Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, City Hall, Belfast

Contact: Ms. Carolyn Donnelly, Democratic Services officer 

No. Item




Apologies for inability to attend were reported on behalf of Aldermen Dorrian and Sandford and Councillors Baker and Brooks.  




            The minutes of the meeting of 10th March were taken as read and signed as correct.  It was reported that those minutes had been adopted by the Council at its meeting on 4th April.



Declarations of Interest


No declarations of interest were reported. 


DAERA - Kevin Hegarty, Director of Green Growth & Climate Action (Presentation Followed by Q&A)


            The Committee received a presentation from Kevin Hegarty, Director of Green Growth and Climate action with DAERA.


            Mr. Hegarty outlined the background to the Green Growth strategy explaining that a number of factors had contributed to catapulting it up the agenda, including the NI Assembly declaring a climate emergency in 2020, the UK’s commitment to net zero and Covid recovery. The Executive Strategy was signed by all Ministers and was approved by the Executive on 21 October in advance of CoP26.


            He explained that there were a number of elements to the strategy, climate action, green jobs and clean environment.  The Executive had made 10 commitments/areas of responsibility under the strategy and would focus on the following 3 in the near term: embedding green growth; investing in green growth; and leading by example.  He said they had committed to embedding green growth by ensuring that green growth would be central to all budgetary and policy decisions by introducing a statutory green growth test and making green growth a budgetary priority.  By investing in green growth, they would transform the economy by working proactively with business, communities and all parts of government to maximise funding and investment opportunities for green growth and promote innovation, skills, research and technology. They would endeavour to lead by example providing public sector leadership through delivering a government estate and fleet with net zero operational carbon emissions and ensure a green growth aligned with procurement strategy for all government spend.  Mr. Hegarty informed the Committee of NI’s 2 climate change bills explaining that climate bill no.2 was wide ranging.


            A discussion followed the presentation, during which a Member asked Mr. Hegarty about the clean air strategy and other supporting strategies.  Mr. Hegarty agreed to revert to the Committee with the exact dates for DAERA’s supporting environmental strategies.


            The Committee noted the content of the presentation. 



Update on Current Issues


Net Zero Event pdf icon PDF 331 KB


            The Members received a report updating them on the visit to Belfast by Mayor Andy Burnham, Mayor Steve Rotheram and Lord Mayor Alison Gilliland on 30th March, 2022.


            The aim of the visit was to establish a collaboration / partnership on delivering Net Zero between Belfast, Dublin, Greater Manchester and Liverpool City region ahead of a Decarbonisation Summit in England in June 2022.


            The visit was framed around current efforts to decarbonise transport, heat and industry using innovations in hydrogen production, storage and use across the four cities to illustrate the challenges and opportunities arising from the transition, to show inter-linkages between different industries (transport, water etc.) and how hydrogen fitted with the wider energy system. Visiting delegations comprised Mayors and officers from the respective regions but also engaged key stakeholders locally, including Forge Integrated Primary school in South Belfast, Translink, Wrightbus, Catagen, B9 Energy, NI Water, MJM Renewables, QUB and Belfast Met. during the one day visit.


            The report outlined the next steps, including that a virtual workshop would be held and areas agreed for collaboration ahead of the decarbonisation Summit in June.


            The Committee noted the contents of the report. 



One Million Trees/UPSURGE Update pdf icon PDF 281 KB


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to update Members on two key projects within the Climate Unit portfolio – the Belfast One Million Trees Programme and the Horizon 2020 UPSURGE project. 


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to note the project update.


3.0       Main report


            The Climate Unit leads the delivery of two major projects for which external funding has been secured. Both projects work with a wide range of stakeholders locally and across the UK, EU and globally. Belfast One Million Trees Programme is the city tree planting initiative, which Belfast City Council coordinates and delivers on behalf of a range of city partners, working closely with delivery partners including the Woodland Trust, Belfast Hills Partnership, the National Trust, and The Conservation Volunteers.


            The Horizon 2020 funded UPSURGE project is focused on nature-based solutions, improving the condition of soil for the purpose of growing plants and produce, the development of a community garden in an unused area of Belfast City Council’s estate, engagement with and education for local stakeholders, and applying learning at a range of satellite sites likely to be focused on Council community gardens and allotments. Initially the project is a partnership with EU partners led by Slovenia, with a close working relationship between BCC and QUB driving the work of the Belfast demonstration. Belfast is one of five demonstration cities within the overarching programme of work.


3.2       Belfast One Million Trees Programme


            Belfast One Million Trees Project is a 15-year city partnership and programme of activity led by Belfast City Council aimed at increasing tree planting, maintenance and management in the city, with key outcomes being increased climate resilience, support for public health and wellbeing, support for biodiversity, reduction in water runoff, improvement in air quality and reduction in urban heat island effects. The project is one of 30 foundational projects contained in the Belfast Resilience Strategy and aligns with city strategies such as the Living with Water Programme, Open Spaces Strategy, and Local Development Plan. We have three overarching aims:


·        Create an inclusive structure and processes which enable tree planting and the growth of green infrastructure and biodiversity in Belfast.


·        Plant at least one million trees within the next 15 years- delivering a step change in our approach to climate adaptation and environmental improvements.


·        Protect the city and the people of the city by reducing harms from air pollution, weather impact and loss of nature and improving health and well-being.


3.3       The initial proposal for the Belfast One Million Trees Programme was received by Council from the Belfast Metropolitan Residents Group. The motion came through People and Communities Committee which approved the role for Council to coordinate and manage the initiative and updates are periodically brought back to People and Communities Committee for approval. Programme management is led by the Climate Unit within Council, working closely with colleagues in City and Neighbourhood Services, and across the Council.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Belfast Agenda Review (Action Planning Update) pdf icon PDF 652 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to update the Committee on the progress of the Belfast Agenda Review, including the action planning phase.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


                                       iNote the following report which was submitted to the March SP&R Committee outlining progress of the development of the refreshed Belfast Agenda Strategy document and supporting four-year Delivery Action Plans;

                                     iiConsider and provide comments on the emerging strategic intents and measures of success (stretch goals) as set out in slides 12-22 in Appendix 1.

                                   iiiNote the proposed next steps and timeline as set out in slide 33 in Appendix 1; and

                                   ivNote the plans for continued elected member engagement, detailed in section 3.5.


3.0       Main report


3.1       The following report was submitted to April’s meeting of the Strategic Policy & Resources (SP&R) Committee and sets out the emerging strategic framework for the refreshed Belfast Agenda. Given the cross-cutting nature of the priorities, objectives and targets which will provide the focus for community planning over the period 2022-26, it was agreed to bring this to the attention of members of the Climate & City Resilience Committee.


            The November 2021 SP&R Committee received an update on the emerging findings and recommendations following the initial phase of Belfast Agenda: Continuing the Conversation engagement to inform the refreshed Belfast Agenda (BA) for the period 2022-2026.  As reported at the November meeting, there was broad agreement that the existing long-term vision and outcomes of the BA remain relevant, and the proposed priorities for focus were the things that stakeholders and communities believed community planning could help address over the next 4-year period. There had been feedback in relation to how some of the priorities had been framed and the need for them to be easily understood. As a result, some minor changes had been made to the framing of the priority areas such as, changing ‘economic recovery’ to ‘Sustainable and Inclusive Economic Growth’. A summary of the current Belfast Agenda priority framework (which reflects many of the changes) is attached at Appendix 1.


3.2       Bringing focus and commitment to delivery


            Building on the recommendations and consensus reached through Phase I, the Community Planning Partnership (CPP) and council has committed to co-design specific and measurable actions plan(s) which would underpin the priority areas of focus.  Subsequently, a small group of core partners (cross-sectoral) has been brought together to help further develop the approach to co-designing each of the priority areas and cross-cutting themes. Each task and finish group were responsible for analysing the range of outputs from phase 1 of the ‘Belfast Agenda: Continuing the Conversation’ engagement process; assessing relevant strategies, plans and local intelligence (including information received through the call for evidence); feedback from the community and Belfast Agenda Board engagement workshops; online and paper-based survey results; and the current delivery plans of existing Belfast Agenda Boards.


            Based on this initial analysis, partners  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Update on Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF) pdf icon PDF 421 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to provide an update to members on the emergent Shared Prosperity Funding (SPF).


2.1         Recommendation


2.1       The Committee is asked to note the contents of this report.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       Members will be aware that European Structural and Investment (ESI) funds help to pay for initiatives supporting business development, research and development, investment in digital and green infrastructure, as well skills and training interventions and support for job-seekers.


3.2       The ESI funds that the UK received were:      


·        The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which focuses mainly on support to small businesses and on research and innovation, with a smaller emphasis on moving towards a low carbon economy;

·        The European Social Fund (ESF), which is very strongly focused on employment. The main way it does this is by encouraging people into the workforce, such as by building networks between employers, local authorities and charities, and by improving people’s skills. ESF funding also included the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), which funds schemes such as apprenticeships and traineeships;

·        The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), which funds improvements in agriculture as part of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (as opposed to income support payments to farmers, which are not part of structural funding);

·        The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), a much smaller fund supporting improvements in fisheries.


3.3       In the EU’s 2014-20 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) period, the last MFF in which the UK was an EU member state, its funding allocation from ESI funds was €16.3 billion. This worked out to around £2.0 billion per year on average.


3.4       Northern Ireland has been a net beneficiary of the EU Structural funds and their impact has been significant – indeed in Northern Ireland we received approx. 5% of the total UK allocation, while only representing 2.8% of the population


3.5       The European Social Fund has been a vital component in addressing inequalities, poverty and supported the creation of more and better jobs, which it does by co-funding projects that improve the levels of employment, the quality of jobs, and the inclusiveness of the labour market in areas of impact. ESF projects are funded to a value of 65% by ESF with a 35% match funding requirement historically. Data provided by Department for the Economy and contained in appendix 1, indicated that ESF allocation for the current programme period in Belfast  March 2018 – to March 2022 had a value of £55,479,367 for ESF with the total value being £85,352,887, including 35% match funding of £29,873,520.


3.6       The UK Government announced in 2017 that ESI fundings successor will be a Shared Prosperity Fund . The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a Government-allocated fund which is intended to reduce inequalities between communities, as part of the Government’s wider ‘levelling up’ agenda.


3.7       The objectives set by the Government for the SPF  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Recap on Issues to be Raised at Future Meetings


            The Resilience Co-ordinator raised the item in relation to issues to be raised at future meetings.  After discussion, the Committee agreed on the following:


·        that the Resilience Co-ordinator would circulate to Members options for climate and resilience training;


·        that the Resilience Co-ordinator would re-circulate to Members the list of items for discussion at future meetings that had previously been agreed.



Restricted Item


            The information contained in the report associated with the following item is restricted in accordance with Part 1 of Schedule 6 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014.


      Resolved – That the Committee agrees to exclude the members of the Press and public from the meeting during discussion of the following item as, due to the nature of the items, there would be a disclosure of exempt information as described in Section 42(4) and Section 6 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014.



Update in relation to legal proceedings


            The Divisional Solicitor submitted for the Committee’s consideration a report updating the Committee on legal proceedings which had been issued by the Council in respect of the Decision by the DAERA Minister on 2nd February, 2022 to halt border checks which were required under the EU-UK Protocol.


The Committee noted the information which had been provided.