Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 24 November 2011

Venue: Senate Chamber

The meeting began in public session at 10.03am.

1. Apologies

Apologies as noted.

2. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting on 17 November 2011 were agreed.

3.Matters Arising

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with DCAL and DARD replies to Committee queries on river management.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department urging it to keep the pressure on all relevant departments to fully deliver their river management responsibilities.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a summary of the key issues raised during the briefings on the White Paper on Enabling Legislation for national parks and a Departmental reply to Committee queries on national parks and copies of a report on national parks.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking when it will be in a position to brief on the synopsis of responses to the White Paper and when it anticipates national parks legislation being introduced to the Assembly.

Members noted a previous Committee response to queries on liability for boulders on public roads.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a DSD reply to Committee queries on the Boiler Replacement Scheme.

Mr Hamilton joined the meeting at 10.08a.m.

Mr Clarke joined the meeting at 10.09a.m.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department of Social Development asking if it anticipates meeting its target to replace 1330 boilers in the 2011/12 financial year and asking if the criteria for replacement can be extended so that more people can take advantage of the scheme.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental letter informing the Committee of slippage in Taxi Vehicle Licensing.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department expressing disappointment at this latest slippage following the news that Taxi Operator Licensing has also slipped and asking for an update on progress on the implementation of all aspects of the Taxis Act including dates of completion for each area of work and reasons for any slippage.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental letter on implementation of the Wild Birds Directive across Northern Ireland and the Habitats Directive in Strangford Lough.

Agreed: That the Chairperson meets with the Chair of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development to discuss this issue and reports back to the Committee.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a copy of a response from the Consumer Council regarding the number of uninsured drivers.

Mr Molloy joined the meeting at 10.13a.m.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the MPs thanking them for their response to the Committee queries.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on DOE Business Plan 2012.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the number of staff suspensions.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on car tax renewal.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Barroso Taskforce Report.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department stating the Committee’s disappointment that the response focused solely on bigger issues such as climate change and would like more information on what work the Department is doing through the Barroso Taskforce Report to tackle more local issues such as waste and septic tanks.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking how many times the Minister has met directly with the European Commission.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act and a tabled note issued to a member by the Freight Transport Association on 21 November 2011.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for more specific deadlines for implementation as there has already been slippage in the 2011 implementation programme.

Agreed: That Departmental officials are invited to brief the Committee on the implementation of the Act at a future meeting.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on The Waste Management Licensing (Landspreading Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department welcoming the clarification given as to the remit of this piece of legislation and notifying the Department that the Committee will be monitoring enforcement of this issue.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a note of the meeting with Farmers for Action.

Agreed: That the Committee accepts the importance of the cost of production being reflected by retailers and that it is hopeful that this issue will be addressed by the grocery ombudsman

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development asking for an update on any progress made in relation to the development of a vaccine programme to target TB in badgers and other animals.

Agreed: That Research and Information Services are asked to provide information in relation to what happens to phosphates during the incineration process.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the failure to achieve 3 out of 4 planning PSA targets.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for detailed information on the workload of each individual planner across all the planning offices.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the Department’s Annual Progress Report 2010/11 to the Equality Commission.

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

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for a firm timetable for publication of the planning workforce model and asking if the model will be flexible enough to cope with future changes.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for an explanation for the discrepancy in processing times across divisions.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department if the planning processing times included in the reply are inclusive of streamlined planning applications.

4. Consultations

Consultation on a proposal regarding possible exemptions from MOT testing for historic vehicles.

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

Consultation on Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Amendment Regulations NI 2012.

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

Consultation on a draft Invasive Alien Species Strategy for Northern Ireland – synopsis of responses.

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

Environmental Better Regulation White Paper – synopsis of responses.

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

Consultation on Taxi Fare and Taximeter Regulations.

Agreed: That a copy of the synopsis of responses is requested and that a letter is sent to the Department urging it to make sure the consultation process is thorough so that this issue does not have to be revisited.

Guidance for district councils on local environmental fixed penalty notices – synopsis of responses.

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

Consultation on Spring Traps Approval Order – synopsis of responses.

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

Disability Action Plan Consultation – synopsis of responses.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department stating that members praised the idea of the plan being a ‘living document’ and asking what changes will be made to the legislation to take into account the concerns raised by Disability Action.

5. Proposals for Secondary Legislation

SL1 – Proposed introduction of Motor Vehicles (Access to Driver Licensing Records) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011.

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

SL1 – The Planning (General Development) (Amendment No. 2) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011 – Extension of permitted development rights for use of land for stationing of touring caravans by exempted organisations.

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

SL1 – The Pollution Prevention and control (Amendment No. 2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011.

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

SL1 – The High Hedges (Fee) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

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

SL1 – High Hedges (Fee Transfer) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Agreed: That the Committee is content for the Department to proceed with the policy and that a letter is sent to the Department welcoming the decision to take forward the previous Committee’s amendment for fee transfer.

6. Statutory Rules

SR 2011/385 – Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2011/385 – Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011 and has no objection to the rule subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

Members noted SR 2011/386 – The Planning (2011 Act) (Commencement No 1) Order (NI) 2011.

SR 2011/387 – The Planning (2011 Act) (Transitional Provisions) Order (NI) 2011

Question put and agreed: That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2011/387 – The Planning (2011 Act) (Transitional Provisions) Order (NI) 2011 and has no objection to the rule subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report.

7. Inquiry into used tyre disposal

Members noted copies of emails from Pyreco in relation to artificial reefs.

Members noted a reply from the Health Minister to Committee queries on respiratory problems.

Members noted a Departmental reply to Committee queries on the tyre disposal charge from retailers.

Members noted a follow up letter from Ballymena Borough Council following their briefing to the Committee.

Members noted a revised itinerary for the Committee’s Dublin visit as part of the inquiry.

8. Northern Ireland Renewable Industry Group (NIRIG) briefing on PPS 2

Representatives from the Northern Ireland Renewable Industry Group briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on PPS 2.

Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 11.31a.m.

Ms Bradley left the meeting at 11.37a.m.

The main areas of discussion were the wording of PPS2, the possibility of planning applications being revoked and the re-designation of land.

9. Departmental briefing on synopsis of responses to consultation on PPS 2

Departmental Officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on PPS 2.

Mr Hamilton rejoined the meeting at 11.50a.m.

Ms Bradley rejoined the meeting at 11.50a.m.

The main areas of discussion were an outline of responses to the consultation, the wording of PPS2, designation of sites and approval rates for wind farm applications.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking for a map showing all designated sites, the level of designation and the location of current and proposed wind farms.

10. Departmental briefing on synopsis of responses to consultation on PPS 16

Departmental Officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on PPS 16.

Mr Boylan left the meeting at 12.29p.m.

Mr Weir left the meeting at 12.52p.m.

The main areas of discussion were an outline of the responses to the consultation, sustainable development, countryside tourism policies and the safeguarding of tourism assets.

Agreed: That Research and Information Service provide an analysis of the synopsis of responses and report back to the Committee.

11. Correspondence

Email from OM Tyre Recycling regarding its continued operator license suspension.

Agreed: That the email is forwarded to the Department for comment.

Letter to the Minister from the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development in relation to outstanding correspondence.

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

Email from the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) regarding recent Departmental responses to Committee queries on behalf of the UFU.

Agreed: That the email is sent to the Department for comment.

Letter from the Regional Development Committee regarding car parking in the vicinity of Belfast International Airport.

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

Copy of Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit (PEDU) report on the Benchmarking of Retained Corporate Functions across NI Departments.

Agreed: That the report is forwarded to the Department asking why it appears to have relatively large finance staff complements compared to other departments and why it appears to have high numbers of transactional processing staff against the volume of invoices and number of staff within the Department.

Departmental letter regarding recent queries from the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development.

Agreed: That the letter is sent to the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development.

Departmental response to queries from the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development in relation to the Rose Energy Incinerator Plant.

Agreed: That the response is sent to the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development.

Departmental response to queries from the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) in relation to slurry spreading.

Agreed: That the response is forwarded to the Ulster Farmers’ Union.

Departmental response to queries from the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development in relation to the clearing of litter from rivers/river banks.

Agreed: Forward the response to the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development.

Letter from Ballymena Borough Council regarding ‘Community Planning’.

Agreed: That Ballymena Borough Council is asked to provide a written briefing in relation to this issue.

Email from OM Tyre Recycling – update on licence suspension and additional queries.

Agreed: That the email is forwarded to the Department for a response.

Departmental response regarding the Grange, Warringstown.

Agreed: That the response is forwarded to Mr Jones and that the Committee’s position in relation to this issue is reiterated.

Correspondence from the Committee for Education regarding school transport and safety issues.

Agreed: That the Committee responds to the issues raised in the correspondence.

The Committee agreed to note the following correspondence:

Letter from the DARD Minister regarding the issue of flooding in Northern

Ireland.

Copy of analysis paper on Committee Priorities.

Email from the Mourne ANOB Residents’ Action Group thanking the Committee for facilitating a meeting.

Note of the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group meeting, key issues and decisions taken.

Charted Institute of Environmental Health NI (CIEH) publication – ‘Our World, our wellbeing’.

Decision on Article 31 A/2004/1251/F planning application.

Niccip News – Climate Change Newsletter for Northern Ireland.

Letter of response from OFMdFM Committee to Committee queries in relation to Local Government Reform.

Copy of the Causeway Coast, Glens, Mid and East Antrim cluster’s Report “Developing Effective Governance Arrangements to Support Cluster Health Improvement Working at Sub-Regional Level”.

Copy of briefing paper from the World Police and Fire Games.

Invitation to attend NICVA’s – Sustainability and Environmental Policy Forum Event.

Invitation to attend Friends of the Earth Presentation of Planning Survey results.

Seminar on the new Programme for Government.

12. AOB

The Chairperson informed members that it may be necessary to hold a short additional meeting on Tuesday 6 December due to the Committee visit to Dublin on 8 December.

Agreed: That members are content to hold an additional meeting if necessary.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a draft letter to issue to stakeholders asking them for their views on the Programme for Government.

The Chairperson informed members that a stakeholder event may be held on Thursday 12 th January in relation to this issue.

Agreed: That the letters are issued to stakeholders.

The Chairperson informed members of the decision within the Programme for Government to reduce the number of councils to 11 and suggested that the Committee receives a briefing from the minister in relation to how he will implement the 11 council model.

Agreed: That a Ministerial briefing in relation to this issue is arranged for a future meeting.

13. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 1 December 2011 at 1.00p.m. in the Morrison Room, AFBI, Hillsborough.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.05p.m

Anna Lo MLA
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
1 December 2011 

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