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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 (Mar 11) 6 March 2012

By Seán Kelly, Policy Officer, NIEL

Executive Committee Business

Minister of the Environment
Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill: Further Consideration Stage (7 February)
Members debated several proposed amendments to the Bill tabled by the Minister of the Environment.  The Minister stated that on advice from the Attorney General that the form of the Biodiversity Duty may create unnecessary impediments to development and associated economic activity. Amendment 1 therefore proposed to re–word the requirement on public bodies in relation to biodiversity. Following debate however members voted (30 votes to 51) in favour of rejecting this amendment on the basis that the proposed re–wording would lead to a significant weakening of resolve and purpose in promoting biodiversity. However the Minister’s subsequent amendments, namely: Amendment 3 to give the authorities powers to prosecute anyone who is in possession of protected wild birds or eggs of protected wild birds which that person may have taken unlawfully from another EU country; Amendment 4 to prohibit the possession of certain highly toxic chemicals for which there is no legitimate use and which may be used to commit a poisoning offence against wildlife; Amendment 6 which gives the DoE power to enter into voluntary agreements with owners of land outside an ASSI to manage that land in a manner that would help conserve the ASSI and; Amendment 7 which places requirements on anyone undertaking an operation on or near an ASSI that has been authorised by a competent authority to minimise potential damage to the ASSI, were all accepted. An amendment tabled by Francie Molloy to overturn the ban on hare coursing was defeated, however, an amendment to add the Irish hare to Schedule 5 (animals that are protected at all times) was also rejected.

Royal Assent Waste and Contaminated Land (Amendment) Bill (14 February)
The Speaker informed the Assembly that the Waste and Contaminated Land (Amendment) Bill have received Royal Assent. The Waste and Contaminated Land (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2011, became law on 10 February 2011.

Minister for Regional Development
Transport Bill: Final Stage (14 February)
The Transport Bill completed its Final Stage. The main purpose of the Bill is to provide new arrangements for the delivery of public passenger transport services and to ensure our compliance with European law. The Bill will allow for the delivery of modern services that meet passenger need and to provide for innovation in the market, including the introduction of rapid transit services in Belfast. It will also allow DRD to work closely with stakeholders and local councils in the development of local public transport plans, which will inform the specification of contracts and deliver services that meet individual passenger needs. The Minister stated that the Bill will assist in creating an efficient, effective and sustainable public transport system that contributes to the Executive’s transportation, environmental, social inclusion and equality objectives while supporting the development of the wider economy.  Although Members welcomed the Bill, some Members expressed their concern that contrary to the aims of the Bill to encourage people to use public transport as their first choice, it is disappointing, that the Budget for the next four years does nothing to encourage people to use public transport when 86% of the DRD capital spend will be on roads, which will encourage more cars, congestion and pollution.

Minister of the Environment
Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill–Consideration Stage (21 February)
The Minister of the Environment moved the Consideration Stage of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill. The main objective of the Bill is to improve the quality of the local environment by giving district councils additional powers to deal with litter, nuisance alleys, graffiti, fly–posting, abandoned and nuisance vehicles, dogs, noise and statutory nuisance. The Assembly agreed a number of amendments to the Bill including amendments relating to the issuing of fixed penalty notices to minors; increased powers for councils over flyers, graffiti, placards and posters; changes in the age limit concerning the purchasing of aerosols from 16 to 18; and extra provisions to enable councils to deal with advertisements linked to road legislation and powers to councils to find out more information so that they can deal with the problem.

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill–Further Consideration Stage (1st March)
As no amendments were tabled, the Bill was not discussed but members will be able to have a full debate at Final Stage. Further Consideration Stage therefore, concluded.

Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill: Final Stage (1 March)
The Minister of the Environment moved that the Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill do now pass.
The purpose of the Bill is to ensure better conservation and protection of Northern Ireland’s valuable wildlife and habitats, ensure that they remain diverse, healthy and resilient so that future generations can derive important benefits from them. Changes to the Wildlife Order 1985 will give it greater scope to meet current and future challenges and will provide added protection to a wider range of birds, plants and animals. The Bill includes important provisions aimed at deterring wildlife crime, including providing greater evidence–gathering powers for police and, for the first time, the powers for courts to impose custodial sentences for severe and persistent wildlife crime. The Bill also makes important changes to the Environment Order 2002 to enhance protection for our areas of special scientific interest, many of which contain our highest value habitats, species and other special features. Although hare coursing was not part of the original proposals, as a result of the Assembly process, the Bill will ban hare coursing. The Bill also makes important changes to our game laws. However the Chair of the Environment Committee while welcoming the passage of the Bill, stated that with the anticipated budget cuts for the DOE and, in particular, the NIEA there are concerns that the legislation could turn out to be a ‘paper exercise’.

The Minister of Finance and Personnel
Budget Bill: Further Consideration Stage (28 February)
As no amendments were tabled the Budget Bill was not discussed. Members will be able to debate it at Final Stage. Further Consideration Stage was therefore concluded.

Budget Bill: Final Stage (1 March)
The Minister of Finance and Personnel moved that the Budget Bill do now pass. Despite concerns from the Committee for Finance and Personnel and several members referring to criticism of the draft budget by NICVA, PricewaterhouseCoopers, representatives of business and industry, including the Confederation of British Industry, the Institute of Directors and the chambers of commerce, after a lengthy and often heated debate the motion was passed with cross–community support.

Committee Business
Planning Bill: Extension of Committee Stage (7 February)
The Chairperson of the Committee for the Environment sought and gained approval for the extension of the Committee Stage of the Planning Bill to the 1st March. The Planning Bill is the largest Bill ever to come before the Assembly. It consists of 248 clauses and seven schedules. There were 61 responses to the Committee’s call for evidence, and the Committee has taken oral evidence from 11 organisations and individuals. It held a stakeholder event that was attended by over 25 organisations, which gave stakeholders the opportunity to air their views on the specific areas that have consistently arisen throughout the submissions.

Renewable Energy (14 February)
The Chairperson of the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment moved:
That this Assembly approves the report of the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment on its inquiry into barriers to the development of renewable energy production and its associated contribution to the Northern Ireland economy; and calls on the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, in conjunction with her Executive colleagues and relevant bodies, to implement, as applicable, the recommendations contained therein.

The Chairperson stated that the reality for our future is ‘an unreliable, unaffordable, unmanageable energy supply…unless we take steps now to create our own vision for our energy future’. That was the key recommendation from the Committee’s inquiry. Other recommendations within the Report included: radical improvement of the grid infrastructure in the west to get the renewable electricity generated there into homes and businesses in the east; the need to build the North/South interconnector to balance and manage the peaks and troughs in demand; development of a shared vision for renewable energy; integration of our energy remit, bring policy responsibility for energy under a single Department; drastic improvement in the way government communicates with the public, business and the renewable energy sector; and provision of incentives at appropriate levels to stimulate the development of renewable energy technology. In response, the Minister welcomed the publication of the Report and undertook to consider its findings before fully responding to the Committee in due course.

Private Members’ Business

Single Use Plastic Bags Bill: Accelerated Passage (28 February)
Daithi Mr McKay moved that the Single Use Plastic Bags Bill proceed under the accelerated passage. Despite the Environment Committee, UUP, SDLP and Alliance Party all speaking against the granting of accelerated passage, as the motion required cross–community support, Sinn Fein and DUP support ensured that accelerated passage was granted by 57 votes to 33.

Single Use Plastic Bags Bill: Second Stage (28 February)
Daithi McKay moved that the Second Stage of the Single Use Plastic Bags Bill be agreed. Mr McKay outlined that the primary purpose of my Bill is to reduce the number of plastic bags in circulation and that whatever revenue is generated from the levy does go towards projects that benefit the environment such as the Green New Deal (GND) adding that the GND should not rely indefinitely on levy revenue for part of its funding as ultimately, ‘we’ want to see the revenue generated from a levy go down as consumer behaviour changes. Mr McKay then provided a brief overview of the Bill, summarising its key features and advising of his plans to amend it, given the fact that the Executive have adopted the proposal. As currently drafted, it includes provision for a charge on single–use plastic bags. It also requires suppliers to pass on the charge to their customers and forward the proceeds, which are to be used for environmental purposes, to the DOE. In addition, the Bill establishes offences of failure by suppliers to impose the charge or to comply with their duties under the legislation. Finally, it makes councils responsible for the monitoring and enforcement of the new arrangements in their district. However since the Budget announcement and the Environment Minister and the Executive indicating their support for a carrier bag levy, Mr McKay has decided to amend the Bill. The final decisions on the price of the levy, how it is brought in and who is responsible for collecting it will be brought in under the Climate Change Act, which is already in place. The Climate Change Act will be changed to ensure that the revenue that is raised will go to the Department. That is the key element of the legislation. Again UUP, SDLP and Alliance MLA’s opposed the Bill stating that ‘it is the right idea being done in a shoddy way without proper consultation’ and the Bill ‘is a recipe for bad legislation: improper scrutiny; not listening to the issues; and not readjusting our position to adapt the legislation to address the concerns of people in the community who have a deep interest in getting it right.’ However as the Bill required cross–community support, support form Sinn Fein and the DUP ensured that the Second Stage of the Bill was passed by 56 votes to 16.

Written Answers to Questions

Minister of the Environment
Northern Ireland Environment Agency (4 February)
The Minister was asked to detail any changes he intends to make to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, as a result of the draft Budget 2011–15 and for his assessment of the impact these changes will have on its role in environmental protection and practices. The Minister replied that it is not envisaged that any fundamental structural change will be made to the NIEA as a result of the Draft Budget 2011–15. The proposed reduction in the NIEA’s current expenditure budget for 2011–12 (£3.7 million) represents an 8% reduction compared to the 2010–11 opening budget position. It is proposed to deliver this overall saving through the following measures: Reduction in Events £0.4m; Reduction in Grants and Surveys (Built Heritage) £0.8m; Reduction in Grants and Maintenance (Natural Heritage) £1.0m; Reduction in Monitoring (Environmental Protection) £0.5m; Vacancy Management, Better Regulation and additional income £1.0m totaling Total £3.7m. The proposed reduction of £0.5 million in Environmental Protection will require a reduction in proactive pollution prevention and the capacity to respond to non planned pollution monitoring. In addition, it is likely that there will be an increase in the time taken to process waste management licences and to carry out environmental inspections.

Minister of the Environment
Infraction Procedures (11 February)
The Minister provided the following table detailing infraction procedures currently being addressed by DoE, including the cut off dates, under EU rules, by which action should be taken:

Directive title

Reason for Infraction

Type / Scope of Infraction

Cut off date for action to be taken

Any additional comments

Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC)

Non–compliance with the closure and aftercare requirements of the Directive.

NI infraction.

No formal cut–off under current stage.

The Commission is looking for a response on the making of amending Regulations by end of March 2011.

End of Life Vehicles Directive (2000/53/EC)

Implementation issue.

UK–wide (BIS in lead)

No formal cut–off under current stage.

It is believed that the Commission is content with the action taken by UK authorities but the case has not yet been formally closed.

Conservation of Wild Birds (2006/2112)

Failure to properly transpose and implement the requirements of the Directive.


Response to the Commission’s allegations due 28 February 2011.

Likely to require legislative changes in 2011/12 and has potential cost implications for the Department if further work is required in relation to implementation

Council Directive 1998/83/EC on the quality of water intended for human consumption (the Drinking water Directive)

Non Conformity with Directive and Private Water supply exclusion

UK Wide

April 2010

Following making of Private Water Supplies Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009, Private Water Supplies (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 and the Water Supply (Domestic Distribution Systems) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 it is anticipated that the Commission will close infraction proceedings in respect of DOE.

Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy (the Water Framework Directive).

Commission alleges various transposition issues

UK wide

Next response due to the Commission by 19 February 2011

NI along with other Devolved Administrations may need to make amending regulations to address some of the Commissions concerns.

Directive 2008/105/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on environmental quality standards in the field of water policy, amending and subsequently repealing Council Directives 82/176/EEC, 83/513/EEC, 84/156/EEC, 84/491/EEC, 86/280/EEC and amending Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (the Priority Substances Directive).


NI and Gibraltar only.

July 2010.

Following making of Water Framework Directive (Priority Substances and Classification) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 it is anticipated that the Commission will close the case shortly.

Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on waste and repealing certain Directives (the revised Waste Framework Directive).

Late transposition.


Response to Commission by 16 March 2011.

It is hoped to have the transposing regulations in place just before the date of response to the Commission and these will be included in the UK response.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development
National Register of Trees of Special Interest (18 February)
The Minister indicated that DARD does not plan to create a statutory national register of trees of special interest. Forest Service will deliver forest policy through implementation of the forestry strategy and to this extent Forest Service maintains an accurate inventory of the woodland it manages and has comprehensive records of woodland established under its grant schemes. The Agency is establishing baseline data of woodland cover and type in the north of Ireland using other available woodland information to provide more comprehensive data. This work has commenced and, in accordance with the Forestry Act (NI) 2010, it is my intention that it will lead to the publication of a woodland register containing information in relation to the location, of woodlands and types of trees contained within them. As envisaged in the Forestry Act, the register will be published at intervals not exceeding 10 years. In a response to a subsequent question the Minister revealed that for the year 2009/2010 the total woodland cover in the Northern Ireland is 87,800 hectares which compares to a published figure of 87,200 hectares in 2006/2007.

Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment
Electricity Generated from Indigenous Renewable Sources (18 February)
In the year ended 31 December 2010, the annual average percentage of electricity generated from indigenous renewable sources was 8.37%. Across the 12 month period, this ranged from 4.73% in February to 12.48% in October. While this is lower than the figure for 2009, with the number of renewable energy planning applications and the increase in generation from non– wind technologies that is emerging, there should be sufficient capacity to meet the 2012 target of 12%.

Answers to Oral Questions 

Minister of the Environment
Marine Management (8 February)
The Minister reiterated his belief that there is no need for a marine management organisation stating that DoE is the marine planning authority for the offshore region, it is also the marine licensing authority and is also responsible for marine nature conservation. Proposals for a marine Bill also envisage DoE as the marine planning authority for the inshore region. The Minister added that he could see no reason to transfer responsibilities from the control of a Minister who is accountable to the Assembly and the electorate to a non–elected quango.

Environmental Projects (8 February)
The Minister was asked how core environmental projects will be funded if the plastic bag levy does not raise the revenue anticipated in the Budget. In response he stated that the introduction of a plastic bag levy can only be implemented once the relevant legislative powers are in place. As it is anticipated that the earliest that a scheme could begin to raise revenue is April or May 2012, a range of environmental programmes around river restoration, environmental noise, marine resources, minerals mapping, fly–tipping and the repatriation of waste have been identified that may have to be suspended or postponed pending revenue receipts from the plastic bag levy. DoE officials will draw up contingency plans to prioritise the environmental projects and the key element of each project. The prioritisation exercise will allow the DoE to explore any alternative funding or delivery options, such as funding through INTERREG projects, increasing income in other business areas such as licensing, identification and introduction of efficiencies in current working practices, partnering with non–government bodies and volunteering initiatives. However, even after exploring those options, it may still be necessary to postpone some of the environmental projects while monitoring the risk of potential EU infraction. Should the risk of infraction increase significantly, the Minister will ensure that officials continually review the position with a view to bringing forward elements of projects as well as proposals for the reprioritisation of other work areas across the Department.