Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2008/2009

Date: 12 February 2009

COMMITTEE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
THURSDAY 12 FEBRUARY 2009,
ROOM 144, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS

Present:
Mr Patsy McGlone (Chairperson)
Mr Roy Beggs
Mr Cathal Boylan
Mr Trevor Clarke
Mr David Ford
Mr Tommy Gallagher
Mr David McClarty
Mr Ian McCrea
Mr Daithi McKay
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 Mealy (Clerical Officer)

Apologies: 

The meeting began in closed session at 10.35 a.m. when Departmental officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on PPS4.

The meeting went into public session at 10.52a.m.

1. Apologies

There were no apologies.

2. Minutes

Agreed – the draft minutes of the meeting on 5 February were agreed .

3. Matters Arising

The Askon Report on Undergrounding:

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a copy of the Summary and Recommendations of ‘The Askon Report on Undergrounding’.

Agreed: That a decision on inviting the author of the report to brief the Committee is deferred until Committee Staff ascertain the costs involved.

Agreed: That Committee staff liaise with the Oireachtas to ascertain which committee is dealing with this issue and how much progress has been made.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the faculties of electrical engineering at the University of Ulster and Queens University Belfast asking for their views.

Forthcoming Committee Visits:

The Chairperson informed members that Committee staff are currently finalising arrangements for the visit to Castlewellan on 19 February and need to confirm numbers attending.

Agreed: That members advise Committee staff of their attendance.

The Chairperson also informed members that they should consider the following dates for the recently agreed Committee visits: -

  • Millennium House e-PIC demonstration – 26th February 2009 @ 9.15am
  • George Best Belfast City Airport – 6 th/7 th or 20 th April 2009
    Agreed: That the Committee visits the airport on 7 April 2009 .
  • Giant’s Causeway – 28 May 2009
    Agreed: That the Committee visits the Causeway on 28 May to receive a briefing from the National Trust on their application for a visitor’s centre.

Motion of no confidence in the Minister of the Environment:

Mr Gallagher proposed the following motion which was seconded by Mr McKay:

‘That this Committee has no confidence in the Minister of the Environment in light of recent events and statements.’

The Committee divided:

AYESNOES
Roy Beggs Trevor Clarke
Cathal Boylan Alastair Ross
Tommy Gallagher Ian McCrea
David McClarty Peter Weir
Patsy McGlone  
Daithi McKay  

Mr Ford abstained.

The motion was therefore carried.

Mr Ford proposed that the Committee write to the Office of First and Deputy First Minister to seek clarification on the Executive's climate change policy.

Agreed: That the Committee write to the Office of First and Deputy First Minister to seek clarification on the Executive's climate change policy.

Agreed: That the Minister of the Environment is invited to brief the Committee at a future meeting.

Mr McKay left the meeting at 11.17a.m. 
Mr Ford left the meeting at 11.18a.m.

4. Departmental briefing on PPS21

Mr Beggs declared an interest as an agricultural landholder.

Mr Ross left the meeting at 11.20a.m. 
Mr Weir left the meeting at 11.20a.m.

Departmental officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on PPS 21.

Mr Weir returned to the meeting at 11.30 a.m.

The main areas of discussion were the publication of a rural design guide, the venues for the PPS21 public meetings, the refusals process and deferred cases.

Mr McClarty left the meeting at 11.35a.m. 
Mr Beggs left the meeting at 11.39a.m. 
Mr Ross returned to the meeting at 11.41a.m. 
Mr Gallagher left the meeting at 11.41a.m. 
Mr Boylan left the meeting at 11.46a.m. 
Mr Clarke left the meeting at 11.46a.m.

The meeting was suspended at 11.46a.m. 
The meeting resumed at 11.47a.m. with the following members present: Mr McGlone, Mr Boylan, Mr McClarty, Mr McCrea, Mr Ross, Mr Weir.

5. Committee Climate Change Inquiry

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a copy of an e-mail from John Barry, School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, QUB providing details of the proposed ‘workshop’ on topics falling within the Inquiry’s terms of reference for consideration.

Agreed: That the Committee decline the offer of a workshop.

The Chairperson further informed members that applications will be invited from a list of potential advisers provided to the Committee by Assembly Research and Library. Applications received will be put in front of the Committee (or Committee sub-group) in due course for members to select the most appropriate adviser.

Agreed: That a sub-group is formed to decide on the appointment of a specialist adviser.

7. Proposal for Secondary Legislation

SL1 – Amendments to Waste Management Licensing Exemptions relating to Hazardous Waste.

Agreed: That the Committee considered The Amendments to Waste Management Licensing Exemptions relating to Hazardous Waste and had no objection to the proposal.

8. Forward Work Programme

Members noted the revised Committee Forward Work Programme.

9. Correspondence
  • Notification of the independent review of Economic policy (DETI/Invest NI).

Agreed: That a letter is sent indicating that the Committee wish to make a submission to the review.

  • Letter from Dominic Bradley MLA, requesting the Committee to enquire into several aspects of Planning Policy Statement 8: Open Space, Sport and Outdoor Recreation.

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

  • E-mail regarding the Committee For Finance and Personnel Public Procurement Inquiry.

Agreed: That a reply is sent indicating a nil response from the Committee.

  • Members noted a Departmental response to the Committee’s request for a breakdown of the “overhead costs” associated with driver testing and PSV licensing.
  • A copy of the Department’s response to David Gibson request for information on lead shot and clay pigeon shoots in Northern Ireland.

Agreed: That a letter is sent asking for further information in relation to this issue.

Mr Beggs returned to the meeting at 11.58a.m. 
Mr Clarke returned to the meeting at 11.58a.m.

  • Members noted a letter from the Department confirming the intention of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), to publish on their website the 2007 compliance data for discharges from Northern Ireland Water (the former) Water Service (WS).
  • Members noted a letter from the NIEA regarding a declaration of an ASSI at Scraghy.
  • Members noted a Departmental response to the Committee’s request for further information on the DFP proposal to transpose the EU INSPIRE Directive 2007/2/EC.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to DOE asking for further information on data sets.

Mr Weir left the meeting at 12.00p.m. 
Mr Gallagher rejoined the meeting at 12.00p.m.

  • Members noted a Departmental response addressing the Committee’s request of 3 rd February for a copy of the Department’s response to the “Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation Social Action Plan 2009-2014” consultation.
  • Response from Committee for Regional Development regarding the Committee’s request of 2 nd December 2008 for the “Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems” briefing to be forwarded to the Department for Regional Development for comment.

Agreed: That a copy of the response is forwarded to the DRD Committee.

  • Departmental response from the Committees’ request for a copy of the Minister’s response to a letter from a member of the public (Mr C Thompson) concerning high hedges.

Agreed: That a copy of the response is forwarded to Dolores Kelly MLA.

  • Members noted a response from Joris Minne (regarding North South Interconnector Project) to questions tabled to NIE at the Environment Committee meeting on January 15 th 2009.
  • Members noted an invitation from Richard Goddard to Capita’s 2 nd annual conference, Northern Ireland Governance on Friday 20 th March – Belfast.
  • Members noted an invitation from BSI British Standards to News for 2009 Green IT conference on 19 th May, 2009.
  • Members noted an invitation to the 8 th Sir Bernard Crossland Lecture “Nuclear power, a tool of sustainable development” presented by Bertrand Barre, on Tuesday 24 th February 2009, at Queens University Belfast.

Members noted the following DOE Press Releases / Publications:

“Toomebridge man fined £6,000 for waste offences”

“Templepatrick farmer fined for polluting discharge to a waterway”

“ Ulster farm by products company fined £24,000 for polluting river”

“PPS21 Independent Working Group begins work”

“NIEL News February 2009”

“NIEL News February 2009”

10. Any other Business
11. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday, 19 February 2009 at 10.30am in The Grange, Castlewellan Forest Park.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.02 p.m.

Patsy McGlone
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
19 February 2009

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