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Sustainable Development

Volume 450: debated on Monday 16 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what funding has been allocated for the implementation of the Government’s Sustainable Development Strategy for Northern Ireland; (92760)

(2) what progress has been made on the implementation of the Government’s Sustainable Development Strategy for Northern Ireland;

(3) what the timetable is for the publication of the implementation plans produced for the six priority areas of the Government’s Sustainable Development Strategy for Northern Ireland;

(4) what measures have been put in place to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Government’s Sustainable Development Strategy for Northern Ireland;

(5) on what basis the timescales were set for the achievement of strategic objectives in the Sustainable Development Strategy for Northern Ireland; and if he will revise the timescale for the strategic objective to promote the development of community engagement, civic leadership and responsible citizenship from summer 2009 to summer 2008.

All the actions which will be included in the Implementation Plan, due to be published next month will have funding available to them. Work on the Plan will also identify areas where further funding needs to be identified and this will be addressed in the forthcoming CSR and Priorities and Budget process.

The Northern Ireland Sustainable Development Strategy is being taken forward through the development of an Implementation Plan which is scheduled to be published in November 2006. The Plan will set out in detail the actions which departments will take to address the longer term strategic objectives and targets contained in the Strategy.

The Implementation Plan will address all six priority areas of the Government’s Sustainable Development Strategy.

The Implementation Plan will contain details of the monitoring, evaluation and reporting arrangements. Progress on monitoring the targets in the Strategy will be reported on in future Implementation Plans. We will also be developing a set of over-arching Sustainable development indicators for Northern Ireland in 2007.

The targets which were set for the Sustainable Development Strategy were intended to provide a challenging framework for the development of relevant actions. They were developed in consultation with stakeholders. The experience of developing the Implementation Plan has identified issues around some of the targets which we will wish to review in due course and in the light of experience. I will consider whether there is scope to modify the target you identity as part of that process.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what measures his Department has implemented to ensure that all public expenditure through the public procurement process reflects the Government’s commitment to the sustainability agenda. (92762)

Northern Ireland Procurement Policy applies to all Government Departments, their Agencies, non-departmental public bodies and public corporations. The policy allows for the inclusion, as appropriate, of sustainable development goals within the procurement process.

Central Procurement Directorate, Department of Finance and Personnel, with the approval of the Procurement Board, has issued guidance on actions that can be taken, under national and European procurement rules and procurement policy, in order to encourage and support the integration and achievement of these goals and is working with suppliers to promote the availability of sustainable products and services.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether Planning and Building Regulations in Northern Ireland will be amended to include sustainability targets for all new buildings. (92773)

Sustainable development is a key theme underlying the Government’s overall approach to planning in Northern Ireland. This is already recognised in Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 1 ‘General Principles’ and the Regional Development Strategy for Northern Ireland, ‘Shaping Our Future’.

The key role played by the planning system in the delivery of sustainable development is underpinned by the Planning Reform (Northern Ireland) Order 2006. The order 2006 introduced a requirement for development plans and planning policies prepared by DOE to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development.

In addition, there is a range of other planning policies, set out in Planning Policy Statements that also contribute to the delivery of sustainable development. However, the Planning Service has no plans, at present, to amend legislation to introduce sustainability targets for new buildings. An amendment to part F of the Building Regulations (Conservation of Fuel and Power) will come into effect on 30 November. It will raise energy performance standards, and should reduce carbon emissions by up to 40 per cent., for all new build and major refurbishments.

Sustainability is not one of the matters for which building regulations may be made at present. However the principles contained in the Building Regulations (NI) Order 1979 will be amended during 2007 to allow the Department of Finance and Personnel to regulate the promotion of sustainable development. The list of matters on which the Department may regulate will be extended to include the sustainable use and management of water, the re-use and recycling of materials, the use of renewable energy sources, the durability of materials and materials life-cycles and pollution (emissions).