Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 13 September 2012

Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

The meeting began in public session at 10:09am with the Deputy Chairperson in the Chair. 

The Chairperson welcomed Mr Barry McElduff to the Committee. 

1.       Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2.       Minutes

The minutes of the meeting on 5 July 2012 were agreed.

3.       Chairpersons business

Members noted a paper on Member attendance at Committee for the Environment meetings held between 16 May 2011 and 31 August 2012.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a copy of a note of the meeting the Committee held with ANIFPO on 3 September in relation to the Marine Bill.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for a more detailed explanation of why it does not intend to include a requirement to consider the displacement effects of an MCZ designation.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with comments from the Northern Ireland Marine Taskforce on the Committee’s report on the Marine Bill.

Agreed: That a draft response is prepared for agreement at the Committee meeting on 20 September.

4.       Matters arising 

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Planning Bill.

Mrs Kelly joined the meeting at 10:20am

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

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking how the levels of debt will impact on rates convergence and if this will be addressed in the review of the PWC report.  Also ask for the current level of Council resources and reserves.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on wind turbine planning applications.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking if neighbourhood notifications will be made statutory with the introduction of the Planning Bill 2012.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Road Traffic Amendment Bill and a reply on the Road Safety Strategy.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Ministerial reply to Committee queries on delays in answering Assembly Questions.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department seeking assurances that the Minister will provide the answer first to the Member who asked the question and not provide an answer via the press

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on Savings Delivery Plans.

Members noted a Departmental letter on advance notice of consultations.

Members noted a Departmental letter on the publication of draft guidance on Single Use Carrier Bag Levy.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with an Ulster Farmers Union letter on enabling legislation on National Parks.

Agreed: That a Research Paper is requested comparing branding and tourism within Local Councils in Northern Ireland and Great Britain and asking who drives these policies

5.       Consultations

Consultation on Human Trafficking and Exploitation Draft Bill

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

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking what action is being taken with HGV spot checks and HGV tests in relation to Human Trafficking

Consultation on proposed changes to planning fees

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

Consultation on the Pollution Prevention and Control (Industrial Emissions – NIEA) Charging Scheme (Northern Ireland) 2012

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

Committee for Office of First Minister and deputy First Minister consultation on Committee Legislative Proposals – Assembly Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Complaints

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

Synopsis of responses to consultation on the Marine Position Paper

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

Members noted a synopsis of responses to consultation on Administration Charges for the Climate Change Agreements Scheme

Synopsis of responses to consultation on planning agreement for George Best Belfast City Airport.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking to be kept informed of the PAC decision

Synopsis of responses to consultation on proposed Special Areas of Conservation in the Antrim Coast area and Departmental press release

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

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking if political representatives in the area will receive separate notification of designation

Synopsis of responses to consultation on Commission Directives 2009/112/EC and 2009/113/EC

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

Synopsis of responses to consultation on draft Policy HS3 (Amended) – Travellers’ Accommodation – and correspondence from NICEM

Agreed: 
That a letter is sent to the Department requesting a briefing on this at next week’s meeting.  Also ask how they intend to integrate proposals in relation to dispersal and if all Councils have a requirement in relation to Travellers’ accommodation

Agreed: That the Chairperson attends the APG meeting on behalf of the Committee as requested by NICEM

Agreed: That a copy of the synopsis of responses is forwarded to the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities for information

6.       Departmental Updates

Members noted a Departmental update of Article 31 planning applications and a comparison with previous updates.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental update on spot checks on school buses.

Agreed: That a copy of this update is forwarded to the Committee for Education

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental update on MOT pass/fail rates and a comparison of the pass rates with previous updates.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking them to monitor the impact of the increase in test fees on pass/fail rates.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental update on the Infraction Schedule and a comparison with previous updates.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for an update on the Wild Birds Directive and Strangford Lough.  Also ask what actions are being taken by NIEA in relation to End of Life Vehicles Directive

Members noted a Departmental update on post project evaluations. 

 7.      Statutory Rules

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with an Examiner of Statutory Rules Report on the Nitrates Action Programme Regulations.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department expressing the Committee’s disappointment at the breach of the 21-day rule and requesting that the Department takes the Examiner’s comments on board

SR 2012/279 – Local Government (Councillors’ Remuneration Panel) Regulations (NI) 2012

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2012/279 – Local Government (Councillors’ remuneration Panel) Regulations (NI) 2012 andhas no objection to the rule subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

SR 2012/293 – The Planning (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2012/293 – The Planning (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012 and has no objection to the rule subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

Members noted SR 2012/313 – The Taxis (2008 Act) (Commencement No 2) Order (NI) 2012

SR 2012/316 – The Taxi Operators Licensing Regulations (NI) 2012

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2012/316 – The Taxi Operators Licensing Regulations (NI) 2012 and has no objection to the rule subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

SR 2012/328 – The Goods Vehicles (Testing) (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2012/328 – The Goods Vehicles (Testing) (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012 and has no objection to the rule subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

SR 2012/329 – Planning (General Development) (Amendment) Order (NI) 2012

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2012/329 – Planning (General Development) (Amendment) Order 2012 and has no objection to the rule subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report

8.    Correspondence

Members noted the correspondence sent out during summer recess

Letter from Newry & Mourne District Council in relation to the Review of Public Administration

Agreed: That the Committee requests a copy of the Minister’s reply

Departmental reply to queries forwarded by the Committee in relation to Sea Dumping of Munitions

Agreed: That a copy of the response is forwarded to Mr Magne Haugseng

Correspondence in relation to the restoration and maintenance of Annesley Garden, Castlewellan Forest Park

Agreed: That a copy of the correspondence is forwarded to the Department, asking that the Committee is kept updated on further developments in relation to Annesley Gardens

Correspondence from the Education Committee seeking further information on the implications of the impact on cross-border school transport of recent changes in EU Regulations

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

Request from Royal Town Planning Institute to brief the Committee on the work of the local branch of RTPI, in particular in relation to the Review of Public Administration

Agreed: That a representative from the Royal Town Planning Institute is invited to the Committee’s stakeholder event on Thursday 20 September

Departmental reply to queries forwarded by the Committee on behalf of the Education Committee in relation to Community Use of Schools/Community Planning

Agreed: That a copy of the response is forwarded to the Education Committee

Letter seeking an investigation into the handling of the Lennox case by Belfast City Council

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

Request from Shopping Bag Warehouse to brief the Committee about concerns in relation to the Single Use Carrier Bags Levy

Agreed: That a representative from Shopping Bag Warehouse is invited to the Committee’s stakeholder event on Thursday 20 September

Request from Tina O’Hagan Associates Ltd to brief the Committee on turning food waste into a usable resource

Agreed: That a representative from Tina O’Hagan Associates Ltd is invited to the Committee’s stakeholder event on Thursday 20 September

Correspondence from the NI Assembly EU Scrutiny co-ordinator in relation to the proposed new tougher EU vehicle tests

Agreed: That a copy of the correspondence is forwarded to the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development and the Committee for Social Development for information due to the tests expanding to cover caravans and light trailers

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department requesting further information on the timing and implications for DVA when these new regulations are implemented in Northern Ireland.  Also ask the Department what response they made to the EU consultation

Letter from BS Holdings Ltd seeking support for bio fuel heat generation systems to be a major player in the heat generation strategy for Northern Ireland buildings

Agreed: That a copy of the correspondence is forwarded to the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment and  inform Mr Cullen of the action taken by the Committee

Correspondence in relation to concern of an environmental catastrophe in the Mourne Mountains/Hydro Power creation

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

Request from Dr Micheal O Mainnin to support/host the launch at Stormont of N. Ireland Place-Names Project database

Agreed: That a letter is forwarded to the Committee for Finance and Personnel and the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure asking how they intend to respond to the request

Departmental reply to queries forwarded by the Committee on behalf of the Committee for Regional Development regarding their Inquiry into Un-adopted Roads in Northern Ireland

Agreed: That a copy of the response is forwarded to the Committee for Regional Development

Department for Regional Development reply to Committee queries in relation to the pollution of the Ballinderry River by Northern Ireland water

Agreed: That a copy of the response is forwarded to NI Rivers Trust

Departmental reply to Committee queries in relation to the planning applications for Rose Energy

Agreed: That a copy of the response is forwarded to the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development

Members noted the following correspondence:

2011 State of the Climate briefing in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society – Explaining Extreme Events of 2011 from a Climate Perspective

Copy of the Committee on Climate Change Annual Report & Accounts 2011/12

Copy of Sustrans Annual Review for 2011

Copy of the Department’s Disposal and Retention Schedule

Copy of the Department’s consultation on the Review of the Local Government Staff Commission, including Local Government Training Group

Correspondence responding to comments made by the Committee Chair in the press in relation to Sean Quinn

Departmental letter in relation to the Equality Commission Annual Progress Report 2011/12

Correspondence from NICCY detailing the launch of the Commissioner’s Participation Awards 2012/13

Correspondence from Minister Attwood giving notice to approve Article 31 planning application Z/2010/1532/F, mixed use development in Belfast City Centre

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 10:56am

The meeting reconvened in public session at 11:03am

 9.      Departmental briefing on Programme for Government Delivery Plans

Departmental Officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the Programme for Government Delivery Plans.

The main areas of discussion were the key commitments to be delivered by the Department and its Delivery Plans 

Mr Eastwood joined the meeting at 11:11am

Mr Weir joined the meeting at 11:26am

Mr McElduff left the meeting at 11:28am

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department requesting that the consultation process is followed before designating ASSIs and asking what the rationale is for the figure of 15 designations each year.  Also ask what impact any delays in the Waste Infrastructure Programme will have on climate change targets.  Ask what processes are being introduced to speed up the consultation process for planning applications and what measures it is taking to allow capacity building for officials and Councillors ahead of the 11 Council model.

10.    Departmental briefing on DVA Services

Departmental Officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on DVA Services.

The main areas of discussion were the integration of the NI and GB IT systems and the possibility of the centralization of vehicle licensing services to Swansea

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department informing them that the Committee will closely monitor the situation and would like to be kept updated on any developments.  Also ask why the integration of IT systems was not considered when the contract was first awarded to DVA NI.

11.    Departmental briefing on SL1 – Amendment to Driver Licensing Fees

Departmental Officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on Driver Licensing Fees.

The main areas of discussion were the proposed increase in Driver Licensing Fees and the options available to the Department

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department informing them the Committee was not content for the policy to proceed at this time.  Also request a copy of the business case for this proposal, more information on the options considered, the unit cost per licence and more information on the 5 categories of free licences that are issued.

12.    Any other business

13.    Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 20 September 2012 at 10:00am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

The Deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12:32pm.

Anna Lo, MLA
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
20 September 2012

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