Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 11 October 2012

Venue: Room 30

The meeting began in public session at 10:18am         

1. Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting on 4 October 2012 were agreed.

3. Matters arising 

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on ASSI designation.

Mrs Kelly declared an interest due to a family member owning land within an ASSI.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking what assistance is available to non-farming landowners in the area of an ASSI designation.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the End of Life Vehicles Directive.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on MOT pass/fail rates.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on neighbourhood notification for wind turbine planning applications.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Waste Infrastructure Programme.

Mr Boylan joined the meeting at 10:24am

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with notes of the recent Stakeholder Event meetings.

Agreed: That the action points from the meetings are forwarded to the relevant departments for comment.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking if they have any plans to develop an ‘in-vessel’ waste composting system, similar to the one in Kew Gardens, London.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to Invest NI asking for more information on their work with the ‘in-vessel’ waste composting system.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a reply regarding the UK Government response to the Committee on Climate Change’s annual report.

Agreed: That a meeting is arranged with the Council for Nature Conservation and Countryside to discuss Climate Change and other environmental issues.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Department of Agriculture and Rural Development reply regarding Annesley Gardens, Castlewellan.

Agreed: That a copy of the reply is forwarded to the original correspondent.

Agreed: That a copy of the reply is forwarded to Down District Council for information.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on Council Access Officers and Dedicated Walking Routes.

Agreed: That a copy of the reply is forwarded to the Ulster Federation of Rambling Clubs for information.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental letter regarding Policy PED 8 of PPS 4.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department informing them that the Committee welcomes this Supplementary Planning Guidance and requesting that they forward a copy to local authorities and NILGA as soon as possible.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Local Government Reform timetable.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department informing them that the Committee will be monitoring the progress of the Local Government Reform timetable and ask for a copy of the Terms of Reference and membership of the Political Reference Group.

Agreed: That a copy of the timetable is forwarded to NILGA.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on Strangford Lough SAC.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on planning processes and Article 31 applications.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking which Article 31 planning applications are delayed due to late responses from statutory consultees.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a letter from Roy Beggs MLA regarding his proposal for a Private Members Bill on Scrap Metal Dealers.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to Roy Beggs MLA informing him that the Committee will seek a briefing on this in due course, after it has received feedback on the voluntary scheme.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental letter regarding a Voluntary Early Retirement scheme for professional planning staff.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking how the Voluntary Early Retirement scheme fits in with the original planning workforce model.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on capacity building for officials and Councillors.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking how they are targeting resources for training and if Councils’ own training budgets are being utilized for capacity building.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on advance notice of consultations.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for an update on the status of Bus Operator Licensing.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the European Territorial Co-operation 2014-2020 Consultation.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the NI Executive Office in Brussels asking how they are using this consultation to inform policy decisions.

4. Consultations

Synopsis of responses to consultation on mandatory wearing of helmets on quadricycles.

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

Consultation on Draft Local Government Pension Scheme (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013

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

Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 11:00am

5. Proposals for secondary legislation

SL1 – Smoke Control Areas (Authorised Fuels) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

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

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking how they inform the public in relation to which fuels can be used in smokeless zones, especially as many now see solid fuel as a viable alternative.

6. Departmental update

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental update of Article 31 planning applications and a comparison with previous updates.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department expressing the Committee’s disappointment at the slow progress on clearing Article 31 planning applications and ask why it would appear that the same case officer is looking after the majority of applications.

7. Marine Bill

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on displacement, a note of Anglo- North Irish Fish Producers Organisation comments on amendments and NI Marine Taskforce comments on the Committee report.

Agreed: That a copy of the reply is forwarded to ANIFPO and NIMTF asking, in light of the new information, if they feel an amendment to cover displacement is necessary.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with three proposed Departmental amendments which, subject to Executive clearance, will come forward at Consideration Stage.  The third amendment is in relation to the Committee’s own amendment to promote the coordination of marine functions.  The Department proposes to bring forward an amended version for technical reasons.

Agreed: That a copy of the proposed Departmental amendments is forwarded to those stakeholders who responded to the original Committee consultation on the Bill, asking for their comments.

8. Statutory Rules

SR 2012/355 – The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) (Amendment No 2) Regulations (NI) 2012

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2012/355 – The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) (Amendment No 2) Regulations (NI) 2012 and has no objection to the rule.

 9. Correspondence

Departmental reply to queries forwarded by the Committee regarding a small Hydro power scheme in the Mourne Mountains.

Agreed: That a copy of the Departmental reply is forwarded to the original correspondent.

Request from Public Hire Coalition to meet the Committee to discuss urgent issues regarding the Taxi Operator Licence.

Agreed: That the Public Hire Coalition is informed that this issue is outside of the remit of the Committee and that they should liaise directly with Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Planning NI.

Correspondence from the Committee for Regional Development regarding their recent visit to Rathlin Island and queries raised by residents in relation to environmental regulations.

Agreed: That a copy of the correspondence is forwarded to the Department for comment.

Correspondence from the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment for the Minister of the Environment regarding the recent changes to the Tamboran Management Team in Ireland.

Agreed: That a copy of the correspondence is forwarded to the Minister.

Department of Finance & Personnel reply to Committee queries regarding INTERREG III programme grants for projects with an environmental focus.

Agreed: That a copy of the reply is forwarded to the NIA European Scrutiny Officer for more information.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking how much it is drawing down on tyre recycling.

Copy of letter from Mr Paul Givan MLA sent to the Minister of the Environment regarding concerns in relation to the Goods Vehicle Operator’s Licence.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department requesting sight of the Ministers response to Mr Givan MLA.

Letter from Mr Shane McElgunn to the Minister of the Environment in relation to a proposed Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Agreed: That a copy of the letter is forwarded to the Minister. 

Members noted the following correspondence:

Copy NIEA publication – Strategic Priorities “Our Passion, Our Place”.

Article 31 notice to refuse planning permission – T/2009/0283/F Energy from Waste Power Plant at 51 Ballyutoag Road, Belfast.

Copy of NILGOSC Annual Report 2011/2012.

Copy of NIEL News – October 2012.

Mr Weir joined the meeting at 11:15am

10. Departmental briefing on synopsis of responses to consultation on Draft Single Use Carrier Bags Charge Regulations (NI) 2012

Departmental Officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the synopsis of responses to consultation on Draft Single Use Carrier Bags Charge Regulations (NI) 2012.

The main areas of discussion were the introduction of the charge, the charging scheme and exemptions from the levy.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking what impact an exemption for biodegradable bags would have on costs and revenue income.  Also ask for more information on the economic modelling the Department has used in calculating the income from the charges.

11. Departmental briefing on Statutory Rule 2012/354 – Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012

Departmental Officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012.

The main areas of discussion were the business case for the proposed fees and the internal efficiencies that were addressed before fee increases were considered.

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2012/354 – The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012 and has no objection to the rule, subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

12. Departmental briefing on Statutory Rule 2012/368 – The Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012

Departmental Officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on The Conservation (Natural Habitats etc) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012

The main areas of discussion were the infraction proceedings which lead to the regulations and the lack of a full consultation on the regulations.

Mrs Kelly left the meeting at 12:24pm

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2012/368 – The Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012 and has no objection to the rule, subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

13. Any other business

14. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 18 October 2012 at 10:00am in Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12:34pm.

Anna Lo, MLA
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
18 October 2012

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