Written Answers. - Road Openings.
704 Ms Fitzgerald asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government if he has issued any guidelines to local authorities in relation to the management of services work to avoid duplication in the digging up of streets and roads simultaneously and consequently by private companies. [20409/00]
707 Ms Fitzgerald asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government his views on whether a new legislative approach is necessary for the control of telecom related products; if he will update the 19th century legislation to change the rights telecom operators have to undertake roadworks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20433/00]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 704 and 707 together.
Section 101D of the Road Traffic Act, 1961, as inserted by the Dublin Transport Authority (Dissolution) Act, 1987, empowers prescribed road authorities to issue directions to statutory undertakers, including telecommunication operators, and others for the purpose of co-ordinating road openings and minimising traffic disruption. Under the Road Traffic (Co-ordination of Roadworks) Regulations, 1992, the following urban authorities are those authorised to exercise these powers: Dublin Corporation, South Dublin County Council, Fingal County Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Cork Corporation, Limerick Corporation, Waterford Corporation and Galway Corporation.
General guidance on the need for an efficient and expeditious approach to the carrying out of road works, whether by road authorities or other statutory undertakers, is in my Department's memorandum on grants for non-national roads. The detailed operation of relevant road traffic controls is, however, the responsibility of the road authority concerned. I am aware that Dublin Corporation is making extensive use of these powers through its Directions for the Control and Management of Roadworks in Dublin City.
The Telecommunications (Infrastructure) Bill, 1999, which is currently before the Seanad, proposes to modernise legislation in relation to road openings by telecom operators. In particular, it is designed to enhance local authority powers by obliging telecommunication operators to obtain the consent of the local authority before opening a road to lay underground telecommunications infrastructure. Under section 15 of the Bill, a local authority would be empowered to make its consent subject to conditions, including reduction in the number of telecommunications related road openings by ensuring road openings are co-ordinated, trenches are shared and spare ducts are laid for future use by other operators.
The Bill simplifies the legislative and arbitration systems to enable the operators of fixed telecommunications networks to obtain rights of use over land for the purpose of constructing telecommunications infrastructure, where such infrastructure is essential for supply of telecommunications services – mobile phone operators are not included in these provisions – while maintaining an environment for development that is attractive to investment in telecommunications infrastructure.
Beyond the above provisions, I have recently indicated, in response to the Committee Stage debate on the Planning and Development Bill, 1999, that I would consider the need for a strengthening of legislation to control road openings and that process is under way. In the meantime, I have asked the Dublin Transportation Office to assess, in consultation with local authorities in the DTO area, to what extent the approaches taken to the opening and reinstatement of roads and paths for the installation of telecommunications infrastructure could be better managed.
Question No. 705 taken with Question No. 700.