Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2008/2009

Date: 30 April 2009

COMMITTEE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
THURSDAY 30 APRIL 2009,
ROOM 144, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS

Present:

Mr Roy Beggs
Mr Cathal Boylan (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr David Ford
Mr Tommy Gallagher
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 David McClarty

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

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Minutes

Agreed – the draft minutes of the meeting on 23 April were agreed.

3. Matters Arising

Invitation to submit written evidence to Independent Working Group (non-farming rural dwellers):

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a copy of a letter from Jim MacKinnon, Chair – Independent Working Group (non-farming rural dwellers) inviting the Committee to submit written evidence on the issue of non- farming rural dwellers.

Agreed: That a sub group is established to report back to the full Committee on this issue, the sub group is to be made up of one representative from each party.

Briefing note on Committee visit to George Best Belfast City Airport:

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a briefing note from Research & Library Services outlining the main issues relating to the proposed extension of the runway at the George Best Belfast City Airport.

Agreed: That a letter is sent to the Department for an update on the current planning application.

Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Bill

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a letter from the Road Haulage Association (RHA) calling on the Minister of the Environment to introduce the Bill without any further delay.

Agreed: That a copy of the RHA letter is sent to the Minister and that the Minister is asked to meet with the RHA and Freight Transport Association as soon as possible to discuss this matter.

4. Briefing by Permanent Secretary on action DOE is taking to minimise the costs to business (re proposed fee increases by Department)

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

Mr McGlone declared an interest as his brother has an association with the licensed retail trade.

Mr Weir declared an interest as a member of North Down Borough Council.

The DOE Permanent Secretary briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the action that the DOE is taking to minimise the costs to business in regards to proposed fee increases.

Agreed: That the Department would consider the fees increases in further detail and provide the Committee with further information.

Mr Gallagher joined the meeting at 10.55a.m. 
Mr Ford joined the meeting at 10.57a.m.

Agreed: That the Department provides the Committee with more information on the Federation of Retail Licensed Trade NI.

Mr Peover informed the Committee that the Department would soon be forwarding a proposal for secondary legislation to increase planning application fees by 20%.

Agreed: That the Department provides the Committee with figures on the efficiency of dealing with renewable energy planning applications.

Agreed: That the Department provides the Committee with the proportion of Planning Service costs expected to be met by the development control process.

Agreed: That decisions on all SL1s and consultations regarding potential fees increases are deferred until the Minister has reconsidered them.

5. Departmental briefing on Road Safety Council funding

Departmental officials briefed the Committee and answered members’ on the withdrawal of funding to the Road Safety Council.

6. Briefing by Road Safety Council/Ballymoney Borough Road Safety Committee on Road Safety Council funding

Representatives from the Road Safety Council and Ballymoney Borough Road Safety briefed the Committee and answered members’ questions on the DOE decision t withdraw funding from the Road Safety Council.

Agreed: That the DOE provides the Committee with information on the level of consultation with the Road Safety Committees on the PA Consulting Report on the Road Safety Council.

Agreed: That the Minister is invited to a future Committee meeting to discuss this issue further. Information is also to be sought on interim proposals and how the transition period is being handled.

Mr Weir left the meeting at 12.46p.m.
Mr Gallagher left the meeting at 12.47p.m.

7. Discussion on the Rose Energy project

The Committee deliberated on an invitation from Rose Energy to visit a chicken litter plant in Holland and on the planning application from Rose Energy to build a chicken litter plant in Glenavy.

Agreed: That the Committee recommends that this planning application is dealt with by way of a public inquiry as a matter of urgency.

Mr Weir rejoined the meeting at12.54p.m.

Mr McCrea and Mr Weir wanted it recorded that they were in support of the Rose Energy project.

8.Committee inquiry into Climate Change

The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a climate change inquiry master file containing all 42 written submissions.

The Chairperson introduced the specialist adviser, Professor Sue Christie, who made suggestions on the individuals/organisations she believed would benefit the Committee by providing oral evidence.

Professor Christie also made suggestions for possible visits that would help inform the Committee during the inquiry.

Mr McGlone left the meeting at 12.56 and Mr Boylan assumed the Chair.

The Committee deliberated over the issue of Bairbre de Brún MEP being called to give oral evidence to the climate change inquiry.

Mr McGlone rejoined the meeting at 1.00p.m and resumed the Chair.

Mr Weir proposed that it would be inappropriate to invite Ms de Brún to give oral evidence to the Committee as all political parties already had a representative voice on the Committee. Mr McCrea seconded the proposal.

The Specialist Adviser informed the Committee that she proposed to invite Ms de Brún as her submission was from a uniquely European perspective.

The Committee divided:

AYESNOES
   
Mr Weir
Mr McCrea
Mr Boylan
Mr McGlone
Mr Beggs
Mr Ford

The motion therefore fell.

Mr Beggs proposed that Ms de Brún is invited to give evidence to the Committee after the European Election on 4 June 2009.

Agreed: That Ms de Brún is invited to give oral evidence to the Committee at the meeting on 11 June, after the European Election.

Agreed: That any other suggestions regarding possible Committee visits in relation to the climate change inquiry are forwarded to Committee staff.

Mr Ford left the meeting at 1.13p.m.

9. Statutory Rules

SR 2009/157 – The Waste Batteries and Accumulators (Charges) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2009/157 – The Waste Batteries and Accumulators (Charges) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009 and, subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules’ Report, has no objection to the rule.

SR 2009/159 – The Waste Batteries and Accumulators (Treatment and Disposal) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for the Environment has considered SR 2009/159 – The Waste Batteries and Accumulators (Treatment and Disposal) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009 and, subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules’ Report, has no objection to the rule.

10. Proposals for Secondary Legislation

SL1 - European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval – Individual Vehicle Approval Fees Legislation

Agreed: That a decision on this SL1 is deferred until the Minister has had time to reconsider fees increases.

SL1 – Proposals to transpose the requirements of Regulations on certain Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases

Agreed: That the Committee considered The SL1 – Proposals to transpose the requirements of Regulations on certain Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases and had no objection to the proposals.

11. Departmental consultations

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

Agreed: That a decision on this consultation is deferred until the Minister has had time to reconsider fees increases.

Members noted a UK-wide consultation on further amendments to the Vehicle Drivers (Certificates of Professional Competence) Regulations 2007 – Consultation Paper.

Synopsis of responses to consultation on proposed increases in charges under the Pollution Prevention and Control (PCC) and Radioactive Substances (RAS) charging schemes:

Agreed: That a decision on this consultation is deferred until the Minister has had time to reconsider fees increases.

12. Forward Work Programme

Members noted a revised copy of the Committee Forward Work Programme.

13. Correspondence
  1. E-mail/correspondence from a Mr Gibson regarding queries with the Planning Service involving his clay pigeon shoot.

Agreed: That Mr Gibson is contacted by Committee staff to ascertain the major concerns he has.

  1. Departmental response to the Committee’s request dated for further information on a letter from the Principal of Kylemore Nursery School, Coleraine, seeking the Committee’s support in retaining Education Officers at various NIEA country parks.

Agreed: That Mr David McClarty MLA is contacted as to the way forward on this issue.

  1. Members noted a copy of the Public Accounts Committee’s report on the PFI Contract for Northern Ireland’s New Vehicle Testing Facilities.
  2. Departmental response to the Committee’s request for further information on Rural Transport Operations.

Agreed: That a copy of the response is forwarded to the Regional Development Committee for information.

  1. Letter from John McCallister MLA to Chairperson regarding Draft Caravan and Mobile Homes Bill.

Agreed: That Mr McAllister is invited to brief the Committee on this issue at a future meeting.

  1. Members noted a letter from Habitat for Humanity Northern Ireland requesting a meeting with the Chairperson regarding their plans for ‘Affordable Housing Projects’ throughout Northern Ireland.
  2. Members noted an invitation from Professor Richard Barnett, Vice-Chancellor University of Ulster, inviting the Chairperson and a guest to the Inaugural Belfast Special Lecture entitled “Patten: Ten Years On”. The Lecture will be held in the Conor Lecture Theatre, University of Ulster, Belfast campus on Thursday 28 th May 2009 at 6.00p.m.
  3. Members noted the following DOE Press Releases / Publications:

“ Northern Ireland water Ltd fined £5,000 for polluting discharge to a waterway”

“Clogher farmer fined £5,000 for polluting discharge to a waterway”

“Minister backs ‘CAAN do approach to getting fit in the countryside”

“Lurgan man fined £3,000 for unlicensed end of life vehicle site”

“ Wilson launches plan to realise full potential of historic city walls”

“ Wilson backs vision for native woodland”

“Letter from Woodland Trust to Chairperson regarding Spring 2009 edition of Broadleaf.”

“ Northern Ireland Environment Link (NIEL) publications – Policy Priorities for Northern Ireland’s environment.”

14. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday, 7 May 2009 at 10.30am in The Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.19 p.m.

Patsy McGlone
Chairperson, Committee for the Environment
7 May 2009

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