Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Questions (425)

Dessie Ellis


425. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide an update on the removal of pyrite from affected homes; the numbers that have successfully been completed in targets for 2013; and when the remediation scheme proposed will be operational. [12960/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

In December, 2012 the Government approved the imposition of a levy on the quarrying and insurance sectors as a mechanism to fund a pyrite remediation scheme. Primary legislation is required to underpin the imposition of the levy and my Department is currently advancing the drafting of the General Scheme of a Bill to provide for this. It is my intention that the Bill will be published and enacted in the shortest possible timeframe and there will be no delay on my part in this regard.

The Government also approved the establishment of a Pyrite Resolution Board and I have previously announced its establishment under the Chairmanship of Mr. John O’Connor, former Chairman of An Bord Pleanála, and the appointment of four Board members. The construction stakeholders (the Construction Industry Federation, the Irish Concrete Federation and HomeBond) have agreed to establish a not-for-profit entity to operate the remediation scheme. The Resolution Board will work closely with the entity to oversee and ensure the effective implementation of a pyrite remediation scheme for homeowners who have no other avenues of redress open to them. The Pyrite Resolution Board is working on drawing up the precise scope of the remediation scheme, eligibility criteria, procedures, priorities, etc. It is also in the process of developing its own website where it will publish documentation and a system for receiving applications from eligible homeowners.

My Department is also engaging in discussions with a number of financial institutions facilitated by the Irish Banking Federation with a view to securing a loan facility which the not-for-profit entity would draw down to permit the earliest possible commencement of remediation works. It is intended that detailed negotiations with the prospective lenders on the terms and conditions of this facility will be concluded by the not-for-profit entity. Loan funds drawn down would be repaid over time from the proceeds of the statutory levies.

Pyrite remediation works have been completed on a number of social housing projects and in a number of other cases they are at the early stages of investigation and testing. Extensive remediation work to address pyrite problems in the apartment complex of 124 units at Sillogue 4, Ballymun and the Clancarthy Senior Citizens complex have been completed, while tenders have been received in the case of six units at Avilla Park. While my Department is making funding available for these projects, in the longer term, all legal liabilities will be pursued with a view to recouping the cost of these works.

The report of the Pyrite Panel indicated that 1,100 private dwellings had been or were in the process of being remediated at March, 2012. I understand remediation works, funded under various forms of insurance cover, are progressing in a considerable number of cases and are also being undertaken directly by builders.