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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 12 Dec 2006

Vol. 629 No. 3

Written Answers.

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 11, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 12 to 42, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 43 to 50, inclusive, answered orally.

Local Authority Funding.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

51 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount of the local government fund general purpose grants which are being allocated to local authorities for 2007; the amount by which these grants have been increased over 2006; the amount of the grants represented by the proceeds of motor tax and by Exchequer contribution; the amounts by which these components of the grants are being increased over the 2006 allocations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42597/06]

Gerard Murphy

Question:

53 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on whether the increase in the local government fund in the Estimates 2007 is adequate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42529/06]

John Perry

Question:

56 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the rate of income received from each local authority since 2000; the way they are expected to maintain services in view of the local government fund allocation for 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42569/06]

Michael Ring

Question:

139 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will significantly increase funding to local government in view of cost increases due to pay increases to local authority employees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42563/06]

Shane McEntee

Question:

168 Mr. McEntee asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will significantly increase funding to local Government in view of increased costs for maintenance of infrastructure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42564/06]

Catherine Murphy

Question:

513 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has notified local authorities as to the amount they will be allocated through the Local Government Fund for 2007; the amount to be paid out to all local authorities; the way the Census 2006 Preliminary Report has impacted on the allocations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42266/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 51, 53, 56, 139, 168 and 513 together.

I refer to the reply to Priority Question No. 46 on today's Order Paper.

As already stated the funding that I will be providing to local authorities for 2007, through general purpose grants from the Local Government Fund, will continue the strong trend of increasing central government support for the local government sector.

Yesterday I announced the allocation of almost €958m to local authorities for 2007, increasing the level of general purpose grants by 8% over the final allocations for 2006. The 2007 allocations figure is 2.8 times the initial allocation provided in 1997. This funding will assist local authorities in framing realistic and reasonable budgets in the statutory time period available to them to complete their budgetary process.

The Government has provided unprecedented increases in funding to local authorities since 1997. I am satisfied that with our commitment to local government, and increased income buoyancy generated from the greatly strengthened commercial base supported by the Government's successful economic policies, local authorities are in a very good position to respond to the public's need for quality services. I would also like to draw the House's attention to the increase in development contributions, which I mentioned in an earlier reply.

In allocating funding for 2007, I have taken into account the cost to each authority of providing its services, and factors including population increases, and the income from local sources.

The adoption of a budget is one of the most important reserved functions conferred on local authorities as it underpins their financial business for the following year. While I have no direct function in budgetary decision-making at local level, I have urged local authorities to continue to exercise appropriate restraint in setting any increases in commercial rates and charges. This is important to the long-term viability and competitiveness of commercial operations and to the overall competitiveness of the economy. Local authorities responded positively this year to my request in this regard and increases in rates and charges for 2006 were generally of a lower order than in previous years.

In this regard, I am also bringing forward an amendment this week, to the Local Government (Business Improvement Districts) Bill 2006, to enhance the role of audit committees in local authorities and to provide for outside expert membership. Audit committees will in future review financial and budgetary reporting practices and procedures within a local authority; foster the development of best practice in the internal audit function; review auditor's reports and assess follow-up action by management; assess and promote efficiency and value for money; and review risk management systems.

Current expenditure in the local government sector in 2007 is likely to be some €4.5bn. Within this quantum of expenditure there is scope for efficiencies, innovation and further steps to ensure greater value for money. Elected members should examine their draft budget closely to ensure that every effort is made to get the maximum value for the expenditure proposed.

The funding accruing to the Local Government Fund comprises the proceeds of Motor Tax, an Exchequer contribution and interest earned on balances of the Fund. These are consolidated into the Fund; grants can not be attributed to specific elements of the Fund.

The following table shows, for each local authority, the allocations of general purpose grants from 2000 to 2007 and the percentage increases provided.

L.G.F. General Purpose Allocation 2000-2007 and % increases over previous years.

Local Authority

2000

% Inc.

2001

% Inc.

2002

% Inc.

2003

% Inc.

%

%

%

%

Carlow County Council

5,528,139

23.63

6,834,590

13.06

7,727,102

10.65

8,550,012

13.78

Cavan County Council

9,173,748

15.38

10,584,524

10.58

11,704,245

9.05

12,763,044

18.63

Clare County Council

7,324,318

20.58

8,831,743

7.85

9,524,638

19.57

11,389,001

15.20

Cork County Council

28,287,872

21.42

34,346,705

6.28

36,503,870

12.00

40,885,788

11.45

Donegal County Council

18,123,735

22.72

22,241,740

8.79

24,197,831

13.65

27,501,531

17.44

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

24,119,073

9.50

26,410,385

5.60

27,889,622

4.36

29,105,207

11.74

Fingal County Council

19,758,195

9.93

21,719,297

6.21

23,067,650

4.28

24,054,842

12.11

Galway County Council

18,176,264

22.33

22,234,413

6.99

23,788,328

10.60

26,308,990

11.80

Kerry County Council

12,669,228

24.66

15,793,578

7.80

17,025,044

10.73

18,851,104

14.14

Kildare County Council

11,810,017

13.85

13,445,469

13.82

15,303,344

8.09

16,541,890

17.93

Kilkenny County Council

9,228,658

25.06

11,541,052

9.81

12,672,851

9.31

13,852,731

17.29

Laois County Council

8,911,942

13.47

10,112,603

12.37

11,363,361

8.65

12,345,838

18.48

Leitrim County Council

7,270,916

18.65

8,626,795

10.11

9,498,936

10.40

10,486,848

13.25

Limerick County Council

13,898,596

9.50

15,218,963

8.20

16,466,828

12.64

18,548,018

12.20

Longford County Council

6,958,664

10.07

7,659,458

12.77

8,637,773

12.00

9,673,977

16.46

Louth County Council

6,696,872

9.50

7,333,073

13.01

8,286,979

14.21

9,464,262

13.47

Mayo County Council

17,807,062

12.86

20,097,045

10.15

22,136,892

14.43

25,330,464

17.46

Meath County Council

13,038,999

14.49

14,928,818

18.67

17,715,578

4.61

18,532,580

17.90

Monaghan County Council

7,546,154

12.87

8,517,483

10.84

9,441,027

11.13

10,492,148

13.23

North Tipperary County Council

8,634,713

24.36

10,738,079

9.64

11,773,642

8.23

12,742,525

18.29

Offaly County Council

7,627,532

14.43

8,728,140

7.68

9,398,295

10.35

10,371,348

18.47

Roscommon County Council

11,395,159

19.26

13,589,602

11.76

15,188,170

4.24

15,832,438

12.45

Sligo County Council

8,464,875

9.50

9,269,039

21.84

11,293,523

6.70

12,050,669

15.43

South Dublin County Council

15,184,106

9.50

16,626,595

12.18

18,652,158

4.54

19,498,244

12.17

South Tipperary County Council

11,460,468

14.66

13,140,265

8.69

14,282,421

10.13

15,729,880

15.56

Waterford County Council

10,131,985

18.12

11,968,195

11.29

13,319,771

15.19

15,342,673

14.43

Westmeath County Council

9,928,019

15.95

11,511,046

7.97

12,428,512

17.41

14,592,028

13.75

Wexford County Council

11,376,616

9.50

12,457,393

6.73

13,295,995

12.98

15,021,831

12.50

Wicklow County Council

9,267,974

21.77

11,285,211

8.96

12,296,360

13.49

13,954,952

12.63

Cork City Council

14,140,866

14.97

16,257,286

7.80

17,525,439

4.57

18,326,457

12.25

Dublin City Council

49,382,300

9.50

54,073,619

6.17

57,409,551

27.83

73,385,905

11.11

Galway City Council

5,439,512

9.50

5,956,265

7.80

6,420,782

5.56

6,777,613

14.57

Limerick City Council

6,053,333

15.27

6,977,429

9.20

7,619,444

11.53

8,498,080

13.79

Waterford City Council

4,276,163

9.50

4,682,398

15.46

5,406,076

12.94

6,105,503

14.94

Clonmel Borough Council

1,881,671

10.27

2,074,970

9.38

2,269,576

6.70

2,421,693

16.36

Drogheda Borough Council

2,405,658

21.81

2,930,275

27.03

3,722,263

-3.20

3,603,075

11.72

Kilkenny Borough Council

1,131,474

9.50

1,238,963

11.19

1,377,642

4.73

1,442,748

15.46

Sligo Borough Council

1,507,622

44.03

2,171,368

5.88

2,298,982

4.43

2,400,941

12.13

Wexford Borough Council

1,243,185

14.82

1,427,365

9.52

1,563,233

16.64

1,823,350

12.53

Arklow Town Council

891,801

9.50

976,522

13.87

1,112,004

4.90

1,166,484

12.60

Athlone Town Council

1,121,306

9.50

1,227,829

12.62

1,382,775

4.72

1,448,086

12.27

Athy Town Council

353,764

9.50

387,371

9.92

425,786

18.35

503,912

20.85

Ballina Town Council

813,382

9.50

890,653

7.14

954,232

17.05

1,116,909

18.68

Ballinasloe Town Council

524,840

9.50

574,700

8.31

622,481

5.61

657,380

16.77

Birr Town Council

376,772

9.50

412,565

18.74

489,878

18.04

578,258

18.07

Bray Town Council

2,854,840

9.50

3,126,051

5.61

3,301,399

5.23

3,474,089

11.46

Buncrana Town Council

452,709

24.49

563,565

16.54

656,785

5.52

693,056

13.77

Bundoran Town Council

303,269

21.51

368,513

17.68

433,667

6.31

461,014

15.22

Carlow Town Council

993,165

28.04

1,271,639

6.50

1,354,267

4.74

1,418,438

12.29

Carrickmacross Town Council

281,488

9.50

308,229

16.71

359,740

17.09

421,203

15.63

Carrick-on-Suir Town Council

541,631

21.87

660,084

15.73

763,946

5.44

805,527

13.37

Cashel Town Council

312,489

22.18

381,814

20.48

460,020

6.17

488,421

16.28

Castlebar Town Council

658,247

9.50

720,782

7.64

775,867

5.29

816,902

13.33

Castleblaney Town Council

231,695

9.51

253,729

12.51

285,462

19.50

341,136

22.75

Cavan Town Council

446,557

9.50

488,980

22.45

598,736

5.67

632,685

20.05

Clonakilty Town Council

294,184

20.23

353,701

25.66

444,449

6.25

472,227

15.12

Clones Town Council

302,360

9.50

331,084

10.93

367,283

6.72

391,974

15.99

Cobh Town Council

737,332

9.50

807,378

13.78

918,659

5.09

965,405

12.96

Dundalk Town Council

3,288,718

9.50

3,601,147

15.88

4,172,913

-0.82

4,138,586

11.37

Dungarvan Town Council

640,213

11.06

711,039

7.68

765,637

5.31

806,262

13.37

Ennis Town Council

1,317,473

16.51

1,534,941

7.96

1,657,136

16.60

1,932,278

11.92

Enniscorthy Town Council

594,326

39.41

828,545

9.55

907,640

6.39

965,667

12.96

Fermoy Town Council

366,377

28.61

471,213

20.85

569,464

10.32

628,253

20.07

Kells Town Council

232,216

9.61

254,541

26.62

322,291

16.29

374,777

16.22

Killarney Town Council

728,290

53.13

1,115,202

9.51

1,221,266

8.82

1,329,029

18.39

Kilrush Town Council

314,282

9.50

344,139

18.45

407,641

11.74

455,517

17.79

Kinsale Town Council

199,928

9.50

218,921

34.47

294,376

7.40

316,151

17.21

Letterkenny Town Council

730,228

9.50

799,598

7.38

858,624

5.16

902,969

13.10

Listowel Town Council

459,420

9.50

503,064

11.36

560,208

5.78

592,616

14.26

Longford Town Council

665,302

24.69

829,563

10.76

918,833

5.09

965,586

12.96

Macroom Town Council

275,126

9.50

301,263

23.62

372,429

18.69

442,018

21.41

Mallow Town Council

516,258

19.60

617,427

12.49

694,561

17.44

815,691

19.34

Midleton Town Council

299,421

9.50

327,866

11.09

364,232

6.75

388,801

16.03

Monaghan Town Council

691,676

9.50

757,386

16.13

879,573

4.44

918,660

13.06

Naas Town Council

547,152

9.50

599,132

37.92

826,340

17.21

968,554

18.95

Navan Town Council

301,610

9.50

330,263

22.54

404,697

6.47

430,885

15.53

Nenagh Town Council

644,156

9.50

705,352

13.65

801,600

8.61

870,607

13.27

New Ross Town Council

559,087

9.50

612,201

8.11

661,857

5.51

698,331

13.75

Skibbereen Town Council

230,906

16.45

268,893

18.54

318,755

7.14

341,505

16.74

Templemore Town Council

274,318

16.98

320,891

23.58

396,553

10.80

439,380

15.44

Thurles Town Council

565,623

17.47

664,413

7.87

716,680

5.40

755,347

13.53

Tipperary Town Council

445,199

12.68

501,639

17.70

590,438

5.69

624,056

14.09

Tralee Town Council

1,833,125

22.19

2,239,885

10.85

2,482,838

4.40

2,592,152

11.66

Trim Town Council

324,785

9.50

355,640

13.58

403,941

6.48

430,099

15.53

Tullamore Town Council

732,629

12.94

827,445

16.62

964,947

7.73

1,039,534

12.81

Westport Town Council

454,546

25.07

568,484

11.72

635,116

5.57

670,521

13.87

Wicklow Town Council

594,234

86.16

1,106,216

6.72

1,180,573

6.53

1,257,638

12.47

Youghal Town Council

567,870

29.58

735,837

16.13

854,504

5.17

898,684

13.11

Totals

469,148,008

15.26

540,738,573

9.56

592,406,833

11.32

659,443,488

13.99

Local Authority

2004

% Inc

2005

% Inc

2006

% Inc

2007

%

%

%

Carlow County Council

9,728,045

9.81

10,682,438

10.39

11,791,970

6.31

12,536,458

Cavan County Council

15,140,507

11.10

16,821,425

7.46

18,075,814

8.03

19,526,749

Clare County Council

13,119,878

5.43

13,831,947

6.58

14,741,484

6.31

15,672,190

Cork County Council

45,568,050

7.64

49,050,276

5.11

51,554,596

6.31

54,809,504

Donegal County Council

32,298,892

10.57

35,713,379

7.94

38,547,272

7.81

41,556,957

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

32,523,127

7.75

35,043,452

5.89

37,109,051

6.31

39,451,937

Fingal County Council

26,968,845

6.95

28,844,494

5.11

30,317,184

6.31

32,231,264

Galway County Council

29,413,192

10.89

32,616,878

8.22

35,296,907

9.05

38,490,666

Kerry County Council

21,515,805

8.75

23,399,482

8.97

25,497,932

8.25

27,600,743

Kildare County Council

19,507,617

11.75

21,799,170

9.61

23,893,115

10.81

26,476,801

Kilkenny County Council

16,247,569

10.04

17,878,074

7.54

19,226,389

8.33

20,827,594

Laois County Council

14,627,815

9.16

15,968,328

6.58

17,019,082

7.74

18,336,335

Leitrim County Council

11,875,969

10.00

13,063,981

8.46

14,168,597

9.15

15,465,369

Limerick County Council

20,810,886

8.18

22,513,686

7.32

24,160,987

8.03

26,101,406

Longford County Council

11,266,561

11.02

12,508,061

6.30

13,296,084

10.24

14,657,063

Louth County Council

10,739,283

7.05

11,496,518

5.11

12,083,486

10.81

13,390,136

Mayo County Council

29,752,341

9.47

32,568,821

7.99

35,170,634

8.08

38,012,273

Meath County Council

21,849,991

8.82

23,776,226

9.73

26,089,431

9.56

28,583,173

Monaghan County Council

11,880,507

11.84

13,287,104

8.10

14,363,459

9.43

15,718,151

North Tipperary County Council

15,073,723

9.16

16,453,791

8.03

17,775,415

8.90

19,357,349

Offaly County Council

12,287,077

13.66

13,965,967

4.99

14,662,707

10.69

16,230,539

Roscommon County Council

17,802,907

8.51

19,318,766

7.19

20,706,920

7.20

22,198,317

Sligo County Council

13,910,355

8.99

15,161,087

9.61

16,617,403

6.65

17,723,150

South Dublin County Council

21,870,507

7.19

23,442,061

5.11

24,638,923

6.31

26,194,505

South Tipperary County Council

18,176,993

9.00

19,813,401

9.24

21,643,602

9.49

23,696,915

Waterford County Council

17,556,648

7.66

18,900,701

9.09

20,618,871

10.81

22,848,496

Westmeath County Council

16,598,009

8.98

18,088,035

8.15

19,562,134

9.33

21,387,695

Wexford County Council

16,899,923

12.58

19,026,652

5.97

20,163,308

9.96

22,172,296

Wicklow County Council

15,717,095

10.94

17,437,258

7.77

18,791,404

8.09

20,311,251

Cork City Council

20,571,177

7.29

22,070,779

9.96

24,267,960

10.81

26,892,180

Dublin City Council

81,537,355

6.46

86,806,479

8.11

93,847,042

6.89

100,310,537

Galway City Council

7,765,314

6.97

8,306,487

5.53

8,765,669

6.75

9,357,649

Limerick City Council

9,670,037

7.57

10,401,855

5.99

11,025,361

6.31

11,721,449

Waterford City Council

7,017,618

7.43

7,538,868

6.52

8,030,490

6.31

8,537,496

Clonmel Borough Council

2,817,955

7.41

3,026,749

7.26

3,246,558

6.40

3,454,446

Drogheda Borough Council

4,025,247

6.97

4,305,655

5.11

4,525,485

9.32

4,947,336

Kilkenny Borough Council

1,665,800

7.54

1,791,342

5.11

1,882,801

6.31

2,001,672

Sligo Borough Council

2,692,269

7.58

2,896,281

8.33

3,137,649

6.31

3,335,745

Wexford Borough Council

2,051,811

7.62

2,208,137

5.11

2,320,876

6.31

2,467,405

Arklow Town Council

1,313,449

6.96

1,404,822

9.61

1,539,764

10.81

1,706,267

Athlone Town Council

1,625,701

7.74

1,751,512

9.13

1,911,434

6.31

2,032,113

Athy Town Council

608,994

6.98

651,493

9.61

714,073

8.90

777,620

Ballina Town Council

1,325,492

6.79

1,415,439

8.05

1,529,354

9.63

1,676,625

Ballinasloe Town Council

767,615

7.32

823,783

9.61

902,912

6.73

963,718

Birr Town Council

682,765

7.24

732,175

7.60

787,852

7.45

846,550

Bray Town Council

3,872,222

7.52

4,163,243

5.11

4,375,802

9.20

4,778,238

Buncrana Town Council

788,491

7.26

845,720

5.11

888,899

6.31

945,020

Bundoran Town Council

531,192

7.50

571,006

5.11

600,159

6.31

638,050

Carlow Town Council

1,592,826

6.99

1,704,188

6.92

1,822,194

6.31

1,937,239

Carrickmacross Town Council

487,049

8.87

530,247

7.96

572,465

9.84

628,815

Carrick-on-Suir Town Council

913,204

9.20

997,256

9.61

1,093,049

10.81

1,211,246

Cashel Town Council

567,942

7.35

609,661

9.61

668,223

7.42

717,796

Castlebar Town Council

925,816

6.45

985,490

5.11

1,035,805

6.31

1,101,201

Castleblaney Town Council

418,735

7.93

451,925

6.00

479,048

6.64

510,858

Cavan Town Council

759,510

7.56

816,951

5.11

858,661

6.31

912,873

Clonakilty Town Council

543,626

9.01

592,585

5.11

622,840

6.31

662,163

Clones Town Council

454,638

9.88

499,544

9.61

547,528

10.81

606,735

Cobh Town Council

1,090,484

7.45

1,171,706

5.11

1,231,529

7.82

1,327,858

Dundalk Town Council

4,609,045

7.34

4,947,412

5.83

5,235,951

6.95

5,599,979

Dungarvan Town Council

914,019

7.83

985,620

5.11

1,035,942

6.31

1,101,346

Ennis Town Council

2,162,594

6.89

2,311,619

5.11

2,429,641

6.31

2,583,037

Enniscorthy Town Council

1,090,773

7.48

1,172,357

5.11

1,232,213

6.31

1,310,009

Fermoy Town Council

754,330

7.41

810,242

6.35

861,728

6.31

916,133

Kells Town Council

435,569

6.97

465,921

5.79

492,876

7.12

527,987

Killarney Town Council

1,573,427

6.77

1,679,917

6.29

1,785,532

8.78

1,942,242

Kilrush Town Council

536,551

9.14

585,584

5.89

620,096

8.94

675,554

Kinsale Town Council

370,562

7.00

396,511

5.66

418,957

6.31

445,408

Letterkenny Town Council

1,021,252

7.57

1,098,543

6.96

1,174,987

6.31

1,249,170

Listowel Town Council

677,119

7.35

726,879

7.33

780,150

7.82

841,180

Longford Town Council

1,090,684

7.37

1,171,116

5.11

1,230,909

6.31

1,308,623

Macroom Town Council

536,650

6.99

574,137

7.50

617,174

6.31

656,139

Mallow Town Council

973,415

7.70

1,048,414

5.45

1,105,565

6.31

1,175,365

Midleton Town Council

451,120

12.96

509,574

11.15

566,376

6.31

602,134

Monaghan Town Council

1,038,651

7.66

1,118,222

5.71

1,182,079

6.31

1,256,710

Naas Town Council

1,152,089

12.64

1,297,736

9.61

1,422,392

6.31

1,512,195

Navan Town Council

497,784

7.76

536,408

6.86

573,212

7.53

616,374

Nenagh Town Council

986,146

7.17

1,056,881

5.68

1,116,928

7.24

1,197,754

New Ross Town Council

794,340

13.92

904,943

7.54

973,173

6.18

1,033,315

Skibbereen Town Council

398,676

7.45

428,360

5.11

450,230

6.31

478,655

Templemore Town Council

507,204

14.29

579,703

7.76

624,685

10.20

688,381

Thurles Town Council

857,562

7.58

922,598

7.24

989,427

8.06

1,069,192

Tipperary Town Council

711,980

10.27

785,111

9.91

862,904

6.31

917,384

Tralee Town Council

2,894,291

7.39

3,108,105

5.40

3,275,876

6.31

3,482,699

Trim Town Council

496,912

8.00

536,670

6.04

569,104

8.06

614,994

Tullamore Town Council

1,172,681

7.01

1,254,885

5.11

1,318,955

6.31

1,402,227

Westport Town Council

763,503

6.89

816,087

5.11

857,753

6.31

911,907

Wicklow Town Council

1,414,524

7.20

1,516,377

7.79

1,634,559

6.31

1,737,757

Youghal Town Council

1,016,500

8.07

1,098,495

5.49

1,158,759

6.31

1,231,917

Totals

751,712,404

8.68

816,987,264

7.40

877,413,776

8.01

947,657,947

Register of Electors.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

52 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has received further communications from local authorities regarding the electoral register; the local authorities that have raised issues with his Department; the nature of such difficulties raised by them; his response in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42540/06]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

59 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has satisfied himself that the register of electors is as close as possible to accurate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42467/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 and 59 together.

In law, the preparation of the Register of Electors is a matter for each local registration authority. It is their duty to ensure, as far as possible and with the cooperation of the public, the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the Register.

In April 2006, I announced a package of measures to assist local authorities in their work on preparing the 2007/8 Register, which included the use of Census enumerators or other temporary personnel to support local authorities in preparing the Register; over 1,500 personnel were engaged in this work.

There has been regular contact with local authorities throughout this year's electoral registration campaign, particularly in relation to establishing the overall framework in which the campaign was carried out and the compilation of data related to the process and its outcome.

The agreed procedures included provision for ensuring that each household was visited at least twice and provided with forms and information, if necessary. In the event that this process did not satisfactorily register the household, written notification would then be given cautioning of the danger of being omitted from the Register.

I also committed to providing additional ring-fenced financial resources to support local authorities' own spending in respect of the register campaign and advised authorities that a contribution of some €6 million can be made available in this regard. To date, €3 million has been paid to local authorities and a further €2 million in register funding is being processed. Another €1 million was provided for a national publicity and awareness campaign involving TV, radio, press and outdoor advertising.

Local authorities have carried out an extensive and intensive campaign in respect of the Draft Register for 2007/8, with both large numbers of additions to, and deletions from, the Register. On this basis, I am satisfied there will be significant improvement in the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the Register.

The process is not finished. Following requests from three local authorities, I have provided an extension of time to all councils and county registrars to complete their work on the Register — up until the 2nd and 12th January respectively. The final date for entry into force of the new register remains 15th February 2007. If any person is omitted from the Final Register, they will still have the opportunity to apply for entry on to the Supplement to the Register up to 15 days before polling day.

Question No. 53 answered with QuestionNo. 51.

Local Authority Funding.

Tom Hayes

Question:

54 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the substantial increases in charges at local government level for local customers in areas where both a water and waste water treatment service is provided; and if he will significantly increase funding to local government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42571/06]

The Governments water pricing policy requires full and transparent cost recovery of water services — this covers both water and waste water services — supplied to the non-domestic sector. Cost recovery from the non-domestic sector is to be achieved by way of a consolidated meter based volumetric charge, derived from separate rates applicable to water and waste water services. If a non-domestic consumer does not discharge to the public network, for example, where waste water is discharged to the consumer's septic tank, no charge for waste water services will arise. In general, it is not envisaged that an increased burden will arise for non-domestic consumers, solely because water and waste water (where applicable) rates are separately identified. Increases may however arise where a local authority operating the pricing policy had not previously sought to secure cost recovery from their non-domestic consumers.

In relation to the funding of the operational cost of water services provision, yesterday I announced the general purpose grants from the Local Government Fund to local authorities for 2007. This continued the trend of increasing central government support for the local government sector. In addition, a special Local Government Fund allocation of €10m was made in the budget to assist local authorities with extra running costs incurred in the operation of new water services infrastructure that is supporting unprecedented new development in recent years.

Departmental Funding.

Jack Wall

Question:

55 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 7 of 8 November 2006, if he has given further consideration to the provision of assistance to householders, outside of the social housing arena, to retrofit their homes against radon gas and who are not in a position to afford the cost of the retrofitting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42477/06]

As stated in response to previous Questions, the Government has for many years, largely through the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland, committed significant resources to assessing the extent of the radon problem throughout the country and to highlighting public awareness of radon and the health risks associated with radon. In reply to Question No. 607 of 1 November 2006, I outlined the numerous initiatives undertaken by the RPII and my Department. Householders, particularly those in high radon areas, have been strongly encouraged to have their homes tested for radon and to undertake radon remediation works where necessary.

Increasing the awareness of the public is considered to be a more effective approach than the provision of State financial assistance schemes to householders for radon testing of their homes or for radon remediation works. Such schemes of assistance are not operated by the majority of EU Member States. It would be difficult for a demand led scheme of domestic radon grants to ensure appropriate and cost effective targeting of remedial action. Furthermore, such a scheme could require very significant public expenditure and administrative resources.

Government efforts and resources, together with the RPII, will continue to focus on highlighting public awareness of radon and on improving information to householders and employers so as to enable and encourage them to address monitoring or remedial requirements effectively and economically.

Question No. 56 answered with QuestionNo. 51.

Library Projects.

Máire Hoctor

Question:

57 Ms Hoctor asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the support his Department has given for the provision of library facilities over the past ten years; his plans to enhance the public library service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42622/06]

Peter Kelly

Question:

71 Mr. Kelly asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the support his Department has given for the provision of library facilities over the past ten years; his plans to enhance the public library service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42502/06]

Sean Fleming

Question:

111 Mr. Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the support his Department has given for the provision of library facilities over the past ten years; his plans to enhance the public library service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42627/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 57, 71 and 111 together.

The Government has provided some €90.2 million, through my Department towards the local authority public library service over the years 1997 to 2006. On foot of this expenditure, supplemented by local authorities from their own resources, 57 new library buildings will have been opened by the end of 2006. In addition, the investment has also contributed to the provision and development of ICT including

automation of the public library service,

cataloguing,

1,400 public access Internet PCs,

optical scanning facilities,

colour printers to allow printing of OSI maps.

The development and population of the Ask About Ireland website and the digitisation of library authorities' local studies material has also been supported.

The library service was the subject of a major review in 1997/1998, which resulted in the publication of Branching Out: A New Public Library Service in 1998. This report put forward a series of recommendations designed to bring the public library service into the 21st century. One of the key recommendations in the report was that an eight-year capital programme be undertaken and that recommendation, along with the others in the report, was approved by Government.

A full review of Branching Out, in the light of Ireland's current economic and social climate, is currently nearing completion. On the basis of this review, I will be publishing an updated policy and vision for the public library service over the next 6 years early in the New Year.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

John Curran

Question:

58 Mr. Curran asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way Ireland compares with other EU member states regarding their progress towards meeting their targets under the Kyoto protocol. [42648/06]

The Kyoto Protocol requires that, the then 15 Member States in the European Union must reduce their aggregate emissions by 8% on 1990 levels during the 2008-2012 Kyoto commitment period. There is no equivalent joint commitment for the current 25 Member States. Under burden-sharing arrangements agreed by the EU in 2002, Ireland must limit its emissions to not greater than 13% above 1990 levels in the 2008-2012 period.

The latest report from the European Commission Progress Towards Achieving the Kyoto Objectives (COM (2006) 658), shows that, based on the latest available inventory data (2004), the EU-15 have a gap of almost 8 percentage points to close in order to reach the target, while Ireland's gap is slightly higher at 10 percentage points. Comparing recent progress, however, shows that Ireland has reduced the gap by 4 percentage points since 2001, while there was a slight increase in the gap in the EU-15 as a whole over the same period.

The report projects that the EU-15 will reach its target of reducing emissions to 8% below 1990 levels during the 2008-2012 period. This will be possible with additional measures, use of carbon sinks and use of the Kyoto Protocol flexible mechanisms to purchase allowances. Ireland will also meet its target under the EU burden-sharing agreement with existing and additional domestic measures, use of carbon sinks and use of the Kyoto Protocol flexible mechanisms.

Question No. 59 answered with QuestionNo. 52.

Strategic Development Zones.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

60 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will identify strategic development zones suitable for industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42544/06]

Under Part IX of the Planning and Development Act 2000, the Government may by Order, on foot of a proposal from the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, designate a site or sites as a Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) to facilitate development considered, in the Government's opinion, to be of economic or social importance to the State. Before proposing the designation of a site or sites to the Government, the Minister must consult with any relevant development agency or planning authority on the proposed designation.

To date, four SDZs have been designated by Government: Adamstown in South Dublin (2001); Clonmagedden in Meath (2001); Hansfield in Fingal (2001); and Balgaddy-Clonburris in South Dublin (2006). A proposal for a further SDZ has very recently been received from a planning authority for residential, recreational and amenity development, and is being examined by my Department.

No proposal for an SDZ for industrial purposes is under consideration at present.

Rental Accommodation Scheme.

Michael Ring

Question:

61 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will increase the amount local authorities can pay to landlords under the rental accommodation scheme where average rents are significantly higher than RAS payments locally; the local authorities which have requested such increases; if he will introduce revisions to the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42562/06]

The Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) is designed to cater for the accommodation needs of persons in receipt of rent supplement who have a long-term housing need. Funding is provided by the Department to local authorities to meet the cost of the scheme, including accommodation costs, through the transfer of resources from the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

The level of rents payable is determined by negotiations between the landlord and the local authority. Authorities have been advised that any agreement on rent levels should reflect local market conditions and the appropriate SWA rent supplement rent level for the area for the particular type of household. The setting of rent limits under the SWA scheme is a matter for the Minister for Social and Family Affairs and his Department is currently reviewing levels of rent limits to determine what limits should apply from January 2007 onwards. The aim is that any new rent limits reflect realistic market conditions throughout the country and that they will continue to enable the different categories of eligible tenant households to secure and retain suitable rented accommodation to meet their needs.

I am satisfied at this early stage that there is considerable scope and opportunities within the arrangements for local authorities to negotiate rents and secure accommodation within the financial model underpinning RAS.

Some local authorities have reported difficulties from time to time in finding good quality alternative accommodation, at a reasonable rent, for single persons and couples without children. Recent reports from local authorities indicate an acceleration in the transfer of households from rent supplement to RAS.

Electoral Spending Limits.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

62 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he will make regulations increasing the spending limits for the 2007 General Election; the amounts to which spending limits will be increased; the persons he intends to consult regarding this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42598/06]

Section 32 of the Electoral Act 1997, as amended, specifies the maximum amounts of expenditure which may be incurred on behalf of a candidate at a Dáil election. The amounts are €25,394.76 in a 3 seat constituency; €31,743.45 in a 4 seat constituency; and €38,092.14 in a 5 seat constituency. Section 3 of the Act provides that these amounts may be varied, by order of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, having regard to changes in the Consumer Price Index. Any such order must be laid before each House of the Oireachtas. No decision regarding an amending order has been made at this stage. I will consider any views that may be put forward in the matter.

Land Rezoning.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

63 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of acres or hectares of agricultural land that have been rezoned for development nationally; and the breakdown by local authority area for each year since 2000 to date in 2006. [42606/06]

Section 10 (2) (a) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 provides that a planning authority's development plan shall include objectives for the zoning of land for the use solely or primarily of particular areas for particular purposes (whether residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, recreational, as open space or otherwise, or a mixture of those uses). Also, Section 13 (1) of the Act provides that a planning authority may at any time, for stated reasons, decide to make a variation of a development plan. Accordingly, the details of land zoned from agricultural to development (which could be residential, commercial or industrial) would be set out in each planning authority's development plan. My Department does not seek or retain these details.

My Department does however carry out a survey, through the local authorities, of the total amount of serviced land zoned for residential purposes, owned both privately and by local authorities, at the end of June each year. This survey is valuable in assessing the overall stock of land at the same point each year, and the sufficiency of that stock to underpin required housing supply. Details from the survey are published annually in my Department's Annual Housing Statistics Bulletin, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas library, and on my Department's website.

While figures from the June 2006 survey are still being compiled, the results of the June, 2005 survey indicate that there were some 14,000 hectares of residentially zoned land available at that time to support future housing supply, with an estimated yield of about 460,000 housing units nationally.

e-Government Projects.

Dan Neville

Question:

64 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress to date on e-Government within his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42554/06]

Substantial progress has been made in my Department on the implementation of e-Government.

Vehicle ownership and taxation represent my Department's largest area of direct service provision to citizens and, at an early stage, the Government's Information Society Action Plan identified motor tax as a priority area for electronic service delivery. The motor tax online service, available at www.motortax.ie (as Gaeilge — www.motarchain.ie), went live in 2004. In 2005, €168 million was collected in over 800,000 individual transactions on the site representing 30% of all eligible business nationwide, rising to almost 50% in Dublin. It is expected that these figures will be exceeded in 2006, with overall take-up running at 34% and forecast revenue approaching €250 million. In addition, a major new area of service was added to the site last year enabling vehicle owners to tax new vehicles for the first time online.

A project has been underway since September this year to enable motor dealers to use a secure electronic service to notify my Department of changes of vehicle ownership. This substantially enhances the service offered to those dealers and to owners and will improve the accuracy and currency of vehicle ownership records. This system will also handle notifications of end of vehicle life from Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATFs) as required under waste legislation.

The growing level of interest in local heritage and wildlife around the country is reflected in the enthusiastic response to the Department's www.buildingsofireland.ie site, which attractively presents highlights of our built heritage on a county by county basis as the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage is carried out. In the new year, I will be launching a site which will use Geographical Information System (GIS) technology to deliver readily accessible map-based information on archaeological sites and monuments. This service will later be extended to include information on our natural heritage.

Many of the services promoted by my Department are delivered by local authorities and partner agencies and I am pleased that they have also responded to the challenges and opportunities of electronic service delivery. Various local authorities around the country enable citizens to use the internet to perform activities such as viewing and downloading planning applications, accessing library catalogues and reserving books, paying service charges, and accessing a wide range of forms and information.

A new IT Strategy is being developed by my Department for the period 2007-2010 and we will continue to look for new and innovative ways to deliver services conveniently to our customers while also striving to achieve efficiencies in our internal and back office processes.

Public Service Charges.

Paul McGrath

Question:

65 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position in relation to charges for water meters for farmers who have land holdings in more than one location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42576/06]

Local authorities are required to recover non-domestic water services costs from users including farm installation. Relevant costs to be recovered include marginal capital costs and operational, administrative and meter installation costs.

Following a pilot billing project in one local authority area, and having regard to discussions conducted with farming representatives, I am arranging for the billing guidance being prepared for local authorities to include a request that authorities consider the necessity for special discounting arrangements in the case of water meters on multiple fragmented small farm holdings when deciding their water charges. My Department will issue this guidance to local authorities shortly.

Sustainable Development Strategy.

Liz McManus

Question:

66 Ms McManus asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the plans to publish a National Sustainable Development Strategy; the matters that such strategy will address; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42595/06]

The Ten Year Framework Social Partnership Agreement, Towards 2016, includes a commitment to publishing a renewed National Sustainable Development Strategy by mid 2007.

Ireland's first sustainable development strategy, Sustainable Development — A Strategy for Ireland was published in 1997. A review of the Strategy, Making Ireland's Development Sustainable, was published in 2002, ahead of the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg. The renewed EU Sustainable Development Strategy was adopted by the European Council at their meeting in June, 2006.

Ireland's renewed Sustainable Development Strategy will take account of the renewed EU Strategy and our specific circumstances including:

the publication of the Lisbon Agenda-National Reform Programme 2005;

the Ten Year Framework Social Partnership Agreement 2006-2015, Towards 2016, and

the National Development Plan 2007-2013 now being finalised.

My Department will lead in coordinating the preparation of this renewed strategy which will draw the range of relevant policies into a coherent framework, review progress and set directions for future action.

To oversee and guide this task I am setting up a High-Level Inter-Departmental Steering Group. Comhar, the National Council for Sustainable Development will also be supporting the process. Options for broader consultation, which will facilitate effective contributions by all stakeholders, are being examined.

Road Network.

Ivor Callely

Question:

67 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the strategy in place to ensure the network of roads where new housing estates are developed can accommodate the increased demand of the local population; the role of the development levy for infrastructural development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42480/06]

Damien English

Question:

102 Mr. English asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will significantly increase funding for road restoration due to the significant increase in vehicles on the roads; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42566/06]

Shane McEntee

Question:

137 Mr. McEntee asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will significantly increase funding to local government in view of the significant local road deterioration due to major housing and other economic development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42565/06]

Sean Fleming

Question:

165 Mr. Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount of funding provided by his Department for non-national roads for each of the years 1994 to date in 2006; and the progress made to address deficiencies in the non-national road network. [42626/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 67, 102, 137 and 165 together.

The provision and improvement of non-national roads is a matter for local authorities to be funded from their own resources supplemented by State grants provided by my Department.

There have been significant increases in recent years in the level of State aid provided to local authorities for the provision, improvement and maintenance of non-national roads. State aid in 2006 for non-national roads, at almost €558 million, is the highest ever level of funding available and represents a very substantial increase of 13% on last year's record allocation, or an increase of almost €62.5 million. The 2006 allocation also represents an increase of almost €419 million, or over 300%, on the 1994 grant payment and an increase of almost €332 million, or almost 150%, on the 1997 grant payment.

Details of total non-national road grants paid by my Department for each of the years 1994 to 2005 and the initial allocation for 2006 are set out in the following table:

Year

Grant Payment

1994

139,036,319

1995

159,920,972

1996

186,476,274

1997

225,819,108

1998

261,112,576

1999

307,510,397

2000

341,229,407

2001

400,917,790

2002

435,457,000

2003

436,592,000e

2004

480,200,000

2005

501,270,000

2006 (allocation)

557,730,000

As regards my Department's pavement restoration programme, the results of a Pavement Condition Study on non-national roads, which was carried out by consultants and completed in 2005, show that there has been a very large growth in traffic volumes, including numbers of heavy goods vehicles, on our roads over the last 10 years and that the combination of growth in traffic volumes and damaging power has dramatically increased the structural loading on the non-national roads network. The study concludes that the economic boom, since the first study was carried out in 1996, has fundamentally changed the loading regime on the non-national roads network, with much higher and more frequent loading by heavier vehicles now being the norm.

The rate of occurrence of potholes and road disintegration has effectively halved since 1996 as a result of the €1.5 billion investment in Restoration Improvement and Maintenance works over the 1997 to 2004 period. However, the instance of other defects, such as rutting and edge cracking, has increased since 1996 as a result of growth in traffic on the network — particularly that of heavier and wider commercial vehicles.

On foot of the findings of the study, I have increased the grants available for Restoration Improvement works to €205.3 million in 2006, which is an increase of over €31 million, or almost 18%, on the 2005 allocation. This very substantial increase means that significant progress can be made in allocating funds to address the deficiencies identified by the Pavement Condition Study. I have also allocated grants totalling €75 million for Restoration Maintenance works this year. This represents an increase of €15 million, or 25%, on the 2005 allocation. I intend to announce non-national road grant allocations for 2007 early in the new year.

Insofar as development levies are concerned, under section 48 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, planning authorities may levy development contributions in respect of public infrastructure and facilities, provided by or on behalf of a local authority, that benefit development in the area, based on a scheme of contributions adopted for the area. The types of public infrastructure that can be funded by a development contribution scheme are:

the acquisition of land,

the provision of open spaces, recreational and community facilities and amenities and landscaping works,

the provision of roads, car parks, car parking places, sewers, waste water and water treatment facilities, drains and watermains,

the provision of bus corridors and lanes, bus interchange facilities (including car parks for those facilities), infrastructure to facilitate public transport, cycle and pedestrian facilities and traffic calming measures,

the refurbishment, upgrading, enlargement or replacement of roads, car parks, car parking places, sewers, waste water and water treatment facilities, drains or water mains and

matters ancillary to the above.

Based on information supplied to my Department by local authorities, €90.3 million of development contribution monies were applied to roads and car-parking in 2005. The equivalent figures for 2004 and 2003 were €70.2 million and €46.6 million, respectively.

The National Roads Authority, which operates under the aegis of my colleague the Minister for Transport, has overall responsibility for the planning and supervision of works for the construction, improvement and maintenance of national roads.

Wildlife Act.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

68 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason he has not given a commencement date for section 36 of the Wildlife Act 2000, six years after the Act was passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas; the reason for the delay; when he will make the necessary order to bring the section into force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42475/06]

Section 36 provides for the possibility of ministerial regulation of commercial shoot operators. This section, which is permission in scope, has not yet been commenced because of the increasing demands of other higher priority nature conservation requirements, in particular those associated with the European Communities (Natural Habitats) Regulations 1997.

Electoral Fraud.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

69 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he is satisfied that the threat of electoral fraud at the next general election due to inaccuracies on the electoral register is sufficiently low; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42536/06]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

154 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will vary the stringent regulations for the readmission of voters to the supplementary voting register who were incorrectly removed from the register and still reside at the same address; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42539/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 69 and 154 together.

In law, the preparation of the Register of Electors is a matter for each local registration authority. It is their duty to ensure, as far as possible and with the cooperation of the public, the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the Register; house to house or other sufficient enquiries must be made for this purpose.

In April 2006, I announced a package of measures to assist local authorities in their work on preparing the 2007/8 Register, which included the use of Census enumerators or other temporary personnel to support local authorities in preparing the Register; over 1,500 personnel were engaged in this work.

In addition, my Department worked with a group of local authority managers and senior officials to put in place an enhanced programme for improving the next Register. Detailed procedures for the carrying out of registration fieldwork were finalised and issued to local authorities in early July. The procedures included provision for ensuring that each household was visited and provided with forms and information at least twice, if necessary. In the event that this process did not satisfactorily register the household, written notification would then be given cautioning of the danger of being omitted from the Register.

I also committed to providing additional ring-fenced financial resources to support local authorities' own spending in respect of the register campaign and advised authorities that a contribution of some €6 million can be made available in this regard. An initial allocation of some €3 million, based on the number of households in each local authority area, was made available in July to local authorities for registration work.

As regards publicity and awareness, a two-stage approach was developed, involving information notices followed by an intensive media campaign. Information notices were published in the national press on 19–21 August, urging co-operation with local register campaigns. In addition, a national publicity and awareness campaign involving TV, radio, press and outdoor advertising ran from 11 September.

An online register search facility was made available through local authority websites and a central website www.checktheregister.ie was also set up, containing direct links to each local authority's eReg enquiry screen, to facilitate people in checking that they are on the Draft Register.

New arrangements for the deletion of names of deceased persons from the Register are now in place: the new system allows for the efficient and timely deletion of the names of deceased persons from the Register using the Death Event Publication Service which has been developed by Reach in association with the General Register Office.

New guidance for local authorities on Preparing and Maintaining the Register of Electors was made available to authorities in electronic format on 31 May. Printed copies of the guidance were subsequently sent to all local authorities, returning officers and relevant Government Departments. In the final version of the guidance, the importance of local authorities cross-checking the Register with other databases available to them was stressed.

I provided an additional two weeks — from 25 November to 9 December — to allow persons not on the Draft Register to apply for inclusion on the Final Register to be published on 1 February 2007. That gave people over five weeks — from 1 November to 9 December — to check, and apply for entry on, the Register. Local authorities now have until 2 January to make corrections to the Draft Register; county registrars have until 12 January to make amendments to it and people interested have a legal right to be heard in this regard. I also advanced legislative provision so that lists of persons on the current register but not included on the Draft Register can be made available by local authorities. In addition, a person who is not on the Final Register may apply for inclusion on the Supplement to the Register which closes on the fifteenth day before the next polling day.

Local authorities have carried out an extensive and intensive campaign in respect of the Draft Register for 2007/8, with both significant numbers of additions to, and deletions from, the Register. On this basis, and taking account of the other measures set out above, I am satisfied there will be significant improvement in the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the Register, with a consequent enhancement of the capacity of the Register to assist in the prevention of personation.

Electoral law provides that, at the polling station the returning officer or the presiding officer may, or if required by a personation agent shall, request any person applying for a ballot paper to produce a specified identification document. The range of documents includes commonly accepted forms of identification containing photographs such as a passport, a driving licence, an employee identity card and a student identity card. Other types of specified documents, such as cheque books or cards, and birth or marriage certificates, must be accompanied by further documentation which establishes the address of the holder in the constituency.

If a person fails to produce a required document, or if the returning officer or the presiding officer is not satisfied that the person is the person to whom the document relates, they are not to be permitted to vote. My Department has considerably strengthened the recommendations to returning officers and presiding officers about the frequency of document checking. Prior to 2002, the recommended frequency was 1 in 20; in 2002, this was increased to 1 in 4.

Electoral law also contains other provisions in relation to personation, including a range of offences and penalties in this regard; a new offence was provided for under the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2004 for the unlawful possession or use of a polling information card. I will continue to keep this important matter, including the scope for further improvements, under review.

Finally, there is a need to maintain a proper balance between the requirement to uphold the security and integrity of the electoral process and providing a necessary degree of flexibility. The Supplement to the Register provides an important opportunity for people, who would otherwise not be able to vote, to be included on the Register; at the same time, it is necessary to ensure that appropriate controls are in place in this regard. There are no proposals for amendment of the relevant legislative provisions.

Animal Welfare.

Máire Hoctor

Question:

70 Ms Hoctor asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress made towards implementing his report on the regulation of puppy farms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42623/06]

Work on implementation of the majority recommendations of the Working Group which was established to review the management of dog breeding establishments is currently underway in my Department. The process includes the development of standards for relevant dog breeding establishments and the drafting of new Regulations under the Control of Dogs Acts 1986 and 1992. The work will be completed, and a new system of regulation will be put in place, as soon as practicable in 2007.

Question No. 71 answered with QuestionNo. 57.

Public Service Charges.

Tom Hayes

Question:

72 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in view of the significant increase to local authorities of wage costs, chemical costs and energy costs he will significantly increase funding for water and waste water facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42572/06]

Dan Neville

Question:

151 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the shortfall in funding to local authorities for water and waste water infrastructure which will have to be met by development levies, charges or further increases in the consolidated charge for water services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42568/06]

Paul Kehoe

Question:

162 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the expected impact of the universal metering on non domestic water services customers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42578/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 72, 151 and 162 together.

Government policy envisages full and transparent cost recovery of water services supplied to the non-domestic sector. The policy also provides for the continued funding of the cost of providing water and waste water infrastructure to domestic users through the capital budget of my Department and, in the case of operational costs, through the Local Government Fund.

Cost recovery from the non-domestic sector is to be achieved by a consolidated citywide or countywide, meter based volumetric charge. The policy provides for cost recovery without profit, with charges based on actual metered consumption and no cross subsidisation of the domestic sector by non-domestic consumers. Where there is a mixture of domestic and non-domestic use, such as a farm, an allowance is made by the local authority for the domestic element, which is deducted from the overall charge to the consumer.

Local authorities, in line with the above policies, are moving towards the metering of all non-domestic water use. The effect of this will be to enable local authorities to measure the amount of water supplied to each non-domestic connection to the water service. This will provide a transparent and equitable cost recovery mechanism for water services in accordance with the polluter pays principle and should incentivise all non-domestic users to conserve their use of water and thus minimise this element of their running costs.

Under existing arrangements, the Exchequer makes no contribution towards the funding of non-domestic water services provision. However, the Exchequer fully funds the capital cost of water and waste water infrastructure for all existing domestic consumers and contributes to the funding of future domestic water services provision where this is incorporated in proposed schemes, with the balance of this portion being met from development levies. The marginal capital cost and operational costs for the non-domestic sector must be met through water charges and development levies.

The domestic element of the operational cost of local authority water services falls to be met through the Local Government Fund. The provision for this fund has increased from some €470m in 2000 to over €870m in 2006. Yesterday I announced general purpose grants of some €948m to local authorities for 2007, from the Local Government Fund. This represents an increase of 8% in the compared with the final allocations for 2006. The 2007 allocations figure moreover represents an increase of some 35% over the initial allocations provided in 1997. Additionally a special local government fund allocation of €10m has been made in Budget 2007 to assist local authorities with extra running costs incurred in the operation of new water services infrastructure.

Register of Electors.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

73 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of people incorrectly removed from the electoral register in the recent drive to update it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42534/06]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

101 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the status of the electoral register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42533/06]

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

115 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the breakdown of costs that his Department has incurred and is expected to incur in relation to measures taken to update the current electoral register. [42609/06]

Dinny McGinley

Question:

132 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of names that incorrectly remain on the electoral register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42535/06]

Joe Sherlock

Question:

157 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of names removed and added to the Electoral Register prior to the publication of the draft register; the number of persons notified that they were being removed from the draft register; the number of such persons who have, prior to 9 December 2006, requested to be included in the Electoral Register; the net position regarding deletions and additions following the 9 December 2006 deadline; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42602/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 73, 101, 115, 132 and 157 together.

In law, the preparation of the Register of Electors is a matter for each local registration authority. It is their duty to ensure, as far as possible and with the cooperation of the public, the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the Register; house to house or other sufficient enquiries must be made for this purpose.

In April 2006, I announced a package of measures to assist local authorities in their work on preparing the 2007/8 Register, which included the use of Census enumerators or other temporary personnel to support local authorities in preparing the Register; over 1,500 personnel were engaged in this work.

In addition, my Department worked with a group of local authority managers and senior officials to put in place an enhanced programme for improving the next Register. Detailed procedures for the carrying out of registration fieldwork were finalised and issued to local authorities in early July. The procedures included provision for ensuring that each household was visited and provided with forms and information at least twice, if necessary. In the event that this process did not satisfactorily register the household, written notification would then be given cautioning of the danger of being omitted from the Register.

I also committed to providing additional ring-fenced financial resources to support local authorities' own spending in respect of the register campaign and advised authorities that a contribution of some €6 million can be made available in this regard. An initial allocation of some €3 million, based on the number of households in each local authority area, was made available in July to local authorities for registration work and a further €2 million in register funding is being processed.

As regards publicity and awareness, a two-stage approach was developed, involving information notices followed by an intensive media campaign. Information notices were published in the national press on 19–21 August, urging co-operation with local register campaigns. In addition, a national publicity and awareness campaign costing €1 million and involving TV, radio, press and outdoor advertising ran from 11 September.

An online register search facility was made available through local authority websites and a central website www.checktheregister.ie was also set up, containing direct links to each local authority's eReg enquiry screen, to facilitate people in checking that they are on the Draft Register.

New arrangements for the deletion of names of deceased persons from the Register are now in place: the new system allows for the efficient and timely deletion of the names of deceased persons from the Register using the Death Event Publication Service which has been developed by Reach in association with the General Register Office.

New guidance for local authorities on Preparing and Maintaining the Register of Electors was made available to authorities in electronic format on 31 May. Printed copies of the guidance were subsequently sent to all local authorities, returning officers and relevant Government Departments. In the final version of the guidance, the importance of local authorities cross-checking the Register with other databases available to them was stressed.

I provided an additional two weeks — from 25 November to 9 December — to allow persons not on the Draft Register to apply for inclusion on the Final Register to be published on 1 February 2007. That gave people over five weeks — from 1 November to 9 December — to check, and apply for entry on, the Register. Local authorities now have until 2 January to make corrections to the Draft Register; county registrars have until 12 January to make amendments to it and people interested have a legal right to be heard in this regard. I also advanced legislative provision so that lists of persons on the current register but not included on the Draft Register can be made available by local authorities. In addition, a person who is not on the Final Register may apply for inclusion on the Supplement to the Register which closes on the fifteenth day before the next polling day.

Local authorities have carried out an extensive and intensive campaign in respect of the Draft Register for 2007/8, with the information available indicating both significant numbers of additions (379,394) to, and deletions (505,042) from, the Register. Some 170,000 people were written to asking them to contact their council to confirm their details and warning of the danger of being omitted from the Register. Final figures regarding the number of additions to and deletions from the Register will not be known until authorities and County Registrars have completed their work and the final register is published in February. However, on the basis of the work already undertaken, I am satisfied there will be significant improvement in the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the Register.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Paul McGrath

Question:

74 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will increase the level of grant funding from 30% to 35% of the cost of capital funding to local government for water and waste water treatment facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42575/06]

John Deasy

Question:

92 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will significantly increase funding to local authorities for the capital costs of constructing new water and waste water treatment facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42574/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

105 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the full extent and location of sewerage schemes in respect of which approval has been sought, is awaited or is otherwise pending, by the respective local authorities throughout the country or where there is an evident need for such schemes; the way he proposes to accelerate this capital programme having particular regard to meeting the demands from the respective communities and prevent pollution arising from current, inadequate or non-existent facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42500/06]

John Deasy

Question:

159 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will significantly increase funding to local authorities for the capital costs of upgrading water and waste water treatment facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42573/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

538 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number, location and extent of group water or regional water schemes submitted by the local authorities in County Kildare and awaiting approval in his Department; the extent to which examination or appraisal has been completed or is in hand; when he expects to approve and fund the schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42894/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

539 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number, location and extent of proposals for small, group or regional sewerage schemes or upgrading of existing schemes currently before his Department submitted by the various local authorities in County Kildare and awaiting his approval; when he expects approval to issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42895/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

543 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of group or regional domestic water schemes currently before his Department, awaiting approval; when he expects progress in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42899/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

544 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of group, small, medium or major sewerage scheme proposals awaiting approval in his Department; the extent to which these are expected to proceed in the next five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42900/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 74, 92, 105, 159, 538, 539, 543 and 544 together.

Details of water services schemes approved by my Department are set out in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2005-2007 which is available in the Oireachtas Library. Earlier this year my Department asked all local authorities to provide updated assessments of their needs for additional water services infrastructure and to review their priorities in light of economic, demographic and other developments that had taken place since the last such assessments were produced in 2003. The latest assessments will inform the selection of new schemes for inclusion in the next phase of the Water Services Investment Programme. Information in relation to proposals included in the assessments for any particular area may appropriately be sought from the relevant local authority.

Funding of €3.7 billion is being invested in new and upgraded water and wastewater infrastructure under the current National Development Plan. A total of 337 schemes were completed under the Water Services Investment Programme in the period from January 2000 to mid 2006. These schemes have, inter alia, generated additional wastewater treatment capacity equivalent to the needs of a population of 3.1 million, seven times greater than the entire increase over the period of the previous National Development Plan, together with sufficient additional drinking water treatment capacity for a population of 660,000. The Exchequer capital provision for water services infrastructure next year is up 7% on the 2006 provision and the new National Development Plan will continue the current focus on providing water services infrastructure to support strong economic and social development, while at the same time preserving the highest environmental standards.

The position with regard to the funding of individual schemes is that the capital cost of services to cater for the domestic sector is met by the Exchequer through the Water Services Investment Programme. Under Water Services Pricing Policy, and in accordance with the EU Water Framework Directive, the marginal capital cost of services for the non-domestic sector is recovered by local authorities from non-domestic consumers on a consolidated countywide basis over a period of up to twenty years. The proportion of overall costs represented by the non-domestic contribution varies from scheme to scheme, depending on general design parameters, the overall capacity of a scheme and the breakdown of domestic and non-domestic demand. Typically the level of capital support by my Department for new water service infrastructure is in the range 85% to 90%, and not 30% to 35% as implied in the Question.

I have introduced a number of measures to streamline the approval procedures and reduce administration at Departmental and local authority level in order to move projects to construction as soon as possible. I have reduced the number of stage approvals local authorities are required to obtain from my Department and also simplified Water Services Pricing Policy procedures and affordability criteria. Overall I am satisfied that the current levels of funding, together with the resources and administrative supports available to my Department and the local authorities, will ensure that projects under the Water Services Investment Programme will move ahead urgently.

Election Management System.

Bernard Allen

Question:

75 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if and when he expects electronic voting will be used in elections here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42528/06]

Bernard Allen

Question:

78 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the expenditure on electronic voting to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42527/06]

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

79 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the costs to date of the development roll-out, and promotion of the electronic voting and counting system; the costs to date of storage and maintenance of the system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42581/06]

Enda Kenny

Question:

82 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the recent report from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology which recommended optical scan systems which allow ballots to be recounted independently from a voting machine’s software; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42561/06]

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

112 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of occasions since 31 July 2006 on which the Cabinet Committee on Electronic voting has met; if it has appointed a peer review group; when it expects to report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42582/06]

John Gormley

Question:

119 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the fact that another international report has cast doubt on the security of electronic voting (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42612/06]

Paul Connaughton

Question:

141 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if there will be provision locally for local storage of electronic voting machines in the period immediately before and after each election on which they will be used, before these machines will be returned to central storage; the expected extra cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42549/06]

Richard Bruton

Question:

152 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the expected cost of providing central storage of electronic voting machines, including security costs, compared to the cost of storing such machines locally at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42548/06]

Finian McGrath

Question:

509 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that paperless electronic voting machines used throughout the US cannot be made secure and that a single programmer could rig an election; and if he will update the taxpayers here on this matter. [43170/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 75, 78, 79, 82, 112, 119, 141, 152 and 509 together.

The Commission on Electronic Voting concluded in its Second Report on the Secrecy, Accuracy and Testing of the Chosen Electronic Voting System, which was published on 4 July 2006, that it can recommend the voting and counting equipment for use at elections in Ireland, subject to further work it has recommended. The Commission made it clear that many of its recommendations involve only relatively minor modifications or additions to the system.

In response to the report, the Government has established a Cabinet Committee on Electronic Voting, which I chair, to consider the report in detail; report to the Government on the full implications of the Commission recommendations; consider the composition of a peer review group — drawn from international electoral reform bodies and the IT industry — to supervise any software redesign work; report to the Government on confidence building measures; and identify any other improvements that might be built into the system.

The Cabinet Committee, which also includes the Tánaiste and the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, met on 31 July 2006. Its work is underway and it will meet again in the near future. The issue of a peer review group will be considered by the Committee at the appropriate stage of its deliberations. The Committee will report to Government when its work is completed. As part of its work in this regard, my Department monitors ongoing and emerging developments at international level in relation to electronic voting.

The timing of the further use of the system will be related to the progress, of the cabinet committee's ongoing work, the associated decisions arising in this regard, and the dates at which future polls may be held.

The Government decision to proceed with the movement of the electronic voting equipment to centralised premises was made taking into account a range of factors, including costs of current and centralised arrangements and the likely benefits to be realised. In this regard, the Commission in its Second Report concluded that, as the current arrangements under which voting equipment is stored at 25 locations are likely to give rise to continuing variations in the implementation of security and related control measures, together with replication of similar costs of implementation of these measures which are not insignificant across individual centres, enhanced and more uniform security and greater economy of security costs could be achieved through the rationalisation of storage on a regional or centralised basis; preparatory work in relation to the planned use of Gormanston Aerodrome is advanced in this regard.

The total cost to date of the development and roll-out of the electronic voting and counting system is €51.3 million (including €2.6 million in respect of awareness and education initiatives). In addition, information provided by returning officers to my Department indicates that the annual storage costs for the electronic voting machines and ancillary equipment is currently some €705,000. It is not possible to detail conclusively at this stage the total costs which will be associated with the centralised storage arrangements, including costs relating to local storage of the electronic voting machines at election time. Arrangements are being made for the procurement of metal storage containers for Gormanston Aerodrome at a cost of €87,150 (excluding VAT); insulation of these containers will cost a further €10,290 (excluding VAT).

Recycling Policy.

Damien English

Question:

76 Mr. English asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will increase significantly the provision of recycling infrastructure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42567/06]

Statutory responsibility for the implementation of the regional waste management plans, including the provision of recycling infrastructure, rests with the local authority (or local authorities) concerned and my Department has no function in this regard.

However, since 2002 my Department has allocated over €90 million in capital grants to assist local authorities in the provision of recycling and recovery services. The projects assisted include bring bank networks, civic amenity sites, materials recovery, composting and biological treatment facilities. In addition, my Department has allocated some €12 million since 2003 to local authorities to assist in the subvention of the operating costs of recycling facilities.

Proposed Legislation.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

77 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the primary legislation he will publish between now and the end of the current Dáil; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42603/06]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

525 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the Bills he expects to publish before the end of 2006; and thereafter the Bills he expects to publish before the general election. [42650/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 and 525 together.

In addition to the Carbon Fund Bill 2006, which has just been published, I intend early in 2007 to publish

a Housing Bill which will deal, inter alia, with revised tenant purchase arrangements (including sale of local authority apartments), the Rental Accommodation Scheme and local authority powers to deal with ant-social behaviour, and

an Electoral Bill to address the issues arising from the recent Supreme Court judgement concerning assenting to the nomination of Non-Party candidates at Dáil elections.

Question No. 78 answered with QuestionNo. 75.
Question No. 79 answered with QuestionNo. 75.

Planning Issues.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

80 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when the guidelines for planning authorities on residential density will be reviewed and updated; the considerations which are informing the review and update; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42584/06]

My Department published Residential Density Guidelines for Planning Authorities in 1999, aimed at improving the quality in new housing by supporting more compact and sustainable forms of residential development. The thrust of the Guidelines was to promote higher residential density at appropriate locations particularly in conjunction with improved public transport systems.

My Department intends to review the Guidelines with a view to up-dating them next year. The review will take account of experiences to date with the 1999 guidelines, the rapidly changing demographics and settlement patterns, the need for more compact urban development (particularly within the Greater Dublin Area) and the on-going policy of delivering sustainable communities and enhancing quality of life. The revised Guidelines will focus particularly on the quality of new developments. They will also take account of the extensive experience built up since the introduction of the Guidelines in the design, assessment and development of higher density proposals.

In light of the need to provide a wider housing/planning policy context for sustainable urban housing, my Department intends to produce a series of inter-related guidance documents, comprising:

The new draft planning guidelines referred to above;

a new best practice handbook on urban design and housing layouts, which will illustrate how the policies set out in the planning guidelines might be implemented, with examples drawn from current practice;

guidance on design standards for apartments; and

a revision of the 1999 Social Housing Design Guidelines.

Waste Management.

Dan Boyle

Question:

81 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of waste shipment verifications carried out by each local authority, in accordance with Council Regulation (EEC) No. 259/93 of 1 February 1993, on the supervision and control of waste within, into and out of the European Community; and the number of irregularities uncovered for each of the years since 2000 to date in 2006. [42607/06]

In Ireland, the thirty four county and city councils are the designated statutory competent authorities in respect of the export of waste from the State under Council Regulation (EEC) No. 259/93, the Waste Shipment Regulation. My Department does not compile data in regard to their specific enforcement activities, but is aware that verification of waste destinations is carried out by individual authorities. Ireland is actively engaged within the European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL), an informal network of environmental enforcement authorities, is chair of the IMPEL TFS cluster of authorities for 2006/2007 and has participated in two verification of waste destination projects to date and will be participating in further enforcement projects in 2007. The verification projects already carried out, and which have involved five local authorities during 2005 and 2006, have shown that all of the waste shipments checked have been recovered or disposed of at the country of destination in accordance with the required procedures.

Question No. 82 answered with QuestionNo. 75.

Planning Issues.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

83 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has satisfied himself with the level of co-operation on planning decisions and environmental impact assessments between the Environmental Protection Agency and An Bord Pleanála; and the discussions he has had with the European Commission on the issue since the Commission issued its reasoned opinion on the issue dated 25 July 2001. [42610/06]

I am satisfied that the co-operation between An Bord Pleanála and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in relation to environmental impact assessments (EIA) is effective and, furthermore, is fully in accord with the provisions of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive (337/85/ EEC).

The interface between An Bord Pleanála and the EPA has been developed and refined over the years and is now provided for in the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2006; the Environmental Protection Agency Acts 1992 to 2005; the Waste Management Acts 1996 to 2005: and in Regulations made under those Acts.

Essentially, planning authorities or An Bord Pleanála deal with the planning and land use aspects of development proposals which also require IPPC licensing, whereas the EPA deals with the environmental aspects of emissions from the carrying out of the activity. However, a planning authority or the Board may also refuse planning permission for a proposed development in any case where it considers that the development, notwithstanding the IPPC licensing of the activity, is unacceptable on environmental grounds.

As the Reasoned Opinion issued by the EU Commission may result in litigation before the European Court of Justice (ECJ), it would not be appropriate for me to disclose the content of any correspondence or discussion between the EU Commission and Ireland on this subject.

Local Authority Funding.

Phil Hogan

Question:

84 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will provide funding for local authorities to meet the expected cost of flooding due to the effects of climate change; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42546/06]

Adaptation to the inevitable impact of current and historic emissions of greenhouse gases is an integral part of national climate change policy, as reflected in the document "Ireland's Pathway to Kyoto Compliance" which I issued earlier this year, copies are available in the Oireachtas library. There is no evidence to link recent flooding or any future flooding in the short-term directly to greenhouse gas emissions and the issue of specific funding for climate change adaptation purposes does not arise. In the normal course, provision of financial resources to local authorities for flood-related works is a matter for the Office of Public Works.

National Spatial Strategy.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

85 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress to date on the National Spatial Strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42541/06]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

99 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress to date on the National Spatial Strategy; the results of the gateways priorities study; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42558/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 85 and 99 together.

At national level substantial progress is being made in implementing the National Spatial Strategy (NSS), which is having an increasing influence on policies and programmes across a range of Government Departments and agencies.

At regional level, a key policy bridge between national development priorities and local planning has been put in place with the adoption of Regional Planning Guidelines to provide a strategic framework for local planning.

At county and city level, strategic land use and planning frameworks for all the Gateways are almost complete. The potential impact of the Strategy in terms of achieving more balanced regional development has been underscored by the Government's decision in July 2005 that the regional dimension of the next National Development Plan, now in preparation, will be broadly based on the NSS. The priorities of the NSS and regional planning guidelines have also been recognised in the Government's 10-year investment plan for transport, Transport 21.

To support the development of the NSS Gateways, my Department in conjunction with Forfás, commissioned the Gateway Investment Priorities Study. This study has been completed and was jointly published on my Department's and Forfás's websites in October of this year. The study addresses the Gateway's potential for accelerated development in housing, commercial and employment terms and the key infrastructure priorities that will be necessary to facilitate such development. The study sets out relevant issues in each Gateway, such as economic infrastructure, enterprise and economy, quality of life and local capacity. It identifies short-term and long-term investment priorities for each of the Gateways and proposes mechanisms through which these can feed into the next NDP and other national policies and programmes. Similar work is also being undertaken in relation to the hubs identified in the NSS.

In addition, I launched the Atlantic Gateways Initiative in September 2006; this is aimed at having Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford collaboratively creating a critical mass for future economic development as a counter-balance to Dublin and the East. The report, with recommended actions and timescales, explores how the four gateways can become an increasingly interconnected and developed network of co-operating and complementary cities. This can, in turn, enhance the development potential of all four gateways and invigorate development in the hub towns and the wider urban and rural catchment areas.

Draft Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Development Plans were published for public consultation last April. These Guidelines emphasise the importance within such plans of creating a clear strategic framework for the proper planning and sustainable development of the relevant area consistent with the longer-term aims set out in the National Spatial Strategy and regional planning guidelines. Comments on the Draft Guidelines are currently being considered by my Department with a view to finalising the Guidelines in the near future.

My Department, in co-operation with other relevant Departments, is also pursuing measures to enhance cooperation on spatial planning and infrastructural investment across the island of Ireland, as endorsed by the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference. As announced following a meeting of the Conference on 2 May, my Department, working in conjunction with the Department of Regional Development in Northern Ireland, is preparing a framework for collaborative action between the NSS and the Regional Development Strategy for Northern Ireland to assist in creating conditions that will facilitate enhanced competitiveness on the island.

Residential Tenancies Board.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

86 Ms Enright asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the policy advice he has received to date from the Private Residential Tenancies Board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42551/06]

The functions of Private Residential Tenancy Board under the Residential Tenancy Act 2004 include research and the provision of information and policy advice in relation to the private rented sector. The PRTB is in the process of developing this role alongside its core functions of dispute resolution and tenancy registration. For this purpose, it has entered into a partnership arrangement with the Centre for Housing Research, which is managing a number of research projects that should make a valuable contribution to development of policy in relation to the sector. I have also asked the PRTB to participate in the Action on Private Rented Accommodation Standards, which was announced in September, including input to the review of the minimum standards regulations for rented accommodation.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

87 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way he proposes to address the issue of long waiting lists for social and affordable housing, having particular regard to the fact that some applicants are on waiting lists for ten years or more, notwithstanding, the housing boom; if he will set an objective to meet the housing requirements of all such applicants on an ongoing basis within a two year period; if he will further ensure the availability of housing options for such families who are currently often forced into relying on subvented rental accommodation with obvious negative consequences for themselves, their families and the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42501/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

545 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of people on housing waiting lists, those awaiting social housing or affordable housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42901/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 87 and 545 together.

The statutory assessment of housing need is undertaken by local authorities on a triennial basis. The most recent assessment of need for social housing, undertaken by local authorities in March 2005, indicated that there were 43,684 households on local authority waiting lists compared with 48,413 in March 2002. In the context of affordable housing it is not possible to provide a national figure as many authorities do not maintain a waiting list and simply advertise when schemes are coming on stream.

National data available on the duration that applicants spend on waiting lists for social housing is as follows:

Length of Time

2005

% of need

Less than 1 year

17,664

40

Between 1 & 2 years

8,872

20

Between 2 & 3 years

6,733

15

Between 3 & 4 years

3,725

9

More than 4 years

6,690

15

Total

43,684

100

My Department has successfully promoted a range of measures to provide additional social housing in recent years, and is committed to maintaining a strong programme of social housing provision into the future. In the three year period 2007-2009 we are specifically committed to increased investment in social housing with 27,000 new units to be started over the period. This will include the commencement/acquisition of an additional 4,000 new housing units through a combination of local authority, voluntary and co-operative housing and RAS long-term contractual arrangements for new supply as provided for under Towards 2016.

Government has been and will continue to be resolute in its determination to address issues of housing affordability. A range of targeted schemes to assist first time buyers has been put in place in recent years. These include the Shared Ownership Scheme, the 1999 affordable housing scheme, affordable housing through Part V of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2006 and the Affordable Housing Initiative under Sustaining Progress. Output under the various schemes is projected at some 3,000 homes this year. For the period 2007-2009 we have set ourselves an even more ambitious target of some 17,000 homes to meet continuing need.

Finally, arising from commitments set out in the Housing Policy Framework document — Building Sustainable Communities and the new Partnership Agreement, Towards 2016, a new, more objective, approach to the assessment of housing needs is being developed. Under the new approach housing assessment will provide the basis for access to a wide range of housing support options.

Motor Taxation.

Joe Costello

Question:

88 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount by which motor taxation will be increased in 2007; the estimated increase in revenue which is expected in motor taxation in 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42588/06]

On Budget day (6 December) I announced new proposals which will provide an incentive through the motor tax system for the motoring public to drive cleaner cars. The new proposal will use CO2 emission ratings, in addition to the normal engine c.c. value, in the calculation of motor tax and will rebalance tax payments in favour of cars with lower CO2 emission levels, at the expense of cars with high emission levels. This rebalancing will be applied to any new or pre-owned imported vehicle, registered in this country on or after 1 January, 2008 and taxed within the ‘Private Car' motor tax class, which make up about 75% of vehicles registered each year. Cars, which are registered prior to 1 January 2008, will continue to be taxed under current arrangements and CO2 ratings will not apply to these vehicles. A public consultation paper on motor tax rebalancing is available on my Department's website www.environ.ie and I have invited interested parties to make submissions by 1 March 2007.

Current motor tax rates have remained unchanged since 2004; receipts up to the end of November 2006 show an increase of 10% compared with last year, against a background of a 6% increase in the national vehicle fleet.

Recycling Policy.

Pat Carey

Question:

89 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the development of recycling facilities here over the past ten years; the increase there has been in recycling rates in the same period; if the progress made has reached targets set; the role his Department is playing in facilitating recycling; his plans for further development of recycling in the years ahead; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42628/06]

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

125 Mr. O’Connor asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will report on progress made on increasing recycling rates here over the past ten years; the support that has been provided by his Department over that period to support recycling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42518/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 89 and 125 together.

There has been a radical transformation in recycling rates in Ireland in the last ten years. Recycling is a significant element of the Government's overall integrated policy framework on waste management — which is based on the internationally recognised waste hierarchy — prioritising waste prevention, minimisation, reuse, recycling, energy recovery and the environmentally sound disposal of residual waste which cannot be recycled or recovered.

This significant emphasis on recycling is reflected in the 1998 policy statement Changing Our Ways which provided a national policy framework for the adoption and implementation by local authorities of strategic waste management plans under which specific national objectives and targets would be achieved. Specifically, Changing our Ways set ambitious recycling targets to be achieved over a fifteen year timescale — i.e. by 2013 — including a recycling target of 35% of municipal waste recycling. Government policy on recycling was further elaborated in the policy statements Delivering Change in 2002 and Taking Stock and Moving Forward in 2004.

The following table sets out the targets for recycling and associated deadlines and progress achieved in recent years.

Year

Landfilled (tonnes)

Recovered (tonnes)

Recovery Rate

National Targets

1998

1,685,766

166,684

9.0%

35% recycling by 2013

2001

1,992,050

305,554

13.3%

2002

1,901,864 (down 4.5% on 2001)

496,905

20.7%

2003

1,832,625 (down 3.6% on 2002)

726,763

28.4%

2004

1,818,536 (down 0.8% on 2003)

918,995

33.6%

Household Waste

Year

Landfilled (tonnes)

Recovered (tonnes)

Recovery Rate

National Targets

1998

1,125,698

37,518

3.2%

50% diversion from landfill by 2013

2001

1,254,857

74,887

5.6%

2002

1,294,061

132,602

9.3%

2003

1,231,109 (down 4.9% on 2002)

185,753

13.1%

2004

1,214,908 (down 1.3% on 2003)

295,134

19.5%

Packaging Waste

Year

Recovered (tonnes)

Recovery Rate

National Targets

1998

93,259

14.8%

25% recovery by end July 2001 rising to50% recovery by end December 2005 & to 60% recovery by 2011

2001

221,266

27.0%

2002

296,389

35.0%

2003

419,600

44.2%

2004

479,540

56.4%

Infrastructure Provision

Year

Bring Banks

Civic Amenity Sites

Households with Segregated Collection

Landfills accepting Municipal Waste

1998

837

30

70,000

76

2001

1,436 (up 71.8% on 1998)

46 (up 53.3% on 1998)

200,000 (up 185.7% on 1998)

50 (down 34.2% on 1998)

2002

1,636 (up 13.9% on 2001)

49 (up 6.5% on 2001)

300,000 (up 50% on 2001)

39 (down 22% on 2001)

2003

1,692 (up 3.4% on 2002)

60 (up 24.5% on 2002)

564,000 (up 86.7% on 2002)

35 (down 10.3% on 2002)

2004

1,929 (up 14.0% on 2003)

69 (up 15.0% on 2003)

34 (down 2.9% on 2003)

This table is based on national waste statistics, collated and published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The dramatic increases in recycling rates for household waste have been driven by successful Government policies including:

the provision of segregated collections for dry recyclables to over 540,000 households by 2003;

the continued expansion of the numbers of bring facilities. Since 2002, some €90 million has been allocated to assist local authorities in the provision of greatly expanded recycling facilities. This has facilitated an increase in Bring Banks from 837 in 1998 to 1,929 in 2004 and in Civic Amenity sites form 30 in 1998 to 69 in 2004. In 2006, additional Exchequer funding of €10m has also for the first time been made available. This reflects the importance which the Government attaches to supporting local authorities in the provision of these very important facilities;

the roll out of pay-by-use by public and private sector waste operators in recent years; and

raising awareness through campaigns such as the Race Against Waste.

In order to provide further impetus in this area, a range of further measures have also been, or are in the process of being, undertaken:

successful producer responsibility initiatives are in place to support the achievement of recycling targets for certain waste materials e.g the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) scheme introduced in August 2005 has lead to a five-fold increase in recycling of this waste stream while the European Union 2005 target of 50% recovery rate for packaging waste was exceeded in 2003 and reached 56.4% in 2004;

the National Strategy on Biodegradable Waste was published in April 2006. In 2004, almost three quarters of municipal (household and commercial) waste sent to landfill was biodegradable. The Strategy sets out measures aimed at the separate collection, recovery and recycling of biodegradable waste with a view to achieving the progressive diversion of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill by 2016 to 35% of the amount of biodegradable municipal waste generated in the baseline year of 1995; and

the Market Development Group was established in 2004 to oversee the development of a Market Development Programme which will identify new applications and markets for recyclable material and secondary recycled products. The Group has been asked to identify barriers to the use and marketing of recyclable material and to develop strategies to address these. The Market Development Programme is being finalised at present for publication early in the New Year.

I am confident on the basis of the strong track record in improving recycling in recent years, the sound polices policies put in place by the Government and the enthusiasm of the general public for recycling that Ireland will enjoy continued success in meeting the targets set out in Changing Our Ways.

Waste Management.

Liam Twomey

Question:

90 Dr. Twomey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the location and expected cost of remediating existing landfills; the funding that will be provided in each case to each local authority; the views expressed by the EPA and EU Commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42556/06]

Following a European Court of Justice judgment in April 2005 which found that Ireland had not properly transposed the 1975 Waste Framework Directive, the European Commission indicated its wish to see progress in relation to landfill sites which had not been subject to the regulatory approach provided for in the Directive in the period to the enactment of the Waste Management Act in 1996. In the context of Ireland's formal response to the judgement, prepared in consultation with the EPA and other relevant bodies, a systematic approach is being applied to dealing with these historic or legacy sites.

It is important to note that there are a number of different categories of landfill including currently operating licensed local authority landfills, local authority landfills that operated for a period as licensed landfills under the licensing regime established by the 1996 Act, but are now closed, and local authority landfills which were never licensed, but which operated during their lifetime within the then national legal arrangements.

In regard to currently operating licensed facilities it is a matter for the local authority concerned to determine a gate fee which has regard to the costs of operating the facility and of meeting the aftercare provisions contained in the relevant EPA waste licence. However, the Government recognises that local authorities will face major challenges in meeting the costs of necessary remediation works in respect of closed facilities for which financial provision was not made during their operation. In 2006 my Department provided an initial €10 million to assist certain local authorities to begin the remediation process in regard to sites which, while closed, had been the subject of a licence and as a consequence have determined aftercare requirements.

In the context of the preparation of the new NDP my Department has proposed additional funding for the period 2007-2013 to permit continued phased remediation of the local authority landfill legacy on the basis of co-funding with the local authorities concerned. As each such site, not previously licensed, will be required to undergo a risk assessment, a statutory requirement under the EPA Act, all funding will be allocated on the basis of these assessments. In September 2006 I approved a draft Code of Practice for the Environmental Risk Assessment of Unregulated Waste Disposal Sites prepared by the EPA, on which the Agency then carried out a public consultation. During 2007 this Code will be used to begin the process of systematically assessing the historic landfills concerned to permit a coherent and uniform approach to addressing remediation requirements and funding.

Nuclear Safety.

Willie Penrose

Question:

91 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the distribution of his Department’s leaflet Safeguarding Ireland form Nuclear Accidents to all households here. [42478/06]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 45 of 8 November 2006. The position is unchanged.

Question No. 92 answered with QuestionNo. 74.

Climate Change Strategy.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

93 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will introduce a national plan to deal with the expected effects of climate change; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42545/06]

Ireland's Pathway to Kyoto Compliance, published in July 2006 for the purpose of public consultation in the context of the ongoing review of the National Climate Change Strategy, sets out work currently under way to assess the impacts of climate change in Ireland. The report proposes the development of a national policy on adaptation to climate change to provide policy-makers with a framework to factor potential future climate change impacts into policy making. A copy of this report is available in the Oireachtas Library. Work on the review of the National Climate Change Strategy will be completed as soon as possible.

Recycling Policy.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

94 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the market development group will publish its report on markets for recycled products before the end of the 2006 as previously stated. [42613/06]

I refer to the reply to Question Nos. 21 and 78 of 8 November 2006.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Billy Timmins

Question:

95 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on whether more could be done to provide seed capital to voluntary housing bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42525/06]

Earlier this year I announced a record level of funding for the voluntary and co-operative capital schemes. I also substantially increased the capital funding limits for individual housing projects. Funding is also provided by my Department to approved voluntary and co-operative housing bodies towards administrative and operational costs.

My Department, in consultation with the voluntary and co-operative sector, is considering the future policy and operation of the capital funding schemes. Relevant proposals by the voluntary and co-operative sector will be examined in this context.

National Water Study.

Simon Coveney

Question:

96 Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the estimated volume and cost of water lost through leakages in the water pipe network nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42532/06]

My Department's National Water Study audited 91 water supply schemes outside the Greater Dublin Area serving more than 5,000 consumers and operated by some 38 local authorities. The study reported on all aspects of water supply, including availability of raw water, treatment capacity, water distribution systems and associated management issues. The study report published in 2000 found, inter alia, that unaccounted for water levels varied significantly between regions but were generally in the range of between 40% to 50%. The corresponding figure in the Dublin region in 1996 was 42.5%.

There are variations in the production costs of water between local authorities. In addition, not all unaccounted for water is lost through leakage. Heretofore, a significant proportion would have related to unauthorised or unrecorded connections. However, the universal metering of all non-domestic consumers, which is expected to be completed in 2007, coupled with ongoing improvements in local authorities' water management systems, will, in addition to further reducing unaccounted for water levels, significantly improve the range of data available in this area. In the meantime, detailed information in relation to the cost of water leakage nationally is not available in my Department.

In 1996 capital funding was introduced under my Department's Water Services Investment Programme to help reduce unaccounted for water levels in local authority distribution networks, to improve the quality of supply to consumers, to lower operating costs and to maximise the value of investment in new treatment works. A series of pilot schemes to identify potential improvements, as well as some network rehabilitation, was undertaken. Project locations included Dublin, Cork, Galway, Waterford, Limerick, Athlone and Clonmel. Capital funding of €63m was provided by my Department. The results showed that the levels of unaccounted for water were reduced considerably. For example, in Dublin they fell from 42.5% to 28.7%, in Donegal from 59% to 39%, in Meath from 47% to 34% and in Kilkenny from 45% to 29%.

A further €281m is now available to local authorities to identify and reduce unaccounted for water in public supply networks. The bulk of this allocation, €194m, is for network rehabilitation or replacement works by authorities that have already carried out water management system studies under the earlier pilot phase. The balance of €87m will enable the remaining authorities to complete water management system studies as a necessary precursor to structural rehabilitation works. In November 2005, I increased the recoupment available to local authorities from my Department for certain water conservation activities from 75% to 90% to encourage and facilitate greater progress on water conservation generally. Details of current allocations to individual authorities for water conservation measures are set out in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2005-2007 which is available in the Oireachtas Library.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Pat Breen

Question:

97 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when the Government’s commitment to provide 4,000 voluntary housing units will be met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42523/06]

The voluntary and co-operative housing sector has an important role in the provision of social housing. By working in close partnership with local authorities, it supplements the social housing effort in areas where particular housing needs have been identified. It is supported by my Department through two separate funding schemes, the Capital Assistance Scheme and the Capital Loan and Subsidy Scheme.

The main strategy for delivery of the Government's social and affordable housing programme is through the local authority 5-year Action Plans for social and affordable housing. The Action Plans, now at their midway stage are currently being reviewed. The reviews are focussing on examining how targets have been met in the first two years of the plan and on incorporating any adjustments required for the remaining years of the plan, in light of outcomes including expected 2006 outputs, and the results of the recent Housing Needs Assessment. To date, over 19,000 units have been provided by the Voluntary Sector, some 8,000 of which have been provided over the period 2000-2005.

The Government is committed to providing additional investment over the period 2007-2009 in order to ensure the delivery of an additional 1,000 housing units. In accordance with the policy objectives contained in the Partnership Agreement Towards 2016 my Department is actively engaging with the Voluntary and Co-operative Sector to ensure that the necessary supports and resources are in place to enable it to deliver on needs. Proposals are also being advanced for an early rationalisation of the administrative and funding arrangements with a view to ensuring the earliest possible delivery of projects.

Housing Aid for the Elderly.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

98 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when his proposals regarding the essential repairs grant scheme and the special housing aid for the elderly scheme will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42465/06]

The review of the Disabled Persons Grant scheme, which incorporates the conditions governing the Essential Repairs Grant scheme and the Special Housing Aid for the Elderly scheme, was recently finalised within my Department. Proposals for the future operation of the schemes are being prepared and are expected to be announced early next year in the context of a new Housing Policy Statement.

Question No. 99 answered with QuestionNo. 85.

Homelessness Policy.

Joe Costello

Question:

100 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of persons who have been deemed by local authorities to be homeless; the number of persons who are sleeping rough; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42587/06]

Billy Timmins

Question:

109 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on whether the target of ending homelessness set out by the Make Room campaign is achievable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42526/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 100 and 109 together.

I have noted the recent launch of the MakeRoom campaign by Focus Ireland, the Simon Communities of Ireland, the Society of St Vincent de Paul and Threshold. The stated aim of the MakeRoom campaign is to end homelessness by 2010 and in this context indicates this to mean "nobody will sleep rough; nobody will stay in emergency accommodation for longer than is absolutely necessary and nobody will become homeless because of a lack of appropriate services".

The social partnership agreement Towards 2016 contains a commitment to the elimination of the long-term occupancy of emergency homeless accommodation by 2010. This is well aligned with the goals of the MakeRoom campaign. It should also be noted that the Homeless Agency, which is the partnership body which coordinates homeless services in Dublin, has already defined as its overarching goal the elimination of long-term homelessness and the need to sleep rough in Dublin by 2010.

The Independent Review of Implementation of Homeless Strategies, published earlier this year, examined the implementation of the Government's Integrated and Preventative Homeless Strategies and concluded that they should be amalgamated and updated. The Government have accepted the broad thrust of the recommendations of the Review and work is under way on the preparation of a revised and updated Strategy on Homelessness. As part of this process, a National Homeless Consultative Committee, including representatives from homeless service providers, will be established to provide input into the development of the revised homeless strategy and ongoing government policy on addressing homelessness. Very significant resources are being made available to address the issue of homelessness at national level in a comprehensive and co-ordinated manner. Since 2000, the Government through my Department and the Department of Health and Children have provided over €450 million in capital and current funding nationally for the provision of accommodation and care related services for homeless persons.

Recent assessments indicate that there has been a welcome decrease in rough sleeping in Dublin over recent years. According to Counted In 2002, the assessment of homelessness in the Dublin area undertaken by the Homeless Agency in March 2002, 312 people self-reported that they had slept rough for four nights or more in the previous week. The number of persons self-reporting as having slept rough for four nights or more in the most recent assessment, Counted In 2005, undertaken by the Homeless Agency in March 2005, was 185 — a decrease of 40%.

In relation to the overall number of homeless persons in Dublin, Counted In 2005 recorded that the number of homeless households in the Dublin area was 1,361 comprising some 2,015 persons and this represented a 19% reduction in the number of homeless households since the 2002 assessment. This was comparable with the experience of the Dublin Homeless Persons Unit which saw a 20% decrease in the number of households presenting as homeless in the same period.

Nationally, through the vital work of the local homeless fora, there has also been significant progress in reducing the numbers of homeless persons. In the Housing Needs Assessment 2005, local authorities recorded a 46% fall in the numbers of homeless persons nationally, from 5,581 persons in 2002 to 3,031 persons in 2005. In terms of rough sleeping, local authorities reported some 41 people sleeping rough outside of the Dublin area in the Housing Needs Assessment. Including the 185 people sleeping rough reported in the Dublin area, this would indicate that there were 226 people sleeping rough nationally in March 2005.

Question No. 101 answered with QuestionNo. 73.
Question No. 102 answered with QuestionNo. 67.

Planning Issues.

Phil Hogan

Question:

103 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his view on the report entitled Urban Sprawl in Europe the Ignored Challenge from the European Environmental Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42520/06]

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

107 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the fact that Dublin’s planning was recently cited as a worst case scenario by the EEA report, Urban Sprawl in Europe the Ignored Challenge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42605/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 103 and 107 together.

Ireland is experiencing huge levels of population growth across all counties, with the national population rising by over 8% in the last four years alone. This unparalleled growth, together with unprecedented economic expansion have placed large demands on housing and associated infrastructures. This represents a new challenge for the regional balance of development across the country, and for dealing with increasing pressures in the urban environs of Dublin.

The Government has acted swiftly and on a broad front to ensure that the provision of new houses and apartments is undertaken in a manner that is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. A key policy response has been the National Spatial Strategy (NSS), which was published in November 2002.

The NSS calls for a more balanced spread of economic activity in Ireland, but recognises that we must support and enhance the competitiveness of the Greater Dublin Area so that it continues to perform at the international and national level as a driver of national development. The NSS also accepts that it is not sustainable that Dublin should continue to spread outwards into counties on its periphery and beyond. To address this, the Regional Planning Guidelines (RPGs) for the Greater Dublin Area emphasise that it is necessary to consolidate the physical growth of the Dublin metropolitan area, the city and suburbs, while at the same time concentrating development in the hinterland into strategically placed, strong and dynamic urban centres.

The principles of the RPGs are now reflected in city and county development plans in the Greater Dublin Area and the effects of these policies are being seen in more integrated and strategic planning policies at local level. Moreover, the 1999 Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Residential Density included specific objectives for more compact urban development by seeking to assist planning authorities in achieving high quality residential density at appropriate locations, in conjunction with improved public transport systems. These guidelines are currently being reviewed and updated to take account of changing population and settlement patterns and the extensive experience built up since the introduction of the 1999 guidelines in the design, assessment and development of higher density proposals.

I am confident that the continuing implementation of the policies outlined above will have a positive influence on bringing about more compact urban design and sustainable development into the future.

Special Areas of Conservation.

Denis Naughten

Question:

104 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he will take to extend the closing date for special area of conservation appeals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42248/06]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 48 on today's Order Paper.

Question No. 105 answered with QuestionNo. 74.

Air Quality.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

106 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his view on the fact that environmental air quality as monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency indicates that the allowable annual limits as defined by EC Directive for PM10 were exceeded at the majority of sites which represents no improvement since 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42616/06]

EU Directive 1999/30/EC set limit values for particulate matter (PM10), currently in force from 1 January 2005. These are the first mandatory national air quality standards for particulate matter PM10 and are transposed into Irish law by the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2002. The air quality standards in force for particulate matter (PM10) including annual limits, have never been breached.

Question No. 107 answered with QuestionNo. 103.

Residential Tenancies Board.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

108 Ms Enright asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress to date in operating the Private Residential Tenancies Board and the operation of a national tenancy registration system; the cost of operating the Private Residential Tenancies Board to date; if there has been a request for more funding and staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42550/06]

It is a matter for the Private Residential Tenancy Board to keep the effectiveness of their operations and the adequacy of their resources under review. There is no request with my Department from the Board at present for additional operational funding or staff. A request was, however, received from the Board this week for a grant to fund the fitting-out of proposed new office accommodation and this is being considered.

Question No. 109 answered with QuestionNo. 100.

Nuclear Safety.

Jack Wall

Question:

110 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the European Commission has agreed to meet with Ireland’s international legal team on Sellafield in relation to clarification of the dispute over Sellafield and the elements which fall within and outside the European Court of Justice jurisdiction. [42476/06]

I refer to the reply to Questions Nos. 22, 84 and 126 of 8 November 2006. The position is unchanged.

Question No. 111 answered with QuestionNo. 57.
Question No. 112 answered with QuestionNo. 75.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Martin Ferris

Question:

113 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when the social housing design guidelines which are currently being reviewed by his Department will be published as was previously outlined by him in reply to Parliamentary Question No. 525 of 20 June 2006. [42460/06]

It is anticipated that the revised social housing design guidelines will be published in early 2007.

Environmental Policy.

John Gormley

Question:

114 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has satisfied himself with the monitoring of environmental threats to human health; and the discussions his Department has had on the issue with the Department of Health and Children and the Health Service Executive since the Environmental Protection Agency’s secretary general made it clear in 2003 that responsibility for monitoring human health effects of environmental issues was not a job for the EPA. [42611/06]

The Environmental Protection Agency has a wide range of statutory duties and powers under the Environmental Protection Agency Act. The protection of human health is a primary consideration of the Agency.

In granting Integrated Pollution Protection and Control (IPPC) and Waste licenses, the Agency sets stringent emission limit values for pollutants and potential pollutants, to meet the accepted EU standards and guidelines as a minimum requirement. In addition, the Agency evaluates the potential impact of the maximum licensed emission on the environment surrounding any facility, to ensure that all EU standards for the environment and World Health Organisation guidelines will be met.

In continued recognition of the interaction between the environment and human health, formal links have been established between the Environmental Protection Agency and the Health Services Executive. This has resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding between the two bodies, signed in October 2006, affirming their commitment to on-going cooperation, in the interest of the protection of health and the environment. The Agency has also advertised for a Post Doctoral Research Fellow in its Environmental Research Centre whose remit will include developing a framework and initiatives to advance the interface between environmental protection and human health protection.

Question No. 115 answered with QuestionNo. 73.

Building Regulations.

Liz McManus

Question:

116 Ms McManus asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he will make the European Communities (Energy Performance of Buildings) Regulations; when the regulations will take effect; the exemptions that are provided for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42596/06]

I intend to make the European Communities (Energy Performance of Buildings) Regulations shortly. The Regulations will become operative on a phased basis, over a 3 year period from 1 January 2007 to 1 January 2009.

The Regulations will specify the exempted building categories, which will be broadly as outlined on page 14 of the Action Plan for the Implementation of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive in Ireland, published in August 2006. A copy of this action plan is available in the Oireachtas Library.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Joe Callanan

Question:

117 Mr. Callanan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of waste water schemes built since 1997 to date in 2006; the expenditure involved in providing this infrastructure; and the environmental improvements which have resulted. [42629/06]

John Carty

Question:

153 Mr. Carty asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of waste water schemes built since 1997 to date in 2006; the expenditure allocated to provide this infrastructure; the number of people who have benefited nationwide and in County Mayo; the environmental benefit of such schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter which has resulted. [42634/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 117 and 153 together.

224 wastewater schemes have been completed since 1997 under my Department's Water Services Investment Programme at an Exchequer cost of €2.3bn. These schemes have provided additional wastewater treatment capacity equivalent to the needs of a population of 3.3 million, including a population equivalent of some 64,000 in County Mayo.

There has been clear progress in relation to the protection and improvement of environmental standards. This progress includes:

an increase in compliance with the requirements of the EU Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive from 25% in 2000 to 90% now: all remaining schemes necessary for full compliance with the Directive are included in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2005-2007

a reduction in the pollutant load from municipal discharges to rivers, lakes and seas of 45,000 tonnes per annum in a period of unprecedented economic growth

an increase from 67% to 70% in the length of unpolluted river channel between 1997 and 2003: this represents the first reversal of a downward decline that had persisted for decades

more Blue Flag beaches: in 2006, 81 Blue Flags were awarded to Irish bathing areas: this is the highest number ever, and compares with 70 in 1997

massive investment and rapid progress in the elimination of substandard drinking water supplies in the group scheme sector.

These achievements will continue to be built on throughout the term of the next National Development Plan 2007 to 2013.

Local Authority Housing.

Martin Ferris

Question:

118 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the fact that local authorities are often unable to provide funding to manage, maintain and improve their rented housing stock; his further views on the fact that these works are not covered by the remedial works scheme as they are not major refurbishment works; and the measures he will introduce to provide this necessary funding to local authorities. [42461/06]

Seán Crowe

Question:

120 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has plans to review and expand the remedial works scheme as it does not cover general repairs to rented houses that local authorities can not afford to carry out as they lack the required funds to do so. [42462/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 118 and 120 together.

Local authority housing construction and improvement works programmes, including planned maintenance, regeneration and remedial works are discussed with each local authority as part of the preparation and review of their Housing Action Plans. Arising out of this, authorities may seek Exchequer support for improvement works under a number of schemes. Some €133 million was assigned for improvement works undertaken by local authorities in 2006. Local authorities may also apply, on approval by the Department, Internal Capital Receipts from the sale of local authority houses to the undertaking of improvement works, which includes planned maintenance programmes.

Discussions will take place with housing authorities early in 2007 regarding their improvement works programmes for the period 2007 to 2009.

Question No. 119 answered with QuestionNo. 75.
Question No. 120 answered with QuestionNo. 118.

Waste Management.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

121 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the general location of each of the municipal waste incinerators, that it is proposed to build in the State; the approximate planned dates for the coming into operation of each of these incinerators; the status of each planned incinerator; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42601/06]

Under the Waste Management Acts, responsibility for the determination and implementation of waste management plans rests with the local authority (or local authorities) concerned and my Department has no direct involvement. Thermal treatment with energy recovery in accordance with the internationally accepted waste management hierarchy is a key element of Irish waste management policy and this is reflected in the relevant regional waste management plans.

The identification and delivery of necessary waste infrastructure, including waste to energy plants, is a matter for the local authorities in each region and the private sector. The timing of plant development is a matter for individual public and private promoters, having regard also to the requirements of the applicable planning and environmental licensing regulatory processes.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

122 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government further to the fact that the local authorities of Fingal, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown and Wicklow have agreed local area plans which would require 60% reductions in CO2 emissions, his views on whether it is time that his Department produced regulations that would require all local authorities to set such targets for local area plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42615/06]

It is not proposed at present to make it mandatory for local authorities to set targets in local area plans for reductions in CO2 emissions.

National Spatial Strategy.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

123 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the framework for joint action in implementing the cross border aspects of the National Spatial Strategy and its equivalent in Northern Ireland, the Regional Development Strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42559/06]

There are many complementary elements within the National Spatial Strategy and its equivalent in Northern Ireland — the Regional Development Strategy. These include the recognition of the attractiveness for inward investment of the Dublin-Belfast corridor and the role of the Letterkenny-Derry gateway as a driver for the wider northwest region. Both Governments have been actively supporting ongoing capital investments and spatial planning initiatives to implement those complementary and interdependent elements of both spatial strategies such as the M1-A1 road link, the Newry-Dundalk Twin City Initiative and the Northwest Gateway Initiative.

Recognising that there is further potential to strengthen co-operation in implementing both spatial strategies on the island, my Department, working in conjunction with the Department of Regional Development in Northern Ireland, is preparing a non-statutory framework for collaborative action on spatial policy between the National Spatial Strategy and the Regional Development Strategy for Northern Ireland. This was endorsed by the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference and was announced in a joint communiqué following the British-Irish Inter-Governmental Conference last May.

The aim of the collaborative framework is to facilitate strategic, forward-looking spatial planning and appropriate investment in infrastructure which will help to create enhanced, globally competitive and dynamic economic conditions on the island of Ireland.

To support the development of the collaborative framework, InterTrade Ireland commissioned the International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD) to carry out a study aimed at identifying the best means of taking the project forward. ICLRD is a consortium involving NUI Maynooth, the University of Ulster and Harvard College. The study, titled Spatial Strategies for the Island of Ireland towards a Collaborative Approach, was formally launched at a conference in Newry on 9 November.

It is intended that a draft report on the collaborative framework will be ready for consideration by the two Governments shortly.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Ivor Callely

Question:

124 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the maximum loans that local authorities are approved by his Department for social and affordable housing options by applicants in their catchment areas; the way these amounts reflect market conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42481/06]

Jack Wall

Question:

511 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if as a result of Budget 2007 the ceiling in relation to shared ownership loans has been increased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43096/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 124 and 511 together.

The maximum loan which may be advanced by a local authority for social and affordable housing schemes is €185,000 and subject to this limit, a loan of up to 95% of the price of the house may be made available. It is a matter for local authorities to determine the amount on the loan in each case up to the limit and subject to the borrower's ability to repay. In order to ensure the optimal use of resources, the prioritisation of funding for lower income groups and to avoid any significant impact on house process in their areas, authorities may apply lower limits to reflect local market conditions.

The existing loan limit is currently under review having regard to movement in house prices and the effectiveness of the various schemes in meeting the needs of target groups.

Question No. 125 answered with QuestionNo. 89.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

126 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he will take over the next year to enable the State to meet its Kyoto obligations and to reduce CO2 emissions; and the date on which he will publish a revised climate change strategy. [42466/06]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 4 of 8 November 2006.

A number of additional measures have been announced by the Minister for Finance in his Budget statement on 6 December 2006. These include:

a commitment to purchase up to €270 million Carbon Credits;

proposals for linking VRT and motor tax to carbon dioxide emissions and for enhanced mandatory emissions labelling;

introduction of VRT relief for electric cars on a one year pilot basis;

abolition on excise reductions for kerosene and liquid petroleum gas used in home heating;

extension of the SEI Greener Homes Scheme by €20 million between 2007 and 2009;

expansion of the SEI Commercial Bioheat Scheme to cover the installation of technologies such as solar panels in commercial premises and for buildings in the non-commercial sector such as community centres and sports facilities;

provision of an additional €3m to enable SEI to support small and medium enterprises to assess their energy usage and introduce measures to enhance energy efficiency;

extension of corporation tax relief for investment in renewable energy for a further 5 years;

new establishment grants for willow and miscanthus bioenergy crops;

introduction of support for €80 per hectare for qualifying energy crops in addition to an EU support of €45 per hectare; and

grant aid support for biomass harvesting machinery.

Work on the review of the National Climate Change Strategy will be completed as soon as possible.

Local Authority Funding.

Enda Kenny

Question:

127 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way he will fund local government in view of the predicted shortfall of €1.5 billion by 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42560/06]

The Review of Local Government Financing by Indecon Economic Consultants estimated, on the basis of different methods of projecting expenditure, that by 2010 local authority expenditure would increase by €1 billion to €2 billion in nominal terms over 2004 levels.

Funding this expenditure would be met by a combination of the buoyancy in the existing funding system, some additional funding and the achievement of efficiencies over the period.

As regards the existing funding system, there is significant natural buoyancy in the current revenue sources of local authorities. The valuation bases of local authorities are growing substantially as a result of continued economic growth. In addition revenue from motor taxation — which is paid directly into the Local Government Fund — continues to increase without any increases in the rates of this taxation; in 2006, motor tax revenues are running at 10% above 2005 levels.

I was in a position to announce record levels of General-Purpose Grants to local authorities from the Fund amounting to some €875m for 2006. Taking account of global valuations, this was an increase of some 8% on the 2005 allocation or 2½ times the 1997 level. I am also increasing the general-purpose grant allocations to local authorities for 2007 by 8% and I am confident that this level of funding will be adequate to meet ongoing local authority needs.

To supplement the existing income sources, a number of initiatives are being pursued. In the Local Government (Business Improvement Districts) Bill 2006, which is before this House today, I am making new commercial properties liable to a levy, similar to rates, effective from the date that the valuation of the property is placed on the valuation list, rather than from the commencement of the next rating year as is the case at present. Measures to combat motor tax evasion are being continued and stepped up. I am also considering ways of bringing planning fees, which are fixed by Regulations, into line with the economic cost of dealing with planning applications.

Additional revenues will be complemented by a range of efficiency initiatives. In partnership with local authorities:

I am developing a standard costing system for the sector to deliver enhanced management information, particularly in relation to unit costs,

In the Local Government (Business Improvement Districts) Bill 2006, I am proposing to enhance the arrangements for local audit committees in line with best practice, and

I will pursue the scope for greater sharing of services between authorities.

I will also continue to ensure that the Value for Money Unit in my Department undertakes in-depth analyses of local authority activities and identifies "best practice".

The availability of good information is a key to good decision-making and I have published key financial data on my Department's website.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

128 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the impact of development contributions on affordable housing; if he has given consideration to exempting those houses that are subject to a claw back from this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42579/06]

Development contributions allow local authorities to recoup some of the costs to public funds of servicing land for private development. Without them, this servicing could not proceed or the full cost would have to be borne by the taxpayer. They are also a way of recouping some of the "betterment", which local authorities add to the value of land when it is serviced.

Under the Planning Acts, the money is ring fenced to pay for facilities servicing new development, for example, roads, water and sewerage services and other amenities including community facilities, landscaping and public transport infrastructure provided by or on behalf of a planning authority.

Development contributions are imposed on all types of new development that relies on the services mentioned in particular, housing. Development contributions are attached as a condition of planning permission, and are therefore paid by the person carrying out the development in advance of construction starting.

Affordable homes attract development contributions, as such homes are private homes, but sold at a discount to the market value and subject to a claw back on re-sale. The claw back provision is in place to protect the State's interest in the house and to ensure that there is no short-term profit taking on the resale of an affordable house. It is not proposed to exempt such houses from the requirement of development contributions.

Joe Walsh

Question:

129 Mr. Walsh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when work will commence on an affordable housing scheme at Darrara, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42246/06]

Cork County Council advertised for expressions of interest from consultants on 22 September 2006, for the preparation of the relevant documentation required for the Part 8 planning process, and for the preparation of cost plans, tender documentation and the construction contract in respect of the site at Darrara. Following a shortlisting exercise, further details on prices and proposals have been sought from six applicants and the closing date for receipt of this additional information is 20 December 2006. The Council confirmed that interviews with the shortlisted candidates will be held in January next year, with the successful consultant appointed immediately.

It is proposed to commence construction as early as possible in 2007, subject to the successful completion of the planning process. My Department continues to keep in close contact with Cork County Council to ensure that the project is progressed as quickly as possible.

Special Areas of Conservation.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

130 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to a planning application which has been submitted by Ballina Town Council for a site in Ballina which is a green area at Canalside and which is protected as part of SAC 002298; his views on whether due to the SAC status on this site, this application is viable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42647/06]

My Department was notified on 14 November 2006 by Ballina Town Council under Part 8 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, of a proposed development that includes the site in question. The proposal is being examined by my Department from the point of view of its potential impact on the built and natural heritage and our views will be communicated to the Council as soon as possible.

Local Authority Housing.

Pat Breen

Question:

131 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason the targeted 35,500 local authority housing units envisioned in the National Development Plan 2000 to 2006 were not all built; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42524/06]

Cumulative expenditure under the local authority housing measure of the NDP will reach some €5 billion at the end of 2006 which is 13% ahead of NDP forecast. While output levels have been less than anticipated, more than 31,000 local authority houses will be completed or acquired by the end of the programme period. The shortfall in achieving targets can be attributed largely to higher than anticipated unit costs.

Question No. 132 answered with QuestionNo. 73.

Proposed Legislation.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

133 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when legislation to regulate property management companies and agents will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42530/06]

The Government Legislation Programme provides for the publication in 2007 of a Property Services Regulatory Authority Bill, which is being developed by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform to give effect to recommendations in this area by the Auctioneering/Estate Agency Review Group. It is proposed that this legislation will provide for the regulation of property services, including the establishment of a Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA). I understand that proposed functions of the PSRA include licensing, regulating and dealing with complaints relating to managing agents. These commercial firms, which provide property management and maintenance services in various developments, are a significant element of the property management sector.

Management companies, which are composed of the property owners in a particular development, are generally constituted under the Companies Acts and are required to comply with the provisions of company law. I understand that the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment is developing proposals for a Company Law Reform and Consolidation Bill, which, it is expected, will include provisions to help alleviate certain problems in relation to management companies in the context of company law.

The Director of Corporate Enforcement is launching a consultation paper today on the Governance of Apartment Owners' Management Companies. I understand that this paper contains draft guidance focused on improving the governance of such companies, which should help owners to ensure effective management of the assets that are in company control.

The Law Reform Commission (LRC) is currently examining legal aspects generally regarding the management of multi-unit structures and I understand that a consultation paper will be available within a few weeks. In light of the LRC report, the Departments concerned will consider the need for any further measures to be taken in this area.

Obligations of property owners in relation to management companies are the subject of private contracts and buyers should obtain adequate legal advice and information when signing contracts. A recent report and booklet published by the National Consumer Agency provides useful consumer information on property management arrangements.

Local Authority Funding.

Seán Crowe

Question:

134 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount of funding provided by his Department to each local authority for each year between 2002 and 2006 inclusive, for the installation of central heating in their housing stock. [42463/06]

Jack Wall

Question:

534 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his Department will initiate a scheme or provide funding for the provision of central heating for senior citizens residing alone; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42814/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 134 and 534 together.

My Department introduced a programme in July 2004 for the installation of central heating in existing local authority rented dwellings with priority given to houses occupied by elderly people. Grants totalling some €42 million were paid to local authorities by my Department in 2004 and 2005. Capital allocations of almost €32 million were notified to local authorities for 2006. The following table gives a breakdown of the funding provided and allocated by local authority under the Central Heating Programme.

Prior to this initiative, my Department has required since 1994 that central heating be provided during construction in new local authority dwellings and included in the overall cost of schemes. Where capital funding is provided under regeneration and remedial programmes operated by my Department for upgrading of local authority dwellings, the provision of central heating may form part of the work undertaken.

More generally, the management, maintenance and improvement of their rented dwellings, including the installation of central heating is, in general, the responsibility of local authorities to be financed from their own resources. The present initiative is an important enhancement of local authorities' own measures and will lead to the continued upgrading of the local authority housing stock.

Funding may also be available from my Department for senior citizens for the provision of heating systems under the Improvements Works in Lieu Scheme, Disabled Persons Grant Scheme and Essential Repairs Grant Scheme.

Central Heating Programme

Local Authority

Total Grant Paid Up To 31 December 2005

Allocation For 2006

Carlow County Council

296,000

252,000

Carlow Town Council

416,288

310,000

Cavan County Council

431,200

392,000

Cavan Town Council

280,000

168,000

Clare County Council

888,550

560,000

Ennis Town Council

202,664

196,000

Kilkee Town Council

5,600

Kilrush Town Council

85,606

0

Cork City Council

1,549,733

2,800,000

Cork (North) County Council

334,800

1,120,000

Fermoy Town Council

60,268

106,400

Macroom Town Council

112,000

Mallow Town Council

321,523

369,600

Cork (South) County Council

1,496,729

1,433,600

Kinsale Town Council

84,000

Midleton Town Council

283,200

Youghal Town Council

150,000

Cork (West) County Council

520,800

Clonakilty Town Council

89,600

Cobh Town Council

147,497

16,800

Skibbereen Town Council

39,200

33,600

Donegal County Council

984,651

795,200

Ballyshannon Town Council

22,400

Buncrana Town Council

112,618

151,200

Bundoran Town Council

135,122

0

Letterkenny Town Council

253,448

0

Dublin City Council

5,107,280

Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown

2,554,302

2,800,000

Fingal County Council

1,549,075

1,232,000

South Dublin

3,958,598

0

Galway City Council

656,823

1,064,000

Galway County Council

1,677,258

1,086,400

Ballinasloe Town Council

117,098

157,500

Kerry County Council

444,278

286,272

Killarney Town Council

0

Listowel Town Council

196,235

104,000

Tralee Town Council

396,400

448,000

Kildare County Council

150,792

225,000

Athy Town Council

103,727

94,500

Naas Town Council

0

Kilkenny County Council

565,185

280,000

Kilkenny Borough Council

128,942

270,000

Laois County Council

775,865

280,000

Leitrim County Council

560,000

225,000

Limerick City Council

670,161

675,000

Limerick County Council

1,021,089

1,120,000

Longford County Council

569,600

739,200

Longford Town Council

442,240

224,000

Louth County Council

145,600

392,000

Drogheda Borough Council

542,661

225,000

Dundalk Town Council

862,981

784,000

Mayo County Council

0

Ballina Town Council

106,400

196,000

Castlebar Town Council

449,056

280,000

Westport Town Council

291,200

Meath County Council

681,279

547,200

Kells Town Council

140,000

0

Navan Town Council

0

Trim Town Council

16,163

0

Monaghan County Council

365,109

0

Carrickmacross Town Council

68,000

27,000

Castleblayney Town Council

70,000

50,400

Clones Town Council

75,627

0

Monaghan Town Council

86,097

100,000

Offaly County Council

529,748

201,600

Birr Town Council

140,000

Tullamore Town Council

126,000

112,000

Roscommon County Council

688,825

560,000

Sligo County Council

385,423

318,000

Sligo Borough Council

201,600

201,600

North Tipperary County Council

155,547

450,000

Nenagh Town Council

115,009

145,600

Templemore Town Council

98,547

100,800

Thurles Town Council

215,600

0

South Tipperary County Council

246,400

380,800

Carrick-On-Suir Town Council

168,000

Cashel Town Council

147,177

0

Clonmel Borough Council

40,375

235,000

Tipperary Town Council

214,353

112,000

Waterford City Council

872,308

891,000

Waterford County Council

387,151

208,000

Dungarvan Town Council

217,642

0

Westmeath County Council

768,576

800,000

Athlone Town Council

0

Wexford County Council

669,726

851,200

Enniscorthy Town Council

291,200

280,000

New Ross Town Council

366,400

235,200

Wexford Borough Council

263,580

280,000

Wicklow County Council

664,466

560,000

Arklow Town Council

250,000

200,000

Bray Town Council

430,765

225,000

Wicklow Town Council

228,400

168,000

Overall Total

41,870,236

31,993,872

Property Management Fees.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

135 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the action he has taken to implement the recommendations of the National Consumer Agency relating to management fees and service charges levied on owners of property on multi-unit dwellings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42599/06]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 115 of 8 November 2006.

Fire Services.

Seán Haughey

Question:

136 Mr. Haughey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on involving the fire services more closely with local communities as outlined in the Farrell Grant Sparks report; and if he will give consideration to linking the fire service to the developing first response movement. [42619/06]

Peter Kelly

Question:

146 Mr. Kelly asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans for linking the fire services more closely with local communities as outlined in the Farrell Grant Sparks Report; and his views on developing links between the fire service and the emerging first response movement. [42503/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 136 and 146 together.

In February 2005, I announced a Fire Services Change Programme to implement the key fire services and fire safety recommendations of the Review of Fire Safety and Fire Services in Ireland. This Programme includes measures addressing the development of community fire safety programmes and the development of a competency based approach to recruitment, retention and career progression in the fire services. A number of community fire safety programmes are now being implemented including schemes aimed at increasing smoke alarm ownership and an educational programme for primary school children.

First Responder Training has been provided to fire-fighters by individual fire authorities over the last five years, with most fire authorities having completed this training. First Responder Training is being considered as a standard module for inclusion in the recruit programme being developed under the competency element of the Fire Service Change Programme.

Question No. 137 answered with QuestionNo. 67.

Development Plans.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

138 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when the proposed guidelines for planning authorities on development plans will be finalised; the matters expected to be included in the guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42583/06]

Draft Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Development Plans were published for public consultation last April. The draft Guidelines aim to ensure that all development plans are prepared to the highest possible standards on a consistent basis across planning authorities in terms of setting clear aims and objectives. This includes the process of drafting, public consultation, presentation and adoption of plans. The draft Guidelines also emphasise the importance within such plans of creating a clear strategic framework for the proper planning and sustainable development of the relevant area consistent with the longer-term aims set out in the National Spatial Strategy and regional planning guidelines.

The draft guidelines flesh out the role and nature of high quality development plans in terms of:

their need to be strategic;

their role as a catalyst for positive change and progress;

their objective anticipation of future needs;

their role in protecting the environment and heritage;

their consistency with other plans and policies;

their need to address diverse community needs; and

their broad ownership by elected members, sectoral interests and the community.

Other key issues addressed in the draft Guidelines is the format of development plans and the need for continuous monitoring and evaluation of their implementation, and the key role that elected members play in the overall process. Comments and submissions received during the public consultation period are currently being considered by my Department with a view to finalising the Guidelines early in the new year.

Question No. 139 answered with QuestionNo. 51.

Noise Pollution.

Richard Bruton

Question:

140 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has satisfied himself that the measures currently in place to combat noise pollution are sufficient; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42538/06]

Significant powers are available to local authorities and to individuals to deal with environmental noise issues. I am also aware from the recent Second Stage debate on the Noise Bill 2006 of a shared concern to ensure that legislation in this area is adequate and to strengthen existing provisions if that is found to be necessary. The Government did not oppose the Bill and the sufficiency of existing measures will therefore be the subject of further examination in Committee in due course.

Question No. 141 answered with QuestionNo. 75.

Local Authority Housing.

Simon Coveney

Question:

142 Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of extra housing units that will be completed in 2007 on foot of the 10% increase in the local authority and social housing programme in the Estimates 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42531/06]

It is estimated that more than 7,000 households will benefit in 2007 from new social housing provided by local authorities and the voluntary and co-operative housing sector and through long-term contractual commitments for new supply under RAS. In addition, further households will benefit from the implementation of RAS involving contractual arrangements with landlords for existing properties transferring from rent supplement. The funding available in 2007 will support the first year of an accelerated programme of social housing in accordance with the commitments in Towards 2016; in all, the needs of some 60,000 households will be addressed in the 2007-2009 period.

Playground Facilities.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

143 Mr. O’Connor asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to support the provision of playgrounds and skateboard parks; the progress to date in rolling out this important infrastructure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42517/06]

Ready, Steady Play: A National Play Policy, which was published in 2004, provides a framework for the development of public play facilities in Ireland, with the overall aim of ensuring that children have access to a range of quality play opportunities to enrich their childhood. As part of the implementation of this policy, my Department has allocated funding of over €8 million to County and City Councils for the development of new, or refurbishment of existing, playgrounds over the period 2004-2006. The location of the playgrounds which benefit from these moneys is a matter for the local authority to decide.

In May 2005, I introduced a new initiative for the provision of skateboard facilities by local authorities. Each City and County Council was invited to submit expressions of interest for grant assistance towards the provision of a skateboard park in its area. Applications were assessed in my Department in conjunction with the National Children's Office and some 21 projects in 21 different local authority areas were recommended for grant aid. A sum of €1 million had initially been earmarked for the scheme in 2005 but, in light of the number and quality of submissions received, I approved all 21 projects in November 2005 and increased the funding allocation to over €2 million which is expected to be spent over a two year period.

The position regarding the provision of the 21 approved projects is being monitored by my Department and the question of inviting further proposals from local authorities will be kept under review in the light of progress with the 2005 scheme.

Waste Management.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

144 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has received estimates for the amounts of municipal, household and C and D wastes which were land-filled in 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42590/06]

The detailed information sought is not available in my Department. National waste statistics for all waste streams are published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). National Waste Reports have been published in respect of the years 1998, 2001 and 2004 with interim reports published in respect of 2002 and 2003. An interim report will be issued by the Agency early in the New Year in respect of 2005.

The following table sets out the position in relation to the amount of the wastes specified in the Question that have been landfilled in each of the respective years since 1998 for which data is available:

1998

2001

2002

2003

2004

Municipal Waste

1,685,766

1,992,050

1,901,864

1,832,625

1,818,536

Household Waste

1,125,698

1,254,857

1,294,061

1,231,109

1,214,908

Construction & Demolition (C&D) Waste*

1,533,386

1,250,297

N/A

N/A

N/A

* These figures relate to the amounts of C&D waste disposed of to landfill.

There has been significant progress in recovery and recycling of waste in Ireland in recent years. The Government policy document Waste Management: — Changing Our Ways (1998) set a target of 35% recycling for municipal waste by 2013. The EPA's National Waste Report 2004 shows that the recycling rate for municipal waste in that year was 32.6%. In addition, the diversion of household waste now stands at 19.5%, up from 3.2% in 1998 while the recovery rate for C&D waste is reported as a provisional 85.2% equating to an estimated 9,513,962 tonnes.

Increases in recycling have been achieved as a result of a range of policies introduced and supported by my Department including the provision of recycling facilities, 1929 brings banks and 69 civic amenity sites, the roll-out of segregated waste collection services, greater use of pay-by-use charging for waste management services and awareness raising measures such as the Race Against Waste.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Joan Burton

Question:

145 Ms Burton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the consultation he has had with the voluntary and co-operative housing sectors, regarding the possible introduction of a pilot tenant purchase scheme; when he will make a decision on this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42585/06]

There is no provision at present in the voluntary housing schemes for the purchase of individual houses by tenants. However, it was agreed under Housing Policy Framework — Building Sustainable Communities that consideration would be given in consultation with the voluntary and co-operative sector, to pilot a tenant purchase scheme for some new voluntary homes under the scheme.

The modalities of such a scheme have been the subject of ongoing discussion between my Department and representatives of the voluntary and co-operative housing sector including the Irish Council for Social Housing and National Association of Building Co-operatives. Submissions recently received from a number of these organisations with regard to a pilot tenant purchase scheme are currently being examined in my Department. The introduction of such a scheme including any legislative element, will be determined in the coming months.

Question No. 146 answered with QuestionNo. 136.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

147 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when Listowel Town water supply scheme will receive approval to proceed to contract document stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42443/06]

The Listowel Town Council Upgrade Water Supply Scheme is included in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2005-2007 to start construction in 2007.

My Department is awaiting submission of a countywide strategic water supply study being prepared by Kerry County Council to facilitate further consideration of the Council's Design Review Report for the Listowel scheme.

Litter Pollution.

David Stanton

Question:

148 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the policy of his Department regarding littering and the dumping of household refuse and waste on the roadside and throughout the countryside; the action his Department is taking and the funds made available to reduce same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42617/06]

Under the Litter Pollution Acts 1997 to 2003, primary responsibility for developing and implementing responses to litter lies with local authorities. Local authorities are required, so far as is practicable, to ensure that public roads in their functional areas are kept free of litter. They are also required to take all practicable measures for the prevention, control and disposal of litter in their functional areas.

Each local authority determines its level of expenditure on individual local services, including anti-litter and clean-up operations. Statistics available to my Department show that local authorities have substantially increased expenditure on road/street cleaning services. In 2005 local authorities spent €74 million on road/street cleaning, compared to €43 million in 2000 — an increase of 72%.

To support more effective local authority action against litter my Department has allocated over €5.7 million since 1997 to local authorities for public education and awareness initiatives against litter. My Department also provides financial support for two national anti-litter initiatives i.e. the An Taisce-led project, National Spring Clean and the Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) National Litter League, and has developed the National Litter Pollution Monitoring System (NLPMS) currently being implemented by local authorities. The NLPMS, which measures the extent and severity of litter pollution nationally, shows that there has been an improvement in litter pollution levels countrywide in recent years. The positive trend shown by the Monitoring System is also reflected in the IBAL League results, which record that cleanliness levels in the 53 participating towns and cities are generally improving.

Litter enforcement statistics are available in the Oireachtas Library and show that local authority performance on enforcement of the litter laws continues to improve. More litter wardens have been employed and there have been substantial increases in the number of prosecutions taken and on-the-spot fines issued annually.

Under the Waste Management Act 1996 persons holding, transporting recovering or disposing of waste may not do so in a manner which causes, or is likely to cause, environmental pollution. Enforcement is a matter for the local authorities and the EPA's Office of Environmental Enforcement.

My Department has provided €7.5 million this year to local authorities from the Environment Fund, to assist them in their waste enforcement activities generally. The funding is part of a programme of additional law enforcement in relation to waste activities. The purpose of the grant assistance is to provide highly visible on-the-ground enforcement staff and to help create a culture of compliance.

I am satisfied that existing anti-litter actions and waste enforcement activities by local authorities, together with my Department's support for the above initiatives, provide an effective and appropriate basis for tackling litter pollution and illegal dumping nationally.

Environmental Policy.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

149 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the establishment of an all-Ireland environment protection agency in view of the OECD recommendations that environmental issues should be dealt with on an-island wide basis; and if he will raise this issue when he meets his Six Counties counterpart in the North during their next meeting. [42464/06]

There is already good collaboration between the EPA and the relevant Northern Ireland authorities in relation to certain functions, especially environmental research and monitoring.

The question of the establishment of new North/South Bodies was addressed in the St. Andrews Agreement which provides that the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive under the auspices of the NSMC would carry out a review of the North/South implementation bodies, including an examination of the case for additional bodies in areas of co-operation where mutual benefit would be derived.

Constituency Boundaries.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

150 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the correspondence, which he has received relating to constituency boundaries, arising from the publication of the preliminary 2006 Census figures; if he has enquired from the Central Statistics Office as to when the final census figures will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42593/06]

Following the publication by the Central Statistics Office of the Preliminary Report on Census 2006, I sought the advice of the Attorney General on 21 July 2006 in relation to census results and constituency boundaries. The Attorney subsequently advised that constituencies can only be revised on the basis of the final Census figures. My Department also received a limited amount of other correspondence associated with this process and more generally on the issue concerned.

The publication of the final Census 2006 figures is a matter for the Central Statistics Office.

Question No. 151 answered with QuestionNo. 72.
Question No. 152 answered with QuestionNo. 75.
Question No. 153 answered with QuestionNo. 117.
Question No. 154 answered with QuestionNo. 69.

Waste Disposal.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

155 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will introduce a waiver system for local refuse charges to people on low incomes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42547/06]

Waste management services have traditionally been provided at a local level, with individual arrangements being locally determined and tailored to local circumstances. The present legal framework, as determined by the Oireachtas, reflects this. In accordance with section 52 of the Protection of the Environment Act 2003, the determination of waste management charges, and any associated waiver scheme, is a matter for the relevant local authority, where it acts as the service provider. Similarly, where a private operator provides the collection service, it is a matter for that operator to determine charges. However, my Department has asked local authorities to engage with commercial waste collectors to agree on arrangements to assist lower income households by offering alternatives to periodic lump-sum payments.

In August this year, I published a consultation paper on options for future regulation of the waste sector. Submissions were invited on whether there is a need for a regulator for the sector, if so on what model of regulator might be most appropriate and on what powers any such regulator should be given. Among the possible powers discussed in the paper is the power to impose a public service obligation so that services can be provided where they would not otherwise be economically feasible. Following consideration of the submissions received, which is currently under way, I intend to finalise further policy proposals.

Environmental Policy.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

156 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the action he will take on foot of the publication of the European Pollutant Emissions Register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42521/06]

The European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER) is published on foot of a requirement in the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive. In Ireland, the EPER is compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency every three years, and gives details on emissions to air and water from activities licensed under the above Directive where emissions of specific chemicals exceed a reporting threshold as set out in Annex I to the EPER Council Decision 2000/47/EC.

The general purpose of the EPER is to collect and report on emissions from individual installations across Europe. The objectives of the EPER are to:

collect comparable emission data from around 20,000 individual industrial sources and activities throughout Europe as specified in the IPPC Directive;

store the reported data in a register, which is publicly accessible over the Internet;

disseminate the registered data to the public by written reports and the Internet.

For the general public, it is intended that the EPER will enhance awareness, accessibility and comparability of information on emissions to the environment. As the EPER is not a register of breaches of IPPC licences, no action is required on foot of its publication.

Question No. 157 answered with QuestionNo. 73.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

John McGuinness

Question:

158 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on providing funding to overcome the deficiencies in group water schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42620/06]

My Department funds comprehensive range of grants and subsidies which are available from local authorities under the devolved Rural Water Programme to bring quality deficient group water schemes up to a satisfactory standard. These include including a 100% capital grant for new water treatment and disinfection plants.

Last February, I announced a capital allocation of €133m for the 2006 Rural Water Programme, the biggest ever annual allocation for the Programme. The bulk of this funding was earmarked for the provision of water treatment and disinfection facilities for group schemes with quality deficient sources. Upgrading projects are now being progressed for 282 group schemes throughout the county. By the end of this year, some 100 new water treatment plants will be operational and delivering treated water to over 26,000 rural households. New treatment projects to serve a further 17,000 rural consumers have been advanced through the planning stages and construction has already commenced on a number of these. Group scheme connections to local authority public water supply networks will benefit up to 10,000 more rural households.

A strong partnership has been forged between my Department, the local authorities and the group schemes sector. I envisage that this partnership, together with the unprecedented levels of grant aid being provided under the Rural Water Programme, will ensure early elimination of any remaining deficiencies in the quality of drinking water supplied to group scheme consumers.

Question No. 159 answered with QuestionNo. 74.

Local Authority Funding.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

160 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the level of charges in each local authority since their introduction; if his attention has been drawn to substantial proposed increases in development charges at local government level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42577/06]

I refer to the reply to Priority Question No. 46 on today's question paper.

The increase in development contributions in recent years reflects the large rise in construction activity which has led in its turn to increased demands for infrastructure, a fairer application of contributions across all development sectors and more accurate estimates by local authorities of their anticipated expenditure on infrastructure works; the latter is a requirement in advance of adopting a development contribution scheme under the Planning and Development Act 2000. In addition the 2000 Act for the first time provided that development contributions could be levied for local community infrastructure, such as playgrounds and parks.

The following tables set out the development contributions collected by planning authorities for the period 1983 to 2005. My Department does not have figures for development contributions collected prior to 1983.

Development Contributions

Area

1983

1984

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

Carlow

33,623

28,784

38,994

6,190

21,027

8,298

31,997

Cavan

2,539

3,682

4,105

6,412

2,933

9,543

28,760

Clare

32,456

40,812

56,491

28,620

45,265

76,729

120,044

Cork

657,402

633,338

690,678

565,667

653,736

709,819

836,623

Donegal

69,899

46,151

21,233

43,087

273,921

84,354

281,596

Dublin County

3,843,252

3,307,618

3,563,441

2,346,099

2,808,649

3,889,010

4,979,410

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

Fingal

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

Galway

141,798

265,492

194,498

74,127

53,486

55,767

109,732

Kerry

80,320

108,221

85,180

67,503

55,297

55,799

133,425

Kildare

284,993

342,194

500,055

631,135

543,949

479,369

172,248

Kilkenny

55,039

47,482

199,278

108,899

117,450

109,651

153,887

Laois

63,271

71,867

102,582

53,880

61,322

100,614

43,463

Leitrim

16,349

9,960

16,888

3,492

14,665

31,742

23,099

Limerick

180,954

384,155

1,168,702

378,500

83,560

182,992

232,653

Longford

0

0

2,539

1,270

0

18,322

8,954

Louth

36,689

56,510

48,231

168,375

80,094

133,019

163,212

Mayo

42,645

48,980

46,947

45,257

66,811

116,253

189,884

Meath

109,604

141,635

209,973

137,560

186,888

263,777

572,229

Monaghan

0

0

0

34,067

0

0

0

Offaly

68,450

119,298

63,652

44,674

35,327

111,662

90,240

Roscommon

11,707

3,504

3,466

0

3,301

7,511

190

Sligo

12,375

65,793

56,849

26,135

32,273

90,300

105,839

South Dublin

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

Tipperary North

46,789

79,204

65,215

69,232

47,242

70,834

77,792

Tipperary South

113,141

102,208

95,317

85,230

131,832

120,266

119,496

Waterford

7,204

21,319

14,610

0

42,282

128,308

82,831

Westmeath

185,753

67,000

27,345

50,718

54,968

39,673

66,782

Wexford

52,999

125,500

96,605

123,501

92,459

93,453

123,511

Wicklow

307,705

192,872

159,419

86,936

78,931

153,488

250,378

Sub Total

6,456,956

6,313,580

7,532,293

5,186,568

5,587,668

7,140,476

8,998,277

Cork City Council

221,959

200,010

195,447

139,690

213,203

172,733

223,761

Dublin City Council

30,423

50,788

53,367

131,615

121,068

0

1,060,344

Galway City Council

0

0

0

182,172

247,235

456,977

662,633

Limerick City Council

128,425

163,521

55,615

198,631

239,701

257,871

268,734

Waterford City Council

46,409

107,532

89,984

87,515

170,352

162,565

235,463

Sub Total

427,216

521,851

394,412

739,624

991,559

1,050,146

2,450,935

Total

6,884,172

6,835,431

7,926,706

5,926,191

6,579,227

8,190,698

11,449,212

Note: a number of authorities, mainly Urban District Councils, did not make complete returns in the years 1983 to 1989; therefore the figures for these years are not complete.

Development Contributions

Area

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

Carlow

76,994

62,964

58,515

36,558

87,574

76,005

Cavan

24,837

105,991

42,098

67,728

46,281

103,277

Clare

198,502

249,582

260,699

228,681

230,696

462,126

Cork

923,630

1,008,548

1,285,405

677,273

1,330,414

1,671,806

Donegal

225,370

189,261

258,305

396,368

547,765

462,921

Dublin County

5,185,254

6,073,199

8,069,856

7,844,848

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

4,244,680

2,197,218

Fingal

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

2,094,736

3,411,729

Galway

146,761

126,119

280,733

263,486

207,206

464,854

Kerry

292,300

303,150

477,237

531,865

390,144

390,960

Kildare

1,560,098

1,435,977

3,047,059

2,721,378

2,592,594

3,015,413

Kilkenny

191,023

202,370

162,868

157,329

261,870

305,654

Laois

50,536

83,348

55,377

155,352

92,246

200,174

Leitrim

6,031

13,153

15,713

13,956

45,156

54,517

Limerick

215,091

257,474

195,161

137,089

276,405

314,918

Longford

16,593

38,017

71,297

105,569

37,996

30,310

Louth

334,507

395,951

427,344

478,381

717,664

857,836

Mayo

82,624

75,746

222,181

173,354

162,926

170,884

Meath

437,241

373,355

657,105

725,569

676,535

1,209,687

Monaghan

5,803

8,355

11,936

13,662

22,728

19,078

Offaly

105,768

146,082

133,083

136,466

218,749

379,962

Roscommon

22,525

0

0

7,618

38,981

0

Sligo

150,458

140,076

131,624

118,488

189,494

182,602

South Dublin

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

NotApplicable

3,191,728

3,828,065

Tipperary North

89,729

54,294

89,496

105,071

790,064

85,048

Tipperary South

149,281

193,269

145,794

183,772

345,847

384,508

Waterford

56,615

175,700

46,904

219,624

871,628

164,162

Westmeath

133,575

104,618

109,548

121,505

136,757

206,678

Wexford

109,501

422,749

373,978

334,604

269,507

429,899

Wicklow

404,892

368,502

565,225

476,232

920,210

1,181,067

Sub Total

11,195,538

12,607,852

17,194,542

16,431,826

21,038,582

22,261,359

Cork City Council

190,007

211,457

199,824

302,634

810,513

943,875

Dublin City Council

1,027,936

1,279,600

1,127,087

1,531,355

2,576,634

2,674,660

Galway City Council

773,743

882,497

782,550

613,944

713,339

1,049,252

Limerick City Council

216,833

416,238

594,665

389,788

601,326

984,053

Waterford City Council

170,569

281,882

284,068

390,113

345,748

527,244

Sub Total

2,379,088

3,071,674

2,988,194

3,227,834

5,047,561

6,179,084

Total

13,574,626

15,679,526

20,182,736

19,659,661

26,086,143

28,440,443

Development Contributions

Area

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

Carlow

113,882

240,069

106,257

591,351

866,523

721,492

Cavan

58,544

165,729

479,851

725,459

980,322

985,723

Clare

423,227

679,284

1,005,647

1,626,640

1,337,848

1,342,238

Cork

2,744,498

4,501,977

5,534,894

7,378,054

10,101,535

9,803,819

Donegal

605,515

846,313

985,011

2,456,995

2,003,808

3,011,577

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

3,228,941

2,049,879

2,475,687

4,911,559

5,978,272

6,067,832

Fingal

5,229,046

5,710,981

8,466,367

12,162,025

13,612,511

14,764,631

Galway

454,679

968,328

386,172

1,501,752

2,854,366

3,688,593

Kerry

830,791

1,356,647

1,508,441

1,406,502

1,659,268

1,902,843

Kildare

8,875,524

8,894,331

7,474,678

5,072,816

6,428,683

6,078,742

Kilkenny

248,316

424,305

885,965

719,227

952,403

2,949,594

Laois

171,002

300,024

428,803

781,079

1,732,248

1,511,250

Leitrim

87,232

91,231

58,725

218,636

643,846

427,771

Limerick

456,048

544,198

971,444

1,646,977

1,632,093

2,277,417

Longford

78,065

179,367

61,571

202,166

670,007

866,501

Louth

1,238,194

752,618

1,866,824

3,048,278

4,270,854

5,174,232

Mayo

224,958

344,212

700,050

1,810,172

1,933,749

1,301,687

Meath

2,150,759

2,051,824

3,215,831

3,598,443

6,028,640

12,861,534

Monaghan

605,094

28,455

85,974

222,776

28,760

1,039,145

Offaly

230,297

358,306

457,224

863,673

1,411,426

983,783

Roscommon

119,876

258,735

437,749

473,625

1,173,977

798,832

Sligo

187,763

379,174

108,271

66,788

543,721

1,286,519

South Dublin

6,094,743

8,380,271

7,999,350

9,523,036

10,901,971

10,704,857

Tipperary North

195,848

1,933,996

489,988

453,330

643,638

1,092,348

Tipperary South

633,189

686,127

573,791

944,826

1,346,763

1,204,065

Waterford

171,812

400,753

577,445

1,324,309

2,018,991

1,659,281

Westmeath

457,715

770,579

1,296,834

1,187,396

1,942,817

2,067,964

Wexford

639,396

438,890

1,441,606

3,345,130

4,517,652

5,096,974

Wicklow

1,886,892

2,347,153

2,346,500

3,572,917

3,095,139

5,236,242

Sub Total

38,441,845

46,083,757

52,426,947

71,835,936

91,311,830

106,907,486

Cork City Council

705,679

766,213

1,174,270

1,739,116

1,924,379

1,820,076

Dublin City Council

3,878,684

6,641,007

7,646,575

9,127,950

10,563,548

7,606,758

Galway City Council

1,451,420

2,226,624

2,689,035

2,785,661

3,523,296

3,815,743

Limerick City Council

650,908

843,658

1,265,119

838,300

1,255,950

1,214,372

Waterford City Council

810,586

1,251,893

1,124,147

844,969

1,801,139

611,577

Sub Total

7,497,276

11,729,396

13,899,146

15,335,996

19,068,312

15,068,526

Total

45,939,121

57,813,153

66,326,093

87,171,931

110,380,142

121,976,012

Development Contributions

Area

2002

2003

2004

2005

Carlow

527,526

4,108,871

5,423,712

4,782,745

Cavan

1,250,997

1,726,563

2,443,668

3,463,676

Clare

1,848,373

5,030,619

15,012,318

8,459,942

Cork

13,650,879

18,640,420

23,372,801

42,277,686

Donegal

2,886,599

4,077,770

5,408,421

5,133,251

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

7,761,776

8,248,405

12,005,514

24,197,857

Fingal

16,338,872

22,828,194

36,418,076

50,499,281

Galway

3,472,987

6,283,355

10,192,308

12,589,385

Kerry

3,540,009

4,142,871

8,414,791

12,331,312

Kildare

9,249,082

9,681,082

21,553,713

27,446,483

Kilkenny

3,242,523

3,990,300

8,104,213

13,072,063

Laois

2,531,622

4,058,654

4,846,814

12,679,478

Leitrim

763,472

1,904,028

2,177,356

4,254,073

Limerick

2,896,451

3,246,640

5,102,569

7,812,743

Longford

1,438,301

1,306,556

2,840,998

2,724,196

Louth

8,993,794

11,621,455

13,576,797

19,816,995

Mayo

786,940

1,266,487

4,156,144

8,690,858

Meath

9,506,636

21,223,966

23,739,581

38,569,452

Monaghan

1,021,967

1,187,936

1,684,053

2,610,452

Offaly

1,194,923

2,440,985

5,077,802

4,141,990

Roscommon

1,958,157

3,449,130

3,679,966

6,405,252

Sligo

2,416,388

2,527,829

2,669,171

7,419,691

South Dublin

11,243,420

2,397,997

20,759,303

31,581,698

Tipperary North

1,014,080

15,249,361

5,227,791

6,083,430

Tipperary South

2,003,725

3,751,818

5,342,596

6,976,825

Waterford

1,596,213

1,663,166

3,519,316

5,125,913

Westmeath

1,819,521

3,793,639

5,274,025

6,984,991

Wexford

6,507,272

8,043,630

11,591,327

33,916,182

Wicklow

7,929,194

8,951,778

11,541,145

18,341,470

Sub Total

129,391,699

186,843,506

281,156,288

428,389,368

Cork City Council

3,094,378

7,521,882

10,831,391

11,043,286

Dublin City Council

8,654,092

11,378,014

27,571,393

63,572,817

Galway City Council

5,142,663

5,795,645

7,358,804

5,249,281

Limerick City Council

2,493,006

2,521,556

4,592,920

7,812,743

Waterford City Council

2,219,625

1,388,454

5,807,685

3,367,703

Sub Total

21,603,764

28,605,551

56,162,193

91,045,830

Total

150,995,463

215,449,057

337,318,481

519,435,198

Building Regulations.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

161 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the anomalous situation contained in the Building Control Bill 2005 as amended at committee stage whereby persons who receive the qualification MRIAI after the Bill comes into force will be recognised in Europe but not here and persons who do not hold that qualification will be able to practice here but will not be recognised under the European Architects’ Directive. [42459/06]

Section 12 of the Building Control Bill 2005, as amended at Committee Stage, sets out a number of ways in which a person may be eligible for registration as an Architect. These include academic and practical experience options. It also provides that a person who is a fellow or member of the registration body (RIAI) on the date of the passing of the Act will automatically be eligible for registration. Persons who become members of RIAI subsequent to that date may apply for registration under the alternative routes provided for in the Bill.

The Architects Directive 85/384/EEC now incorporated in Directive 2005/36/EU on Mutual Recognition of Qualifications recognises graduates in Architecture from UCD and DIT together with "membership" or "associate membership" of the RIAI.

The Report by the Competition Authority on Competition in Professional Services (Architects) recommended that, following enactment of the Bill, an amendment should be sought to Directive 2005/36/EU, referred to above to provide that the existing criteria (in Annex V) of "membership" or "associated membership" of the RIAI be replaced with "registration" by the registration body. This would entitle all persons registered in the statutory register to recognition in the European Union, should the amendment be accepted. I would propose to seek such an amendment following enactment of the Bill.

It should be noted that Section 12 of the Bill also provides that all registered professionals are eligible for membership of the registration body. Pending an amendment of the Directive 2005/36/EU (Recognition of Professional Qualifications), this provision would enable registered Architects who are not graduates of UCD or DIT, to be registered under the Directive.

Question No. 162 answered with QuestionNo. 72.

Water Quality.

John McGuinness

Question:

163 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress made in responding to concerns regarding Ireland’s water quality, as expressed recently by the European Environment Agency. [42621/06]

By any objective standard, there has been remarkable progress over the lifetime of this Government in relation to the protection and improvement of water quality. This progress includes —

since 2000 an increase in waste water treatment capacity equivalent to the needs of a populations of 3.1 million

since 1997 an increase from 20% to 90% in the level of compliance with the relevant EU Directive on waste water treatment

an increase from 67% to 70% in the length of unpolluted river channel between 1997 and 2003: this represents the first reversal of a downward decline that had persisted for decades

more Blue Flag beaches: in 2006, 81 Blue Flags were awarded to Irish bathing areas: this is the highest number ever, and compares with 70 in 1997

massive investment and rapid progress in the elimination of substandard drinking water supplies in the group scheme sector.

These achievements in relation to our water quality standards will continue to be supported by large scale investment under the Water Services Investment Programme and by implementation of the Nitrates Action Programme.

Every implementation deadline set to date by the Water Framework Directive have been achieved on time by Ireland. My Department provides 100% funding for river basin management projects to support implementation of the Water Framework Directive and has committed over €68 million for this purpose. INTERREG funding is also available in relation to cross-border projects. The river basin management plans, which are being developed for adoption by 2009, will set out the specific environmental objectives to be achieved together with a programme of measures to deliver those objectives by the deadline of 2015. I am satisfied with the progress made so far in implementing the Directive and I expect that we will continue to see significant improvements in the quality of our fresh and coastal water resources, which will be reflected in EPA and EEA Water Quality Reports over the coming years.

Local Authority Housing.

Joan Burton

Question:

164 Ms Burton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the local authorities who are now operating the rental accommodation scheme; the number of tenants who have been transferred to RAS for each local authority; the average cost per tenant to each local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42586/06]

Nearly all housing authorities are now mobilised in relation to RAS and most have begun to transfer households to RAS. In some cases the County Council is managing the scheme for the County at large. A total of 2,648 households have been transferred to RAS. The number of cases transferred by each local authority; estimated average cost and monthly rent per tenant, based on available information, are detailed in the following table. A further 1,900 households who were recipients of Rent Supplement have been provided with local authority housing.

Table: Number of tenants transferred to RAS, estimated average cost per tenant and estimated average monthly rent per tenant.

Local Authorities (Housing)

Preliminary Total transfers to end November

Average Cost per tenant in 2006 (to end October)

Estimated Average Cost per tenant per month

Carlow County Council

28

344

194

Cavan County Council

39

879

238

Clare County Council

76

1,535

190

Cork City Council

215

1,509

139

Donegal County Council

65

1,790

111

Dublin City Council

650

2,587

478

South Dublin County Council

145

2,120

976

Fingal County Council

15

3,033

1,104

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

21

1,368

177

Galway City Council

175

2,361

421

Galway County Council

58

541

189

Kerry County Council

32

1,082

148

Kilkenny County Council

100

1,980

200

Laois County Council

43

782

178

Limerick City Council

103

2,040

324

Limerick County Council

103

201

202

Longford County Council

28

243

243

Louth County Council

34

3,002

333

Mayo County Council

68

264

168

Meath County Council

25

970

137

Monaghan County Council

34

1,828

208

Offaly County Council

49

1,014

267

Roscommon County Council

42

558

134

N. Tipperary County Council

44

261

228

Sligo County Council

81

523

523

South Tipperary Co. Co.

43

1,357

122

Waterford City

179

1,361

174

Westmeath Co. Co.

47

1,931

213

Wexford County Council

74

1,119

160

Wicklow County Council

32

986.00

213

Total

2,648

Question No. 165 answered with QuestionNo. 67.

EU Directives.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

166 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the parts of the Aarhus Convention Agreement and its associated EU Directives 2003/4/EC and 2003/35/EC which have been ratified or transposed into Irish law to date; if he will set each part of the Aarhus Convention Agreement and its associated EU Directives 2003/4/EC and 2003/35/EC which have been ratified or transposed into Irish law; the date on which this occurred; the legislative instrument used to do this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42594/06]

Ireland signed the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters on 25 June 1998. Progress towards ratification of the Convention is closely aligned with work at EU level. To date, the European Union has adopted two directives as part of the ratification process for the Convention. These deal with public access to environmental information (2003/4/EC) and public participation in certain environmental decision-making procedures (2003/35/EC). Ratification of the Convention will take place after these Directives have been transposed into Irish Law.

Work is continuing in the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government with regard to the transposition of these two Directives and will be completed as soon as possible. When the above work on transposition is completed, the instrument of ratification of the Aarhus Convention will be submitted to Government and laid before the Dáil.

Anti-Social Behaviour.

Michael Noonan

Question:

167 Mr. Noonan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the action he will take to tackle anti social behaviour in public and private housing estates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42552/06]

A number of legislative measures have been put in place to ensure that local authorities have the capacity to fulfil their responsibilities under the Housing Acts for the management and maintenance of their housing stock. These measures are kept under continuous review in my Department.

The tenancy agreement, which is the legal basis of the relationship between the local authority and its tenants, will generally contain provisions in relation to behaviour which is acceptable and that which is not. The local authority is empowered under section 62 of the Housing Act 1966, to initiate proceedings to secure an eviction where a tenant has breached the conditions of the tenancy agreement.

The primary purpose of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1997 is to provide for a range of measures to assist local authorities in addressing problems arising on their estates from drug dealing and serious anti-social behaviour. The Act gives recognition to the role of local authorities in actively promoting the interests of tenants and other occupiers in their housing estates and also in working towards the avoidance, prevention and abatement of anti-social behaviour. One of the main provisions of the 1997 Act enables a local authority tenant, or the local authority itself in certain circumstances, to apply to the District Court for an excluding order against an individual member of the household who is believed to be engaging in anti-social behaviour. The measures contained in the 1997 Act are essential to ensure that local authorities have the capacity to take effective action in this area.

In fulfilment of commitments in the Housing Policy statement — Building Sustainable Communities, I am reviewing the provisions of this Act with a view to strengthening their powers.

The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 contains a number of provisions to address the issue of anti-social behaviour in private rented accommodation and also extends the local authority power to obtain excluding orders in respect of the occupants (other than the owner) of tenant purchased houses. It also extends the local authority power to refuse to sell a house to a person under the Tenant Purchase Scheme it has reason to believe may engage in anti-social behaviour to the Shared Ownership Scheme, the Affordable Housing Scheme and affordable houses deriving from Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000.

In addition, the Centre for Housing Research, which is funded by my Department and local authorities, has produced good practice guidelines on preventing and combating anti-social behaviour. The Centre has also organised training courses for local authorities in this regard. In this wider context, my Department has put in place a Housing Management Initiatives scheme which includes funding for programmes to improve estate management, tenant liaison and training initiatives.

Further issues, including matters of a criminal nature, come within the remit of An Garda Síochána and my colleague the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

Question No. 168 answered with QuestionNo. 51.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

169 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the measure of provision of social housing on an individual local authority basis for each year since 2000 to date in 2006; the number of homes planned and the number subsequently delivered by each local authority for each year since 2000 to date in 2006; if his Department has expressed views to each such local authority which has not reached its targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42542/06]

Data on the number of social houses delivered in each local authority for each year, and for the first 6 months of 2006, are published in the Housing Statistics Bulletins, which are available in the Oireachtas Library and on the Department's website at www.environ.ie.

From 2000 to 2003, the local authority four-year multi-annual programme included target starts over the whole period for authorities on their main construction and acquisitions programme. However, this programme did not include targets for other social housing options. Details of the programme at individual local authority level are also available on my Department's website.

In 2004, building on the positive experiences from the multi-annual approach to the local authority housing construction programme, I requested local authorities to set about the preparation of action plans to cover all aspects of social and affordable housing. This initiative provided a framework for the integrated and cohesive planning and delivery over the following years of specific social and affordable housing measures in each local authority area. The action plans were based on the overall analysis of need as established by the local authority housing strategy, and outlined the proposed response in terms of new social and affordable housing, addressing regeneration and remedial works together with the proposed arrangements for management and maintenance of the stock. Details of the Action Plans are published on individual local authorities' websites.

On agreeing the Action Plans with each local authority I provided for a mid-term review to be carried out this year. The review is now nearing completion and the report will be made available on my Department's website in due course. It has focused on examining how targets have been met in the first two years of the plan and on incorporating any adjustments required for the remaining years of the plan, in light of outcomes including expected 2006 outputs, and the results of the recent Housing Needs Assessment. Officials from my Department met with each local authority to discuss progress, including identifying reasons for under performance where relevant.

Authorities which did not reach their planned activity in 2004 and 2005, have generally revised targets for 2006 to 2008 to achieve the same overall output over the five year period.

My Department and local authorities both agree that the process of developing housing action plans is very beneficial and it is proposed to continue using the process as the main strategy for delivery of social and affordable housing.

Energy Conservation.

Dan Boyle

Question:

170 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the details of research, correspondence or advice that his Department has received relating to the possibility that different measurements resulting from the use of the overall heat loss method and the elemental method of measuring compliance with Part L may be leading to different outcomes depending on the method used. [42608/06]

I assume that the Question refers to a report (30 May 2006) by the UK based Building Research Establishment (BRE). The report sets out a calculated comparison of the above two methods of achieving compliance with Part L for a small sample of two English dwellings. My attention was drawn to this report in correspondence from the timber frame manufacturer who commissioned it.

In its conclusion, the BRE report claims that houses built to comply with the elemental method will use about 30% less energy for space heating than those complying with the Overall Heat Loss (OHL) method.

My technical advice is that the two methods referred to in the Question undoubtedly give different results. The differences depend on the type, size and shape of the building and on the actual areas of the main external elements, i.e. roofs, walls, floors, windows and doors. However, I am advised that the differences between the two methods should be significantly less than claimed for the two English examples. The BRE Report does not contain sufficient information to allow independent review and validation of its assumptions and calculations.

The May 2006 edition of Technical Guidance Document L includes both methods of demonstrating compliance with Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Energy) of the Building Regulations. The primary reason for allowing both methods is to provide options for:

some flexibility in how heat loss through the building fabric is limited, via the OHL method, and

a simple method — the Elemental method — of demonstrating compliance which suits those who do not wish to deal with the complexity of additional calculations.

Part L standards for Dwellings are due for revision in 2008 at the latest, as required under the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. In this context, the appropriateness of continuing the two methods will be considered.

Local Authority Funding.

David Stanton

Question:

171 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the support his Department is giving to each local authority by way of the local authority fund in each year from 2003 to date in 2006 respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42618/06]

The following table sets out all funding provided to every local authority from the Local Government Fund for 2003 to 2005 and payments to date in 2006.

Local Government Fund Payments 2003 to 2006

Local Authority

2003

2004

2005

2006

Carlow County Council

14,119,303

15,013,519

15,825,157

15,849,389

Carlow Town Council

1,658,438

2,124,826

2,250,188

1,800,037

Cavan County Council

30,014,467

32,340,715

34,538,405

34,302,102

Cavan Town Council

872,685

1,012,510

1,076,951

849,569

Clare County Council

29,057,088

32,165,625

34,379,857

35,977,040

Ennis Town Council

2,420,278

2,694,594

2,857,619

2,357,261

Kilrush Town Council

624,517

714,551

768,584

620,056

Cork City Council

24,252,483

31,469,927

30,011,889

27,787,068

Cork County Council

78,731,501

81,393,068

86,950,210

95,931,120

Fermoy Town Council

868,253

1,007,330

990,717

1,056,867

Macroom Town Council

611,018

714,650

757,137

603,450

Mallow Town Council

1,055,691

1,226,415

1,308,414

1,101,942

Kinsale Town Council

485,151

548,562

579,511

416,996

Midleton Town Council

628,801

704,120

769,574

535,591

Youghal Town Council

1,138,684

1,269,500

1,341,817

1,374,399

Clonakilty Town Council

641,227

721,626

775,585

619,717

Cobh Town Council

1,151,111

1,343,484

1,431,706

1,220,513

Skibbereen Town Council

510,505

576,676

611,360

645,804

Donegal County Council

47,095,939

62,133,576

65,745,632

67,149,056

Buncrana Town Council

933,056

1,041,491

1,105,720

887,077

Bundoran Town Council

630,014

709,192

754,006

599,258

Letterkenny Town Council

1,142,969

1,531,252

1,623,543

1,328,292

Dublin City Council

80,547,615

95,372,969

96,772,767

98,915,060

Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council

34,244,616

40,637,668

41,954,720

40,378,159

Fingal County Council

28,728,498

32,582,507

34,035,900

34,711,519

Sth. Dublin County Council

25,065,984

27,324,836

27,808,092

27,708,684

Galway City Council

9,255,284

10,497,266

10,685,214

10,308,543

Galway County Council

51,274,957

54,096,379

59,755,588

56,714,906

Ballinasloe Town Council

897,380

1,020,615

1,079,094

982,917

Kerry County Council

37,616,772

41,721,709

45,666,330

46,973,005

Killarney Town Council

1,569,029

1,826,427

1,939,917

1,914,518

Listowel Town Council

781,616

855,119

909,879

896,046

Tralee Town Council

3,405,689

3,730,111

3,654,105

3,681,714

Kildare County Council

27,003,527

31,252,454

33,723,371

34,875,286

Athy Town Council

743,912

861,994

880,077

987,709

Naas Town Council

1,445,387

1,874,226

1,879,852

1,333,476

Kilkenny County Council

24,547,296

27,275,782

29,784,248

26,962,726

Kilkenny Borough Council

1,956,639

2,205,350

2,338,452

2,441,908

Laois County Council

20,418,490

22,715,599

23,947,824

24,848,478

Leitrim County Council

22,105,269

23,390,413

25,071,794

25,232,063

Limerick City Council

10,839,290

12,845,679

15,018,092

15,177,605

Limerick County Council

33,961,997

36,797,195

39,193,414

39,379,115

Longford County Council

16,527,394

18,806,500

20,157,613

19,751,477

Longford Town Council

1,205,586

1,343,684

1,431,116

1,501,083

Louth County Council

15,048,086

17,766,828

18,016,824

16,588,227

Drogheda Borough Council

4,170,920

4,549,790

4,906,655

4,444,502

Dundalk Town Council

4,660,586

5,159,045

5,512,412

5,805,449

Mayo County Council

48,746,039

57,473,969

58,453,081

62,724,059

Ballina Town Council

1,356,909

1,578,492

1,675,439

1,793,496

Castlebar Town Council

1,156,902

1,428,816

1,445,490

1,215,720

Westport Town Council

910,521

1,016,503

1,076,087

1,124,102

Meath County Council

32,454,975

35,964,475

37,821,720

38,222,131

Kells Town Council

543,777

688,569

725,921

485,296

Navan Town Council

670,885

1,029,784

1,082,408

563,795

Trim Town Council

670,099

749,912

796,670

847,002

Monaghan County Council

26,233,953

26,870,896

29,308,041

26,877,085

Carrickmacross Town Council

590,203

665,049

713,247

766,087

Castleblaney Town Council

510,136

596,735

634,925

474,999

Clones Town Council

560,792

631,002

682,544

659,183

Monaghan Town Council

1,158,660

1,291,651

1,378,222

1,179,841

North Tipperary County Council

26,167,046

26,625,681

26,577,914

26,716,111

Nenagh Town Council

1,110,607

1,239,146

1,316,881

1,116,928

Templemore Town Council

608,380

685,204

762,703

681,223

Thurles Town Council

995,347

1,110,562

1,182,598

1,264,590

Offaly County Council

18,086,472

20,894,342

23,172,732

24,038,628

Birr Town Council

818,258

935,765

992,175

1,066,307

Tullamore Town Council

1,279,534

1,425,681

1,514,885

1,269,126

Roscommon County Council

29,283,996

31,388,680

33,134,469

35,040,104

Sligo County Council

22,950,445

25,024,540

27,620,464

29,879,924

Sligo Borough Council

3,550,846

3,724,750

4,029,071

3,476,180

South Tipperary County Council

25,980,142

28,735,653

31,968,669

34,691,844

Carrick-on-Suir Town Council

1,045,527

1,166,204

1,257,256

1,363,780

Cashel Town Council

657,421

745,942

792,661

667,748

Clonmel Borough Council

2,925,113

3,584,105

3,988,629

3,792,443

Tipperary Town Council

864,056

964,980

1,045,111

1,139,396

Waterford City Council

8,600,112

19,083,111

10,858,872

9,022,046

Waterford County Council

24,844,626

27,307,065

29,854,155

30,823,130

Dungarvan Town Council

1,046,262

1,167,019

1,245,620

1,298,082

Westmeath County Council

22,063,106

24,845,225

29,712,862

27,160,728

Athlone Town Council

1,936,086

2,185,614

3,596,610

2,349,521

Wexford County Council

28,417,688

30,987,489

33,504,892

33,884,338

Enniscorthy Town Council

1,205,667

1,343,773

1,432,357

1,228,489

New Ross Town Council

938,331

1,047,340

1,164,943

973,086

Wexford Borough Council

2,313,390

2,573,441

2,727,091

2,883,876

Wicklow County Council

22,868,375

25,310,361

28,960,246

27,865,247

Arklow Town Council

1,406,484

1,566,449

1,664,822

1,803,795

Bray Town Council

3,995,523

4,612,222

4,728,243

4,278,399

Wicklow Town Council

1,497,638

1,667,524

1,776,377

1,840,037

Local Authority Housing.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

172 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of vacant local authority dwellings here on a county basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42522/06]

The management and maintenance of their rented dwellings, including the control of vacant dwellings, is the responsibility of the housing authority concerned.

The following table, based on local authority returns to my Department, indicates the most recent figures available on vacant dwellings.

Local Authority Vacant Dwellings (as at 31 December 2005)

County (including Borough and Town Councils)

Total Vacant Dwellings

Vacant for planned maintenance/regeneration

Balance of Vacant Dwellings

Carlow

11

3

8

Cavan

53

5

48

Clare

112

22

90

Cork

218

42

176

Donegal

51

3

48

Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown

173

147

26

Fingal

39

0

39

Galway

17

16

1

Kerry

200

47

153

Kildare

96

0

96

Kilkenny

39

23

16

Laois

33

0

33

Leitrim

25

9

16

Limerick

33

8

25

Longford

77

11

66

Louth

95

34

61

Mayo

64

3

61

Meath

89

8

81

Monaghan

50

9

41

North Tipperary

42

7

35

Offaly

45

13

32

Roscommon

58

1

57

Sligo

113

43

70

South Dublin

163

2

161

South Tipperary

103

0

103

Waterford

25

4

21

Westmeath

36

11

25

Wexford

114

33

81

Wicklow

41

12

29

City Councils

Cork

400

323

77

Dublin

2,493

1,952

541

Galway

56

13

43

Limerick

295

119

176

Waterford

80

4

76

Countrywide Total

5,539

2,927

2,612

Building Regulations.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

173 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the concerns raised by the Irish Wheelchair Association and Disability Federation of Ireland on the Building Control Bill 2005 with specific reference to the amendments they have proposed on the Bill; if he will take these amendments into account and incorporate their recommendations during report stage of the Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42458/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

518 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has received a submission from the Irish Wheelchair Association in relation to the Building Control Bill; if he will favourably consider same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42369/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 173 and 518 together.

I have received the submission referred to in the Question and will give it careful consideration before the Report Stage of the Building Control Bill 2005.

Recycling Policy.

Liam Twomey

Question:

174 Dr. Twomey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the funding sought for recycling and recovery infrastructure from the Environment Fund in 2006; the amount granted in each case; the estimated cost to meet these demands in full; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42557/06]

Since 2002 my Department has allocated over €90 million in capital grants to assist local authorities in the provision of recycling and recovery infrastructure, including bring bank networks, civic amenity sites, materials recovery, composting and biological treatment facilities. This is provided from a number of sources including the Exchequer, the European Regional Development Fund and the Environment Fund, and is normally on the basis of my Department meeting 75% of the cost and the relevant local authority funding the balance.

Projects for which grants have been allocated can take a number of years to complete as they go through the various project stages, e.g. design, planning, construction, and consequently claims will be submitted and monies paid typically over a number of years. In 2006, in respect of projects for which moneys have been drawn down from the Environment Fund, a total grant allocation of €11,813,836 has been provided by my Department.

Local Authority Services.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

175 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he expects the next report on the 42 national service indicators for local authorities; the plans he has to review those indicators; the arrangements that will be made to involve consumers of local authority services in the review of the indicators; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42591/06]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 55 of 8 November 2006. The position is unchanged.

Waste Management.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

176 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will establish a regulator for the waste sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42589/06]

In August this year, my Department published a consultation paper on options for future regulation of the waste sector. Submissions were invited on whether there is a need for a regulator for the sector, if so on what model of regulator might be most appropriate and on what powers any such regulator should be given. Following consideration of the submissions received, which is currently under way, I intend to finalise further policy proposals.

Barron Report.

Finian McGrath

Question:

177 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Taoiseach his views on the latest Barron Report and the issue of collusion; and if he will work with the British Government on this matter. [42298/06]

On 29 November, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights published their Final Report into the Bombing of Kay's Tavern in Dundalk in 1975. This is the last of Judge Barron's Reports to be considered by the Committee.

The findings in this Report are deeply troubling and a matter of most serious concern. They paint a very disturbing picture. The Joint Oireachtas Committee has called for a full debate in the Dáil and Seanad on collusion, which I support.

I have consistently raised the issue of collusion with the British Government. I again raised it with Prime Minister Blair when I met him on 4 December in London.

I have made it clear that I want the British Government to examine the findings of all of these reports, as well as the forthcoming MacEntee Report. I appreciate that there are many issues on all sides arising from the past but I have consistently emphasised, and I believe Prime Minister Blair understands, the very deep anxiety and widespread concerns arising from these reports and the need for the British Government to play its part in addressing these concerns.

It is in everyone's interests to now try and secure closure with clarity in respect of these dark and troubling cases.

Northern Ireland Issues.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

178 Mr. Sargent asked the Taoiseach his views on whether it is necessary and prudent to engage opposition parties in formal briefings with regard to any plan B that may be initiated in the absence of the restoration of power-sharing in Northern Ireland. [42345/06]

The focus of both Governments is fully on the implementation of the proposals agreed at St. Andrews, with a view to full restoration of the power-sharing institutions in March.

It has been the practice that senior officials have provided formal briefings to opposition leaders on progress in the Northern Ireland Peace Process at key moments.

I remain happy to facilitate further such briefings in the future, including on any Plan B if such a plan emerges as a necessity.

Departmental Staff.

Bernard Allen

Question:

179 Mr. Allen asked the Taoiseach if his attention has been drawn to the position arising from the 2006 Assistant Parliamentary Counsel (Grade 2) Competition where only three Irish lawyers out of 40 were declared qualified by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. [42652/06]

Bernard Allen

Question:

180 Mr. Allen asked the Taoiseach if his attention has been drawn to the fact that offering a place to an Irish lawyer in the 2006 Assistant Parliamentary Counsel (Grade 2) competition was conditional on the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel losing a foreign contract drafter in that office. [42653/06]

Bernard Allen

Question:

181 Mr. Allen asked the Taoiseach his views on whether the 37 lawyers who did not qualify at the 2006 Assistant Parliamentary Counsel (Grade 2) competition organised by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, deserve to be independently reconsidered before the posts are re-advertised. [42654/06]

Bernard Allen

Question:

182 Mr. Allen asked the Taoiseach the number of candidates who applied for the 2006 competition for Advisory Counsel (Grade 3) positions in the Office of the Attorney General; and the number declared qualified. [42655/06]

Bernard Allen

Question:

183 Mr. Allen asked the Taoiseach the statutes enacted since 2003 that were drafted in whole or in part by foreign contract drafters without naming the individual drafters involved. [42656/06]

Bernard Allen

Question:

184 Mr. Allen asked the Taoiseach if his attention has been drawn to the media reports to the effect that morale in the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel is down to the floor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42657/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 179 to 184, inclusive, together.

I refer the Deputy to my replies to Written Questions No. 132 to 136 from Deputy Rabbitte on 5 July, 2006, Written Question No. 221 from Deputy Gormley on 27 September, 2006, Written Questions Nos. 177 and 178 from Deputy Sargent on 14 November, 2006 and Written Questions Nos. 165 to 169 from Deputy Allen on 28 November, 2006.

The Assistant Parliamentary Counsel (Grade II) competition was organised on behalf of the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to the Government by the Public Appointments Service. Neither the Office nor the Public Appointments Service have been informed of any unhappiness in relation to the running of the competition or its outcome. There is absolutely no question of any applicant being branded a failure.

The original sanction from the Department of Finance did specify that, based on the Government's decision on Public Service numbers, any increase in permanent positions would have to be offset by a reduction in contract positions.

The 2006 competition to recruit Advisory Counsel (Grade III) staff attracted 48 applicants, of whom 21 were shortlisted for interview, 18 presented themselves for interview and 9 of these were placed on a panel. Six have taken up duty to date.

In the course of previous replies, I pointed out that many drafting projects are undertaken by more than one drafter. Contract drafters, like permanent staff, collaborate with colleagues in training and peer review of draft legislation. It would not be possible to give an accurate figure as to how many Acts of the Oireachtas contract staff drafted in whole or in part.

The Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to the Government does not accept that there is a morale problem in the Office.

Departmental Staff.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

185 Mr. Gilmore asked the Taoiseach in respect of each Minister of State within his Department the number of staff broken down by grade employed within their private office and their constituency office; the number of staff who are permanent civil servants; the number who are political appointees; the annual cost of each such office in terms of salary, overtime and expenses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42733/06]

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

186 Mr. Gilmore asked the Taoiseach the number of staff broken down by grade employed within his private office and his constituency office; the number of staff who are permanent civil servants; the number who are political appointees; the annual cost of each such office in terms of salary, overtime and expenses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42748/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 185 and 186 together.

The number of staff broken down by grade in my Private Office and Constituency Office, in the Office of the Minister of State and Government Chief Whip and the Office of the Minister of State for European Affairs and the annual costs in terms of salaries and expenses of each such Office are detailed as follows.

Costings for Staff of Taoiseach's Private Office

1 Private Secretary, Assistant Principal

1 Assistant Principal

2 Higher Executive Officers — Assistant Private Secretaries

1 Personal Assistant

1 Staff Officer

1 Executive Officer

5 Clerical Officers

1 Usher.

The estimated total cost of salaries including allowances and overtime for my Private Office is €675,217, while expenses total €2,508.

Costings for Staff of Taoiseach's Constituency Office

2 Personal Assistants

1 Personal Secretary

1 Executive Officer

1 Staff Officer

4 Clerical Officers.

The estimated total cost of salaries including allowances and overtime for my Constituency Office is €291,442. No expenses are incurred.

Costings for Staff of Office of the Minister of State and Government Chief Whip

1 Private Secretary, Higher Executive Officer

1 Executive Officer

2 Staff Officers

1 Staff Officer

1 Clerical Officer

1 Personal Assistant

1 Personal Secretary.

The estimated total cost of salaries including allowances and overtime for the staff of the Office of the Minister of State and Government Chief Whip is €389,430, while expenses total €7,312.

Costings for Staff of the Office of the Minister of State for European Affairs*

1 Private Secretary, Higher Executive Officer

1 Clerical Officer.

* Does not include Department of Foreign Affairs staff.

The estimated total cost of salaries including allowances and overtime for the staff of the Office of the Minister of State for European Affairs is €96,430, while expenses total €1,196.

There is one non Civil Servant in my Constituency Office. There are two non Civil Servants in the Government Chief Whip's Office.

Child Protection.

Ivor Callely

Question:

187 Mr. Callely asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the mechanisms in place to protect children from offensive, age inappropriate or dangerous multimedia activities that are easily accessible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42365/06]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have no function in the regulation of broadcast media but can advise him as to the child protection arrangements in place in respect of a number of other media formats. Insofar as Films and Video/DVD are concerned, the position is that these must be classified by the Irish Film Censor for sale, exhibition or rental. The age appropriateness of each work is then displayed in cinemas and all video/DVD works must carry the age classification on the packaging and tape/ DVD.

With regard to video games, the position is that Ireland is a member of the Pan European Games Information (PEGI) system. Video games are classified by age appropriateness at the following levels; 3+: 7+ 12+; 15+ and 18+. The categorisation is then indicated on product packaging. Under these arrangements, video games are categorised according to a robust and consistent system and subject to independent non-industry verification.

A key component of both the Film/DVD and video game arrangements is that the classification systems are designed to provide useful information as to the content of the product. In particular, the intention is to assist parents in making informed choices concerning the media they acquire for their children or which they permit their children to use.

The Deputy will also be aware that Internet access has expanded considerably in recent years and that developments in communications technologies now allow for internet access by new means. This is a largely positive development but, by its very nature as an international phenomenon with no single controlling authority, the internet presents challenges for those charged with combatting its illegal or harmful use.

With this in mind, an Internet Advisory Board (IAB) was established in Ireland in February 2000. As well as overseeing a self-regulatory regime for the Irish Internet Service Providers, it encourages best practice procedures, provides advice to parents and others and facilitates research on internet-related issues including child safety. My Department provides secretarial and other supports for the Board's work. Combatting illegal, harmful and predatory use of the Internet requires responses at national, EU and international levels and Ireland is fully committed to playing its part at home and internationally on all of these fronts.

Steps taken within Ireland to date include the introduction of a hotline (www.hotline.ie) which accepts and investigates reports from the public in relation to child pornography and other illegal material on the Internet, as well as an industry Code of Practice and Ethics setting out the duties and responsibilities of each Internet Service Provider. The Irish Code of Practice and Ethics is recognised throughout Europe as a model of its type. The IAB has also produced a very helpful booklet for parents which gives advice on how to recognise if a child is using new media technologies in a potentially dangerous way and what steps a parent can take to prevent or stop this. The Deputy may also wish to note that, in its role of encouraging best practice and formulating advice, the IAB is currently evaluating the use of electronic technology which can be used to block access to specific websites and is preparing a report on this matter.

Visa Applications.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

188 Mr. Connaughton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be given on an application by a person (details supplied) for a visa to enter the country; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this file arrived in Dublin on 27 November 2006; if his attention has further been drawn to the urgency of reuniting these persons in time for Christmas 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42780/06]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the visa application in question was approved on 7th December, 2006.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

189 Ms Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 230 of 14 November 2006, if he will expedite the holiday visa of a person (details supplied) who wishes to visit Dublin for Christmas 2006. [42241/06]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the visa application in question has now been approved.

Crime Levels.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

190 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has read the log as submitted to him on 21 November 2006 from a person (details supplied) outlining the events to which they have been a witness in the period of 8 September to 20 November 2006; if his attention has been drawn to the number of events contained in that log which details events in one small part of the Moyross estate, in comparison to the number of incidents reported by the Limerick Garda division; his views on the log; and if, in view of the number of incidents contained within of the log, he stands by his written response to Parliamentary Question No. 68 of 9 November 2006 in which he states that there have been four incidents involving a petrol bomb in the Limerick Garda division to date in 2006. [42242/06]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that Garda management in the Limerick Division has examined the log referred to and is satisfied that all incidents reported to the Gardaí have been properly recorded in accordance with regulations.

When recording incidents on the crime recording system, PULSE, it is not a mandatory recording requirement to indicate if a petrol-bomb was used as a weapon in an incident, it may in fact be a modus operandi. The type of incident may be recorded as arson and reference may be made to a petrol-bomb in the narrative accompanying an incident. For crime recording and statistical reasons narrative descriptions are not used or searched to produce crime statistics.

An Garda Síochána in Limerick Division has an unrivalled record in the successful investigation of serious crime and a significant effort has been made to address the most recent outburst of criminal activity including the allocation of additional Garda resources and extra patrols being performed in the affected areas. Local Garda management and personnel have the full support and confidence of the Limerick law-abiding citizens and will continue to deliver a quality policing service in targeting those involved in criminal activity.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

191 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in view of the wide discrepancy in actual and reported incidents of violence and serious crime in the Limerick Garda division, steps are being or will be taken to determine the reason for non-reporting of crime; if that is the issue, the efforts being made to address the reasons or issues relative to the under reporting of crime in some areas; if there are attempts being made to record actual incidents, other than from official complaints, in order to insure accuracy of statistics; and the resources being made available to the Limerick Garda division to address the escalation of violence in some areas of Limerick. [42243/06]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that all incidents reported to An Garda Síochána are recorded and investigated. An Garda Síochána cannot comment on incidents which have not been reported. The Garda authorities urge everyone to report all criminal offences and encourage any person with information relating to criminal activity to report same to any member of An Garda Síochána.

An Garda Síochána in Limerick has an unrivalled record in the successful investigation of serious crime. A significant effort has been made by local Garda management to address the ongoing serious crime situations that have developed in some areas during the past few months and additional resources have been deployed to community policing duties in the Moyross area. Additional resources have also been deployed to perform additional patrols in both the Moyross and Southill areas to target criminality.

I am further informed that Garda initiatives are continually being planned to target the activities of criminal elements in Limerick City and this is evident from the results that have been achieved during 2006. In excess of 70 firearms and ammunition have been seized and quantities of drugs including cocaine, heroin, cannabis resin and ecstasy have been recovered.

Local Garda management and personnel have the full support and confidence of the law abiding citizens of Limerick and will continue to deliver a quality policing service in targeting those involved in criminal activity.

Garda Strength.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

192 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of community Gardaí in Donegal; the number of juvenile liaison officers; and the details of Garda youth diversion programmes in the county. [42249/06]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength (all ranks) of An Garda Síochána increased to a record 13,000 on Thursday, 16 November, 2006, following the attestation of 299 new members. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) as at 30 June, 1997 and represents an increase of 2,298 (or 21.5%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The induction of 280 new Garda recruits to the Garda College on 6 November, 2006 resulted in a combined strength, of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training, of 14,137. The personnel strength of An Garda Síochána (all ranks) as at 4 December, 2006 was 12,990. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.3 billion, a 13% increase on 2005 and an 85% increase since 1997 in real terms.

I have been further informed by the Garda authorities that there are currently 5 (all ranks) full time Community Gardaí attached to Donegal Division, all of whom are based in Letterkenny.

In addition, I have been informed by the Garda authorities that there are three Juvenile Liaison Officers in Donegal Division based in Buncrana, Letterkenny and Donegal Town. There is one Garda Youth Diversion Programme in the county, the LEAF Project in Raphoe.

Services for People with Disabilities.

John Perry

Question:

193 Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will re-assess the application for funding under enhancing disability services project funding for the parents and friends of a school (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42304/06]

I understand that 119 applications were received for funding under the Enhancing Disability Services (EDS) Project Funding 2007/08. The applications were appraised by Pobal, following which Pobal recommended 10 applications for funding. These recommendations were accepted by an independent expert group and approved for payment by the Accounting Officer of my Department. The total expenditure approved in respect of the ten applications is €3,285,672.

The applications were appraised using standard criteria based on the EDS Guidelines supplied to organisations. The application to which the Deputy is referring was not recommended for funding. Any queries individual applicants have on the assessment of their proposal should be directed to the Enhancing Disability Services Team in Pobal who can be contacted at 01-2400700.

Garda Deployment.

Tony Gregory

Question:

194 Mr. Gregory asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if personnel from the Defence Forces at the nearby McKee Barracks, Dublin 7 will be utilised to provide security at Áras an Uachtaráin in order that the Gardaí currently doing these duties could be made available for normal policing duties in the community. [42306/06]

The Garda Síochána's policing activity involves certain protection duties. The Garda authorities request the assistance of the Defence Forces in the performance of such duties, as and where appropriate.

Asylum Applications.

John McGuinness

Question:

195 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of an application to remain in the State on humanitarian grounds in the name of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will expedite a positive response. [42315/06]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 1 May, 2002 and applied for asylum. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999, as amended, he was informed by letter dated 12 September, 2003, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State; leaving the State before an order is made or consenting to the making of a deportation order. Representations have been received on behalf of the person concerned.

Following consideration of his case under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, I signed a deportation order in respect of the person concerned on 10 December, 2004. Judicial Review proceedings were instituted and this deportation order was subsequently quashed by order of the High Court on 4 October, 2006. The person concerned has been invited to submit further representations for consideration.

This person's case file, including all representations submitted, will be considered under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999, as amended, and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (Prohibition of Refoulement). I expect the file to be passed to me for decision in due course.

Citizenship Applications.

Paul McGrath

Question:

196 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the waiting time for the processing of naturalisation applications, in view of the fact that applicants must have residency for at least five years; if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties these long delays can have on families and in particular education access for their children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42316/06]

The statutory requirements for naturalisation are set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. This provides that applicants for naturalisation, other than spouses of Irish citizens, must have been resident for five years of the nine year period prior to the date of application. Resident in this context means residence for which the applicant had the permission of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and where such permission was not granted for the purposes of study or seeking asylum.

The average processing time for applications for certificates of naturalisation is approximately 24 months and this is primarily due to the significant increase in the volume of applications received in the last number of years.

As the Deputy has not elaborated on any particular difficulties experienced by applicants or their families, I cannot respond fully to his question. However, I should point out that having Irish citizenship is not a prerequisite for accessing education in Ireland.

Garda Stations.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

197 Mr. McGinley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of hours the Garda station at Burnfoot Garda Station, County Donegal opens per week; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42335/06]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that Burnfoot Garda Station is currently open 21 hours per week, between the hours of 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day.

Garda Deployment.

Tom Hayes

Question:

198 Mr. Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Gardaí stationed in towns (details supplied) in South Tipperary; the number of extra Gardaí allocated to each town since 1997; the number of Gardaí taken away from each town since 1997; and the number of Gardaí located in each of the towns listed per thousand citizens. [42359/06]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength (all ranks) of An Garda Síochána increased to a record 13,000 on Thursday, 16 November, 2006, following the attestation of 299 new members. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) as at 30 June, 1997 and represents an increase of 2,298 (or 21.5%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The induction of 280 new Garda recruits to the Garda College on 6 November, 2006 resulted in a combined strength, of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training, of 14,137. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.3 billion, a 13% increase on 2005 and an 85% increase since 1997 in real terms.

I have been further informed that the personnel strength of Clonmel, Carrick-On-Suir, Tipperary Town, Cahir, Fethard and Cashel Garda Stations as at 31 December, 1997 and 7 December, 2006 was as set out in the table hereunder. Figures for the number of Gardaí per 1,000 population as at 7 December, 2006 are also included in the following table. These figures are based on the 2002 Census of Population.

Station

31/12/97

07/12/06

No. per 1,000 population

Clonmel

38

51

2.53

Carrick-On-Suir

16

17

2.33

Tipperary Town

31

32

4.00

Cahir

22

34

6.63

Fethard

3

1*

0.26

Cashel

12

14

2.78

* In addition a Garda from Clonmel District has been appointed to the Fethard sub-district, and is working late and early tours of duty, pending the allocation of a replacement Garda to Fethard Station.

Garda Management also state that the personnel strength (all ranks) of the Tipperary Garda Division as at 31 December, 1997 and 7 December, 2006 was 297 and 339, respectively, representing an increase of 42 (or 14%) in the number of Garda personnel allocated to the Division during that period.

The Tipperary Division's resources are further augmented by a number of Garda National Units such as the Garda National Drugs Unit, the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) and other specialised units, all of which have had increased resources to provide a comprehensive policing service to the community.

I should add that it is the responsibility of Garda management to allocate personnel to and within Divisions. These personnel allocations are determined by a number of factors including demographics, crime trends, administrative functions and other operational policing needs. Such allocations are continually monitored and reviewed along with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy. This ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources, and that the best possible service is provided to the public.

Garda Stations.

Tom Hayes

Question:

199 Mr. Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Garda stations in South Tipperary that have lost their allocation of a full-time Garda presence in the period 1997 to date in 2006; and the stations which have lost their allocations. [42360/06]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength (all ranks) of An Garda Síochána increased to a record 13,000 on Thursday, 16 November, 2006, following the attestation of 299 new members. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) as at 30 June, 1997 and represents an increase of 2,298 (or 21.5%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The induction of 280 new Garda recruits to the Garda College on 6 November, 2006 resulted in a combined strength, of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training, of 14,137. The personnel strength of An Garda Síochána (all ranks) as at 4 December, 2006 was 12,990. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.3 billion, a 13% increase on 2005 and an 85% increase since 1997 in real terms.

I have been further informed by the Garda authorities that local Garda Management report that all Garda Stations in the South Tipperary Districts of Cahir, Clonmel and Tipperary Town which had a full time Garda presence in 1997 still have a full time Garda presence at present.

It is the responsibility of the Divisional Officer to allocate personnel within his/her Division. These personnel allocations are determined by a number of factors including demographics, crime trends, administrative functions and other operational policing needs. Such allocations are continually monitored and reviewed along with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy. This ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources, and that the best possible service is provided to the public.

Decentralisation Programme.

Tom Hayes

Question:

200 Mr. Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made on the decentralisation of sections of his Department to Tipperary Town in the past twelve months; and when the decentralisation of sections of his Department to South Tipperary will be completed. [42361/06]

Under my Department's decentralisation programme, one hundred and eighty-six posts from the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (I.N.I.S.) are scheduled to move to Tipperary town in 2008.

I understand that the Office of Public Works has completed the purchase of a site in Tipperary town. They are now in the process of deciding on the appropriate development of the site to accommodate the staff involved who will transfer to I.N.I.S. under the Central Applications Facility.

In addition, the Deputy will be aware that the Private Security Authority, currently comprising 29 staff, has since its establishment in 2004 been located in Tipperary Town.

Visa Applications.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

201 Ms Enright asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will confirm that all relevant documentation has been submitted in relation to an application for a tourist visa by a person (details supplied); when the application will be processed; when a decision is expected in relation to the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42389/06]

The application referred to by the Deputy was received in the Visa Office on 27th November, 2006. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the visa application was approved on 7th December, 2006.

Citizenship Applications.

John Curran

Question:

202 Mr. Curran asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when applications for naturalisation by persons (details supplied) in Dublin 22 will be processed. [42426/06]

Applications for naturalisation from the individuals in question were received in the Citizenship Division of my Department on 21 December 2004. I understand that processing of these applications has commenced and that the case files will be forwarded to me for a decision in the near future. I will inform the Deputy and the persons concerned when I have reached a decision on these applications.

Probation and Welfare Service.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

203 Mr. Howlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received representations from a centre (details supplied) who provide accommodation for up to 15 people, mainly young men, who are homeless or at risk of homelessness; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the support granted through the probation and welfare service is inadequate to meet recognised need; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that the National Wage Agreements have not been granted to staff for three years; if the recent audit of the facility is available to him; and if he will ensure that sufficient funding will be made available to enable this important resource to remain open. [42436/06]

John Perry

Question:

204 Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties being experienced by an establishment (details supplied) in County Sligo; if he will facilitate them by providing a letter of commitment that will allow them to seek assistance from their bank which will enable them to exist until their new tranche of funding is made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42440/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 203 and 204 together.

As the Deputy will be aware my Department provides financial support to a wide variety of community/voluntary groups which support the Probation Service with their work in the community. A request from the project in question for supplementary funding was received in my Department in recent days. I understand that this application is currently being examined and additional information has been sought from the Board of Management of the Project. On clarification by the Board of the issues raised by my Department, I will be better placed to make a decision on the request for supplementary funding.

Visa Applications.

Michael Ring

Question:

205 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made on a visa application for a person (details supplied). [42446/06]

The application referred to by the Deputy was received in the Dublin Visa Office on 30th November, 2006. A decision in respect of the application in question will be made in the coming weeks.

Prison Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

206 Ms Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of persons currently employed in the information technology section of the prisons headquarters in Clondalkin; the grades they hold; if consultants are employed in this section; if so, the number of same and the length of time they have been employed; the cost of the consultants; the length of time it is intended to employ them; the duties on which each person employed as a consultant or otherwise is engaged; the amount spent in the past five years on human resource related IT systems which were never implemented; and the reason for same. [42447/06]

I am advised that the Irish Prison Service (IPS) currently has 31 people in the Information Technology Directorate in its headquarters in Clondalkin. The grades are 1 Assistant Principal Officer, 7 Higher Executive Officers, 3 Executive Officers and 1 Clerical Officer. In addition there are currently 19 IT contract staff working in the IT Section on foot of a contract which was awarded to Rescon Ltd in April, 2006 following an EU tender. The annual cost of the contract is €1,685,000. The contract duration is for two years with the option to extend the contract for an additional year. The contractors provide ongoing and essential IT services across both the system and infrastructure sides of Information Communications Technology within the Prison Service.

As part of the Civil Service wide HR Management System implementation, the Irish Prison Service decided to approve the development and implementation of a Human Resource Management System (PeopleSoft HRMS) in 2003. As the Deputy will be aware a decision was taken to suspend the usage of the system because of the difficulty in matching many of the business and operational requirements of the Prison Service at that time. The IPS contribution to the developments of the suite of programmes was approximately €557,000 which includes the purchase cost, implementation consultancy requirements, licences and necessary changes to the core system.

In the interim, significant upgrading and customisation of the PeopleSoft HRMS and the IPS network infrastructure and architecture have taken place and €60,787 has been spent on consultancy fees related to this development need. During this time the IPS have developed an updated set of HR business needs and have been re-evaluating its options in respect of a Human Resources Information System. The IPS is currently preparing to re-engage with Human Resources Information Systems providers with a view to progressing the implementation of a revised Human Resources System building on the work done on the original system and the updated set of HR business needs now to hand.

Freedom of Information.

Paul McGrath

Question:

207 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will invoke Section 40 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and instruct the Garda Commissioner to provide all information and records relating to the contract assessment for the previous Garda video interview recording contract in view of the review carried out by the Information Commissioner which concluded that the records could now be provided if they were requested by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42686/06]

Section 40 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 provides that the Secretary General of my Department can request information, including documentation, from the Garda Commissioner as part of the process whereby the Garda Commissioner accounts to me as Minister and to the Government for his functions.

The circumstances surrounding the Deputy's question arise from a Freedom of Information request to my Department for access to records created and held by An Garda Síochána, which as the Deputy appreciates is not subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Acts. The Information Commissioner concluded in this case that the records in question were not held by or under the control of my Department, and that therefore the requester did not have a right of access to them. In coming to this conclusion, the Information Commissioner took into account the provisions of section 40.

I do not believe the power on the part of the Secretary General under section 40 to request documents from the Garda Commissioner was ever intended to be exercised for the purpose of bringing Garda documents, which would otherwise lie outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Acts, into the possession of the Department so as thereby to bring them within that scope. The right of access to the documents in question under the Freedom of Information Acts was very fully considered by the Information Commissioner, and her decision must be respected.

The Deputy may also be aware that the subject matter of the documentation has already been reported on by the Comptroller and Auditor General and was examined by the Public Accounts Committee in 2003.

Crime Levels.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

208 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to reports of an increase in the level of anti-social behaviour in the area of Fethard, County Tipperary; if there are plans to provide extra Gardaí in the town to deal with this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42719/06]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there has been no discernible increase in the number of anti-social/public disorder incidents in the Fethard area and the number remains small. I am also informed that one Sergeant and one Garda are currently allocated to the Garda sub-district of Fethard. I am further informed that local Garda management has an initiative to address the issue of public disorder and other anti-social type behaviour in place in the Clonmel Garda District including the Fethard area, which includes high visibility patrols by uniform and plain-clothes personnel from the Clonmel District with additional patrols by the Divisional Traffic Corps targeting this type of criminality.

In general I can inform the Deputy that strong provisions are in place to combat public order problems including anti-social behaviour. The primary basis for the law regarding public order offences is the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994, which modernised the law in this regard. The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 2003 has also been enacted, the main purpose of which is to provide the Garda Síochána with additional powers to deal with late night street violence and anti-social conduct attributable to excessive drinking. The Act provides for the making of exclusion orders on individuals to prohibit that person from entering or being in the vicinity of specified premises between such times, and during such a period, as the Court may specify. The Act also provides for the making of closure orders on specified premises, requiring that premises to close at a specified time or between specified times on a specified day or days during a specified period. A closure order may also require a premises to close for a maximum of 7 days in respect of a first order or for a minimum of 7 days and a maximum of 30 days in respect of a second order. Furthermore, because of my concerns about the abuse of alcohol and its contribution to public order offending and broader social problems, I brought forward tough provisions to deal with alcohol abuse and its effect on public order in the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003.

More recently, I brought forward additional provisions in the Criminal Justice Act 2006 to deal with public order offences and anti-social behaviour. In the case of anti-social behaviour the Act empowers a senior member of the Garda Síochána to apply to the District Court by way of a civil procedure for an order which will prohibit an adult from behaving in an anti-social manner.

Separate provision is being made in relation to young people. The Act introduces provisions for behaviour orders for children aged 12 to 18 years into the Children Act 2001 and the protections of that Act will apply. There will be a series of incremental stages, with parental involvement, preceding an application for a behaviour order. These include a warning, a good behaviour contract and referral to the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme. Only after these stages can a behaviour order be sought through the courts.

The provisions on anti-social behaviour of the Criminal Justice Act, 2006 will be commenced soon, following the consultations required under the Act between my Department, the Office of the Minister for Children and the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána. These consultations are currently ongoing. The purpose of this is to ensure that these provisions will commence as soon as the Commissioner has made the necessary internal arrangements to ensure the smooth introduction of these new procedures.

Departmental Staff.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

209 Mr. Gilmore asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in respect of each Minister of State within his Department the number of staff broken down by grade employed within their private office and their constituency office; the number of staff who are permanent civil servants; the number who are political appointees; the annual cost of each such office in terms of salary, overtime and expenses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42731/06]

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

210 Mr. Gilmore asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of staff broken down by grade employed within his private office and his constituency office; the number of staff who are permanent civil servants; the number who are political appointees; the annual cost of each such office in terms of salary, overtime and expenses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42746/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 209 and 210 together.

The information requested by the Deputy is set out as follows:

Civil Servants

Private Office

Constituency Office

1 Private Secretary

2 Executive Officers

2 Executive Officers

3 Clerical Officers

1 Clerical Officer

Political Appointees

Private Office

Constituency Office

2 Special Advisers

1 Personal Assistant

1 Personal Secretary

By virtue of my appointment as Tánaiste a Programme Manager has recently been appointed. In 2006 the total cost at the end of November (including salaries, overtime and expenses) of political appointees and civil servants employed in my private and constituency offices was €523,485.

Minister of State, Mr. Frank Fahey, T.D.

Civil Servants

Private Office

Constituency Office

1 Private Secretary

3 Clerical Officers

1 Staff Officer

3 Clerical Officers

Political Appointees

Private Office

Constituency Office

1 Personal Assistant

1 Personal Secretary

In 2006 the total cost at the end of November (including salaries, overtime and expenses) of political appointees and civil servant employed in the Minister of State's private and constituency offices was €359,647. The total cost of civil servants employed in these offices is in accordance with the appropriate pay rates set out for the relevant grades by the Department of Finance.

Visa Applications.

Tom Hayes

Question:

211 Mr. Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will issue on a visa application submitted by a person (details supplied) who wishes to pursue a course in ATC language and travel which commences on 7 January 2007. [42795/06]

The application referred to by the Deputy was received in the Dublin Visa Office on 11th December, 2006. A decision in respect of the application in question will be made in the coming weeks.

Residency Permits.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

212 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of an application for long term residency for a person (details supplied) who had been told to expect a decision in late November 2006; and when a decision may now be expected. [42796/06]

The position in relation to granting long term residency is as follows: Persons who have been legally resident in the State for over five years on the basis of work permit/work authorisation/work visa conditions may apply to the Immigration Division of my Department for a five year residency extension. In that context they may also apply to be exempt from employment permit requirements. The dependants of the aforementioned, who have been legally resident in the State for over five years may also apply for long term residency. This particular long term permission does not grant an exemption from employment permit requirements to any such dependants. Time spent in the State on student conditions cannot be counted towards long term residency.

While applications for long term residency are under consideration, the person concerned should ensure that their permission to remain in the State is kept up to date. An application for long term residence from the person referred to by the Deputy was received in July 2006. I understand that applications received in May 2006 are currently being dealt with.

Citizenship Applications.

Joe Costello

Question:

213 Mr. Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he will make a decision regarding the application for naturalisation of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42797/06]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in June 2004. Processing of the application has commenced and it has been determined that although the applicant did not satisfy the residency requirements for Citizenship at the date of application, she now fulfils that requirement. An application form will be sent to her by the Citizenship Division in the near future which will enable her to make a fresh application under her existing reference number. When that application form is returned to the Citizenship Division, it will be dealt with under its existing reference number thus ensuring the applicant will not incur any undue delay.

Mary Upton

Question:

214 Dr. Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will report on the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 10. [42820/06]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department on 3 May 2006. The average processing time for such applications is approximately 24 months. If her application is successful, the applicant may then apply for an Irish passport. In the meanwhile, it is her responsibility to ensure that she holds a valid passport while in the State. Should her current passport expire while her application is being processed, the applicant should contact her Embassy to seek to have this renewed.

Prison Committals.

Enda Kenny

Question:

215 Mr. Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of young people below the age of 18 currently in detention in the State; the number in each adult prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42935/06]

I would like to inform the Deputy that there are a number of legislative, operational and administrative changes under way which will see the transfer of responsibility for the detention of young offenders under 18 years of age, ordered to be detained by the Courts, from the Department of Education and Science and the Irish Prison Service to the Irish Youth Justice Service in my Department. The Irish Youth Justice Service has been established as an executive office of my Department and is to, inter alia, manage detention services for young people under the age of 18 years.

The net effect of these reforms to the detention services will be to end the practice of using adult prison places for the detention of children. It will also see the extension of the children detention school model to all offenders, male and female, under the age of 18 years. This will require the construction of children detention school places, with the requisite facilities to provide care and education, which can accommodate all 16 and 17 year olds ordered to be detained by the Courts. The legislation, once commenced, includes arrangements for the use of St. Patrick's Institution on an interim basis. To facilitate this, work is well underway in St. Patrick's Institution for the separation of the majority of those under the age of 18 years from the older age groups.

The transfer of the children detention schools, currently within the remit of the Department of Education and Science, to the Irish Youth Justice Service is intended to take place on the 1st of March, 2007. Currently the Irish Prison Service has responsibility for 16 and 17 year old children who have been ordered to be detained by the Courts. In practice the majority of young offenders being detained are male and are detained in St. Patrick's Institution, which is the designated detention centre for male offenders aged between 16 and 21 years of age. In addition, current legislation allows all prisons in the State to accommodate persons aged 17 years and over. The number and location of offenders, aged 16 and 17 years, in detention on 8 December, 2006, are set out in the following table.

Location

Number

St. Patrick’s Institution

55

Cloverhill Prison

2

Cork Prison

6

Dóchas Centre, Mountjoy (Female)

2

Total

65

45 of those detained in custody (69%) were male young offenders aged 17 years. A further 18(28%) were male young offenders aged 16 years who were detained in St. Patrick's Institution. Female young offenders (2) in custody accounted for the remaining 3% of the total number of juveniles detained on that date.

I understand that my colleague the Minister for Education and Science will furnish the Deputy with information regarding the children detention schools currently under the remit of that Department.

Road Safety.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

216 Mr. Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when will he announce the candidates listed for pre-qualification status for the provision and operation of speed cameras; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42955/06]

The procurement process for a service provider to provide and operate safety cameras throughout the State is taking place under national and EU rules. On 24 November a Request for Information, seeking Candidates interested in providing the service, issued on the government and public procurement website www.etenders.gov.ie and a notice was published in the Official Journal of the EU. The Contracting Authority is An Garda Síochána. The latest date for receipt of responses from interested parties is 16 January 2007.

All responses received will be evaluated on an individual basis in accordance with the criteria set down in the Request for Information document. A number of candidates will be awarded pre-qualification status and short-listed to proceed to the next stage shortly thereafter. A Request for Tender will be made to the short-listed candidates. The successful candidate will be selected on the basis of the tender received.

I attach a very high priority to the outsourcing and expanding the speed camera network and to ensuring that there will be no undue delay in the procurement process.

Garda Stations.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

217 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money spent on the refurbishment works at Burnfoot Garda Station, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42335/06]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that Burnfoot Garda Station is currently open 21 hours per week, between the hours of 10 am to 1 p.m. each day.

Tax Code.

Michael Ring

Question:

218 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Finance if he will abolish rates for crèches; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42470/06]

The Valuation Act 2001, which came into effect on 2nd May 2002, provides that commercially operated child care facilities such as play schools, preschools, crèches and Montessori schools are liable for rates unless specific criteria for exemption are met. This is a continuation of the pre May 2002 situation. In regard to the Valuation Act, 2001, I should point out that the Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the exercise of his duties under the Act, and that I, as Minister for Finance, have no function in decisions in this regard.

It was not intended that the Valuation Act 2001 would expand or contract the valuation base. The effect of removing any category of property such as commercially operated childcare centres from the valuation base would be to increase the rates burden on other ratepayers. At the time of drafting the Valuation Act 2001 it was considered that where Exchequer assistance to certain sectors was desirable it should be direct assistance rather than interfering with local authority funding by way of rates relief. Schedule 4 of the Valuation Act 2001 outlines the categories of property and the various uses that are deemed to be non rateable under the Act. Paragraphs 10 (education) and 16 (charitable purposes) are two areas in that schedule which may be relevant to the rateability of preschool facilities.

In the area of education, paragraph 10 Schedule 4, exemption is limited to educational institutions, not established and not conducted for making profit or funded wholly or mainly from funds provided by the Exchequer and in either case is open to the general public. Paragraph 16 Schedule 4 provides exemption for charitable organisations that occupies and uses its facility exclusively for charitable purposes and otherwise than for profit. Therefore crèches/preschool/ playschool facilities established on a non-profit generating basis and/or operated by a charitable organisation for charitable purposes are not liable for rates.

The rateable valuation of commercial property is based on the net annual value (NAV) i.e. the rental value of the property. Any ratepayer dissatisfied with the rateability of a property, the valuation assessed on a particular property or the method of calculation can appeal to the Commissioner of Valuation in the first instance and subsequently to the independent Valuation Tribunal. There is a further right of appeal to the High Court and ultimately to the Supreme Court on a point of law.

Rating legislation, as distinct from valuation legislation, and issues arising from it are matters for my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

The core objective of Government policy in the area of child support is to provide assistance which will offer real choice to parents and which will benefit all children. Following on from increases in Child Benefit in Budget 2006, this policy has seen a further increase of €10 per month announced in Budget 2007. This increase will come into effect in April 2007 and will bring the monthly rate of Child Benefit to €160 for the first and second child and €195 for the third and subsequent child.

Budget 2006 also marked the introduction of a National Childcare Strategy costing a cumulative €2.65bn over five years to address the supply and the cost of childcare. This strategy included the introduction of the Early Childcare Supplement worth €1,000 annually for each child up to his/her sixth birthday. A four week extension to both paid and unpaid maternity leave was introduced in 2006 and a further four week increase to both paid and unpaid maternity leave becomes effective in 2007, bringing the duration of paid maternity leave up to 26 weeks at that time and the duration of unpaid leave to 16 weeks.

A major new multi-annual National Childcare Investment Programme, running from 2006-2010, will support the creation of an extra 50,000 childcare places. To date, over 900 capital grant applications, amounting to more than €170m, have been received. To complement the roll-out of these new places, a total of 17,000 childcare workers will be trained over five years. Under the EU co-funded Equal Opportunities Programme 2000-2006, more than 32,000 new places have been created and a further 24,500 places have been supported with grant-aid allocations amounting to almost €500m over the last six years. I would also mention that in December 2005, the Government established the Office of the Minister for Children (OMC) to bring greater coherence to policy making for children.

The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government published Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Childcare Facilities in June 2001. The Guidelines indicate that planning authorities should ensure that their Development Plans and Local Area Plans should include policies in relation to the provision of childcare facilities. The Guidelines state that planning authorities should require the provision of at least one childcare facility for new housing areas unless there are significant reasons to the contrary, for example, development consisting of single bedroomed apartments or where there are adequate childcare facilities in adjoining developments. For new housing areas, a threshold of one childcare facility for each 75 dwellings is suggested as being appropriate.

Garda Stations.

Pat Carey

Question:

219 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Finance if the contract for the building of a new Garda station in Finglas has been awarded; if so, when it is expected that construction of the station will begin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42687/06]

Tenders will be invited for the construction of a new Garda station in Finglas by the end of the year. It is expected that a contract for the erection of this Garda station will be placed in the Spring of 2007.

Flood Relief.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

220 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance his plans to clean, drain or upgrade various rivers or waterways throughout the country with a view to alleviation of ongoing flooding; the number and location of such schemes that have been undertaken in the past 10 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42891/06]

The Office of Public Works has a programme of flood relief schemes, which are at different stages of development and which are designed to alleviate flooding in specific, mainly urban, locations. The details of this programme are as follows:

River Suir (Clonmel) Drainage Schemes

Munster Blackwater (Mallow) Drainage Schemes

Munster Blackwater (Fermoy) Drainage Schemes

River Fergus (Ennis) Certified Drainage Schemes

John's River (Waterford) Drainage Schemes

Barrow River (Carlow) Certified Drainage Schemes

River Slaney (Enniscorthy) Drainage Scheme

Avoca River (Arklow) Drainage Scheme

River Mall (Templemore) Drainage Scheme

Mornington River (Mornington) Drainage Scheme

River Slaney (Tullow) Drainage Scheme

River Pil (Pilltown) Drainage Scheme

Portarlington,