Looking for information about a council service?
8th February 1999
Minutes of the Meeting of the Environment Committee held in Grays Museum, Main Street, Strabane, on Monday 8th February 1999 at 7.30pm.
Present: In the Chair - Cllr J. O’Kane Other Members - Cllrs. I. Barr, Mrs A. Bell, A. Bresland Donnell, T. Kerrigan, C. McHugh, J. McNulty, I. Murtagh. Total = 9
In Attendance: - Clerk & Chief Executive
Chief Technical Services Officer
Dist. Chief Environmental Health Officer
Apologies - Cllrs. T. McBride, E. Mullen,
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING
It was noted that the Minutes of the Environmental Committee Meeting held on Monday 12th October 1998 had been adopted by Council at a previous meeting.
There were no matters arising.
CHIEF TECHNICAL SERVICES OFFICER’S REPORT
The Chief Technical Services Officer, Mr Scott, outlined his Report which was previously circulated to the Committee. Discussion ensued with particular reference to the following:-
Page 1 - Landfill Tax Credits
In response to Councillor Murtagh’s recognition of a grammatical error, Mr Scott confirmed that the relevant paragraph should read, ‘April 1999’, and not April 1998 and would be amended accordingly.
Page 1 - Application Process
In response to Councillor Barr’s query, regarding proximity to landfill sites, Mr Scott referred to categories (D) public park and amenities and (E) buildings restoration repair and explained that they are limited by location and are required to be in the vicinity of a registered landfill site. He continued to say that ENTRUST has adopted the mutual guidance given by Customs and Excise that a distance of ten miles is a reasonable interpretation, however, the Board of ENTRUST has the discretion to rule that greater distances are permissible. Mr Scott said that he felt this was unfair to the Council and he made this point at the Seminar he attended organised by the Ulster Wildlife Trust. He was advised by the Northern Area Manager of ENTRUST who was present to make a case to ENTRUST for consideration at their next Board Meeting. Mr Scott referred to the attached correspondence he had received from Mr Graham, Northern Area Manager and informed members that the Board were not prepared to allow a blanket lifting of the proximity requirement for Strabane District, however they were prepared to examine specific individual cases on their merits.
Councillor O’Kane referred to the applications received from Strabane 2000 Board and Millennium Tree Campaign - Baronscourt/Deerpark and said that he would be dubious of permitting such requests as there could be expectations of Council offering financial support towards their projects which would then have a knock on effect on the rates.
Mr Scott, in response to Councillor O’Kane, reminded members that at the end of September the Landfill Tax Credits amounted to approximately £16,403.00, and it is anticipated at the end of this financial year the balance should increase to approximately £31,320.00. He continued to say that Council have to consider how the Landfill Tax Credits would be used and reminded them of the decision they made to part fund the Woodland Scheme at Drumrallagh in the previous year. He informed members that there is a possibility of meeting the 6 categories listed.
Councillor O’Kane said that it was important for Council not to create a precedent, if consideration is given towards only 2 or 3 groups, other groups will require the same.
Councillor Barr stressed the necessity of informing groups that any support given towards projects under Landfill Tax Credits does not apply direct support from Council.
In response to Councillor Kerrigan’s query regarding timelimit on the Budget, the Chief Executive confirmed that funds could be rolled forward to the next Financial year. He also confirmed that it should be possible to fund a Millennium Project provided it fitted the criteria laid down.
Councillor Barr suggested that Strabane Old Cemetary could be converted into a Millennium Park for historical significance. The Chief Executive suggested that the Chief Technical Officer could bring forward details of costing of the proposal to convert the old cemetary. This was agreed.
Page 3 Item No. 3 Development of Paraplegic Fishing Scheme - Riverside Park, Sion Mills
Mr Scott referred to the above scheme which was undertaken by Sion Mills Development Group who received funding from DANI and IFI with the work being undertaken by Sion Mills Angling Group through their CW Programme.
Mr Scott informed members that Council was involved through the services of Andy McFarlane, ACE Co-ordinator who requisitioned plant and materials and ensured the scheme was developed to acceptable standards.
Mr Scott explained to the members that prior to the commencement of the scheme he prepared an estimate of costs for Council input which amounted to £15,935.38 + VAT. Settlement has been received to the amount of £10,000 which was to cover the portion of the ACE Co-ordinator’s salary and there is now a balance of £7,092.69 which remains outstanding.
Mr Scott referred to a letter attached to his report from Mr Kennedy, Chairman of the Sion Mills Development Group explaining that they are unable to complete the tarmac and signage of the area due to the lack of finance and have requested that Council waive the outstanding balance in order that the group can complete the project.
Mr Scott suggested to members that this could possibly be a scheme that might comply with category (d) so as to avail of Landfill Tax Credits, as it is located off the A5 which is the arterial route along which the waste is transported to Cookstown. He continued to inform members that if the scheme was successful in obtaining funding through the Landfill Tax Credits to complete the development, the Group confirm that they will settle the outstanding invoice.
In response to Councillor Bresland’s query regarding the Group’s request to have the balance waived, Mr Scott explained that the Group were not registered for VAT which has had an adverse effect on availability of finance.
Discussion ensued after which Councillor Barr proposed, seconded by Councillor Bell that the application be supported. This was unanimously agreed.
Councillor McHugh said that the Environmental Committee should continue to support such projects which aim to improve the look of the District, he suggested that locations such as Carricklee and Spamount should be categorised under (D) which states, environmental protection, the provision, improvement or maintenance of a public park or other public amenity in a landfill site vicinity. In response, Mr Scott suggested that Spamount could fall under Category (A) which states, reclamation, remediation, restoration, or other operation intended to facilitate use, where the use of land has been restricted or prevented because of a now-ceased activity.
In response to Councillor Donnell’s query regarding locations in the Donemana area, such as the Duncastle Road landfill site in the Derry District which is within 10 miles radius. Mr Scott confirmed that this site would be applicable, and he had forwarded a map outlining nearest registered landfill sites to ENTRUST.
Page 4 Item No. 3 - Woodland Creation Project at Drumrallagh, Strabane
Mr Scott referred to the above scheme and reminded members that Council agreed in October 1997 to part fund the project with Landfill Tax Credits via the Woodland Trust. He referred to the progress report from the Woodland Trust which had been previously circulated and to a copy report containing photographs of the development which he circulated to the members.
Mr Scott informed members that the Woodland Trust would be keen to explore what other opportunities might exist for a second project in the area and would suggest that the ‘banks’ of the former landfill site at Carricklee could be a possibility for landscaping and also former landfill site at Spamount.
In response to Councillor McHugh’s query, Mr Scott informed members that Council have to go through an Environmental Body eg. Wildlife Trust or Woodland Trust who would be responsible for carrying out the works.
Discussion ensued after which it was decided that the Chief Technical Officer seeks further information from the Woodland Trust on their proposals and report back at the next meeting.
Page 4 Item No. 4 - Provision of Integrated Waste Management Services/Facilities
Mr Scott informed members that at a recent ‘Task Team’ meeting of the North West Region Cross Border Group a draft advertisement was agreed to seek ‘Expressions of Interest’ on the provision of the above.
This advertisement will be placed in the relevant national paper/journals including the European Journal within the next few weeks inviting written applications from interested individuals and organisations to register their interest. Those applying will then be issued with the details of the Phase I study together with a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire to complete and return no later than 12.00 noon on Wednesday 31st March 1999.
Mr Scott further informed members that all applications will be assessed by the ‘Task Team’, in conjunction with the Consultants, ENTEC, on 14th April and Council will be kept informed of response. This was noted.
In response to Councillor McHugh’s query regarding the registration of Southern Landfill Sites, the Chief Executive clarified for the members that it is likely to be required under EU Directives. However Landfill Tax relates to Landfill Sites in the UK only.
Page 4 - Item No. 5 - Conferences
Mr Scott sought approval from members to attend the following seminars:-
(a) Waste Management - Solutions for Everyone. To be held on 23rd and 24th
February 1999 in the City West, Saggart, Co. Dublin. The fee is £300 (£ IR 330), which does not include accommodation or travelling.
(b) Seminar on the Role of Local Authorities in litter management and control. To be held on 25th and 26th February 1999 in Clonea Strand Hotel, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford. The fee is £100, does not include accommodation or travelling.
The Chief Executive informed members that he would approve up to 2 officers attend and he would decide who they would be. This was agreed.
The Chief Technical Officer’s Report was adopted on the proposal of Councillor Barr, seconded by Councillor Kerrigan subject to the foregoing.
Keenaghan Landfill Site
Councillor Barr suggested that the above landfill site was a good location for disposing of refuse. He proposed that Council negotiate with the land owner.
Councillor O’Kane agreed that this was a valid point to raise, and said that overall cost would have to be investigated regarding the transport of the refuse to Cookstown. He continued to say that the residents from Keenaghan may object, but this should not deter investigation, because if money can be saved then all ratepayers will benefit.
The Chief Executive made reference to a meeting he had attended with local Assembly members in Omagh and informed members that the question of waste disposal was raised. He considered that while the long term issue may be reduced by the outcome of the project being taken forward by the North West Cross Border Group we also required a short term strategy which addressed other options in addition to disposal in Cookstown.
Councillor Kerrigan agreed with the Chief Executive’s comments and said that it was good practice for Council to sound a note that we identify a site for ourselves so to avoid the problem of dictatorship by the proprietor.
Councillor O’Kane said that there may be a possibility that in 3 years time, incineration may become a trend.
Discussion ensued after which the Chief Technical Officer suggested to the members that Council await the outcome of the advertisement to seek ‘expression of interest’, regarding the NWRCBG Regional Waste Strategy, and from the findings should gain a further insight into what the private sector have to offer. He also emphasized that it was important that the 4 Councils remain connected to the NWRCBG as many benefits are achieved from involvement. This was unanimously agreed.
CHIEF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH OFFICER’S REPORT
ON AGENDA 21
Mr Cosgrove referred to the above, which was previously circulated to the members.
He explained to the members that Agenda 21 is an agenda for the 21st Century which outlines what should be done to ensure that environmental and social needs are put at the heart of all policy, planning legislation and development.
This was enshrined in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio. Five international documents were signed at this summit.
Agenda 21 is a process or way of doing things and convention dictates that it is defined as sustainability.
Sustainable Development has been defined as development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of furture generations to meet their own needs.
Mr Cosgrove continued to inform members that Agenda 21 is the agenda for sustainable development. In this context LA21 has come to have two meanings:-
a consultative process leading to wider involvement and wider empowerment. implementing LA21 at the local level and in such a way as to involve the community and other interested parties. Mr Cosgrove explained to the members that the Council’s responsibility is to have a strategy in place by the end of year 2000 and an action plan to implement the strategy. He identified 3 options as to how this can be achieved. The options were listed on his report, which included disadvantages and advantages.
Councillor Barr said that he had doubts in relation to Option 3, which opts for the use of Sustainable Northern Ireland Programme to facilitate the LA21 process within the Council. He referred to Mr Cosgrove’s estimation that Council would require 5 days/year for 5 years. Total cost £15,000. Councillor Barr said that he supports progression, but suggested that existing staff should share the responsibility to cut costs.
In response to Councillor Barr, Mr Cosgrove said that he had looked at alternative methods for LA21 over a period of time and has realised that as this is a major topic containing a lot of information it would be impossible for an existing employee within any department to discharge their own duties as well as deal with LA21. Mr Cosgrove continued to say that although he estimated 5 days per year facilitation initially, we may only require 3 days or less or retain the services if and when the Council require them. It is imperative that Council employ people with the expertise in LA21 issues to see a way forward.
In response to Councillor Barr’s query regarding whether Councils were legally advised to implement LA21, Mr Cosgrove informed the members that this was not compulsory and that Government only advised that Local Authorities try and implement LA21.
The Chief Executive said that he agreed with Mr Cosgrove’s proposal and informed members that this was a learning experience for staff. The support structure provided by SNIP would assist the transfer of skills and lead to the development of a culture of sustainable development within the Council.
Mr Cosgrove stated that the reason for including this on the Agenda was to seek an option from the members so that he could use this as a negotiating stance and seek more flexibility regarding cost etc.
Discussion ensued after which it was agreed that Mr Cosgrove negotiate further regarding option 3 and report back at the next meeting. This was unanimously agreed.
The District Chief Environmental Health Officer’s Report was adopted on the proposal of Councillor Murtagh, seconded by Councillor Bresland, subject to the foregoing.
The meeting closed at 9.05pm.