The Committee noted the following report which provided an update in relation to the progress to date to develop the Dublin-Belfast Economic Corridor:
“1.0 Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues
1.1 The purpose of this report is to provide the Committee with a progress update on the Dublin-Belfast Economic Corridor (DBEC) and work on a development plan, strategy and action plan to progress this work.
2.1 The Members of the Committee are asked to:
· Note the contents of this report and progress to date to develop the Dublin-Belfast Economic Corridor.
3.0 Main report
3.1 At its meeting on 9th June 2021, Members of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee were provided with an update on progress to support the development of the Dublin-Belfast Economic Corridor including proposals for work on a development plan and governance structure involving business and elected representatives. Members noted the progress to date and endorsed the approach.
3.2 The DBEC group proceeded with the commissioning of a development plan, strategy and action plan for the partnership. Belfast City Council acted as lead partner on the tendering and contract management of this work. The development plan is progressing well. It is being supported by a working group of officials from across the partnership. Activities include:
· Review of successful corridors, including staffing, funding, legal and governance structures including powers and purpose, and successful initiatives or projects carried out by the partners
· Review of existing cross border structures/entities and funding, legislative environment
· Review of existing research and delivery in priority sectors to identify gaps in provision/research, areas of alignment and potential for collaboration
· Identification of options to support the development of a DBEC entity aligned with the partnership’s ambitions including recommended governance, legal and operating structures
· Development of a detailed resource plan to support the delivery of the DBEC entity including identification of potential sources of funding.
3.3 To date, the delivery team has undertaken research in relation to future governance, operational, legal and resourcing models for the partnership. This has included a comparative analysis of other corridors and consultations with existing cross border institutions and relevant internal and external stakeholders. The next steps for stage 1 include finalising consultations with cross border bodies and preparing the implementation and resourcing plan. Once approved the delivery team will proceed to stage 2 of the project.
Since the previous update, the inaugural meeting of the Dublin Belfast Political Oversight Group took place on 23rd November 2021 at City North Hotel, Dublin. The CEOs of the council partners attended the meeting along with the three elected representatives from each council. A Chair and Vice Chair of the group were elected to serve a one-year term. The Chair is Councillor Pete Byrne from Newry Mourne and Down District Council and the Mayor of Fingal, Councillor Seána Ó Rodaigh, of Fingal County Council was elected as Vice-Chair. The team delivering the development plan used this session as an opportunity to undertake a consultation workshop with elected representatives and officials and this will feed into the development plan.
3.4 It was previously decided to delay the convening of a business advisory group until work on the development plan and strategy has progressed. It is expected that the private sector will be consulted as part of the current work.
3.5 The first stage of the research is being finalised and emerging priorities are listed below,
- The need for dedicated resourcing plan including a single staff resource to drive the development of the corridor and make applications for funding
- The need for the creation of a standalone alone entity and provision of associated annua budget
- Agreement on key areas for policy co-operation – skills, research and innovation, climate mitigation/action etc.
- Proposal for resourcing and funding model for consideration by CX and elected member advisory board
- Appointment and in parallel funding applications to be made to secure annual budget
3.6 Financial and Resource Implications
The work on the development plan will be resourced from the 2021/22 Enterprise and Business Growth budget.
3.7 Equality or Good Relations Implications/
Rural Needs Assessment
The unit is currently undertaking a process of equality screening on the overall work programme, this will ensure consideration is given to equality and good relation impacts throughout the delivery of this project.”
Proposed areas of focus for future meetings
of the Climate and City Resilience Committee
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 seek approval from Members on the proposed areas of focus for discussion at future meetings of the Climate and City Resilience Committee.
2.1 The Committee is asked to approve the suggested topics and agree those which should form the agenda for the forthcoming meetings of the Climate and City Resilience Committee. Members may wish to suggest additional items for consideration.
3.0 Main report
3.1 It is proposed that the Committee undertake Climate Emergency Training which will be delivered by Climate NI, working with officers in the Climate Unit. Options for training include:
a) Delivery by dedicating a future meeting of the Committee (7th April for example) to a three-hour training session which would be followed by individual work to complete the full seven-hour training and receive accreditation. This approach would support Belfast City Council being accredited as a Climate Literate Organisation and would show leadership as we seek to embed climate training throughout the organisation.
b) Delivery at two future Committee meetings so that all content is delivered in by Climate NI within the Committee meeting structure.
c) Delivery through a session held outside of the existing meeting schedule, however, we are mindful of Members time and the challenge of finding time for such as session.
3.2 It is proposed that the subsequent meetings of the committee would focus on the following key areas:
· An update on the Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI) which would be set in the context of the DFE coordinated NI Energy Strategy, ongoing work on this topic by DFI, and the work undertaken to date in Belfast through the VPACH project;
· The One Million Trees Programme;
· The Council’s baseline emissions and results of the energy review;
· Climate Fund – update on pilot projects;
· Bolder Vision;
· Belfast Stories;
· Housing retrofit and decarbonising heat in buildings;
· Challenges and opportunities for collaboration through the Shared Island Unit and Shared Prosperity Fund;
· The Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor initiative;
· Cyber Security arrangements in Belfast City Council and wider considerations;
· Port Health and Port checks legal position
4.0 Financial and Resource Implications
4.1 No financial or resource implications are anticipated at present.
5.0 Equality or Good Relations Implications/
Rural Needs Implications
5.1 Any good relations or equality implications will be identified as part of the Council’s screening process.”
In response to a number of questions, the Strategic Director confirmed that there were a number of items which fell within the remit of other Committees. However, where there were specific areas of work relating to climate, reports would be submitted to this Committee for consideration.
After discussion, the Committee adopted the recommendation and agreed to a Member’s request that Prof. Ciaran White BL and Francis Costello be invited to a future to address the Committee in relation to their research on the possibility of Northern Ireland securing European Parliament and European Committee of the Regions elected representation.