2 - Environmental Policy

Minutes of Strategic Policy Committee 2 (Environmental Policy) held on Thursday 15th September 2005 at 11.00 a.m. in the Meeting Room, Environment Section, Cleveragh Business Park, Sligo


CATHAOIRLEACH:

  • Councillor Jim McGarry.

ATTENDANCE:

  • Councillor A. Higgins,
  • Councillor P. Conmy,
  • Councillor G. Mullaney,
  • Councillor M. Fleming,
  • S. Ward,
  • B. Queenan.

OFFICIALS IN ATTENDANCE:

  • Mr. Pat Forkan, Director of Service,
  • Mr. John McHugh, Senior Engineer,
  • Ms. Breda Ronayne, Administrative Officer,
  • Ms. Pamela Bergin, Executive Technician
  • Mr. Conall Calleary, Veterinary Officer,
  • Mr. Matthew Byrne, Waste Enforcement Officer,
  • Ms. Mairead Clerkin, Staff Officer,
  • Ms. Ann Johnston, Assistant Staff Officer

APOLOGIES:

  • Councillor R. O’Grady,
  • Mr. Martin Enright

1. CONFIRM MINUTES OF MEETING

Proposed by Cllr. Higgins
Seconded by Cllr. Fleming

AND AGREED

“To confirm and adopt minutes of Environmental Policy meeting held on 2nd June 2005”


2. DRAFT LITTER MANAGEMENT PLAN

Ms. Breda Ronayne, Administrative Officer, gave a presentation on the draft Litter Management Plan 2005-2008 for Sligo County Council and outlined the main objectives of the plan.   She stated that it was hoped that this plan would be presented to the full council for the October meeting and adopted accordingly for draft public display.

However, a number of comments were made from SPC members on reflection of the Plan as follows:-

  • Concerns were expressed from members regarding black litter spots in the county and that a possible solution would be the installation of mobile CCTV cameras on various sites.   Cllr Higgins proposed that approval be sought from the County Manager for an allowance to be made in the Estimates 2005 for the purchase of such cameras, this was seconded by Cllr. Fleming.
  • It was suggested that perhaps the employment of extra Litter Wardens could alleviate the ongoing littering problem in the county, however, concerns were expressed from Mr. Forkan that this was not a practical solution as a lot of littering occurs after office hours and at weekends and that there would be concerns for safety of staff working such hours.
  • Concerns were also expressed regarding the judiciary system in Ireland regarding prosecution cases for littering offences.   SPC members felt that this issue should be taken more seriously in a court of law and that the Plan should refer to suggestions to improve performance in this area.
  • Another area of concern expressed was the cost to Local Authorities for clean-ups outside chip shops/fast food takeaways.   It was suggested that this issue could be tackled through mutual talks between local authorities and businesses and the possibility of putting the onus on such businesses to account financially for clean-ups.

In conclusion, it was unanimously agreed that all of the above be included and referred to in the Draft Litter Management Plan before adoption for draft public display.

3. WEEE DIRECTIVE

Mr. McHugh, Senior Engineer, outlined the general conditions of the introduction of the WEEE Directive.

In response to a number of queries from SPC members, he outlined that the Tubbercurry and Sligo Civic Amenity Sites were in full co-operation with the conditions of this Directive and that they are accepting electrical goods/equipment from businesses & retailers that have registered with local authorities and also from householders.  He said he felt that companies will now design such equipment that can be recycled and that any extra charges on the consumer will only be in place for 8 to 10 years.

4. PANEL OF PLANNING CONSULTANTS FOR ON-SITE SEWAGE TREATMENT SYSTEMS

Mr. McHugh outlined the procedure and arrangements for this panel.

Members raised a number of queries in relation to the introduction of this panel of consultants.   In reply to queries, the following was clarified:

  • Planners would be advising applicants to employ such consultants for the assessment of site suitability as part of a planning application to ensure proper quality design work, and minimise delays in the planning system.
  • Sligo County Council is not responsible for fees that consultants may charge and that consultant charges were not likely to increase.   This should be seen as a step forward because applications should take less time to process.
  • Architects/Designers may be employed for design and layout of proposed buildings, however, a consultant from the panel should be engaged for the site assessment.

Mr. Forkan, Director of Services, outlined that the main issues concerning the Council was the protection of groundwater and proper design of treatment systems.  He stated that groundwater is being damaged and contaminated throughout the county because of improper design and testing prior to installation and that this panel would help to alleviate the  problem. 

Cllr. Mullaney agreed that this panel would give people a better chance to gain planning permission first time around and that it would bring efficiency to the Environment and Planning staff dealing with such applications.  Cllr. Higgins agreed that the panel was there to help all applicants.

5. REPORT ON BEACH ACTIVITY 2005

Ms. Ronayne gave a report in relation to Beach Activity for the 2005 bathing season for Sligo’s beaches and asked that the SPC consider increasing resources for the 2006 bathing season.

The report was approved by the SPC Members.

Another area of concern was for the full-time employment of two Beach Wardens for Strandhill beach during the bathing season and an additional number of litter bins.   It was proposed by Cllr. McGarry that extra monetary funds be allocated to next years estimates for these issues at Strandhill beach, this was seconded by Cllr. Fleming.

6. WESTERN RIVER BASIN DISTRICT PROJECT

Mr. McHugh stated that the country was divided into 7 River Basin Districts.  The bulk of County Sligo is in the Western River Basin District, with small sections in the North Western International River Basin District and the Shannon River Basin District. Mr. McHugh outlined how the Projects would operate, and indicated that they would form the basis of water quality management in the future.

Cllr. Mullaney expressed concerns that the source of pollution would not be properly identified and that farmers and rural houses with old septic tanks may be targeted.   He asked if any compensation would be awarded for people faced with the probability of having to replace septic tanks.   In reply, Mr. McHugh stated that compensation issues were not included in this project.   Cllr. Mullaney then proposed that compensation be awarded for the replacement of septic tanks, this was seconded by Cllr. McGarry.

7. ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Cllrs. Higgins and Conmy asked if there were any further developments on the Draft Waste Management Plan.   In reply, Mr. McHugh stated that the pre-draft plan was being discussed at present by the consultants compiling the plan and the 5 Local Authorities.

Cllr. McGarry asked that the trip to Copenhagen to visit the incinerator site be included on the agenda at the next SPC meeting.

Cllr. Fleming paid tribute to Ms. Alice Reynolds, who held the position as Environmental Awareness Officer up to September 2005, and complimented her for the excellent work she has contributed to Sligo County Council over the past 4 years.   This comment was supported and agreed by all SPC members and asked that a replacement for Ms. Reynolds’ position be appointed as soon as possible.

Mr. Forkan asked that the issue of the Control of Dogs be included on the agenda at the next SPC meeting.

In conclusion, Cllr. McGarry thanked all members and staff for their contribution and attendance at the meeting.


The meeting concluded at 12.30 pm.


Meeting Date 15/09/2005