Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2008/2009

Date: 11 June 2009

COMMITTEE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
THURSDAY 11 JUNE 2009,
SENATE CHAMBER, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS

Present:
Mr Roy Beggs
Mr Cathal Boylan (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr David Ford
Mr Tommy Gallagher
Mr David McClarty
Mr Ian McCrea
Mr Patsy McGlone (Chairperson)
Mr Alastair Ross
Mr Peter Weir

In Attendance:
Dr Alex McGarel (Assembly Clerk) 
Mr William Long (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Sean McCann (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Steven Mealey (Clerical Officer)

Apologies: 
Mr Trevor Clarke
Mr Daithi McKay

The meeting began in public session at 10.08a.m.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Matters Arising

Committee response to PPS21 Independent Working Group:

The Committee deliberated over a draft response to the PPS21 Independent Working Group.

Mr Ford joined the meeting at 10.16a.m. 
Mr McCrea joined the meeting at 10.33a.m.

Agreed: That the response is issued with the agreed changes made.

Draft report on River Basin Management Plans (RBMP) stakeholder engagement event:

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a draft key issues paper which summarised the key issues raised by stakeholder groups during the engagement event held in the Long Gallery on 1 April 2009 for information.

Agreed: That this is discussed in further detail at the meeting on 25 June.

Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) – overview brief:

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with an overview of the CRC scheme.

Agreed: That the Clerk drafts a response to the CRC scheme.

Memo from ETI Committee Clerk regarding a motion on the economic downturn:

The Chairperson informed members that the Clerk, ETI Committee, has written to all Statutory Committees regarding its intention to bring a motion before the House for a ‘Take Note’ debate relating to the impact of the economic downturn on businesses in Northern Ireland. Committees have been asked to provide a brief synopsis of any evidence received or discussions held in relation to the economic downturn.

Agreed: That the Committee response is issued to the ETI Committee.

Visit to DOE Climate Change Unit:

The Chairperson informed members that a visit to the Climate Change Unit has been arranged for 2.30pm on Thursday 25 June 2009.

Agreed: That members inform Committee staff of their availability for this visit.

Visit to AFBI, Hillsborough:

The Chairperson informed members that, as agreed at the meeting on 21 May 2009, Committee staff are arranging a visit to AFBI (Hillsborough).

Agreed: That members inform Committee staff of their availability for this visit.

3. Ministerial Briefing on the withdrawal of funding to the Road Safety Council NI

Mr Beggs declared an interest as Treasurer of the Carrickfergus Road Safety Committee.

Mr Boylan declared an interest as a member of the Assembly All Party Working Group on Road Safety.

The Minister of the Environment, Sammy Wilson MP MLA, briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on his decision to withdraw funding to the Road Safety Council NI.

Mr McClarty left the meeting at 11.20a.m. 
Mr Gallagher joined the meeting at 11.27a.m. 
Mr Weir left the meeting at 11.28a.m.

The main areas of discussion were the Biter reports, funding letters of offer, a possible role for local councils in helping the road safety committees, the timeframe for assessing funding applications, overall responsibility for the strategic role of managing the road safety committees, consultation with the road safety committees and public liability insurance.

Agreed: That the Department forwards further information to the Committee in relation to public liability insurance for road safety committees.

Agreed: That the Department forwards to the Committee statistics on the number of fatalities in areas with a road safety committee in operation in comparison to those with no road safety committee.

4. Inquiry into Climate Change update

The Chairperson informed members that responses to requests for further information in relation to the climate change inquiry had been included in members’ meeting papers for consideration.

Agreed: That no more unsolicited information in relation to climate change is accepted.

6. Climate Change Inquiry - Oral Evidence from Carbon Trust

Mr McClarty rejoined the meeting at 12.20p.m.

A representative from the Carbon Trust briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on climate change.

The main areas of discussion were a low carbon economy, the possibility of a dedicated department of energy and climate change, discussions with businesses and their attitude towards energy efficiency, the level of Carbon Trust’s involvement with the public sector, planning service delays in processing renewable energy applications and the implications for Northern Ireland in not moving towards a low carbon economy.

7. Climate Change Inquiry - Oral Evidence from Bairbre de Brún MEP

Mr McCrea left the meeting at 12.55p.m.

Bairbre de Brún MEP briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on climate change.

Mr McClarty left the meeting at 1.02p.m. 
Mr McCrea rejoined the meeting at 1.05p.m.

The main areas of discussion were the social and economic benefits throughout Europe in tackling climate change, the extent of public funding throughout Europe, legislation, renewable energy in Europe, electricity production and agriculture sector concerns about carbon labelling.

8. Proposals for Secondary Legislation

SL1 – The Smoke Control Areas (Exempted Fireplaces) (Amendment) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009

Agreed: That the Committee considered The SL1 – The Smoke Control Areas (Exempted Fireplaces) (Amendment)Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009 and had no objection to the proposal.

SL1 – Local Government Pension Scheme (Amendment) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009

Agreed: That the Committee considered The SL1 – Local Government Pension Scheme (Amendment) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009 and had no objection to the proposal.

9. Departmental consultations

The Committee considered the following Departmental consultations:

Proposed Recast of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive and the Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS) Directives:

Agreed: That the Committee awaits a further update from the Department before making any comment.

Consultation on draft Private Water Supplies Regulations – Consultation Paper, draft Regulations, Partial Regulatory Impact Assessment and copy of 1998 Drinking Water Directive:

Agreed: That the Committee requests a copy of a synopsis of responses to the consultation.

Consultation on transposition of the Groundwater Daughter Directive:

Agreed: That DOE officials brief the Committee on this issue at a future meeting.

10. Forward Work Programme

Members noted the revised Committee Forward Work Programme.

11. Correspondence

1. Memo from the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure regarding the Destruction of railings at White Bridge, Moyallon.

Agreed: That a copy of the memo is forwarded to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency for comment.

2. E-mail from Councillor Tom Ekin to the Committee regarding Clean Neighbourhood legislation.

Agreed: That a copy of the e-mail is forwarded to the Department for comment.

3. Letter from the Northern Ireland Freshwater Taskforce to the Chairperson regarding concerns relating to draft River Basin Management Plans.

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

4. Memo from the Committee for Regional Development regarding the Environmental Crime Directive.

Agreed: That an update on this issue is sought from the DOE.

5. Members noted a letter from the Department advising the Committee of the imminent publication of a UK wide Packaging Strategy.

6. Departmental response to the Committee’s request for further information on correspondence from AJT Tachograph Services regarding the European regulation (EC) No. 561/2006 on Drivers’ Hours.

Agreed: That a copy of the response is forwarded to Linwoods and John Logue, AJT Tachograph Services.

7.Members noted a Departmental response to the Committee’s request for further information in relation to the promotion of the use of townland names across all local council areas.

8. Members noted a Letter from the Freight Transport Association thanking the Chairperson for taking the time to meet on 23 rd April 2009 to discuss the issues concerning the current deadlock over the operating licence legislation.

9. Letter from the Department for Social Development to the Committee regarding a memo dated 3 rd April to all Committee Clerks in relation to sustainable development initiatives.

Agreed: That a copy of the letter is forwarded to Grainne Brown, BT.

10. Members noted a response from Assembly Head of Estates to the Committee request for clarification on the wording used in the table comparing the cost of using different types of light bulbs in Parliament Building.

11. Members noted a copy of letter from the Minister of the Environment to Mr David McNarry MLA regarding actions taken to promote and develop policy on the use of townland names.

12. Members noted a briefing from RSPB Northern Ireland regarding “Review of Support Arrangements for Less Favoured Areas in Northern Ireland.”

13. Invitation from the Chief Executive of Planning Service to the Committee, to a seminar by Planning Service and the Construction Employers Federation, in the Stormont Hotel on Thursday 18 th June 2009 from 11:00a.m – 13:00p.m .

Agreed: That a reply is sent stating that the Chairperson will attend.

14. E-mail from NIEL, inviting the Chairperson to their annual conference and AGM entitled “Sustainable Transport: Its Time To Get Moving” on Wednesday 24 th June 2009.

Agreed: That a reply is sent stating that the Chairperson cannot attend.

15. Members noted an e-mail from BWEA inviting the Chairperson to their Planning Conference on 16th June, entitled “Planning for Wind Energy in Northern Ireland.”

16. Members noted an e-mail from Capita inviting the Committee to a conference on “Steering Young People Away From Crime” on Wednesday 24 th June 2009 in the Copthorne Tara Hotel, Scarsdale Place, London.

17. Memo from Regional Development Committee regarding an invitation for the Committee to a conference entitled Transport Technology and Climate Change: Building a Greener Scotland, on the 29 th June 2009 in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

Agreed: That a copy of the conference papers is requested.

18. Members noted the following DOE Press Releases / Publications:

“Toomebridge man sentenced for waste offences.”

“NIEA brings history alive.”

“ Wilson sets out wind farm vision.”

“Drug driving has same stigma as drink driving, Wilson insists.”

“Woman are playing key role in council reform, Minister acknowledges.”

“Health effects of radon exposure.”

“NIEA offers public chance to dig into past.”

“Northern Ireland Environment Agency sets team challenge for environmentally conscious gardeners.”

“NIEL News June 2009.”

“ Europe's World - Newsletter #17”

12. Any other business

The Chairperson informed members that he was concerned to hear reports of lack of progress and lack of enforcement on the Taxis Bill.

Agreed: That DOE officials are invited to brief the Committee prior to summer recess.

The Chairperson informed members of a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference on Climate Change in London from 5 – 11 July 2009.

Agreed: That any member wishing to attend informs Committee staff.

The Chairperson informed members that the Assistant Clerk, William Long, is moving to a new post in Assembly Personnel. The Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and members wished him well in his new post and thanked him for the hard work, advice and guidance he had given to the Committee.

13. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday, 25 June 2009 at 10.30am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.

The Deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.28p.m.

Patsy McGlone
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
25 June 2009

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