what legal advice the Department had sought on this issue.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking details of the legal costs incurred to date in relation to the seats for sale issue, including any costs that may have been incurred in the Judicial Review process.

Members noted information from QPANI on the Aggregates Levy Scheme rebate.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on audio visual information on buses.

Agreed: That a visit is arranged to view the project in conjunction with Regional Development Committee.

Mr Weir joined the meeting at 10.15a.m.

Mr Kinahan joined the meeting at 10.15a.m.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental letter on Taxi Operator Licensing.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Minister asking if this issue can be dealt with quickly.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with an Assembly Research Paper on district heating schemes.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment asking if they are planning at looking at individual renewable fuel targets.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department stating members feel there is a need for the Department to direct councils and community groups on technologies available that can be used for district heating schemes, that the Department should encourage councils to become ‘centres of excellence’ for renewable district heating approaches and that more research should be conducted by the Department on dealing with agricultural waste using anaerobic digestion in rural areas for district heating systems.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the synopsis of responses to the discussion paper on environmental governance.

Members noted a reply from Limavady Borough Council to Committee queries on air quality plans.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply relating to queries raised by the Ulster Farmers’ Union in relation to the closed period for cutting hedges.

Agreed: That the reply is forwarded to the UFU for information.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development stating members’ concern over the conflicting pressures that land owners are under from the European Unions in relation to cutting hedges.

Members noted a Departmental reply regarding a review into the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply regarding Road Safety Strategy Timescales.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department stating members’ concern over the proposed timescales for implementation of the strategy and that a press release outlining these concerns is issued.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply regarding River Basin Management Plans.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department stating members’ disappointment with the response, that the Department’s approach is extremely short sighted and that members are concerned about the impact on tourism from such an approach and that more needs to be done to maintain and improve Northern Ireland’s rivers.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for more information on the Local Area Management action plans (LMAs), specifically the names of the groups that implement the plans, the areas that they cover and any funding they receive and what level of monitoring is carried out by those implementing the LMAs.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to questions asked about the relationship between Built Heritage and the National Trust.

Agreed: That the response is forwarded to Mr Price-Stevens and Mr Easton.

Members noted a reply on the Thompson Dock Gate Project.

Members noted a Consumer Council reply on discrepancy of insurance costs in rural and urban areas.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a DARD reply on grants schemes for septic tanks.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development asking that they try to ensure the next Rural Development Programme can provide support for the improvement of septic tanks.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department stating whilst members recognise the prohibitive costs involved in providing new tanks, they feel that the Department should focus on providing support to upgrade tanks where it is known that pollution is a problem and members also feel that it is unfair of the Department to require older septic tanks to be upgraded in order to receive a certificate when it is not providing assistance to those with these older tanks. Also, that the Department looks at what funding for this area of work might be obtained through the Barroso Task Force.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Carrier Bag Levy.

5. Consultations

Consultation on the revised Code of Practise in relation to the Duty of Care on Waste.

Agreed: That a copy of the synopsis of responses is requested.

DETI consultation on changes to the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the ETI Committee asking for a copy of the synopsis of responses when it becomes available.

Driving Licence Standards for Diabetes – DVLA report on UK-wide consultation – synopsis of responses.

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

Proposed consultation on changes to roadworthiness testing to implement EC Directive 2009/40/EC.

Agreed: That a copy of the synopsis of responses is requested.

Agreed: In relation to this road safety consultation, members asked the secretariat to provide any information the Committee has received on the use of stones to prevent cars going onto grass verges around houses.

Consultation on Amendments to the Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 – synopsis of responses.

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

6. Statutory Rules

SR 2011/373 – The Landfill Allowances Scheme (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011.

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2011/373 - The Landfill Allowances Scheme (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011 and has no objection to these rules subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

SR 2011/374 – The Smoke Control Areas (Authorised Fuels) Regulations (NI) 2011.

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2011/374 – The Smoke Control Areas (Authorised Fuels) Regulations (NI) 2011 and has no objection to these rules subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

SR 2011/379 – The Road Traffic (Fixed Penalty) (Offences) (Amendment No. 2) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011.

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2011/379 – The Road Traffic (Fixed Penalty) (Offences) (Amendment No. 2) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011 and has no objection to these rules subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

SR 2011/388 – The Nitrates Action Programme (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011.

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2011/388 – The Nitrates Action Programme (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 and has no objection to these rules subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

Draft Planning Fees (Amendment No. 2) Regulations (NI) 2011.

Agreed: That the Committee is content for the Department to proceed with the policy and that a letter is sent to the Department asking why a full planning fee is required for the renewal of a planning condition where technical issues that do not have to be consulted on are being changed.

7. Departmental updates

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on post project evaluations.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a

Departmental letter in relation to PSA targets.

Agreed: That the Department is asked to brief the Committee on this issue.

Members noted an update on implementation of Phase 1 of the graduated fixed penalty, financial penalty deposit and immobilization schemes as requested.

8. Inquiry into Used Tyre Disposal

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a reply from the Housing Executive to Committee queries on illegal dumping of tyres on its land.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive asking them to reconsider their response in light of the fact that some members are aware of tyres that have been removed from NIHE property.

Members noted a DHSSPS reply to Committee queries on the cost to the Fire and Rescue Service of attending tyre fires.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with an email from OM Tyres.

Agreed: That a thank you letter is sent to OM tyres for their information.

9. Mourne Heritage Trust briefing on the White Paper on Enabling Legislation for National Parks

Mr Clarke declared an interest as a member of Mourne Heritage Trust.

Representatives from the Mourne Heritage Trust briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the costs of the White Paper on Enabling Legislation for National Parks.

The main areas of discussion were benefits to local tourism, benefits to the Environment and the cost involved.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for a copy of the business case that has been submitted in relation to a National Park.

10. Ulster Farmers’ Union briefing on the White Paper on Enabling Legislation for National Parks

Representatives from the Ulster Farmers’ Union briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the costs of the White Paper on Enabling Legislation for National Parks.

The main areas of discussion were the effects of a national park designation on local farmers and communities and the costs involved.

12. Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside briefing on the White Paper on Enabling Legislation for National Parks

Representatives from the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside (CNCC) briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the costs of the White Paper on Enabling Legislation for National Parks.

The main areas of discussion were the effect on local communities and the relevance of the paper.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for copies of the two previous consultations relating to national parks referred to in the CNCC paper.

13. Correspondence

Letter from Post 19 Lobby Group requesting to brief the Committee on the challenges faced by young people with severe learning disabilities transition from children’s to adult services.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety, Department of Social Development, Department of Education and Department of Employment and Learning asking that they reply directly as Ms Jamieson’s concerns fall outside the remit of the DOE

Briefing paper from the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety outlining what actions the DHSSPS has taken to reduce energy use.

Agreed: That the response is forwarded to Research 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.

Memo from the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure regarding the 2013 World Police and Fire Games (WPFG).

Agreed: That a written briefing is requested from the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure on the potential of the WPFG to raise the visitor numbers to heritage sites in Northern Ireland.

Email from NWP Recycling requesting to brief the Committee regarding serious concerns over the on-going procurements being carried out by the 3 Waste Management Bodies.

Agreed: That a meeting is arranged for Monday 14 November 2011.

Copy of the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment response on the smooth processing of planning applications in time for Northern Ireland to fully take advantage of the Renewable Heat Incentive.

Agreed: That the response is forwarded to the Department for comment.

Further information and agenda for the Committee for Social Development – Fuel Poverty Event.
Copy of DVA Business Plan 2011/2012.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department for information on targets it failed to achieve, the key decisions that have to be made in relation to vehicle licensing and vehicle testing services, and the issues that need resolving around booking and enquiry services.

Copy of NIEA Business Plan 2011/2012.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking if there are 2011/12 targets to demonstrate progress towards the 2015 targets in R2.2 and requesting a timeframe for targets R2.7, R2.16, R2.18 & R2.19.

Copy of DOE Business Plan 2011/2012.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking why individual ‘owners’ of departmental targets have not been listed in the balanced scorecard as they were last year, if target R3.3 &R3.4 relating to ‘the Planning Bill’ refer to the 2011 Planning Act or another piece of legislation, why target R4.8 has been included in light of the Minister’s decision regarding an Environmental Strategy, if target R5.7 will be revised in light of the Minister’s decision regarding taxi operator licensing.

Members noted the following correspondence

Email detailing the Constructing Excellence NI free training programme.

Copy of correspondence from the Department of Finance and Personnel regarding Prompt Payment Scheme.

Copy of Special EU Programmes Body publication – ‘Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive – The Northern Ireland Experience in Transitional Projects’.

Copy of the Northern Ireland Audit Office general report by the Comptroller and Auditor General for NI 2011.

Copy of the Minister for the Environments response to Mr. Des McConaghy in relation to Giants Causeway and the proposed Runkerry development.

Email link to the Committee on Climate Change report to Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister on the appropriateness of a NI climate change act.

14. Any Other Business

Mr Molloy suggested the Committee should seek an update from the Department on the actions it is taking in relation to the Barroso Task Force.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department requesting a written update on its implementation of the Barroso Task Force recommendations.

15. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 17 November at 10.00a.m. in the Senate Chamber.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.50 pm

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

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