Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 14 February 2013

Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

The meeting began in public session at 10:07am.

1. Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting on 31 January 2013 were agreed.

3. Chairperson's business

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a request to meet from the League Against Cruel Sports.

Agreed: That the Chairperson meets with representatives from the League Against Cruel Sports on behalf of the Committee and reports back.

Mr Hamilton joined the meeting at 10:10am.

The Chairperson informed members that she had recently spoken to the Council for Nature Conservation and Countryside regarding the Planning Bill.

Agreed: That the Council for Nature Conservation and Countryside are invited to brief the Committee at its meeting on 11 April 2013.

4. Matters Arising

Members noted a Departmental letter on cross border bus passenger services.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Late Payments Directive.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for a breakdown of the figures based on payments within 30 days and if there is a benchmark for payments. Also request a breakdown on average payment times across councils.

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

Members noted a Ministerial reply to Committee queries on the January Monitoring Round submission.

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

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking what impact forthcoming Marine legislation will have on this planning application.

Lord Morrow left the meeting at 10:20am.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on training as part of Local Government Reform.

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

Agreed: That a letter is sent to NI Assembly Research asking for an update on their paper on metal theft, taking into account the legislation being drafted in Westminster.

Lord Morrow re-joined the meeting at 10:22am.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with correspondence from the Public Hire Coalition on taxis issues.

Agreed: That a copy of the correspondence is forwarded to the Department for comment, noting that the Committee does not endorse the sentiments expressed in the correspondence.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department requesting a briefing on the SL1 on single tier taxi licensing at the meeting on 14 March 2013.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on EU Funding Programmes.

Agreed: That a copy of the reply is forwarded to CNCC, who raised issues about maximising EU funding draw down.
The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply on the Committee for Regional Development's inquiry into unadopted roads in private developments.

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

Mr Weir joined the meeting at 10:26am.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a letter from Belfast City Airport Watch and welcomed the clarification of their Chairperson's voluntary status.

A motion was tabled by Mr Elliott, and seconded by Mr Boylan, proposing that Belfast City Airport Watch be invited to brief the Committee during a formal session.

The Committee divided: Ayes 3; Noes 4; abstention 1
Ayes: Mr Elliott, Mr Boylan, Mr McElduff
Noes: Mr Hamilton, Mr Ross, Lord Morrow, Mr Weir
Abstain: Ms Lo
Question accordingly negatived.

The Committee agreed to a second motion, tabled by Mr Weir, that Belfast City Airport Watch be invited to meet with the Chairperson and members informally and a report of the meeting be brought back to the Committee.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to Belfast City Airport Watch inviting them to meet with the Chairperson and members on this issue.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to an anonymous letter on the MOT contract.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for an estimate of future liability and seek an assurance that all consultancy work is now let on a defensible, documented basis.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a letter from the Local Government Auditor on the PEDU Review of the Response to Flooding.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking if payments in relation to the scheme have been analysed and verified robustly. In particular the Committee wanted to know if the Department's internal auditors have audited the scheme and if so what they said, and if the Department has considered requesting the Local Government Auditor audits the scheme.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the crannog excavation.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the recent bids for Local Government Reform.

Mr Elliott left the meeting at 10:53am.

Mr Weir left the meeting at 10:53am.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the implementation of the Taxis Act.

Agreed: That a copy of the reply is forwarded to the Accessible Taxis Association, informing them that the Committee will receive a Departmental briefing on the SL1 on single tier licensing at its meeting on 14 March 2013.

5. Departmental Updates

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

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for an update on the introduction of signs and warning lights on school buses.

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

Mr Weir re-joined the meeting at 10:55am.

Members noted a Departmental update on MOT tests.
The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with an update on the Waste Infrastructure Programme Gateway Review.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking what the implications of the delays will be on meeting landfill diversion targets and the newly proposed 60% recycling rate.

Members noted a Departmental update on the Implementation of Road Safety Strategy.

6. Consultations

Members noted a synopsis of responses to consultation on Site Waste Management Plans Regulations.

Consultation on the Timetable and Work Programme for the Development of the Second Cycle River Basin Management Plans.

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

Consultation on Carrier Bag Levy Enforcement Guidance.

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

Consultation on proposed amendments to the UK-wide Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007.

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

Shellfish Waters Directive - Consultation on 2012 review and protection beyond 2013.

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

Mr Ross left the meeting at 11:01am.

Mr Weir left the meeting at 11:01am.

Consultation on Revised NIEA Regulatory Charging Policy and proposed changes to the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Charging Scheme.

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

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Ministerial letter on Consultation on Climate Change Bill.

Agreed: That the Committee purchases a copy of the book 'Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air' to keep in its library.

Mr Ross re-joined the meeting at 11:02am.

Mr Weir re-joined the meeting at 11:02am.

Consultation on Draft Snares Order (NI) 2013.

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

7. Proposals for Secondary Legislation

SL1 - The Waste and Contaminated Land (Amendment) (2011 Act) (Commencement No. 2) Order (Northern Ireland) 2013.

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

SL1 - The Waste (Amendment) (2007 Order) (Commencement No. 3) Order (Northern Ireland) 2013.

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

8. European Priorities

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on European priorities and a draft Committee response to OFMDFM Committee on European priorities.

Agreed: That the draft reply, taking account of members' comments, is forwarded to OFMdFM Committee.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with correspondence from OFMDFM Committee on the Executive's proposed European Priorities 2013-14.

Agreed: That a Committee reply, taking account of members' comments, is forwarded to OFMdFM Committee.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with an Explanatory Memorandum on European legislation on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure.

Agreed: That a copy of the Explanatory Memorandum is forwarded to the OFMDFM Committee asking for its opinion on whether or not the proposals adhere to the principles of subsidiarity.

Agreed: That a copy of the Explanatory Memorandum is forwarded to the Department to identify any concerns it has about the proposals from a Northern Ireland perspective in particular.

9. Correspondence

Correspondence from Belfast City Council requesting a copy of the table of Council responses to the Committee's query on training budgets for elected members.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to all Councils that contributed information asking if they are content for it to be released to Belfast City Council for comparison purposes.

Departmental reply to Committee queries on the use of HID and Xenon headlight conversion kits for cars, bikes and trucks.

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

Departmental reply to correspondence forwarded by the Committee on behalf of the Committee for Enterprise, Trade & Investment regarding Enterprise Zones.

Agreed: That a copy of the reply is forwarded to the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

Departmental reply to Committee queries on EU legal action against the UK for failing to implement requirements set out in the Directive on periodic roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and their trailers.

Agreed: That a copy of the reply is forwarded to the NI Assembly EU Scrutiny Coordinator for information.

Members noted the following correspondence:
Copy of Business in the Community – 2012 Review of Corporate Responsibility in Northern Ireland.

Update from the Department of Social Development on the progress of the Fuel Poverty Thematic Sub Groups.

European Scrutiny Committee reply to Committee concerns on the draft Regulation on Environmental Impact Assessments.

Copy of correspondence to the Minister of the Environment on the John Lewis planning application.

Correspondence from the Committee for Justice on car crime and personal injury claims by PSNI Officers.

Copy of the NI Barroso Taskforce – Future EU Funding 2014-2020.

Correspondence detailing the development of an EU Action plan for the Atlantic Area.

Copies of correspondence between the House of Lords EU Committee, DEFRA and from the Scottish Parliament EU Sub Committee B in relation to EU proposals to amend the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive.

10. Community Transport Association briefing on Bus Operator Licensing

Representatives from the Community Transport Association briefed the Committee and answered members' questions on Bus Operator Licensing.

The main areas of discussion were a background to CTA's work, the CTA's commitment to modernizing the bus operator licensing system and the consultation process.

The Chairperson declared an interest as the representative from the Community Transport Association is a member of the Alliance Party.

Lord Morrow left the meeting at 11:27am.

Lord Morrow re-joined the meeting at 11:43am.

11. Departmental briefing on Bus Operator Licensing

Departmental officials briefed the Committee and answered members' questions on Bus Operator Licensing.

The main areas of discussion were the background to bus operator licensing, its stakeholder engagement and the way forward for the process.

Mr Boylan left the meeting at 12:15pm.

Mr Boylan re-joined the meeting at 12:26pm.

12. Any other business

The Chairperson reminded members that the Minister recently announced an additional £1m for the dereliction grant for Councils, even though his bid for £4m in the January Monitoring Round for this was not given.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for more information on how the underutilisation of the Voluntary Redundancy Scheme will affect the Planning Division's budget.

Members noted a programme of the NILGA Conference in which the Committee will be taking part on 28 February 2013.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a letter from the Department informing the Committee if its response on the Noise Mapping and Action Planning Technical Guidance.

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

A member raised the issue of the Committee Forward Work Programme.

Agreed: That a copy of the Committee Forward Work Programme is included in the weekly meeting packs.

A member raised the issue of Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for an update on the disposal and storage of waste from the Sellafield site.

A member raised the issue of wind energy and the erecting of wind turbines.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for an update on the review of PPS18 and the Supplementary Planning Guidance.

13. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 28 February 2013 at 10:00am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12:39pm.

Anna Lo, MLA
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
28 February 2013

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