Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 12 January 2012

Venue: The Senate Chamber

The meeting began in public session at 10.00a.m

1. Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting on 15 December 2011 were agreed.

3. Matters Arising

Members noted a DFP reply to Committee queries on the de minimis threshold.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to comments made by the Committee about gating orders.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for more information on the circumstances under which central government funding might be provided for or contribute to gating orders and from which Department they might come.

Members noted a Departmental reply to a Committee question about fracking.

Mr Kinahan joined the meeting at 10.08a.m.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with the review of the Road Safety Education Service and how the department is taking forward the implementation of the recommendations.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking if if all funding available to road safety committees has been drawn down in the past year and for updates on the implementation of any of the measures in the Road Safety Strategy 2010 – 2020 and appraised in advance of any road safety events.

Members noted a Departmental response to the Committee’s request for more information on the circumstances on when a full fee for a planning application will be charged.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental response to the Committee’s request that DVA services in Coleraine are retained.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for clarification on the recent announcement in relation to telephone and online services for Northern Ireland and what implications this will have on DVA Coleraine and its consumers.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a DETI reply to Committee queries on renewable fuel targets.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment asking for the reason why specific targets for renewable energy are not being introduced and asking when an announcement in relation to the renewable heat incentive will be made.

Ms Bradley joined the meeting at 10.15a.m.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental response to the Committee’s request for an update on the timetable for the implementation of the Taxis Act.

Agreed: That a briefing by Departmental officials in relation to this issue is arranged for a future meeting.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental response to Committee queries on planning issues.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department expressing Members’ concern about delays caused to planning applications when an officer is absent or on annual leave and feel that the current protocol of reallocating a case after a 2 week period is too long and that it should be reduced to 1 week.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department stating that Members also feel that the imbalance of caseloads within the Downpatrick office needs to be addressed as soon as possible by the movement of more staff into the office.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for details on the process the Department uses to ensure that statutory consultees do not delay planning applications.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental programme of work for January 2012.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking when the Committee will receive the synopsis of responses on noise and statutory nuisances consultation which is listed in the programme of work as being available week commencing 9 January.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a DARD replies to Committee queries on septic tanks.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department indicating that the Committee is going to recommend to DARD that funding is made available through the rural development programme for the replacement of septic tanks for vulnerable rural dwellers.

Mr Hamilton joined the meeting at 10.35a.m.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a DARD reply to Committee queries on a badger vaccine.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development asking for further information in relation to the timescale for this vaccine and what is being done to address TB among other wild animals that can act as carriers. Also, that the Committee recommends the Department considers as a priority a pilot scheme to test the vaccine.

Members noted a DARD reply to Committee queries on hedge cutting.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Inter Departmental Working Group on Climate Change.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking them to confirm that all Departments are still involved with the working group and asking if the Committee can have sight of the minutes from the meetings held by the group as well as the annual report.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to queries raised by the Ulster Federation of Rambling Clubs on occupier’s liability and the establishment of long distance walking trails.

Agreed: That the reply is forwarded to Mr Flynn.

Members noted a DETI reply to Committee queries on the North South Interconnector.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to queries from the River Faughan Anglers and Friends of the Earth on planning enforcement, and the 5 year rule.

Agreed: That the reply is forwarded to the River Faughan Anglers and Friends of the Earth.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for bi-annual updates on planning enforcement action.

Mr Weir left the meeting at 10.45a.m.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to queries on the January Monitoring Round submission.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for details of successes in drawing down European funding to date to demonstrate that the Department has the necessary expertise and that, once the Barroso taskforce team has been in operation for 6 months, the Department provides quarterly updates on the team’s work.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on Bus Operator Licensing.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department welcoming the response and the engagement from the Department with community based partnerships on this issue.

Agreed: That the reply is forwarded to the Community Transport Association.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Sustainable Framework for UK Aviation.

Agreed: That the reply is forwarded to Belfast City Airport Watch.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking whose role it will be to monitor and enforce the concept of a noise envelope.

Mr Weir rejoined the meeting at 10.55a.m.

Members noted a reply from the Chairperson of the Modiolus Restoration Committee in relation to Strangford Lough and a copy of the Committee motion on this issue.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking why it did not seek the advice of Professor Seed on this issue and asking for further details of the meeting that Departmental officials are due to have with EC officials on this issue on 24 January 2012.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Benchmarking of Retained Corporate Functions across NI Departments.

4. Consultations

Synopsis of responses to white paper on Enabling Legislation for National Parks.

Agreed: To note until 16 February 2012 when the Committee will receive a Departmental briefing on the synopsis.

Consultation on an Addendum and Delivery Programme to the NI Waste Management Strategy 2006/2020 – synopsis of responses.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for further information on how it intends to address the issues raised.

Consultation on The draft Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 – synopsis of responses.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking that before developing policy further, it provides further information on how it intends to deal with the issues raised.

5. Proposals for Secondary Legislation

SL1 – The Local Government (Constituting Joint Committees as Bodies Corporate) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012.

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

6. Statutory Rules

SR 2011/416 – The Goods Vehicles (Testing) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011.

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2011/416 – The Goods Vehicles (Testing) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 and has no objection to these rules subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

SR 2011/432 - The Motor Vehicles (Access to Driver Licensing Records) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011.

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2011/432 – The Motor Vehicles (Access to Driver Licensing Records) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 and has no objection to these rules subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

7. Inquiry into used tyre disposal

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with an invitation to visit Crumb Rubber’s used tyre disposal plant.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to Crumb Rubber asking for a written briefing.

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

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive expressing concern over the approach they are taking and asking them to confirm that these events are being reported to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and recorded.

9. Correspondence

Departmental response to queries forwarded by the Committee on behalf of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development in relation to the consultation on Enabling Legislation for National Parks.

Agreed: That the reply is forwarded to the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development.

Press release regarding the Crown Estate launch of offshore and tidal leasing rounds.

Agreed: That a briefing on the Crown Estate’s role in relation to renewables is arranged for a future Committee meeting.

Copy of the Criminal Justice Inspection report of a follow-up review of Enforcement in the DOE.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking why 5½ of the Department of Justice recommendations were only partly achieved and 1½ not achieved; how the Northern Ireland Environment Agency will target existing resources to strengthen enforcement activity and how the Planning Service will protect its improved enforcement with a reduced budget.

Letter from the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure regarding concerns about the limitations of PPS 6 in respect of the preservation and protection or our archaeological heritage.

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

Copy of Draft NI Economic Strategy (Draft Comprehensive Action Plan)

Agreed: That a copy of the strategy is forwarded to the Department for response.

Email from the Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and Gaeltacht Affairs regarding their proposed visit to Belfast.

Agreed: That a meeting is arranged between members and the Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Email regarding the intended increase of heating costs for residents of Wood Brook eco-village.

Agreed: That the email is forwarded to the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment for comment.

Departmental response to planning concerns raised in a letter from Ms. Killen dated 8 December 2011. Additional letter from Ms. Killen dated 23 December 2011.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to Ms Killen informing her of the Committee’s view on dealing with individual planning applications.

Departmental response to the Regional Development Committee’s queries regarding unauthorised car parks in the vicinity of Belfast International Airport.

Agreed: That the response is forwarded to the Regional Development Committee.

Member’s noted the following correspondence

  • Copy of Drinking Water Inspectorate’s (DWI) Annual Report.
  • Copy of NEBOSH News November 2011 update.
  • DOE Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland – Investing Activity Report.
  • Imtac Annual Review 2011.
  • December 2011 Bioenergy Review.
  • Updated UK Government Carbon Plan – Northern Ireland.
  • Birdlife International’s report – “Meeting Europe’s Renewable Energy Targets in Harmony with Nature”.
  • Letter from the Consumer Council regarding the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) report on their call for evidence into the NI car insurance market.
  • Copy of December 2011 – Passenger Transport.
  • Copy of Sustrans – Routes 2 Action.
  • Departmental response to Committee’s request for details of any reservoirs it owns or has responsibility for.
  • Copy of DVD viewed by the Committee during their Strangford Lough visit.

10.     Any other business

One member raised an issue in relation to the Genmar Companion oil tanker that had to have its oil removed near Belfast Lough.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for more information on the sequence of events that led to the transfer of oil from the Genmar Companion at the mouth of Belfast Lough and confirmation that the action taken will not result in Belfast being identified internationally as a ‘receptive area’ for this type of operation and stating members’ concern that there was a feeling that there was a lack of information provided by the Department both to the Committee and the public during the operation.

One member raised an issue in relation to the progress of the Rose Energy Project.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for an update on the Rose Energy Project.

11. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 19 January 2012 at 10.00a.m. in the Senate Chamber.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11.27a.m.

Anna Lo MLA
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
19 January 2012

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