Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 21 June 2012

Venue: Room 30 Parliament Buildings

The meeting began in public session at 10:08am.

1. Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

Mr Elliott joined the meeting at 10:10am.

2. Minutes

The minutes of the meetings on 12 June and 14 June 2012 were agreed.

3. Matters arising 

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with papers for the joint Committee motion on planning led archaeology.

Agreed: That a copy of the transcript of the briefing to the Committee from NIEA on this issue is forwarded to the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure for information.

Mr Hamilton joined the meeting at 10:14am.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Committee for Regional Development memo on Audio Visual Systems on Public Transport in Northern Ireland.

Agreed: That a memo is sent to the Committee for Regional Development stating the Committee’s support for changes to the legislation to support the installation of AV systems on the public transport network.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on EU funding for eco-innovation projects.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on Strangford Lough SAC. 

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking what new equipment will be required, what the cost of this will be and which environmental projects will be affected be the reduction in funding.  Also ask about the voluntary arrangement with the local fishermen in Strangford Lough and whether the Department has consulted with the industry in relation to the proposed new larger areas of restriction.

Mr Campbell left 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 copy of the reply is forwarded to NILGA.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with an agenda for the Ministerial briefing on 28 June.

Agreed: That the subjects of National Parks and Runkerry Planning Application/role of UNESCO are added to the agenda for the Minister’s briefing at the meeting on 28 June 2012.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking what exactly the main issues are in connection with UNESCO and the Runkerry Planning Application.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Minister asking for clarification on the increasing number of unanswered Assembly questions, highlighting Standing Order 20B which covers questions for written answer.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental letter on cross border passenger services.

Agreed: That a copy of the correspondence is forwarded to the Committee for Education for information.

The Chairperson informed members that they have been provided with a Draft agenda for joint discussions on cross border planning issues.

Agreed: That Town Centre Management Forum is added to the list of attendees while MPs and TDs are removed from the list of attendees.

Mr Campbell re-joined the meeting at 10:32am.


Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on heavy gauge plastic recycling.

Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 10:36am.

4. Draft Committee response on Maximising Assembly contribution to budget process

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a draft Committee response to the Committee for Finance and Personnel.

Agreed: That the letter is amended to take account of Members comments and forwarded to the Committee for Finance and Personnel.

5. Departmental briefing paper on PSA target reporting

Members noted a Departmental briefing paper on PSA target reporting.

Mr Hamilton re-joined the meeting at 10:45am.

6. Consultations

Draft synopsis of responses to consultation on Supplementary Planning Guidance to Policy PED 8 off PPS 4.

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

Synopsis of responses to consultation on Planning and Demolition Control.

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

Consultation on the Waste (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012

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

Consultation on mandatory wearing of helmets on quadricycles.

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

Synopsis of responses to consultation on fitment of fire extinguishers in motor vehicles.

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

Synopsis of responses to consultation on Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations.

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

Synopsis of responses to consultation on a New Recycling Policy.

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

7. Marine Bill – formal clause by clause consideration

The Committee commenced formal clause by clause consideration of the Marine Bill.

Clause 1 – The Northern Ireland Inshore Region

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 1 as drafted

Agreed: That the Committee recommends that the Minister refers to the existing sustainable development and climate change obligations for public authorities under the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2006 and the UK Climate Change Act 2008 during the Consideration Stage of the Bill.

Clause 2 – Marine plans for the Northern Ireland inshore region

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 2 as drafted.

Clause 3 – Amendment of marine plan

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 3 as drafted.

Clause 4 – Withdrawal of marine plan

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 4 subject to a Departmental amendment to publish its intention to withdraw a plan on its website.

Clause 5 – Duty to keep relevant matters under review

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 5 as drafted.

Clause 6 – Decisions affected by a marine plan

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 6 as drafted.

Clause 7 – Monitoring of, and periodical reporting on, marine plans

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 7 as drafted.

Mr Weir left the meeting at 11:21am.


Clause 8 – Validity of marine plans

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 8 subject to a Departmental amendment to extend the period during which a legal challenge can be made to 12 weeks after the plan has been published.

Agreed: That the Committee recommends that the Minister stresses during Consideration Stage of the Bill that there is a recognised process for engagement throughout the preparation of the marine plans and that the high court option should not be considered an alternative.

Clause 9 – Powers of the High Court on an application under section 8

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 9 as drafted.

Clause 10 – Interpretation of this Part

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 10 as drafted.

Clause 11 – Designation of marine conservation zones (MCZs)

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 11 as drafted.

Clause 12 – Grounds for designation of MCZ

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 12 subject to a Departmental amendment making it a requirement to consider social and economic factors and to include a reference to cultural factors.

Mr Weir re-joined the meeting at 11:35am.


Clause 13 – Further provision as to orders designation MCZs

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 13 as drafted.

Agreed: That the Committee recommends that during Consideration Stage of the Bill the Minister stresses the importance of the MCZ designation process.


Clause 14 – Consultation before designation

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 14 as drafted.

Clause 15 – Publication of orders

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 15 as drafted.

Clause 16 – Hearings

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 16 as drafted.

Mr Weir left the meeting at 11:38am.


Clause 17 – Review of orders

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 17 as drafted.

Clause 18 – Creation of network of conservation sites

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 18 as drafted.

Mr Weir re-joined the meeting at 11:50am.


Clause 19 – Reports

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 19 as drafted.

Clause 20 – General duties of public authorities in relation to MCZs

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 20 as drafted.

Clause 21 – Duties of public authorities in relation to certain decisions

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 21 as drafted.

Clause 22 – Advice and guidance by the Department

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 22 as drafted.

Clause 23 – Failure to comply with duties etc

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 23 subject to a Departmental amendment requiring a public authority to provide a written explanation if it fails to comply with the duties required by an MCZ.

Clause 24 – Byelaws for protection of MCZs

Mr Elliott expressed his concern at Clause 24, Section 3(e).

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 24 as drafted

Agreed: That the Committee recommends that during Consideration Stage of the Bill that the Minister stresses that the provision of byelaws will be as appropriate to meet the objectives of the MCZ but will not exceed what is required.


Clause 25 – Byelaws: procedures

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 25 as drafted.

Clause 26 – Emergency byelaws

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 26 as drafted.

Clause 27 – Interim byelaws for MCZ

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 27 as drafted.

Clause 28 – Byelaws: supplementary

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 28 as drafted

Clause 29 – Hearings

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 29 as drafted.

Clause 30 – Offence of contravening byelaws

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 30 as drafted.

Clause 31 – Offence of damaging, etc. protected features of MCZ

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 31 as drafted.

Clause 32 – Exceptions

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 32 as drafted.

Clause 33 – Fixed monetary penalties

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 33 as drafted.

Clause 34 – Fixed monetary penalties: procedure

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 34 as drafted.

Clause 35 – Fixed monetary penalties: further provision

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 35 as drafted.

Clause 36 – Enforcement officers

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 36 as drafted.

Clause 37 – The common enforcement powers

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 37 as drafted.

Mr Campbell left the meeting at 12:20pm.

Clause 38 – Repeals and transitional provisions

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 38 as drafted.

Clause 39 – Interpretation of this Part

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 39 as drafted.

Clause 40 – Special procedure for applications relating to generating stations

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 40 as drafted.

Clause 41 – Regulations and orders

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 41 as drafted.

Clause 42 – Offences: companies, etc

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 42 as drafted.

Clause 43 – Disapplication of requirement for consent to certain prosecutions

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 43 as drafted.

Clause 44 – Supplementary, incidental, consequential, transitional provision etc

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 44 as drafted.

Clause 45 – Crown application

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 45 as drafted.

Clause 46 – Interpretation

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 46 as drafted.

Clause 47 – Commencement

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 47 subject to a Departmental amendment bringing Part 3 into force along with the rest of the Bill on Royal Assent.

Clause 48 – Short Title

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Clause 48, the short title, as drafted.

Schedule 1 – Marine plans: preparation and adoption

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Schedule 1 subject to a Departmental amendment introducing a savings provision for work done in advance on the marine plan

Agreed: That the Committee recommends that the Minister commits to a timeframe for the delivery of a marine plan during Consideration Stage of the Bill.


Schedule 2 – Further provision about fixed monetary penalties under section 33

Agreed: That the Committee is content with Schedule 2 as drafted.

Other Issues – Integration and Coordination of marine functions

Agreed: That the Committee is content for the Bill Clerk to draft an amendment which will provide a mechanism for a Memorandum of Understanding to be agreed between departments for marine functions for consideration by the Committee at the next meeting.

Mr Weir left the meeting at 12:51pm.

Mr Elliott left the meeting at 12:52pm.

Other Issues – Common law right of navigation and fishing

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment asking for confirmation that this issue is being pursued and that the Committee is kept informed of any developments.

Agreed: That the extract of the Departmental reply on common law right of navigation and fishing is forwarded to NIRIG for information.

Other Issues – Dredging protocol

Agreed: That the extract of the Departmental reply on dredging protocol is forwarded to the Belfast Harbour Commissioners and the British Ports association for information.

Other Issues – Long Title

Agreed: That the Committee is content with the Long Title as drafted.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with Departmental responses to Committee concerns and proposed amendments.

Agreed: That the Departmental reply is included in the final Committee report.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided a response from the Northern Ireland Renewables Industry Group to queries raised during their briefing in relation to common law navigation, fishing, licensing and consenting.

Agreed: That the paper is included in the final Committee report.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with an Assembly Research paper on Sustainable Development and Climate Change General Duties.

Agreed: That the Assembly Research paper is included in the final Committee report.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with correspondence from the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development in relation to MCZ’s.

Agreed: That the paper is included in the final Committee report.

Mr Elliott re-joined the meeting at 1:00pm

8. Departmental briefing on the Planning Bill 2012

Departmental officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the Planning Bill 2012.

The main areas of discussion were the synopsis of the main provisions to be contained within the Bill and the timescale for implementation.

Mr Weir re-joined the meeting at 1:11pm.

Mr Weir left the meeting at 1:14pm.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking how many times the maximum fine of £30,000 has been invoked. 

 9. Correspondence

Request from Belfast Healthy Cities to brief the Committee on its work.

Agreed: That Belfast Healthy Cities is added to the Committee stakeholder list and invited to the stakeholder event scheduled for 20 September 2012. 

Departmental response to queries forwarded by the Committee on behalf of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development in relation to planning applications in the rural community.

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

Correspondence regarding the Sea Dumping of Munitions.

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

Letter from the Regional Development Committee in respect of their Inquiry into Un-adopted Roads in Northern Ireland.

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

Invitation to visit the City Walls Heritage Project from the Holywell Trust.

Agreed: That a Committee visit to Holywell Trust, combined with a meeting, is arranged for September 2012.

Letter to the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding the alternative approach to requesting EU funding information.

Agreed: That a copy of the letter is forwarded to the Committee for Finance and Personnel.

Members noted the following correspondence:

Copy of letter from Stream BioEnergy to the Minister regarding an alternative technology proposal for poultry litter processing.

10. Any other business


The Chairperson discussed her attendance at a recent conference and highlighted that Northern Ireland Environment Link are working closely with NIEA and have received funding which it had distributed to 66 projects.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department requesting a briefing from NIEA officials on this issue. 

11. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 28 June at 10:00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1:42pm.

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

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