Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 13 December 2012

Venue: The Senate Chamber

The meeting began in closed session at 10:10am.

1. Information Session from the Legislative Strengthening Trust

Northern Ireland Assembly Officials gave an overview of the Effective Questioning and Scrutiny Workshop by the Legislative Strengthening Trust.

Mr Boylan joined the meeting at 10:12am.

Mr Elliott joined the meeting at 10:14am.

Agreed: That the Committee will participate in a workshop with John Sturrock QC in February 2013.

The Chairperson declared the meeting open to the public at 10:22am.

2. Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

3. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting on 6 December 2012 were agreed.

4. Matters arising 

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Road Safety Education Officer Service.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department of Education asking that it forwards a letter to all Boards of Governors encouraging the uptake of Road Safety Education and ensuring this work is being carried out in their schools.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking that the Committee is kept updated on the uptake of its Road Safety Resources by schools.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Chairperson’s meeting with Cyclists of Critical Mass.

Agreed: That a copy of the Departmental reply is forwarded to Mr Wright.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on training as part of Local Government Reform.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for a more detailed breakdown of training offered by each Council and how Councils carried out training-needs analysis.  Also to ask what type of training is needed as Local Government Reform progresses, especially for those Councillors who decide to stand down ahead of new Council elections.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Marine Bill sustainable development amendment.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a copy of the PEDU review into the response to recent flooding incidents.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking how Councils spent the emergency fund and how the Department ensures this is the most appropriate delivery vehicle for administering emergency funding. Also ask what it is doing to minimize the risk of flooding in the areas worst affected and what is the Department’s role in the cross-departmental working group.

Agreed: That a copy of the report is forwarded to NILGA for comment.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the delays to a public inquiry into the Proposed Modification of the Planning Agreement between the Department and George Best Belfast City Airport.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department inviting officials to brief the Committee on this issue at a future meeting.

Agreed: That a research paper is requested on the Proposed Modification of the Planning Agreement between the Department and George Best Belfast City Airport, including a timeline of the process to date.

Members noted a Departmental letter in relation to the initial stages of the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

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

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department expressing the Committee’s disappointment with how few post-1970 buildings have been listed and asking if there are any more anticipated in the future.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the review of the Biodiversity Strategy.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department expressing the Committee’s concern that the reply indicates that the Department is unsure of what actions are needed to halt the loss of biodiversity.  Also ask if the EU Desk Officers are assessing the information coming from the European Commission on this issue.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department inviting officials to brief the Committee on this issue at a future meeting.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Larne Marina Article 31 planning application.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department expressing the Committee’s views that a long standing application such as this risks undermining confidence in the planning process.  Also ask the Department to keep the Committee updated on the progress of this application.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Green Paper on Marine Knowledge 2020.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department requesting a copy of the input it provided to DEFRA on this issue.

5. Consultations

Consultation on proposals for Taxi Operator Licensing Fixed Penalties

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department informing it that the Committee is keen for the Department to issue this Consultation as widely as possible to all interested stakeholders.

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

Members noted the synopsis of responses to Consultation on The Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2012.

Synopsis of responses to Consultation on the Proposal for the Reintroduction of a Fixed Penalty for an Offence Related to Goods Vehicle Licensing.

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

Consultation on Rathlin Island European Marine Site Management Scheme

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

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department expressing the Committee’s concerns at the cost of producing such a large, glossy consultation document.  Also ask how this Consultation relates to the Marine Bill.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the local Community Association on Rathlin Island asking that they keep the Committee updated on their work with the Department on this Consultation.

6. Proposal for Secondary Legislation

SL1 – The Planning (General Development) (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2013

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

 7. Departmental Update

Members noted a Departmental update on planning enforcement.

8. Correspondence

Departmental reply to queries forwarded by the Committee on behalf of the National Beef Association in relation to the Northern Ireland Countryside Management Scheme (NICMS).

Agreed: That a copy of the Departmental reply is forwarded to Mr Oisin Murnion, National Beef Association.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for further information on the procurement process undertaken by the Department when leasing land.

Copy of EU proposal for amending Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment.

Agreed: That a copy of the paper is forwarded to the Department asking for comment on the potential impact of the proposals for the planning process and planning decisions in Northern Ireland.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the OFMdFM Committee asking for clarification on the process of keeping Committees informed of EU legislation to allow them to comment on subsidiarity within the 8 week time period.

Members noted the following correspondence:

Letter from Jim Nicholson MEP in response to Committee concerns regarding the EC Proposed Roadworthiness Package.

Copy of the annual Air Quality Monitoring Summary Report for Northern Ireland in 2011.

Copy of First Flight introductory project leaflet.

Departmental reply to queries forwarded by the Committee on behalf of the Committee for Education in relation to school transport issues.

Mr Weir joined the meeting at 11:29am.

9. Assembly Research briefing on Access and Liability

An Assembly Research Official briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on Access to the Countryside in Northern Ireland – Occupiers’ Liability.

The main area of discussion was occupiers’ liability in terms of access to the countryside.

Mrs Kelly left the meeting at 11:30am.

Agreed: That a research paper is requested on the legislation that would be required in Northern Ireland in relation to Access and Liability.

Mrs Kelly re-joined the meeting at 11:45am.

10. Ministerial briefing

The Minister briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on a number of key issues.

The main areas of discussion were Primary Legislation, Local Government Reform, Waste Management Procurement Process and Planning.

Mr Elliott left the meeting at 12:20pm.

Mr Weir left the meeting at 1:00pm.

Mr Elliott re-joined the meeting at 1:05pm.

Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 1:14pm.

11. Any other business

12. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 10 January 2013 at 10:00am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1:24pm.

Anna Lo, MLA
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
10 January 2013

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