Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 15 September 2011

Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

The meeting began in public session at 10.12am with the Deputy Chairperson in the Chair

1. Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting on 8 June 2011 were agreed.

3. Matters Arising

Members noted a Departmental update on stress tests at Sellafield.

Lord Morrow joined the meeting at 10.15a.m.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with replies from the Livestock and Meat Commission, the Ulster Farmers’ Union and Agri-Food and Biosciences on landspreading and an Assembly Research Paper on practices in other UK jurisdictions, the Republic of Ireland and other EU countries.

Mr Boylan joined the meeting at 10.17a.m.

Mr Kinahan joined the meeting at 10.18a.m.

Agreed: That members are content for the Department to proceed with the policy but urges better monitoring and enforcement of landspreading of biodegradable waste, particularly where it involves human waste. Members also feel that anaerobic digestion may be the better way forward on this issue and the Committee would like to be kept up to date with any progress on the use of this technology.

Agreed: That the Committee visits Ballyrashane Creamery to observe biodegradable waste management.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries raised by the Committee following a meeting with objectors to the development at the Grange, Waringstown.

The Chairperson also informed members that they had been provided with a response from Craigavon Borough Council on their involvement with the planning process.

Agreed: That a copy of the Craigavon Borough Council letter is sent to the Department to comment on the apparent discrepancy between the reports of the planning process.

Members noted a Departmental letter regarding the Consultation on draft Local Government Best Value Order (NI) 2011 and associated guidance.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with e mails from the Community Transport Association in relation to the Bus Operator’s Licensing Consultation process and with previous Departmental replies on this issue.

Agreed: That a copy of the correspondence is forwarded to the Department for comment on the issues raised and for an update on the Department’s proposed way forward on this issue. Members feel that a second consultation is required and would like to see this progressed as soon as possible.

5. Proposals for secondary legislation

SL1 – draft Local Government Pension Scheme (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

Agreed: That a copy of the synopsis of responses to the consultation is requested and that the Committee reserves a decision on the regulations until after the synopsis is received. Members also requested further information on the retrospective impact of these regulations.

SL1 – Community Drivers’ Hours (Northern Ireland) Regulations

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

6. Statutory Rules

SR 2011/289 – The Radioactive Substances Exemption (NI) Order 2011.

SR 2011/290 – The Radioactive Substances Act 1993 (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011.

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2011/289 – The Radioactive Substances Exemption (NI) Order 2011 and SR 2011/290 – The Radioactive Substances Act 1993 (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011 and has no objection to these rules subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

7. Consultations

Consultation on Spring Traps Approval Order.

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

Dog Control Order Consultation – synopsis of responses.

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

Consultation on Proposed Changes to the Learner and Restricted Driver Schemes and on Graduated Driver Licensing – synopsis of responses.

Agreed: That a Departmental briefing is arranged for a future Committee meeting.

Consultation on the draft Planning (Environment Impact Assessment) Regulations (NI) 2012.

Agreed: That a copy of the synopsis of responses is requested and the Department asked for more information on the differences in the proposed changes.

Consultation on simplification of the Climate Change Agreements (CCA) Scheme.

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

Consultation on UK Air Quality Plans for the achievement of EU air quality limits for nitrogen dioxide – synopsis of responses.

Agreed: That Belfast City Council is asked for further information on its concerns in relation to this issue and that the Committee defers a decision on this consultation until it has considered Belfast City Council’s response.

8. Departmental updates

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental update on post project evaluations.

Agreed: That the Department is asked for further details on the 15 evaluations that became due for completion over the summer.

9. Departmental briefing on costs of Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act.

Mr McGlone joined the meeting at 10.38a.m.

Departmental officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the costs of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act.

Agreed: That the Department provides the Committee with the number of fixed penalty notices issued over the past year and the levels of non-payment of fines. Officials also agreed to investigate the possibility of loans to councils to enable them to cover the initial upfront costs of implementing the legislation until revenue from fixed penalty fine become available.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department of Justice asking for a review of the Magistrate’s Courts (Cost in Criminal Cases) Rules which prescribe orders for the payment of costs of prosecution or defence fees for solicitors or counsel.

10. Departmental briefing on Environmental Governance Discussion Document.

Departmental officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions

on the Environmental Governance Document.

The main areas of discussion were the number of responses received, the time period for responses to the document, the weight given to responses in any future consultation and the next steps in the process.

Agreed: That members would raise any concerns they had about the process of consultation with the Minister in a future briefing.

12. Research and Information Service briefing on opportunities and barriers for local councils in implementing carbon management reduction plans.

A member of Research and Information Service briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the opportunities and barriers for local councils in implementing carbon management reduction plans.

Mr Molloy joined the meeting at 12.20p.m.

Agreed: That further research is carried out on the reasons that councils gave for considering the implementation of carbon management reduction plans as low priority and on community heating schemes.

Agreed: That letters of thanks are sent to the councils for participation in the research survey.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department to ask how it is meeting its commitment to the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Commitment Scheme, particularly in relation to planning.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to other relevant Committees to ask what policy work is being carried out to incentivise reductions in carbon and reduce energy costs.

Agreed: That a copy of the Research paper is sent to the councils with a note of thanks for their participation and that a copy is posted on the Assembly website.

Lord Morrow left the meeting at 12.25p.m.

13. Committee inquiry into used tyre disposal.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a

draft itinerary for a Committee visit to a tyre manufacturer, a tyre recycling centre and a proposal to meet with officials from Ballymena Borough Council.

Agreed: That the visit is arranged.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on artificial reefs.

14. Draft Committee Forward Work Programme

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a draft forward work programme.

Agreed: That the Committee is content with the forward work programme and that a copy is posted on the Assembly website.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with information on Budget monitoring rounds.

Agreed: That a Departmental briefing on the January monitoring round is arranged for the final Committee meeting in December.

15. Correspondence

Consumer Council campaign to lower the cost of insurance for NI consumers.

Agreed: That the Consumer Council is invited to a future Committee meeting to brief on this issue.

Email regarding concerns about Fracking with respect to Northern Ireland.

Agreed: To forward correspondence to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment for a response.

Invitation to attend the launch of the NI chapter of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment.

Agreed: That an Assembly Researcher attends on behalf of the Committee and to produce a short report.

Email from Belfast Public Hire Taxi (PHC) outlining their concerns in relation to the consultation on a single tier taxi system.

Agreed: That the correspondence is forwarded to the Department for comment on the matters relating to them and that the Committee’s position on the Taxis Act is reiterated to the Public Hire Coalition.

Email detailing the Fair Fuel Campaign.

Agreed: That more information is sought from the North South Forum on this issue.

Correspondence detailing the outcome of the recent challenge by the Angling Trust and WWF-UK on the legality of the River Basin Management Plans in England & Wales.

Agreed: That a copy of the correspondence is forwarded to the Department for comment and an update on River Basin Management Plans and their current status.

Members noted the following correspondence

Additional information regarding the work of the Big Lottery Fund.

Further information from the Warringstown Objectors.

Copy of the European Environmental Bureau – Meta Morphosis newsletter.

Copy of the Department of Finance and Personnel monitoring of Departmental Efficiency Delivery Plans.

Invitation to Community Foundation for Northern Ireland Observatory Seminar.

Invitation to Partnership Action Wildlife Crime launch of Operation Meles.

15. Any other business

A member raised the issue of the synopsis of responses to the flytipping protocol.

Agreed: That a copy of the synopsis of responses is included in the meeting papers for the meeting on 22 September for discussion.

16. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 22 September at 10.00a.m. in the Senate Chamber.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.35pm

Simon Hamilton MLA 
Deputy Chairperson, Committee for the Environment 
22 September 2011

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