Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2008/2009

Date: 02 April 2009

COMMITTEE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
THURSDAY 2 APRIL 2009,
ROOM 144, 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 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 Mealey (Clerical Officer)

Apologies:

Mr Trevor Clarke

The meeting began in public session at 10.35 a.m. with Mr Boylan in the Chair.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Minutes

Agreed – the draft minutes of the meeting on 26 March were agreed.

3. Matters Arising

Response from OFMDFM regarding Current Policy for Climate Change in Northern Ireland:

The Deputy Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a copy of the response from OFMDFM outlining the Executive’s position in relation to climate change.

Fees and Charges Scheme Under the Water Abstraction and Impoundment (Licensing) Regulations (NI) 2006:

The Chairperson informed members that the Committee was briefed by Departmental officials on the consultation on the above scheme at its meeting on 22 January 2009 and a Committee response was subsequently agreed and issued to the Department on 29 January 2009.

The Department had now written to the Committee to address the members’ concerns in relation to the proposals to introduce application fees and annual charges for abstraction and impoundment licensing.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the DOE asking for further information on abstractors and who is expected to meet the financial shortfall on this issue.

Departmental Response regarding Committee’s Queries on the February Monitoring Round:

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a copy of the Department’s response to the Committee’s queries on the February Monitoring Round.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the DOE stating that the discrepancy for farmers under the NIEA ASSI scheme as opposed to the DARD Countryside Management Scheme needs to be addressed.

4. Briefing by Professor Noack on the proposed North South inteconnector

Mr Weir left the meeting at 10.50a.m. 
Mr McKay joined the meeting at 10.58a.m.

Professor Friedhelm Noack ( University of Technology, Ilmenau, Germany) and principal author of the ASKON Group report on undergrounding briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the proposed North South interconnector.

The main areas of discussion were cost comparisons between overhead lines and underground cabling, the difficulties in repairing underground cabling, the current status of the Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) planning application, the reliability of underground cabling and how potential costs had been calculated.

Mr McKay left the meeting at 11.35a.m.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the DOE enquiring as to the current status of NIE’s planning application.

Agreed: That information received in relation to this issue by the Environment Committee is shared with the DETI Committee and that the DETI Committee is asked for information from their briefing by DETI officials.

5. Briefing by Chris Tuppen, Chief Sustainability Officer BT

Mr Weir rejoined the meeting at 12.05p.m. 
Mr McGlone joined the meeting at 12.07pm.

Chris Tuppen, Chief Sustainability Officer BT , briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the BT Report – ‘Changing World – Sustained values 2008’.

The main areas of discussion were carbon trading subsidies, the work carried out by BT in improving home technology, the difficulties BT experience in getting across the sustainability message, the potential for policy changes and BT’s work with Northern Ireland government departments on sustainability.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to other statutory committees to ascertain how Departments are engaging with BT to improve sustainability.

Mr McGlone left the meeting at 12.28p.m.

6. Committee inquiry into Climate Change

The Deputy Chairperson informed members that the Department had forwarded a response to the Committee in relation to the climate Change Inquiry.

Members were informed that a total of 39 responses have been received to date.

Agreed: That Departmental officials are invited to a future meeting to brief the Committee on their climate change inquiry submission.

7. Statutory Rules

SR 2009/72 – The Public Service Vehicles (Licence Fees) (Amendment) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2009/72 – The Public Service Vehicles (Licence Fees) (Amendment) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009 and has no objection to the rule.

SR 2009/73 – The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Amendment (Test Fees) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2009/73 – The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Amendment (Test Fees) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009 and has no objection to the rule.

SR 2009/91 – The Community Drivers’ Hours and Recording Equipment (Exemptions and Supplementary Provisions) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2009/91 – The Community Drivers’ Hours and Recording Equipment (Exemptions and Supplementary Provisions) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009 and has no objection to the rule.

8.Departmental Consultations

Increase to annual charge in respect of Water Order consents to discharge that are subject to monitoring:

The Deputy Chairperson informed members that the Department is notifying the Committee of increases to annual charges for discharge consents that are subject to compliance monitoring.

Agreed: That a press release is issued calling for the DOE to try to curb further fee increases.

Agreed: That the Committee defers a response on this consultation until a reply is received from the Department on what it is proactively doing to minimise fee increases.

Mr Gallagher left the meeting at 12.36p.m.

Consultation on the Waste Management Strategy Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009 – synopsis of responses:

The Deputy Chairperson informed members that the Committee considered the consultation paper on the Waste Management Strategy Regulations (NI) 2009 at its meeting on 4 December 2009 and had now been provided with a copy of the synopsis of responses to the consultation for consideration. The Committee was content with the outcome of the consultation and had no further comment to make.

Consultation on the draft Northern Ireland Environmental Noise Directive Action Plan and Competent Authority Noise Action Plan Guidance:

The Deputy Chairperson informed members that the Committee considered the consultation paper on the draft Northern Ireland Environmental Noise Directive Action Plan and Competent Authority Noise Action Plan Guidance at its meeting on 4 December 2009 and had now been provided with a copy of the synopsis of responses to the consultation for consideration. The Committee was content with the outcome of the consultation and had no further comment to make.

Consultation on the drink driving limit in Northern Ireland, penalties and police powers to detect drink drivers:

The Deputy Chairperson informed members that the Department proposes to consult on the lowering of the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drink driving purposes, associated penalties and new police powers.

Agreed: That the Committee is content for the consultation to issue and requests a synopsis of responses from the Department.

Policy consultation on a new Waste Bill:

The Deputy Chairperson informed members that the Committee considered the draft consultation paper at its meeting on 26 March 2009 and advised that it was content for it to be issued. The Committee had no further comment to make.

Policy consultation on Environmental Liability Regulations:

The Deputy Chairperson informed members that the Department had provided finalised copies of the consultation documents for the consultation on the Environmental Liability (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009 for their information.

9. Forward Work Programme

Members noted the revised Committee Forward Work Programme.

The Deputy Chairperson reminded members of the visit to George Best Belfast City Airport and Glenavy on April 7.

AEA Report on Bioenergy:

The Deputy Chairperson informed members that the Committee agreed, at its meeting on 22 January 2009, to invite the authors of the AEA Report on Bioenergy to brief it on the Report.

Committee staff had been advised that the findings of this Report, commissioned by the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, will be considered by an ‘Inter Departmental Group’ in due course. This group will agree how the Report is to be implemented in Northern Ireland and then report back to the DETI Minister who will disseminate it to other Departments

Agreed: That the Committee awaits feedback from the Inter Departmental Group.

10. Correspondence

1. E-mail from Tom McClelland, Chair of the NI Cycling Forum regarding PACTS Parliamentary Briefing “Cycle Helmet Use and Effectiveness”.

Agree: That a copy of the e-mail is forwarded to the Minister.

2. Response from the Department regarding a letter from the Northern Ireland Badger Group, calling for all politicians to act swiftly to push through new legislation for the protection of badgers.

Agreed: That a copy of the Departmental response is forwarded to the NI Badger Group.

3. Departmental response to the Committee’s request for the Department’s views on a letter from the National Association of Councillors (NAC), Northern Ireland Region about the Review of Public Administration and severance scheme for councillors.

Mr Beggs declared an interest as a member of Carrickfergus Borough Council. 
Mr Ford declared an interest as a member of Antrim Borough Council. 
Mr Weir declared an interest as a member of North Down Borough Council. 
Mr McCrea declared an interest as a member of Cookstown District Council.

Agreed: That a copy of the response is forwarded to the National Association of Councillors.

4. Departmental response regarding the British – Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA) Committee’s report on The Integration of Recently – Arrived Migrants to Northern Ireland and Wales.

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

5. Departmental response to the Committee’s request for comment on the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly Report from Committee C (Economic) on Renewable Energy Except Nuclear.

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

6. Members noted a Departmental response regarding the Committee’s comments about guidance relating to the planning (Control of Advertisements) (Amendment) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009 following the meeting of 12 March 2009.

7. Members noted a letter from Mr Aiden Lonergan, RSPB, regarding the new list of the birds of conservation concern for the island of Ireland.

8. Members noted a memo from the Committee for Regional Development regarding a copy of their response to the Utility Regulator’s Social Action Plan 2009-2014.

9. Departmental response to the Committee’s request for the Department’s comments on the issues raised in the letter from the Antrim and District Angling Club relating to the granting of planning permission for a spa to be built on the North West bank of the six mile river.

Agreed: That a copy of the response is forwarded to the Antrim and District Angling Club.

10. Members noted a letter from the Department informing the Chairperson of the Minister's intention to make a statement to the Assembly on Tuesday 31 st March 2009.

11. Members noted a letter from the Minister to Chairperson regarding Article 31 planning application Ref No. T/2006/0629/F, New Foodstore, south west of Stiles Way roundabout Ballymena Road, Antrim.

12. Members noted a letter from the Department regarding the Publication of Planning Service’s Development Management Statistics, 2008/09 third quarter.

13. E-mail from Phil Carson, Honorary Secretary ACE (NI) inviting the chairperson to their Annual Dinner at the Stormont Hotel on Monday 27 th April 2009.

Agreed: That a copy of the invitation is forwarded to the Chairperson to reply.

14. Members noted the following DOE Press Releases:

“Co Down business fined £7,500 for polluting discharge to a waterway”
“Crumlin man subject of £200,000 confiscation order” 
“ Wilson to make fact finding visit to Cairngorms National Park” 
“Press release from the Sustainable Development Commission Northern Ireland” 
“Minister signs off Ards Down Area Plan”

11. Any other business
12. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday, 23 April 2009 at 10.30am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.50 p.m.

Patsy McGlone

Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
23 April 2009

Find MLAs

Find your MLAs

Locate MLAs

Search

News and Media Centre

Visit the News and Media Centre

Read press releases, watch live and archived video

Find out more

Follow the Assembly

Follow the Assembly on our social media channels

Keep up-to-date with the Assembly

Find out more

Useful Contacts

Contact us

Contacts for different parts of the Assembly

Contact Us