Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2007/2008

Date: 03 April 2008

COMMITTEE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
THURSDAY 3 APRIL 2008,
ROOM 144, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS

Present: 
Mr Cathal Boylan
Mr Trevor Clarke
Mr David Ford
Mr Tommy Gallagher
Mr Samuel Gardiner
Mr Ian McCrea
Mr Daithi McKay
Mr Alastair Ross
Mr Peter Weir

In Attendance: 
Ms Patricia Casey (Assembly Clerk) 
Mr William Long (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Mr Sean McCann (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Chris Corr (Clerical Officer)

Apologies: 
Mr Billy Armstrong 
Mr Patsy McGlone (Chairperson)

The meeting commenced in public session at 10.32 a.m. with Mr Boylan in the Chair.

  1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above

  1. Minutes

Agreed – the draft minutes of the meetings on 13 March and 19 March were agreed subject to minor amendment.

  1. Matters Arising

The Committee considered the Consultation Document (EHS) – “Proposals to amend the Historic Buildings Grant-aid scheme and new proposals for funding non-government organisations
Agreed: That the Committee request a synopsis of the responses before considering its own response.
Members noted the final version of the Committee response to the draft PPS14 Emerging Findings document which was sent to the Minister on 18 March.
The Committee considered the draft Public Authorities Reform Bill and a research paper on the Bill.
Agreed: That the Committee consider its response at next week’s meeting.

  1. Ministerial Briefing on RPA and the Local Government (Boundaries) Bill

The Minister of the Environment briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the Review of Public Administration and accelerated passage for the Local Government (Boundaries) Bill.

The Committee voted to agree to accelerated passage for the Local Government (Boundaries) Bill:

The Committee divided: Ayes 6; 2 Noes

AYES

Tommy Gallagher

Peter Weir

Ian McCrea

Trevor Clarke

Alastair Ross

Cathal Boylan

NOES

Sam Gardiner

David Ford

  1. Briefing by Freight Transport Association (FTA) on the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Bill

Representatives from the Freight Transport Association briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Bill.

Agreed: That the Committee request clarification from the Department on the position regarding planning consent required for an operating centre and responsibility for administration.

Mr McKay joined the meeting at 11.30am.

Agreed: That the Committee writes to Minister for clarification on North/South co-ordination and on the timescales for legislation.

Agreed: That the Committee request research on the breakdown of small/large operators.

  1. Correspondence
  2. Members noted a response from the Minister to Committee request for further information on drainage and road safety and rural roads.
  3. Members noted a letter and attached documents from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding Varney 2 review.
  4. Members noted a letter from the Committee for Regional Development to DALO regarding clarification on transport under-spends in February monitoring. The Committee has been copied into the letter for informational purposes.
  5. Members noted a letter from the Department informing Committee of six-week UK-wide consultation on packaging regulations.
  6. Members noted the Report of the Examiner of Statutory Rules to the Assembly and Appropriate Committees.
  7. Letter from Mr. Albert Cooke regarding the future jurisdictional status of the Castlereagh area under proposals to reduce the number of local councils. 
    Agreed : That a copy of this letter is forwarded to the Department to respond to Mr Cooke.
  8. Members noted an invitation from the Institute of Agri-Food and Land Use to attend “Sustainable Production: adjusting for un-priced impacts on environment, health and well-being” on Wednesday, April 9.
  9. Members noted a response from the Department to Committee request for more information on REGNI.
  10. Members noted a departmental report on Water Services discharge 2006.
  11. Letter from the Department regarding issue of storm discharge from the Ballinacorr WWTW to nearby river raised by the Ulster Farmers’ Union. 
    Agreed: That a copy of this letter is forwarded to the Ulster Farmers’ Union.
  12. Members noted a letter from the OFMDFM Committee regarding extent to which funding granted under the Integrated Development Fund will follow the various individual projects that the IDF has funded into departmental baselines.
  13. Letter from the Department requesting that the Committee forward documents concerning the Mourne National Park onto the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment. 
    Agreed: That the documents on the Mourne National Park are forwarded to the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment.
  14. Request from the Committee for Regional Development that the Committee seek a commentary from the Department regarding the expansion of George Best Belfast City Airport.
  15. Members noted a letter from the Department informing Committee of the Minister’s intention to invite the Executive to note the current position on the development of a UK Children’s Environment and Health Strategy and of the consultation process beginning March 17.
  16. Members noted a letter from the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment to the Minister expressing thanks for assistance in the preparation of the submission to the Regional Innovation Strategy for Northern Ireland Action Plan 2008-2011.
  17. Letter from the Committee Clerk reminding Members of availability of conference papers for the second annual Northern Ireland Environment Forum. 
    Agreed: That a copy of the conference papers are requested.
  18. Members noted a memorandum from the Department following-up on points raised during the March 6 Committee meeting.
  19. Members noted a response from the Department regarding Committee request for further information on the development of a Waste Management Infrastructure.
  20. Response from the Department regarding Mr. John McDonagh’s letter concerning a Translink vesting order. 
    Agreed: That the Department’s response is forwarded to Mr McDonagh.
  21. Members noted a response from the Department regarding Committee request for a copy of the Department’s action plan on enforcement in the Department of Environment.
  22. Members noted a response from the Department regarding Committee request for an update on any plans to consider the introduction of a tax or levy on plastic bags.
  23. Members noted a report from the Department on stakeholder engagement events on review of draft PPS14 by Community Technical Aid.
  24. Members noted a response from the Department regarding Committee request for a report on the standard of beaches in Northern Ireland.
  25. Letter from Mr. Brendan Mulgrew of Stakeholder Communications on behalf of Airtricity with regards to PPS18 and request to meet with the Committee. 
    Agreed: That Airtricity are invited to a future Committee meeting.
  26. Letter from Mr. Jerry McCarthy regarding problems faced when attempting to change address on vehicle registration documents. 
    Agreed: That a copy of the letter is sent to the Department for comment.
  27. Members noted a six-month Interim Report from Northern Ireland Water entitled “How are we performing: strategic plan 2007-2010”.
  28. Members noted The Pollution and Control (Industrial Pollution and Radiochemical Inspectorate) Charging Scheme ( Northern Ireland) 2008.
  29. E-mail from Gavin Killip of the Federation of Master Builders requesting a copy of the Committee’s response to PPS14 Emerging Findings. 
    Agreed: That a copy of the Committee’s response to PPS14 Emerging Findings is forwarded to the Federation of Master Builders.
  30. Members noted a letter from the Department with enclosed addendum to Planning Policy Statement 7.
  31. Members noted a letter from Tom Wilson of the Freight Transport Association requesting a meeting with Committee after presentation.
  32. Members noted a response from the Department for Committee request for further information regarding proposed changes to signs and lights used on school buses.
  33. Members noted an invitation from the Association of Preservation Trusts for a Member or Members of the Committee to speak at the organisation’s AGM, to be held on Saturday May 31 in Portrush town hall.
  34. Members noted a letter from the Business Office concerning the Radioactive Substances Act (Fees and Charges) Scheme ( Northern Ireland) 2008.
  35. Members noted a letter and report from the Department outlining the final version of the planning guidance document ‘DCAN 14: Siting and Design of Radio Telecommunications Equipment’.
  36. Response from the Department to Committee request for further information on the practice of “twin-tracking” and the associated claim by the Larne Promenade Action Group that such a practice is illegal. 
    Agreed: That a copy of the response is forwarded to the Larne Promenade Action Group.
  37. Response from the Department to Committee request for further information regarding the progress of a planning application by Pomeroy Development Projects. 
    Agreed: That a copy of the response is forwarded to the Pomeroy Development Projects.
  38. Response from the Department to Committee request for further information regarding Committee request for further information regarding the Planning agreement controlling the activities of Belfast City Airport. 
    Agreed: That a copy of the response is forwarded to Fiona McKinley.
  39. Members noted a letter from the Ulster Farmers’ Union urging the Committee to urgently pass the ‘Nitrates Action Programme (Amendment) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2008.
  40. Members noted a letter from the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment to the Committee expressing thanks for assistance provided to the submission to the Regional Innovation Strategy for Northern Ireland Draft Action Plan 2008 – 2011.

Members noted the following Press Releases:

“Foster welcomes new move on carbon reduction”

“Strabane man fined £5,000 for waste offences”

“Omagh man fined £1,000 for waste offences”

“Permanent Secretary outlines priorities for the environment”

“Man fined £300 for dumping tyres at bonfire site”

“Ministers visit Fermanagh Country Park”

“Three big waste challenges ahead – Foster”

“Newtonabbey car-breaker fined £500 for waste offences”

“Dungannon solicitor fined for displaying unauthorised signs”

  1. Any Other Business
  2. Date, time and place of next meeting

Mr McKay raised the issue of the illegal dumping of waste.

Agreed: That the Committee write to the Department regarding the inadequate level of fines for the illegal dumping of waste, request a breakdown of the outcome of similar cases and the penalties which were given out over the last 5 years, request a briefing from the Department in regard to its compliance with European Waste Directives and Regulations and request a briefing from the Environmental Crime Section.

Members were informed that the DARD Committee had requested the use of Room 144 on 1 May 2008.

Agreed: That the DARD Committee use Room 144 on 1 May and that the Environment Committee meeting on that day takes place in the Senate Chamber.

The next meeting will be held on Thursday, 10 April 2008 at 10.30am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.28p.m.

Patsy McGlone
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
10 April 2008

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