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Jun 2018 right left


Mid Ulster Vintage Rally

Saturday 2nd June
Springhill, Moneymore
Adult £5, Child £2, Members Free

Car Bazaar

Saturday 2nd June
Mount Stewart
Car £5, Van £30, Trailer £15


Scenic Forest Walk

Monday 4th June
Florence Court
Normal Admission, Members Free


Portmuck Geology Walk

Saturday 9th June
Portmuck, Co Antrim
No Charge, Donations Welcome

The World of Moths

Sunday 10th June
Murlough NNR
No Charge, Donations Welcome


Launch Event – INTERREG VA Collaborative Action for the Natura Network Project (CANN)

Tuesday 12th June
Nuremore Hotel, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan

FSC Tollymore Teacher Training

Tuesday 12th June
FSC Tollymore, Co. Down


Moyola Waterfoot Nature Reserve – Himalayan Balsam Control

Sunday 17th June
Moyola Waterfoot Nature Reerve

Wild in the Park: Falcons and Friends

Sunday 17th June
Carnfunnock Country Park

International Climate Change Adaptation Conference 2018

Monday 18th June
See website for details
See website for details


Specialist Plant Fair

Saturday 23rd June
Mount Stewart
Normal Admission, Members Free

Grass Roots Summer Outing

Saturday 23rd June
Downpatrick Area

Jazz in the Garden at Mount Stewart

Sunday 24th June
Mount Stewart
Normal Admission, Members Free


Fossil Hunting

Friday 29th June
No Charge, Donations Welcome

Jump in Muddy Puddles Day

Friday 29th June
Carnfunnock Country Park

Ragwort Challenge

Saturday 30th June
Murlough NNR
No Charge, Donations Welcome


Assembly News (Oct 11) 6 March 2012

By Seán Kelly, Policy Officer, NIEL

Ministerial Statements

Ministerial for Regional Development: On–street Parking Charges
The Minister made a statement on the outcome of DRS’s proposal to introduce on–street parking charges to towns and cities across Northern Ireland. His decision not to introduce new on–street car parking charges in the proposed 30 towns and cities means that he has to find approximately £8·8 million from other areas over the Budget period to make up the projected revenue lost from on–street parking. The Minister therefore proposes to offset the £8·8 million shortfall with the following savings: £2 million from greater efficiency in my Department; a £2 million reduction in Roads Service’s operational expenditure; £2·1 million income from off–street parking charges in provincial towns and on–street charges in some cities, and a £2·7 million reduction in the subsidy paid to Translink, which he did not expect to lead directly to any increase in fares.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: North/South Ministerial Council: Aquaculture and Marine (26 September)

The Agriculture Minister made a statement regarding the recent meeting of the North/South Ministerial Council (NSMC) in aquaculture and marine sectoral format on Monday 4 July 2011. Among the issues highlighted were the creation of a small grants scheme to be administered by the Loughs Agency which will encourage applications from the public, private, community and voluntary sectors to support angling development, conservation and protection of the fisheries and marine tourism in the Foyle and Carlingford catchment areas. The total value of the scheme is £361,458 over three years. The scheme will contribute to the protection and conservation of the Foyle and Carlingford area’s shell and fin fish stocks at sustainable levels, the growth of marine tourism and the development of the catchment areas for angling and other marine tourism.

Private Members’ Business

Green Economy (12 September)
Anna Lo tabled a motionThat this Assembly calls on the Executive to make the development of the green economy a priority within the next Programme for Government and to affirm that an overarching strategy for the development of the green economy should be implemented; and further calls on the Executive to bring together existing policies and initiatives, to identify gaps and to address them. While the motion did not receive support from all members the motion was passed with members calling for the need to start making things happen on the ground.

Fuel Poverty (19 September)
Members debated a motion tabled by DUP MLAs David McIlveen and Paul Frew: That this Assembly recognises the serious problem of fuel poverty, especially amongst older people; acknowledges the adverse impact that rising fuel bills are likely to have on the ability of older people to keep warm and healthy; and calls on the Minister for Social Development to make representations to Her Majesty’s Government to continue to support Age Sector Platform’s call to maintain this year’s winter fuel payment at its current level of £250 for pensioner households where someone is aged between 60 and 79, and £400 where someone is aged 80 and over. An amendment tabled by Steven Agnew also called on the Minister to increase funding for the green new deal to provide the energy efficiency measures required to tackle fuel poverty in the long–term. While all members supported the original motion some DUP MLAs were concerned that the green new deal as cited within the amendment may not be cost effective. However, both the original motion and the amendment were agreed.


Programme for Government (20 September)
The SDLP’s Dominic Bradley: tabled a motion: That this Assembly recognises that good practice in governance is to base a Budget on an up–to–date Programme for Government so that the policy initiatives can inform financial planning; notes that it is now over six months since the Assembly voted on the Executive’s Budget 2011–15; further notes the significant economic change in this region since the 2008–2011 Programme for Government was published; and calls on the Executive to publish for consultation a new draft Programme for Government which adequately addresses the economic challenges in the coming years. Although the motion was passed, debate focussed upon the reasons for the delay in publishing the new PfG. The debate also failed to elicit a timeframe for the publication of a draft PfG for consultation.

Written Answers to Questions

Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure

Illegal Fishing and Poaching (16 September)

The Minister provided the following table indicating the number of prosecutions taken by DCAL in the last five years relating to all types of illegal fishing.














The Minister added that DCAL currently employs 10 Fishery Protection Officers to target poaching, and further post is vacant. DCAL also works closely with Private Water Bailiffs from angling clubs and with the PSNI on a wide range of enforcement issues.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development

Badger Culling (16 September)

The Minister was asked to outline her current position in relation to badger culling. The Minister replied that there has been considerable progress made in reducing TB incidence in cattle with herd incidence has almost halved from nearly 10% in 2002 to 5.03% at 31 July 2011. The Minister’s stated that there are no plans for any cull of badgers here. DARD officials are monitoring closely the progress in England and Wales on their proposals for badger control in areas with high and persistent levels of bovine TB and additional funding has been allocated in the DARD budget to commission TB and wildlife research and studies to address critical knowledge gaps and provide a robust science–led evidence base to further guide the TB eradication strategy. Interventions to address the wildlife factor may include improving biosecurity, as well as more direct intervention such as the vaccination of badgers, which may be the most feasible solution in the long–term. Officials are also monitoring closely the studies being conducted in the south of Ireland and in England to develop a viable oral badger vaccine and cost–effective means of vaccine deployment. They will similarly keep a close interest in developments to produce a viable cattle vaccine. Direct interventions in wildlife would incur substantial cost and must be fully justified in cost–benefit terms. The Minister added, we need to be certain that the benefit would justify the considerable costs.

Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment
Exploratory Drilling of Shale Gas (23 September)

The DETI Minister detailed the nature of any liciences issued for the exploratory drilling of shale gas in Northern Ireland. Four petroleum licences have been issued in 2011, one of which is for shale gas in County Fermanagh. However, no exploration drilling can be carried out without additional consents from several regulatory authorities including DETI, HSENI, Planning Service and NIEA. Should a drilling application be submitted, the transport, storage and use of chemicals would be regulated under the relevant legislation to prevent the input of hazardous substances into groundwater, and for pollution prevention and control. In any case, the company has stated that they would not use any chemical additives for hydraulic fracturing.


Moratorium on Lignite Prospecting Licences (30 September)

The Minister announced that she expected to be in a position to announce an extension of the moratorium on the issue of Mineral Prospecting Licences shortly. This extension, which will run until 25th October 2013, will be accompanied by a lignite policy statement. She added that following discussions between DETI and Planning Service officials the lignite policy has been revised to ease the planning restrictions over the Ballymoney lignite resource area, initially for a period of two years. Planning applications will be monitored during this period to ensure that a balance is achieved between permitting development and the protection of this strategic energy resource, in accordance with the Strategic Energy Framework 2010.


Minister of the Environment

National Park for Northern Ireland (30 September)

When questioned on what plans he has to establish a national park for Northern Ireland. The Minister replied that DoE has recently embarked on a public consultation exercise to take forward enabling legislation for national parks. There are a number of areas in Northern Ireland with the potential for designation as national parks. Therefore, in tandem with the consultation exercise, he was bringing together a panel of experts to advise him on which areas most closely fit the proposed criteria. The Minister added I am a strong believer in a model of national park being developed, different from other parts of these islands, in sympathy with our needs. This model would protect park areas and be a mechanism for positive economic growth.


Minister for Regional Development

Invasive Plant Species (23 September)
In response to whether Roads Service has a strategy for managing invasive plant species such as Japanese Knotweed, the Minister replied that Roads Service has no specific statutory obligation to remove weeds, other than in relation to the control of noxious weeds. Roads Service policy and procedures in relation to weed control are aimed at ensuring the safety of road users and preventing the deterioration of the road pavement. However, Roads Service will treat invasive weeds, such as Japanese Knotweed, found growing on lands within its control, if required, by taking specialist advice from either the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, or specialist contractors.


Cycle Lanes (30 September)

When asked what plans he has to increase the number of cycle lanes on roads, the Minister replied that in the current challenging financial circumstances it is not possible to continue to fund all functions at the same level as in previous years.  However, it remains Roads Service’s intention to continue to implement, in so far as available resources permit, the cycling infrastructure as set out in the Belfast Metropolitan Transport Plan (BMTP) and the Regional Transport Strategy, which will complement the existing National Cycle Network.


Oral Answers to Questions  

Minister of the Environment

Carbon Reduction Scheme (13 September)
The Minister stated that while good progress has been made in recent years (compared with 1990 levels, carbon emissions have been reduced by 20%), given that our target is to reduce 1990–level emissions by 25% by 2025, he intends to seek Executive endorsement for bringing forward a climate and environment Bill, to include much more challenging emission targets in that Bill than the 25% by 2025 that we are currently obliged to fulfil. As Scotland aims for a 42% reduction on 1990–level emissions by 2025 the Minister added that given the scale of the issue and the size of the North, it seems to me that we should stretch ourselves, and do so in a climate and environmental Bill, to do what Scotland has done in setting challenging emission targets.


Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister

Programme for Government (26 September)

On behalf of OFMdFM, Mr O’Dowd provided an update on the progress of the draft Programme for Government (PfG). He stressed that the Executive’s priority is to produce a Programme for Government that reflects the parameters of the budgetary settlement while simultaneously being capable of progressing and ultimately delivering real and lasting positive change to people here. He added that the First Minister and I are pleased to have brought a draft of the Programme for Government to the point of being able to share it with Ministers and party leaders. However, the First Minister and I are of the view that much more work is needed to improve the current draft. That is why we also wanted to share it with party leaders, who, we hope, will bring it to their respective parties and come back to us with their own ideas. The document has also been circulated to Departments for further comment and input. The Ministers intend to bring a revised copy of the PFG to the Executive meeting on 6 October with a view to issuing it for public consultation as soon as possible thereafter.


Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development

Woodland (27 September)

In response as to whether she would support higher woodland creation targets in the Executive’s Programme for Government, the Minister stated that she was committed to developing new mechanisms to support woodland creation in recognition that higher levels of planting will be required in future to achieve the long–term aim of increasing woodland cover from 6% to 12% of the entire land area over the next 50 years. The Minister intends to review the operation of the existing grant schemes and the effectiveness of the strategy and the associated business plan targets.