Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2008/2009

Date: 21 May 2009

COMMITTEE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
THURSDAY 21 MAY 2009,
SENATE CHAMBER, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS

Present:
Mr Cathal Boylan (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Roy Beggs
Mr David Ford
Mr Tommy Gallagher
Mr David McClarty
Mr Daithi McKay
Mr Patsy McGlone (Chairperson)
Mr Alastair Ross

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 Ian McCrea
Mr Peter Weir

The meeting began in public session at 10. 40a.m.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Minutes

Agreed – the draft minutes of the meeting on 14 May were agreed.

3. Matters Arising

Correspondence from Newtownabbey Road Safety Committee:

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a copy of correspondence from Mrs Pat Martin, Chairperson Newtownabbey Road Safety Committee, relating to the withdrawal of funding for the Road Safety Council.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to Newtownabbey Road Safety Council informing them that the Minister will meet with the Committee on 11 June to discuss Road Safety Council funding.

4. Statutory Rules

S.R. 2009/184 – The Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for the Environment has considered S.R. 2009/184 – The Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009 and has no objection to the rule, subject to the ESR Report.

5. Correspondence

Mr Gallagher joined the meeting at 11.00a.m.

  1. Letter from John Wright to Chairperson regarding a public inquiry on the proposed George Best Belfast City Airport runway extension.
    Agreed: That a copy of the letter is passed to the Department for Regional Development.
  2. Letter from John Wright to Chairperson regarding road safety. 
    Agreed: That a copy of the letter is forwarded to DOE and that the Committee are copied into the response.
  3. Letter from Seamus òg Gallagher, Senior Policy Officer, Northern Ireland Environment Link (NIEL), regarding NIEL meeting request, The Way Ahead 2009. 
    Agreed: That NIEL are invited to a future meeting to discuss this report.
  4. Departmental response to the Committee’s request for further information regarding correspondence from Mark Hamilton on Policy CTY 2 of draft PPS 21. 
    Agreed: That a further letter is sent to the DOE asking for more detailed information on this subject.
  5. Departmental response to the Committee’s request for clarification on what consideration the Department had given to the mandatory wearing of cycle helmets. 
    Agreed: That a copy of the response is forwarded to the British Medical Association.
  6. Letter from the Department for Regional Development regarding the Committee’s briefing from BT’s sustainability officer. 
    Agreed: That a copy of the letter is forwarded to Grainne Brown, BT.
  7. Members noted a Departmental response to the Committee’s request for details of the timetables for the local government legislation.
  8. Members noted a Departmental response to the Committee’s request for further information regarding the Departmental response to the consultation on the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation (NIAUR) Social Action Plan 2009 - 2014.
  9. Members noted a Departmental response regarding the Committee’s request for further information on environmental EU matters.
  10. Departmental response to the Committee’s request for an update on the progress of the planning application for the proposed extension to the runway at George Best Belfast City Airport. 
    Agreed: That a copy of the response is forwarded to Mr John Wright.
  11. Members noted a letter from Professor Sue Christie, Director NIEL, regarding NIEL new Fact Sheet “The Science of Climate Change: What You Need to Know.”
  12. E-mail from Tom McClelland regarding CTC statement on a recent road death. 
    Agreed: That a copy of correspondence regarding the wearing of cycle helmets is forwarded to Mr McClelland and that DOE officials are invited to brief the Committee on road safety at a future meeting.
  13. E-mail from Noel Elliott, Centre Manager FSC Derrygonnelly inviting the Committee to visit the Field Studies Centre in Derrygonnelly. 
    Agreed: That a letter is sent advising that the Committee will visit Derrygonnely post summer recess.
  14. Members note an e-mail from Capita inviting the Committee to their 6 th National Conference, Third Sector Commissioning, Overcoming Barriers and Realising Potential, being held in Central London on Monday 22 nd June 2009.
  15. Invitation from RPTI to a Planning Convention, “Planning in a Changing Climate.” 
    Agreed: That a copy of the papers from the conference is requested.
  16. Members noted the following DOE Press Releases / Publications: 
    “Planners to give greater weight to economic aspects, Wilson confirms.”
    “Everyone has a part to play in reducing waste, Minister insists.” 
    “Ballygowan father and son fined £11,500 for illegal dumping.” 
    “NIEA officers step back in time to the Eisenhower war years.” 
    “Agency moves to maintain lower MOT waiting times over the summer.” 
    “ Wilson urges all road users to follow Highway Code.” 
    “Other motorists have responsibility for bikers too, campaign warns.” 
    “Minister hails quarrying industry efforts to promote nature.” 
    “NIEL News May 09.” 
    “ Europe’s World – Newsletter 14.”
6. Departmental Consultations

Members noted a synopsis of responses to the consultation on the Revision of the Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2006.

7. Forward Work Programme

Members noted the revised Committee Forward Work Programme.

The Chairperson informed members that the meeting on 28 May will now take place in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings, rather than the Causeway Hotel, Bushmills. The meeting will start at 10a.m.

8. Inquiry into Climate Change update

The Chairperson informed members that the Committee had received a letter from Paddy Purcell, Chairman, Standing Committee on Climate Change, Irish Academy of Engineers, seeking the opportunity to input into the Committee Inquiry into Climate Change.

Members had been provided with a copy of four papers presented by the Academy at a recent climate change workshop in Dublin for information.

Agreed: That the information from the Irish Academy of Engineers is accepted as a submission to the Climate Change Inquiry.

The Chairperson informed members that it was now proposed to visit other UK and ROI administrations to discuss the work they are doing to tackle climate change.

Agreed: That a scoping exercise is carried out to determine the best way to conduct any visit.

Agreed: That the Committee visit the Climate Change Unit in the DOE to discuss their work.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a copy of an Assembly Research Paper entitled ‘Climate Change Policy Framework in NI’ for information.

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with further information by Research & Library Services on the proposed Climate Change Inquiry visit for consideration. A member of Assembly Research briefed the Committee on these papers.

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

Agreed: That a Research paper is requested on the work being carried out by other UK and ROI administrations to tackle climate change and on the effectiveness of Public Service Agreements in the Programme for Government

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a copy of an e-mail from the Specialist Adviser regarding the submission from the Carbon Trust.

Agreed: That the Carbon Trust are invited to give oral evidence to the Climate Change Inquiry.

9. Climate Change Inquiry - Oral Evidence from Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH)

Representatives from the CIEH briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on climate change.

Mr Gallagher left the meeting at 11.50a.m.

The main areas of discussion were policy targets, primary legislation, public health and food poisoning, sustainable development, obesity and climate change and community initiatives to tackle climate change.

Mr McKay joined the meeting at 11.57a.m.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to OFMDFM asking for further information on the Sustainable Development Strategy.

Agreed: That CIEH provides the Committee with information on the cost of upgrading existing housing stock, projects documenting complementarity and research for the link between obesity and climate change.

Agreed: That Committee staff obtain copies of the Office of Deputy Prime Minister Stocktake Report and the Draft Flood and Water Management Bill.

10. Climate Change Inquiry - Oral Evidence from NILGA

Mr Gallagher rejoined the meeting at 12.10p.m. 
Mr Ross left the meeting at 12.15p.m.

The following members declared an interest as local councillors:

Patsy McGlone – Cookstown District Council 
Roy Beggs – Carrickfergus District Council 
David Ford – Antrim Borough Council 
David McClarty – Coleraine Borough Council

Representatives from NILGA briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on climate change.

The main areas of discussion were a ministerial climate change champion, the need for legislation, the waste management strategy.

Mr McGlone left the meeting at 12.31p.m and Mr Boylan assumed the Chair.

Agreed: That NILGA forwards to the Committee a copy of the declaration on climate change along with a copy of evidence given to RECP and details of the work they are doing with the Welsh Assembly.

Mr Ross rejoined the meeting at 12.37p.m.

11. Climate Change Inquiry – Oral Evidence from Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU)

Mr McGlone rejoined the meeting at 12.46p.m. and resumed the Chair. 
Mr McClarty left the meeting at 12.46p.m.

Representatives from the UFU briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on climate change.

The main areas of discussion were climate change research, renewable energy, the single electricity market, diversification, land use, threats and opportunities from climate change, farming methods, carbon labelling and the rural economy.

Mr Boylan left the meeting at 1.15p.m. 
Mr Gallagher left the meeting at 1.20p.m.

Agreed: That the Committee visits the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute to discuss research into climate change.

12. Climate Change Inquiry - Oral Evidence from NI Climate Change Impacts Partnership (NICCIP)

Mr Boylan rejoined the meeting at 1.31p.m.

Representatives from NICCIP briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on climate change.

The main areas of discussion were the Draft Flood and Water Management Bill, climate change policy, the new green deal, funding and the differences in policies between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Agreed: That Committee staff obtain a copy of the I.C.E. report on defending public infrastructure.

The Chairperson suspended the meeting at 1.55p.m for lunch.

The meeting restarted at 2.25p.m, with the following members present: Mr McGlone, Mr Beggs, Mr Boylan, Mr Ross.

13. Climate Change Inquiry – Oral Evidence from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)

Representatives from the RSPB briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on climate change.

The main areas of discussion were the effects of changes in agriculture on bird habitats, changes in the insect population and diseases in Northern Ireland waters.

Agreed: That RSPB provides the Committee with further information in relation to diseases in Northern Ireland waters and changes in sea temperatures.

14. Climate Change Inquiry – Oral Evidence from the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA)

Representatives from NIIRTA briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on climate change.

The main areas of discussion were parking levies, plastic bag taxes, town centre regeneration, incentives for retailers to adopt a low carbon position and PPS5.

15. Climate Change Inquiry – Oral Evidence from CTS Projects Ltd

Representatives from CTS Projects Ltd briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on climate change.

The main areas of discussion were the Warm Homes Scheme, building regulations, grants and wood chip boilers.

Agreed: That CTS Projects forwards the Committee information on their recent trip to Sweden along with a copy of the graph they used in their presentation.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the DSD requesting information on social housing standards and the differences with private builds and the standards and grants for the Warm Homes Schemes applied by the Housing Executive.

16. Climate Change Inquiry - Oral Evidence from Hans Schreuder

Hans Schreuder briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on climate change.

Mr Ford rejoined the meeting at 3.53p.m.

Mr McGlone left the meeting at 3.55p.m. and Mr Boylan assumed the Chair.

The main areas of discussion were past and present climate change, carbon dioxide as a pollutant, the weight of scientific evidence in support of man’s contribution to climate change, global warming and the use of modern technology in predicting climate change.

Agreed: That details of global temperatures over the past 20 years are collated.

17. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday, 28 May 2009 at 10.00am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.

The Deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.22 p.m.

Patsy McGlone
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
28 May 2009

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