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Summary

  1. MLAs heard from the department on its policy around anaerobic digesters, along with other renewable energy issues.
  2. The committee conducted its formal clause by clause deliberation on the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill.

Live Reporting

By Robin Sheeran and Robert Ainley

All times stated are UK

  1. Good afternoon

    After ensuring there is no further committee business to discuss, chairwoman Anna Lo brings the meeting to a close.

    Join us again from midday on Monday for coverage of the plenary session at the Northern Ireland Assembly.

  2. Scrap Metal Dealers Bill

    MLAs begin the discussion around the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill.

    They conduct a clause by clause examination of the legislation but agree to send a letter to the bills office saying they "don't have enough time to consider the bill and amendments".

    Paul Girvan of the DUP says of the bill there is "nothing in it".

    "There could be a four hour debate on absolutely nothing which will have a material effect," he adds.

  3. Human Rights Commission: 'MLAs neglected fundamental rights of females'

    Pregnancy test

    The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission says it is disappointed that MLAs have voted against amending the law on abortion, calling it a "missed opportunity".

    Chief Commissioner Les Allamby says: "Our elected representatives have neglected the fundamental rights of vulnerable women and girls facing the most difficult circumstances, when they could have resolved the situation."  

  4. Christian Institute welcomes result of abortion vote

    Patient with clinician

    The Christian Institute welcomed Stormont's "heartening" decision not to allow abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, rape and incest.

    The institute's Northern Ireland officer, Callum Webster, said the existing law permitting abortion only when the mother's life is at risk is a "vital protection" for women. He says: "It is heartening that the majority of MLAs have voted to uphold the sanctity of life."  

  5. Wind turbines

    Windfarm

    MLAs discuss guidelines for the location of wind turbines.

    Official Angus Kerr says the department is conducting a review of the guidelines currently used to examine the noise impact of a wind farm.

    Sinn Féin's Ian Milne says he has received representation that this assessment model is "out of date" and "not fit for purpose".

    He questions the usefulness of a review, if it is a reserved matter that Stormont cannot change.

    Mr Kerr says he would find it "surprising" if a review suggests the guidance no longer be used, but it may recommend different ways of applying it and "if it could be used better" - "that's really all we can control and deal wit hat the moment".

  6. 'Striking a balance'

    Cathal Boylan

    Cathal Boylan of Sinn Féin talks about a digester site located in the "picturesque" village of Milford in Armagh. 

    He says there had been objections from residents, as it would increase traffic through the village, but "we give more weight to the idea of renewable energy, in terms of giving permission for it, as opposed to striking a balance".

    Mr Boylan says he supports the development of renewable energy, but would like to see more consideration given to the impact on the location of new plants.

  7. 'Does it smell?'

    Chairperson Anna Lo says she has visited an anaerobic plant in Newtownards which she says is "wonderful" and "a good idea".

    But, acknowledging that there are objections to such sites, she asks "does it make a lot of smell?"

    Mr Kerr says, "No. My understanding is that a lot of modern systems keep the smell in".

    His colleague Joy Hargie adds "it depends how it's managed over the whole process", but there is "odour modelling provided, as part of an application".

  8. Planning policy

    Angus Kerr

    Angus Kerr from the Department of the Environment (DoE) begins the briefing on planning policy for anaerobic digesters.

    Most are small projects, he says, and do not meet the threshold to be considered "regionally significant" meaning they are dealt with by local councils.

    In deciding whether to grant planning permission for a renewable energy generation plant, he says the department considers whether there will be an "unacceptable adverse impact" on, for example, public safety, human health and biodiversity.

  9. Lo in the chair

    Anna Lo

    Alliance's Anna Lo is chairing this morning's meeting.

    We begin with a departmental briefing on anaerobic digester policy.

  10. Basil McCrea cleared of breaching Stormont code of conduct

    Basil McCrea

    NI21 leader Basil McCrea is understood to have been cleared of breaching theStormont code of conduct. He faced allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards staff.  

    The Irish News reported the Assembly Standards Commissioner's conclusion today. Mr McCrea has always denied wrongdoing.  

  11. Good morning

    Hello and welcome to Stormont Live's coverage of the Environment Committee.

    In this morning's meeting, MLAs are examining the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill, which aims to clamp down on illegal cross-border trade.