Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2008/2009

Date: 02 July 2009

COMMITTEE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
THURSDAY 2 JULY 2009,
ROOM 144, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS

Present:
Mr Roy Beggs
Mr Cathal Boylan (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Trevor Clarke
Mr John Dallat
Mr David Ford
Mr Danny Kinahan
Mr Ian McCrea
Mr Patsy McGlone (Chairperson)
Mr Daithi McKay
Mr Alastair Ross

In Attendance: 
Dr Alex McGarel (Assembly Clerk) 
Mr Sean McCann (Assistant Clerk)
Mrs Pauline Hunter (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Nathan McVeigh (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Steven Mealey (Clerical Officer)

Apologies:
Mr Peter Weir

The meeting began in public session at 10.35a.m.

The Chairperson welcomed Mr John Dallat to the Committee as a replacement for Mr Tommy Gallagher.

The Chairperson welcomed Nathan McVeigh to the Committee as the new Clerical Supervisor.

The Chairperson thanked the members, Committee staff and DOE staff for their work with the Committee since 2007.

Mr Beggs, Mr Boylan, Mr Ford and Mr McCrea passed on their thanks and best wishes to the Chairperson on the occasion of his final as Chair of the Committee.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Tommy Gallagher for the work he had done on behalf of the Committee.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to Mr Gallagher expressing the Committee’s thanks for the work he had done on behalf of the Committee.

1. Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2. Matters Arising

Declaration of Interests:

The Chairperson informed members that Mr Kinahan’s declaration of interest had provided for information.

DFP memorandum on the 10 th report from the PAC session 2008-09 – the PFI Contract for NI’s New Vehicle Testing Facilities:

The Chairperson informed members that the Committee considered the PAC report on the PFI Contract for NI’s New Vehicle Testing Facilities at its meeting on 30 April. DFP had now issued a memorandum on the report for members’ information.

Visit to AFB, Hillsborough:

The Chairperson informed members that Committee staff are arranging a visit to AFBI, Hillsborough for 3 September 2009.

Northern Ireland Marine Task Force information: 
The Chairperson informed members that information in relation to the meeting with NI Marine Task Force on Monday 29 June had been included in meeting papers for members’ information.

Agreed: That Departmental officials are invited to a future meeting to discuss marine legislation.

Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill: 
The Chairperson informed members that the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill had now entered Committee stage.

Agreed: That a copy of the public notice inviting views on the Bill is sent to NILGA, the National Association of Councillors, SOLACE and the local councils. That Committee staff arrange for the most obvious respondents to give oral evidence immediately after recess.

Reply to Permanent Secretary: 
The Chairperson informed members that a reply to the recent letter from the DOE Permanent Secretary had been tabled for members’ information.

3. Departmental briefing on the implementation/enforcement of the Taxis Act

Departmental officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the implementation/enforcement of the Taxis Act.

Mr Boylan joined the meeting at 10.54a.m.

The main areas of discussion were Commencement Orders, Departmental resources, delays in implementing secondary legislation, illegal taxiing, fares and vehicle standards.

Agreed: That details of Commencement Orders and dates for their introduction are forwarded to the Committee along with details of human resource on the policy and legislation side and more information on the structures of staff and enforcement figures across Northern Ireland.

4. Briefing by Bryson Charitable Group on the ‘Sort it Out’ Schools Programme

Mr Beggs declared an interest as a member of Carrickfergus Borough Council.

Mr Kinahan declared an interest as a member of Antrim Borough Council.

Mr McKay joined the meeting at 11.30a.m.

Representatives from the Bryson Charitable Group briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the ‘Sort it Out’ Schools Programme.

The main areas of discussion were the replacement for the Community Waste Innovation Fund, funding arrangements, the rationale for the decision to stop funding and the impact on government policy of not supporting these programmes.

Agreed: That Bryson Charitable Group provides the Committee with a list of all schools they have worked with along with an expansion of the figures of the project over the last 4 years

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the DOE Climate Change and Waste Management Unit asking if they recognise the link between Bryson Charitable Group activities and carbon emissions and if this was this taken into account when the decision to withdraw funding was made.

5.SL1 - The Planning (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009

Members deliberated on the SL1 - The Planning (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009.

Mr Ross left the meeting at 11.57a.m.

Agreed: Members noted the SL1 - The Planning (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009 and agreed a letter is sent to the DOE stating that Northern Ireland is out of kilter with the rest of GB and that the Committee is concerned about a blanket approach to increasing fees and members would like to see the strategic review addressing and explaining this in particular.

6. Briefing on Private Members Bill – Plastic Bag Levy

Daithi McKay MLA briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on his Private Member’s Bill – Plastic Bag Levy.

Mr Ross rejoined the meeting at 12.06p.m.

The main areas of discussion were the accuracy of the figures on the reduction of plastic bag use in the Republic of Ireland, voluntary and mandatory schemes, the charging mechanism, the need for enabling legislation and the need for more information on the proposal.

Mr Ford left the meeting at 12.12p.m. 
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 12.13p.m.

Agreed: That Mr McKay provides the Committee with figures on the potential income a15pence per bag levy would generate, the costs to the Rates Collection Agency in collecting the levy, the side effects of such a levy and the costs and impacts of moving to a paper bag regime

7. Inquiry into Climate Change update

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a first draft of key issues emanating from the climate change inquiry.

Agreed: That the focus remains on the UK Climate Change Act.

The Chairperson informed members that Connaire McGreevy, CTS Projects Ltd, had forwarded, as requested, further information in relation to his recent trip to Sweden. Information had been included on the Swedish model for building towards an oil free society, a graph showing CO2 levels over 350,000 years and information on the new Swedish Government incentive programme to get construction workers back to work by improving energy efficiency.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided at with a paper from Assembly Research on the Climate Change Bill in the Scottish Parliament. The purpose of the paper is to outline the main provisions in the Bill to date.

The Chairperson informed members that they had also been provided with a further paper from Assembly Research on the Carbon Trust in NI and the public sector. Members were briefed by the Carbon Trust in relation to the Committee’s climate change inquiry and asked for further research on the reasons why the Carbon Trust in NI does not currently work with the public sector.

Agreed: That the Assembly Research papers are published on the website.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to DETI asking why the Carbon Trust is not currently funded to work with the public sector.

Members had also been provided with notes of the meetings from the Committee visit to London as part of the climate change inquiry.

Mr McGlone left the meeting at 12.20p.m. and Mr Boylan assumed the Chair. 
Mr Dallat left the meeting at 12.20p.m.

8. Proposals for Secondary Legislation

SL1 – Proposed Amendments to the Public Service Vehicles (Conditions of Fitness and Use) Regulations Relating to Taxis

Agreed: That the Committee considered The SL1 – Proposed Amendments to the Public Service Vehicles (Conditions of Fitness and Use) Regulations Relating to Taxis and had no objection to the proposal.

Members noted the seventeenth report of the Examiner of Statutory Rules.

SL1 - Transposition of EC Directive 2006/118/EC on the Protection of Groundwater Against Pollution and Deterioration

Agreed: That the Committee considered The SL1 – Transposition of EC Directive 2006/118/EC on the Protection of Groundwater Against Pollution and Deterioration and had no objection to the proposal.

9. Departmental consultations

The Committee considered the following Departmental consultations:

Proposed consultation on the Draft Pollution Prevention and Control (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009:

Agreed: That a copy of synopsis of response to the consultation is requested from the Department.

Draft Controlled Waste (seizure of property) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009:

Agreed: That a copy of synopsis of response to the consultation is requested from the Department.

Mr McCrea rejoined the meeting at 12.33p.m.

Planning Policy Statement 18 ‘Renewable Energy’ and the Wind Energy Supplementary Planning Guidance:

Agreed: That Departmental officials are invited to a future Committee meeting to brief members on this issue.

SuDS Strategy - Managing Stormwater - A Strategy for promoting the use of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) within Northern Ireland:

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

10. Forward Work Programme

Members noted the revised Committee Forward Work Programme.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a table showing the progress of work on the DOE Work Schedule January – June 2009.

The Committee noted the slippage within certain work areas in the DOE work schedule and will look at this more closely in September.

11. Correspondence
  1. Committee on Climate Change Newsletter – June 2009. 

    Agreed: That members are content to receive this newsletter via e-mail.
  2. Memo from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding the Performance and Efficiency Delivery Units (PEDU) Review of Public Service Agreement (PSA) Delivery. Please find attached PEDU’s submission. 

    Agreed: That a letter is sent to the DOE asking for quarterly updates on progress towards PSA targets.
  3. E-mail from Michael Dorman, CaterWaste Products Ltd regarding the prohibition of fats, oils and greases from entering the drainage system. 

    Agreed: That a copy of the e-mail is forwarded to the Department for comment.
  4. Departmental response to the Committee’s request for further information regarding the Draft River Basin Management Plans – Correspondence from Dr Claire Cockerill, Northern Ireland Freshwater Task Force. 

    Agreed: That a copy of the response is forwarded to Dr. Cockerill.
  5. E-mail from David Gibson regarding planning permission for his clay pigeon shoot. 

    Agreed: That a copy of the e-mail is forwarded to the Department for comment.
  6. Letter from the Chairperson of the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure regarding the impact of development on tributary streams and rivers in urban areas. 

    Agreed: That a copy of the letter is forwarded to the Department for comment.
  7. Departmental response to the Committee’s request for information on any possible increase in costs associated with local road safety committees having to arrange public liability insurance on an individual basis. 

    Agreed: That a copy of the response is forwarded to the Newtownabbey Road Safety Committee for information.
  8. Memo from the Regional Development Committee regarding the flooding event of 16 th August 2008. 

    Agreed: That a meeting is arranged between the respective Chairs and Deputy Chairs of both Committees.
  9. Departmental response to the Committee’s request for further information regarding work carried out by Roads Service to a listed bridge, White Bridge, Stranmore Road, Moyallon. 

    Agreed: That a copy of the response is forwarded to the CAL Committee for information.
  10. Memo from the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety regarding a response from the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety to a briefing by Chris Tuppen, BT Chief Sustainability Officer. 

    Agreed: That a copy of the memo is forwarded to Grainne Brown, BT, for information.
  11. Letter from the Department regarding the Committee’s request for more information regarding the issues raised in e-mail correspondence from Councillor Tom Ekin in which he calls for the introduction of Clean Neighbourhoods legislation in Northern Ireland. 

    Agreed: That a copy of the letter is forwarded to Tom Ekin for information.
  12. Letter from Nigel Dodds OBE MP MLA, to Mark Durkan MP MLA regarding payment of Departments’ invoices. 

    Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department asking why they are performing less well than other departments in this area.
  13. Members noted a letter from the Minister of the Environment to the Chairperson advising that he intends to announce in the near future a decision on the GAA Centre of Excellence planning application.
  14. Members noted a Departmental response to the Committee’s request for further information on the development of bioenergy in Northern Ireland.
  15. Members noted a letter from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health regarding the Committee’s request for further information in relation to the Committee’s inquiry into climate change.
  16. Members noted a letter from BT regarding their Sustainability Review.
  17. E-mail from RSPB inviting the Committee to a Red Kite release in south County Down on Friday 24 th July 2009. 

    Agreed: That the Committee is content with the RSPB using a photo of Committee members signing the RSPB’s Bird of Prey Pledge.
  18. Members noted an invitation from the Northern Ireland Government Affairs Group to its summer drinks reception on Thursday 2 nd July 2009, Victoria Square, Belfast with guest speaker, Mark Devenport.
  19. Members noted an e-mail from Inside Government inviting the Committee to a conference on “Tackling Fuel Poverty” on Tuesday 22 nd September 2009 in Central London.
  20. Members noted an e -mail from the Town and Country Planning Association inviting the Committee to a workshop on “Planning for Adaptation to Climate Change” at 1pm on Tuesday 28 th July 2009 in London.
  21. Members noted the following DOE Press Releases: 
    “New book brings history of Knockbreda alive.”
    “ Wilson approves ambitious £100m harbour eco-village plan”. 
    “Fort gears up for invasion.” 
    “ Wilson welcomes publication of local Government Boundaries Commissioner’s final report.”
12. Any other business
13. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday, 10 September 2009 at 10.30am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.

The Deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.46p.m.

Patsy McGlone
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
2 July 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