Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 14 June 2012

Venue: The Senate Chamber

The meeting began in public session at 10:02am.

1. Apologies

There were no apologies.

Mr Molloy joined the meeting at 10:03am.

2. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting on 7 June 2012 were agreed.

3. Matters arising 

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on HGV pass/fail rates.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for a breakdown of the figures to indicate minor/major defects.

Mr Elliott joined the meeting at 10:09am.

Mr Boylan joined the meeting at 10:10am.

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

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking where the money will come from to cover the £250,000 in the potential reduction in fee income.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries following its meeting with rural taxi operators.

Agreed: That a copy of the reply is forwarded to the rural taxi operators.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries following its meeting with the Public Hire Coalition.

Agreed: That a copy of the reply is forwarded to the Public Hire Coalition.

Mrs Kelly joined the meeting at 10:11am.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a paper from the Committee for Finance and Personnel on maximizing the Assembly’s budget scrutiny.

Agreed: That a draft Committee reply is prepared for discussion at the meeting on 21 June 2012.

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

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department expressing the Committee’s appreciation in the comprehensive reply and asking for an update on the Case Officer Report.

Agreed: That the issue of Rose Energy is added to the agenda for the Minister’s briefing at the meeting on 28 June 2012.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the June Monitoring round bid.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking if Belfast City Council will receive the £200,000 to help fund a change manager.

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

Mr Campbell joined the meeting at 10:29am.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on passenger carrying restrictions.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department informing them the Committee does not agree that the L and R Driver and GDL proposals should be included with the drink driving proposals as it may delay the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill.  Also ask for clarification on PSNI concerns on enforcement and the negative impact these restrictions may have on the hospitality industry.

Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 10:33am.

Mr Hazzard joined the meeting at 10:34am.

4. Departmental briefing paper on implementation of NIEA enforcement policy

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental paper on the implementation of NIEA enforcement policy.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department requesting an oral briefing on this issue.  Ask the Department if the Environmental Crime Unit is now fully staffed and what was the outcome of the review of sentencing in environmental crime.  Also ask for an update on the fly tipping protocol, ask about the changes in the process of Waste Operator Licensing, outline the perception that NIEA focuses on smaller waste issues whilst large scale activities are not being curtailed and that NIEA needs to do more work in an advisory capacity.

5. Departmental briefing paper on implementation of Taxis Act

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental paper on the implementation of the Taxis Act.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department expressing the Committee’s disappointment that this process has taken so long.

Mr Boylan left the meeting at 10:43am.

6. Statutory Rule

SR 2012/231 – The Nitrates Action Programme (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2012/231 – The Nitrates Action Programme (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 and has no objection to the rule subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

SR 2012/230 – The Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2012/230 – The Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 and has no objection to the rule subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

Draft SR – The Local Government Best Value (Exclusion of non-commercial Considerations) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Lord Morrow declared an interest as a member of Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council.

Mr Weir declared an interest as a member of North Down Borough Council.

Agreed: That the Committee is content to recommend that the Rule is approved by the Assembly.

Mr Boylan re-joined the meeting at 10:47am.

7. Departmental briefing on the synopsis of responses to the consultation on enabling legislation for National Parks

Departmental officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the synopsis of responses to the consultation on enabling legislation for National Parks.

The main areas of discussion were the aims of National Parks, criteria for identifying areas that may be suitable and the management arrangements.

Lord Morrow left the meeting at 11:04am.

Mrs Kelly left the meeting at 11:08am.

Mrs Kelly re-joined the meeting at 11:25am.

Lord Morrow re-joined the meeting at 11:32am.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for a full copy of all responses to the consultation.

8. Departmental briefing on River Basin Management Plans

Departmental officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on River Basin Management Plans.

The main areas of discussion were the three river basin planning cycles, areas of priority and budgetary constraints.

Mr Molloy left the meeting at 11:50am.

Mr Hazzard left the meeting at 12:01pm.

Mr Campbell left the meeting at 12:32pm.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for a list and/or map of the key water quality hotspots identified by NIEA.

9. Correspondence

Invitation from the Anglo-North Irish Fish Producers Ltd to visit their organisation and the fishing industry in Kilkeel.

Agreed: That a Committee visit to Kilkeel is arranged for early September 2012.

Correspondence from the NI Archaeological Forum forwarded by the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure.

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

Copy of the Sustainable Energy Action Plan forwarded by the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment to support the proposal for them to scrutinise the Action Plan every two years.

Request from NIIRTA to brief the Committee on its new report – Town Centre First.

Agreed: That a briefing from NIIRTA is arranged for the next session.

Correspondence from the Education Committee regarding community use of schools and community planning.

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

Email from the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside regarding the Marine Bill Shoreline Management Plans.

Agreed: That a copy of the Departmental reply is forwarded to the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside.

Departmental response to queries forwarded by the Committee on behalf of the National Beef Association.

Agreed: That a copy of the reply is forwarded to the National Beef Association.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department requesting a briefing from officials on cooperation with DARD on the CAP Reform.

Departmental response to queries forwarded by the Committee on behalf of the Mr E Cooke regarding potential breaches of the EU SEA Directive.

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

Departmental response to queries forwarded by the Committee on behalf of the Education Committee regarding school transport health and safety issues.

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

Members noted the following correspondence:

Article forwarded by the NIA European Scrutiny Coordinator regarding the next EU target for renewable energy generation

Copy of presentations from the stakeholder event on the Northern Ireland Climate Change Bill.

Copy of NILGA’s response to the consultation on the draft Single Use Carrier Bags Charge Regulations 2012.

Departmental update on the Judicial Review of the Local Government Pension Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2010.

Invitation to attend the NIEA/DOE launch and seminar for the new Northern Ireland Protocol for the Care of the Government Historic Estate.

10. Any other business

A Member raised the issue of the Ministers comments in connection with consulting Departmental Solicitors Office on recent decisions made on Local Government Reform.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for clarification on the Minister’s comments and requesting that the Committee is kept fully informed of the situation.

A Member raised the issue of Road Safety funding applications having to be submitted by hard copy and the environmental impact of this.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking can these funding applications be dealt with electronically.

11. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 21 June at 10:00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12:57pm.

Anna Lo, MLA
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
21 June 2012

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