Thursday, 26 February 2004

Questions (175, 176, 177, 178, 179)

Bernard Allen

Question:

174 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way in which the Ringsend waste water plant is funded; if the polluter pays principle applies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6412/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

The capital cost of the Ringsend waste water treatment plant was primarily co-financed by the Exchequer and the EU Cohesion Fund, supplemented by contributions raised by Dublin City Council from non-domestic consumers in accordance with Government water pricing policy.

The operational phase of the design, build and operate contract will be funded by a combination of local government fund moneys in respect of the domestic share of the operational costs and contributions from the non-domestic sector in respect of such costs attributable to that sector.

Bernard Allen

Question:

175 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when the polluter pays principle will be introduced for water and sewerage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6413/04]

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Charges for non-domestic users of water services are already provided for in legislation and are widely established. It is Government policy to bring greater uniformity to these arrangements by requiring that all non-domestic users of water services meet the costs of providing them with these services on a metered basis by 2006. This is in line with the proper application of the polluter pays principle and the requirements of the EU water framework directive.

The Local Government (Financial Provisions) Act 1997 precludes the charging of domestic users of water services and there is no proposal for amendment of this provision.

Bernard Allen

Question:

176 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of sewerage schemes and water schemes funded in 2003 and 2004 in each local authority area; the way in which they are being funded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6414/04]

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Bernard Allen

Question:

177 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will give details of the best practice in regard to water and sewerage schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6415/04]

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Bernard Allen

Question:

178 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the criteria used in deciding the method of funding new or upgrading water and sewerage schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6416/04]

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I propose to take Questions Nos. 176 to 178, inclusive, together.

My Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2003 — 2005, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas Library, sets out a timetable under which funding will be provided by my Department to facilitate the commencement of specific schemes during the period 2003 to 2005. Funding is also available to allow schemes included in the programme under the rural towns and villages and serviced land initiatives to proceed to construction once the contract procurement process has been completed. In addition, schemes have been identified to advance through planning to which construction start dates will be assigned in future phases of the programme. The selection of small public water, group water and sewerage scheme proposals for funding under the devolved rural water programme is a matter for the local authorities concerned within general guidelines laid down by my Department.

My Department has established the public private partnership approach, employing the design-build-operate — DBO — model, as the standard practice for the procurement and management of new water and wastewater treatment infrastructure under the water services investment programme. In this context, DBO offers a number of distinct advantages over traditional procurement, including: single point responsibility for design, construction, operation and maintenance, which incentivises the contractor to optimise the whole life cost of the project; acceleration of infrastructure provision and reduced exposure to construction inflation as the operational phase, and the related payments to the contractor, do not commence until construction has been completed; better allocation of risk, resulting in greater certainty of final capital cost; and use of new and innovative technologies with associated technical and economic advantages.

Local authorities are being assisted in the implementation of this policy through a range of guidance and other supports produced by my Department.

Capital funding of the water services investment programme is primarily Exchequer based, supplemented by contributions raised by local authorities from the non-domestic sector in accordance with Government water pricing policy. Exchequer funding in respect of approved schemes is recouped to authorities by my Department on an individual scheme basis.

The devolved rural water programme is funded through a combination of annual Exchequer block grant allocations by my Department to individual local authorities, supplemented by authorities' own resources and other non-Exchequer funding, including capital contributions by group water scheme members.