Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 22 March 2012

Venue: Graffan Room, Castle Espie

The meeting began in public session at 10:15am.

1.       Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2.       Minutes

The minutes of the meeting on 15 March 2012 were agreed.

3.      Chairpersons Business

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a note of the meeting the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson held with the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside.

Agreed: That the action points from this meeting are forwarded to the Department for comment.

4.      Matters Arising

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

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department to ask for further details on the cases progressing through the system in relation to breaches of requirements to be registered carriers of waste.  Also to ask if scrapyards are subject to standard money laundering regulations, what identification is required for accepting scrap material and if the Department has considered self-regulation for this industry.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the CJI report on enforcement.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department to ask when the recommendations in this report will be implemented.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on radio corridors and wind turbine planning applications.

Mr Clarke joined the meeting at 10:37am.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on Voluntary Transition Committees.

Agreed: That the Minister is invited to brief the Committee on this issue.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department to ask when they will be in a position to brief the Committee on local government reform and ask for further information on correspondence recently sent to local councils in relation to borrowing to finance the reform process.  Also ask for a timescale for the establishment of Regional Transition Committee and when guidance for chairing arrangements for Voluntary Transition Committees will be issued.  

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

Agreed: That the Minister is invited to brief the Committee on this issue.

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

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on PPS 16.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department to ask if PPS 21 is taking precedence over applications for tourism development made under PPS 16.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on major out-of-town retail outlets on border regions.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department to ask how it liaises with other departments on this issue, particularly DSD and DETI who have responsibility for urban regeneration.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the costs of the Marine Bill.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department to ask if the 2007 figures quoted in table 2 have been adjusted to take account of inflation.  Also ask if there is a strategic plan on the number and location of MCZ sites and what the costs would be to implement these sites.  Also ask for clarity on the INTERREG IV Application and the reason for missing out by a single point.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on road safety funding.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with an e-mail from Assembly Research in relation to the Committee request for research on MOT emissions tests.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department to ask for an analysis of the potential health and safety implications of the current MOT emissions test.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on LIFE and LIFE+ funding.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department to ask to be kept informed of discussions with QUB in relation to the Modiolus research.  Also ask if LIFE funding has been considered for river trusts and peatlands study.

Agreed: That a copy of the reply is forwarded to the NI Labour Party. 

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Ministerial letter in relation to action to protect and improve beaches.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department to ask if local councils and the voluntary sector have been invited to the event.  Also ask if resources are being made available to local councils for cleaning more beaches, particularly those not designated, and if the Department has done any work to raise awareness of the environmental damage caused by the release of balloons and lanterns.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to the Committee’s request for a copy of the minutes of the package meeting on Strangford Lough.

Agreed: That the Minister is invited to brief the Committee on this issue.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department to ask for a copy of the letter from the European Commission in relation to infraction proceedings.

5.      Departmental update

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental update on infractions, and a Secretariat analysis of the current update with the previous quarterly update from December 2012.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department to ask for an update on the case relating to the Wild Birds Directive and for further information on Pilot 2583/11 and the reasons for this being included on the schedule.

6.       Consultations

Synopsis of responses to consultation on the draft Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012

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

Synopsis of responses to consultation on Taxi Operator Licensing fees

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

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department to ask if they will be introducing incentives for smaller operators in relation to the fees.

Synopsis of responses to consultation on Revised Waste Management, the Duty of Care, a Code of practice for Northern Ireland.

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

7.       Ulster Federation of Rambling Club’s briefing on Occupiers Liability

Representatives from the Ulster Federation of Rambling Club’s briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on Occupiers Liability.

The main areas of discussion were the economic benefits of dedicated walking routes and the barriers created by Occupiers’ Liability.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Ulster Farmers Union to ask what barriers they feel exist to removing Occupiers’ Liability on land in relation to recreational activities.  Also, to ask for their comments on any potential change to the existing legislation.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development to ask what potential the rural Development Programme has to incentivise the creation of dedicated walking routes across farm land.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to local councils to ask if they currently have countryside access officers within their council and what they are doing, or have done, to promote dedicated walking routes.

Agreed: That an Assembly Research paper is requested on access to the countryside in GB and the rest of Europe. 

8.     Correspondence

Copy of the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Research and Information Service paper on the potential impacts of draft PPS 16 on tourism

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

Copy of the Committee for Finance and Personnel Research and Information Service paper on linking budgets to outcomes: international experience.

Agreed: That a copy of the paper is forwarded to Department for comment on if and how it intends to link its budget to outcomes in the future.

Letter to the Minister from the Committee for Regional Development in relation to issues raised by the Community Transport Association.

Agreed: That a copy of the letter is forwarded to the Department.

Emails received via the Committee’s public email regarding the issue of fracking in Northern Ireland.

Agreed: That a copy of all the emails are forwarded to the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

Correspondence from the Education Committee seeking further information from the Department of the Environment and DVANI in relation to School Transport and Safety Issues.

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

Members noted the following correspondence:

Copy of papers received by the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment in relation to Offshore Renewable Energy Development.

Copy of NPL Report on Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Northern Ireland.

Copy of Ministers response to the Freight Transport Association NI regarding the implementation of the Goods Vehicles Act.

Correspondence from the Committee for the Office of the First and deputy First Minister regarding the abolition of the Department of Employment and Learning and the transfer of its functions.

Correspondence from the Committee for Social Development on the Green New Deal.

9.      Any other business

The Chairperson informed members she had agreed to meet the NI Badger Group on Thursday 29 March 2012 at 3:30pm in Room 279, Parliament Buildings.  All members are welcome to attend.

The Chairperson declared the meeting closed to the public at 12:13pm.

10.     Departmental briefing on CRC Efficiency Scheme

Departmental Officials briefed the Committee on the CRC Efficiency Scheme.

11.     Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 29 March 2012 at 9:15am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12:27pm

Anna Lo, MLA
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
29 March 2012

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