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20th July 1998
Minutes of the Meeting of the Environmental Committee held in the Council Chamber, Council Offices, Derry Road, Strabane on Monday 20 July 1998 at 7.00 pm
Present:- In the Chair:- Councillor J O’Kane Other Members:- Councillors Mrs A Bell, I Barr, D A Bresland, J Emery, T Kerrigan, T McBride, C McHugh, J McNulty, E Mullen, I Murtagh, E Turner MBE Total = 12
In Attendance:- Clerk & Chief Executive, Chief Technical Officer,
Election of Vice Chairperson
The Chairman of the Committee, Councillor O’Kane, invited nominations for the position of Vice Chairperson.
Councillor Kerrigan proposed, seconded by Councillor Emery, that Councillor Turner be nominated to the position of Vice Chairperson.
As there were no other nominations Councillor Turner was elected Vice Chairperson to the Environmental Committee.
It was noted that the Minutes of the Meeting of the Environmental Committee held on 8 June 1998 had already been adopted by Council.
CHIEF TECHNICAL OFFICER’S REPORT
Mr Scott, Chief Technical Officer, presented his Report, a copy of which was previously circulated. Discussion ensued with particular reference to the following:-
North West Cross Border Regional Waste Strategy
Members proceeded to consider a copy of Phase 1 Strategy Development Summary Report, a copy of which had been previously circulated, which gave an overview of the detailed technical document report (copy of which was available in his office). He explained that it had been prepared by the Consultants, Entec Ltd, who had consulted widely. At this point Councillor Mullen advised that he had difficulty in reading the text of the summary report as the typescript was very small. A number of other Members supported this view. Councillor Mullen then requested that the text of the report be magnified and forwarded to him. Mr Scott explained that the report had been prepared by the Consultants but undertook to follow up this request.
Mr Scott presented Members with an overview of the report by way of a multi-media presentation. At the outset he explained that the waste management strategy was being developed in three phases and the main findings were summarised at the conclusion of phase 1. He outlined the scope of the report which incorporated legislation and waste planning; physical characteristics; socio-demographic and industrial characteristics; waste arisings; waste collection; existing waste management infrastructure - landfill sites, transfer stations, recycling facilities and sewage sludge, clinical waste etc.
Members were advised that the current issues which had to be considered were regulatory framework, legislation and policy, transfrontier movement, targets, waste hierarchy. Future issues to be considered were packaging, draft directives, research etc. Waste generation was dependent on socio-demographic and industrial characteristics such as population, housing, employment and industry including manufacturing, non-manufacturing and agricultural.
Details of waste collected for Derry, Donegal, Limavady and Strabane were outlined together with the existing waste management infrastructure. Projected waste arisings for the four respective areas were also highlighted. Waste management methods were explained i.e. waste minimisation, re-use, MRF, composting, incineration with energy recovery, anaerobic digestion, gasification, pyrolysis, transfer station and landfill.
Four of the main alternative options were presented as a potential scenario for the North West Cross Border Region. Scenario 1 was the least cost option with centralised landfill. Scenario 2 incorporated large scale regional energy recovery and illustrated the feasibility of constructing and operating such a facility. Scenario 3 incorporated the highest level of sustainability and involved the development of a series of integrated waste management options. Scenario 4 incorporated a balanced option and built on opportunities for targeted recycling in the urban areas with composting in the semi rural and suburban districts.
A summary of the averaged generic cost estimates for the four scenarios was outlined as follows:-
Scenario 1 £22.99 £28.57
Scenario 2 £76.69 £127.21
Scenario 3 £96.58 £115.18
Scenario 4 £65.83 £118.90
It was pointed out that these costings had been omitted from the summary report circulated to Members and agreed that they be provided in due course.
A summary of outline strategy scenarios was given as follows:-
Scenario 1 Least Cost Option - Not considered to be viable option
(lowest cost option but conflicts with current and proposed EU legislation).
Scenario 2 Large Scale Energy Recovery - Viable option (potential
conflicts with policy objectives on waste minimisation and recycling).
Scenario 3 Highest Levels of Sustainability - Viable option (results
in the highest cost of the evaluated options).
Scenario 4 The Balanced Option - Viable option (will deliver targets
while focusing resources to minimise costs).
Mr Scott stressed the need for the Council to decide on the way forward for the development and identification of a long term waste solution. He also expressed the hope that the private sector could come on board.
Councillor Mullen commended the content of the report and the presentation which highlighted the problems in the future in the collection and disposal of waste. He remarked that he would be in favour of Scenario 4 which he felt would lead to Scenario 3 in the future. He also pointed out that as custodians of the environment every effort would have to be made to ensure that the best option was selected as the new Millennium was approaching rapidly. Councillor McBride also commended the report and the presentation and remarked that the cost was a major factor overall. He commented that the figures presented were based on the four Councils and in the interests of economies of scale enquired whether additional Councils could become involved. Mr Scott pointed out that the study had been set up by the NWRCBG, however, a number of other Councils were monitoring the outcome of the study closely and showing an interest. He also explained that SOTEC had shown an interest in tendering in line with Phase II of the report.
The Chief Executive stressed that Scenario One would not be permitted by the Government as had been demonstrated by the dramatic increase in landfill charges. In response to a query by the Chairman of the Committee with regard to transfrontier movement and being part of the European Union, the Chief Executive remarked that it was anticipated that there would be changes in the future in relation to this. Mr Scott explained that the four participating Councils were discussing the Report and it was hoped that a collective agreement could be reached on the way forward.
Councillor Kerrigan welcomed the report and enquired if any Councils in Northern Ireland were operating a 3 bin system, similar to that which some Members had seen in Germany. Mr Scott advised that he understood that Down District Council operated such a system on a 3 weekly basis. He also understood that educating the public on the system had been a major stumbling block and that substantial costs arose in operating the service in the rural areas.
Lengthy discussion ensued on the recycling of paper, glass and aluminium etc. during which it was pointed out that there was a market for glass and aluminium, however, there was no market for paper. The Chief Executive pointed out that the nearest market for glass was Dublin and Glasgow.
In response to a query, Mr Scott advised that he was concerned about the cost per tonne. He felt, however, that when Phase II was completed and proposals and tenders sought from the private sector, it would give a clearer picture of anticipated costs.
Councillor Murtagh commented that steps needed to be taken to educate the public particularly with regard to costs and that the Council was aware of the gravity of the situation. The Chairman of the Council suggested that a series of press articles could be issued, for the benefit of the public at large, highlighting the dilemma facing the Council. Mr Scott advised that the PR exercise had been discussed with the Consultants at length. He explained that after the joint meeting a press release would be issued on how the region intended to move forward on the strategy. The Chief Executive suggested that a seminar could perhaps be organised.
Councillor McBride reiterated concerns and requests raised at previous meetings for the Government to make a concerted effort to subsidise the recyclable market through the landfill taxes which were being imposed.
It was agreed that the Council should now proceed with Phases II and III accordingly.
Institute of Waste Management Conference 8-12 June 1998
Reference was made by Mr Scott to the Waste Management Conference which himself and Councillor Kerrigan had recently attended. They had seen a bin lifting system in operation which had a micro chip attached to individual wheelie bins and a computerised weighing system to charge householders for the disposal of their waste. He remarked that this type of system would be difficult to enforce as had been witnessed by the introduction of charges for trade waste. He explained that he had copies of papers on the conference in his office if any Member wished to peruse same.
The Report of the Chief Technical Officer was adopted on the proposal of Councillor Turner, seconded by Councillor Mullen, subject to the foregoing.
Mr Scott advised that he had two additional items which he wished to report to Council. It was agreed that they be taken next.
Sion Mills Community Association
Mr Scott reminded Members that the Sion Mills Community Association had requested Council to pay for a post installation certificate for their play area, however, Council had agreed that this should not be paid and further discussions take place. He explained that an inspection by a ROSPA inspector of the facilities at Courtrai Park and Melvin Park were due to take place and the Inspector was also prepared to carry out an inspection at the Sion Mills facility at a reduced fee. This matter had been discussed with the Community Association and they were prepared to meet this cost. Council was now being requested to release the funding which it had agreed to pay towards the surface and fencing. It was agreed that the funding could now be released.
Purchase of Portion of Land at Mitchell Park, Castlederg
Mr Scott pointed out that Councillors for the Derg area would be aware that a number of meetings had taken place in respect of a portion of land from the DOE at the Pumping Station. He explained that some difficulty had been encountered as a NIE pole and two large stays were sited on this land and affected the lay out of the football pitches. He had since identified a triangular portion of land which could be purchased and which would provide enough land for a second pitch. Council approval was therefore being sought for the purchase of this land.
Councillor Kerrigan proposed, seconded by Councillor Turner, that the Council proceed with the purchase of the triangular portion of land referred to.
Discussion ensued during which Councillor McHugh questioned the location of this land and ownership of same. He commented that it was his understanding that some difficulty had been experienced regarding ownership of the land and that Council had in the past expressed an interest in that field as additional recreational space.
Councillor Turner pointed out that he had attended site meetings re. this and he had understood that there had been some difficulty regarding ownership of the land as the owner was in America, however, someone local represented their interests. He explained that the Chief Recreation Officer was aware of the discussions which had taken place on this matter. Mr Scott stated that he was unaware of this but undertook to check this out and report back in due course.
Site Meeting at Strabane Cemetery
Reference was made by Councillor O’Kane to the site meeting which had been arranged with representatives of the Fountain Street Community Association and Town Councillors to discuss vandalism and safety at Strabane Cemetery. He explained that the Audit & Staff Committee meeting had overrun and himself and the Chairman of the Council had arrived late and no-one was present. Councillor McNulty advised that he had attended the site meeting together with representatives of the Association and it had been pointed out that the other Town Councillors were delayed due to the previous meeting but the issue would hopefully be resolved by a partnership approach of the Community Association and Council.
Extension of 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland
Members proceeded to consider letter dated 22 May 1998 received from Craigavon Borough Council, which had been deferred from a previous meeting, seeking comments on the above Act.
It was agreed, on the proposal of Councillor Barr, seconded by the Chairman of the Council, that the correspondence be marked "read". Councillor Mullen requested that he be recorded as abstaining.
Review of Acute/Continuing Care Mental Health Services
A Strategic Framework for the West - 1998 and Beyond
It was agreed, on the proposal of Councillor O’Kane, seconded by Councillor Turner, that the above correspondence be marked "noted".
NIE Environmental Guidelines Document
The Chief Executive reminded Members that an extension of the deadline for receipt of comments on this document had been sought by Council to allow it to be fully considered. The views of Mr R Smyth, Principal Pollution Control Officer, had been sought and he had responded by stating that it was a good document and should be welcomed.
It was agreed, on the proposal of the Chairman of the Committee, that Council adopt Mr Smyth’s recommendations and that the NIE be advised accordingly.
The meeting closed at 8.55 pm.