Question No. 93 answered with Question No. 83.

Water Services Funding

Questions (94)

Joan Collins

Question:

94. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the funding provided for waste water treatment plants outside urban centres of more than 500 population since 1992 and the funding provided for the construction of sewer networks, long sea outfalls and other sewage infrastructure outside urban centres of more than 500 population since 1992. [12781/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Water Services Investment Programme (WSIP) is a multi-annual investment plan for the provision of major water and sewerage schemes. The current plan, Water Services Investment Programme 2010 – 2013, is available in the Oireachtas library, and sets out the plans for investment in, inter alia, major wastewater projects. These projects are generally in respect of works in agglomerations of in excess of 500 p.e. Funding for smaller schemes is provided under my Department’s Rural Water Programme.

I will circulate with the Official Report a tabular statement setting out expenditure under the WSIP since 1992 on wastewater infrastructure, including wastewater treatment plants, construction of sewer networks, long sea outfalls and other sewage infrastructure.

Year

WSIP Spend

Wastewater

 

 

€m

€m

%

1992 *

92

n/a

 

1993 *

147

n/a

 

1994

118

77

65%

1995

125

61

49%

1996

140

70

50%

1997

181

120

66%

1998

206

139

67%

1999

317

244

77%

2000

380

295

78%

2001

453

376

83%

2002

435

351

81%

2003

375

287

77%

2004

314

231

74%

2005

299

209

70%

2006

335

239

71%

2007

367

246

67%

2008

391

240

61%

2009

412

255

62%

2010

407

285

70%

2011

350

220

63%

2012

268

148

55%

*Details of the split in expenditure on Wastewater and Water Supply is not available for 1992 and 1993.

Leader Programmes Funding

Questions (95)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

95. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the expected percentage of projects approved under the LEADER process that will not be completed and draw down any money under the programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12703/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I refer to the replies to Questions Nos. 77, 80 and 82 on today's order paper. Axes 3 4 (LEADER) of the Rural Development Programme 2007 – 2013 (RDP) , for which my Department has responsibility , are delivered using a "bottom up" or community led approach. Decision-making with regard to project approvals and project completions rest s with the 35 Local Development Companies who are contracted by my Department to deliver the LEADER elements of the RDP. All projects that are approved are expected to be completed, but timing and progress are matters for the companies and the project promoters.

The rules of the RDP require a full assessment of the viability and sustainability of any project applying for RDP funding and each project must satisfy these requirements prior to receiving formal approval. However, it is not possible to be definitive at this stage about the percentage of projects that may not ultimately reach completion in the current programming period.

Child Care Services Provision

Questions (96, 116)

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

96. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if all community child care groups will have their premises exempt from payment of commercial rates; if so, the basis for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12337/13]

View answer

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

116. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans to exempt registered private child care facilities from commercial rates on the basis of their educational function; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12338/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 96 and 116 together.

I refer to the reply to Questions No. 443 and 444 of 26 February 2013. The position remains unchanged.

Social and Affordable Housing Expenditure

Questions (97)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

97. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of local authorities that allow for a pro-rata change in the shared ownership rent subsidy during a current year in the event that a recipient household suffers financial difficulties under the terms of Circular HRT 10/91; if he will issue an updated circular to all local authorities informing them that recipients of the shared ownership subsidy may avail of this facility; if he will consider changing the regulations to allow for a mandatory consideration of recipients' changed circumstances at any point in a year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12643/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department does not collate the information sought. The Government’s 2011 housing policy statement announced the standing down of all affordable housing schemes, including the shared ownership scheme, as part of the review of Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000.

That review is now almost concluded and I have also asked the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency to provide me with a standalone analysis of the shared ownership scheme, including identification of the main difficulties and recommendations for mitigating measures.

Any future changes to legislation governing affordable housing schemes, including the shared ownership scheme, will be made in the context of both pieces of work and I expect to make announcements in this regard in the coming months.

Wind Energy Guidelines

Questions (98)

Brian Stanley

Question:

98. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on whether the current guidelines for the installation of wind turbines are sufficiently robust; and his further views that the existing planning process promotes sustainable energy and protects the rights of residents and their communities. [12810/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Wind Energy Development Guidelines (June 2006) provide guidance to planning authorities on catering for wind energy through the development plan process. The guidelines are also intended to ensure a consistency of approach throughout the country in the identification of suitable locations for wind energy development and the treatment of planning applications for such developments.

To ensure that Ireland continues to meet its renewable energy targets and, at the same time, that wind energy does not have negative impacts on local communities, my Department, in conjunction with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and other stakeholders, is undertaking a targeted review of certain aspects of the Wind Energy Guidelines 2006.

This focused review will examine the manner in which the Guidelines address key issues of community concern such as noise, proximity and visual amenity and any other potential impacts, as considered appropriate, as well as ways of building community support for wind energy development.

The press notice - issued on 30 January 2013 – marks only the initial stage in that review process. It is essentially a pre-draft consultation intended to inform the preparation of revised draft guidelines. This early consultation allows for the public and other stakeholders to input into the process at an early stage. Other stakeholders that will be consulted include the Environmental Protection Agency and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

All statutory planning guidelines issue first in draft form for public consultation over a period of a couple of months. Once the consultation period is closed the submissions received on the draft guidelines are considered and taken into account in the final form of the guidelines. The draft guidelines will – like all other new or revised guidelines – go out for extensive public consultation for a period of 6 weeks to 2 months. The indicative timetable for the publication of the draft guidelines is Quarter 4 2013.

Planning legislation provides for extensive public notification of proposed development at the development management stage, including proposed development for wind energy purposes. For example, article 17 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 – 2010 requires an applicant to erect a site notice in order to lodge a valid application for planning permission. Article 19 of the Regulations requires that this notice must be placed in a conspicuous position on or near the main entrance from a public road to the land or structure concerned, so as to be easily visible and legible by persons using the public road. Alternatively, if the land or structure does not adjoin a public road, the site notice should be placed so as to be easily visible and legible by persons outside the land or structure. The site notice must contain the date on which the site notice is erected and state that the planning application may be inspected or purchased at the offices of the planning authority and that a submission or observation in relation to the application may be made to the authority in writing, on payment of the prescribed fee, within the 5 weeks beginning on the date of receipt by the planning authority of the application. The applicant must erect the site notice no sooner than 2 weeks before making the application for permission in order to facilitate third party inspection of the application. Where it appears to a planning authority that any notice does not comply with these requirements, it may require the applicant to give further notice and evidence in relation to compliance with such a requirement.

Article 18 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2006 also provides that a notice be published in a newspaper approved for this purpose. Each planning authority must decide which newspapers should be included on its approved list of newspapers to ensure that the newspapers used for the purpose of such notices have a sufficiently large circulation in its functional area.

In addition the planning authority must, under section 34(3) of the Planning and Development Act 2000, have regard to any observations or submissions received concerning the proposed development in accordance with the relevant regulations.

Any person who makes a submission to the planning authority may appeal the decision of the planning authority to An Bord Pleanála. The Board in some instances, at its own discretion, holds oral hearings in relation to cases being considered by it, further adding to the opportunities to participate in the decision-making process.

Leader Programmes Funding

Questions (99)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

99. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the amount of project money approved to date under the LEADER programme; the total amount of money available under this programme for projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12708/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I refer to the reply to priority Question No. 77 on today’s order paper which sets out the position in this matter.

Proposed Legislation

Questions (100)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

100. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he is concerned that the production of a climate change Bill that does not have carbon emission targets for both 2020 and 2050 may end up, under the EU 2009, costing the State €300 million in carbon credits. [12811/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

In releasing the outline Heads of the Climate Action and Low-Carbon Development Bill on 26 February 2013, I made a statement in which I addressed greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, with a view to putting the record straight on this critical issue. In that statement, a copy of which is available on my Department’s website (www.environ.ie), I pointed out that Ireland already has a challenging greenhouse gas mitigation target for 2020, which is binding under EU law. Compliance with that target is not an option; it is absolutely paramount and any ambition we set at a national level must, and will, respect compliance with this fundamental mitigation commitment and future increases in ambition. As can be seen in Head 3 of the outline Heads of the Bill, the legislation being developed by Government will be unequivocal on compliance with existing and future obligations of the State under EU law and any international agreement to which the State becomes a party.

Overall, the outline Heads reflect a strongly progressive approach to the fundamental challenge of greenhouse gas mitigation, having regard to Ireland’s distinctive greenhouse gas emissions profile and the challenges it presents for the agriculture and food sectors, in particular. Looked at in isolation, the formal construct of Head 4 for legal drafting purposes may not convey the true extent of the ambition being set by Government. However, when looked at in the broader context of all proposed provisions, particularly those in Head 5, and the parallel advances in policy development, the progressive and highly ambitious agenda now proposed by Government is clear. The proposed provisions in Head 5 would place a statutory obligation on Government to adopt and implement national and sectoral plans to enable the State to transition to a low-carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy in the period to 2050.

In anticipation of the planned legislation, work on the development of key sectoral mitigation plans has already been initiated. In the update on progress on the development of national climate policy and legislation which I issued on 28 December 2012, I announced that Departments with responsibility for key sectors in the transition to a low carbon economy had already been tasked with the preparation of individual 2050 low-carbon roadmaps. This step in the overall policy development process provides an opportunity for the Departments concerned, who are best placed in terms of ownership and understanding of their sectors, to lead the process of framing the low-carbon vision/objective for their sectors and to undertake the evaluation that is necessary to develop a robust and cost-effective policy platform for delivery of that vision in their area.

The key sectors are energy/built environment, transport and agriculture. While near zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2050 should set the context for the energy/built environment and transport sectoral roadmaps, generally reflecting the ambition at EU level, carbon neutrality is considered to be the more appropriate approach in the case of the agriculture sector.

The objective is to finalise these sectoral roadmaps – including a reasonable period of public consultation in the fourth quarter of this year. These sectoral roadmaps are an essential first step towards development of an overall national 2050 roadmap to a low-carbon society with a competitive low-carbon economy being finalised by my Department in early 2014.

Consistent with the Government commitment to Ireland’s obligations under EU Decision 406/2009/EC and its progressive approach to the development of national climate policy, the focus for securing compliance with EU law in the period to 2020 will be on domestic mitigation rather than the purchase of additional carbon credits.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Questions (101, 114)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

101. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the specific measures he will take to ensure that Ireland will not exceed emissions limits laid out under the EU effort sharing decision in 2015 as is projected in the EPA CCRP report (details supplied); if he will accept that mitigating actions are required immediately to address this matter and cannot wait until the passage of the proposed climate action and low carbon development Bill if such actions are to have any measurable impact; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12820/13]

View answer

Michael McGrath

Question:

114. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on sectorial targets for climate change; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12686/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 101 and 114 together.

I refer to the reply to Question No. 258 of 14 February 2013.

In issuing the Review of National Climate Policy in November 2011, I announced that a three-pronged approach would be undertaken in order to develop the necessary policy mix to support an ambitious but realistic national mitigation agenda. In addition to policy analysis by the Secretariat to the National Economic and Social Council and the public consultation which I undertook in 2012, I stated very clearly that the third pillar of the approach would be the pursuit of sectoral mitigation progress through the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and the Green Economy, based on positive engagement with the relevant Departments in whose sectoral areas progress must be made if we are to meet our binding targets under EU law.

Significant moves forward have been made under this third pillar of the policy development agenda. In the update on progress on the development of national climate policy and legislation which I issued on 28 December 2012, I specifically addressed the sectoral challenge. Responding to the strong case made by the NESC Secretariat for the national climate challenge to be reframed – moving beyond a sole compliance approach, and re-focussing on a whole-of-government and societal agenda – I announced that Departments with responsibility for key sectors in the transition to a low carbon economy had already been tasked with the preparation of individual 2050 low-carbon roadmaps. This step in the overall policy development process provides an opportunity for the Departments concerned, who are best placed in terms of ownership and understanding of their sectors, to lead the process of framing the low-carbon vision/objective for their sectors and to undertake the evaluation that is necessary to develop a robust and cost-effective policy platform for delivery of that vision in their area.

The key sectors are energy/built environment, transport and agriculture. While near zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2050 should set the context for the energy/built environment and transport sectoral roadmaps, generally reflecting the ambition at EU level, carbon neutrality is considered to be the more appropriate approach in the case of the agriculture sector.

The objective is to finalise these sectoral roadmaps – including a reasonable period of public consultation in the fourth quarter of this year. These sectoral roadmaps are an essential first step towards development of an overall national 2050 roadmap to a low-carbon society with a competitive low-carbon economy being finalised by my Department in early 2014.

Local Authority Housing Waiting Lists

Questions (102)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

102. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will set out his plans to deal with a shortage of local authority housing; if he intendeds to address the issue of the 100,000 plus families on local authority housing lists in a planned fashion by way of a direct building programme or by way of local authority loan scheme; if cognisance will be taken of the double economic benefit of such a proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12729/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Government’s housing policy statement, published in June 2011, clearly identifies that the priority for Government will be to meet the most acute needs of households applying for social housing support.

I am determined to ensure that the social housing programme optimises the delivery of social housing and the return for the resources invested. To achieve this, it is essential that we tailor the use of available Exchequer supports to prevailing conditions and explore the full range of solutions to address housing needs. The social housing capital budget has been reduced from €1.535 billion in 2008 to €332.7m in 2012, with an anticipated outturn of some €299m for 2013, and the financial parameters within which we will be operating for the coming years rule out a return to large capital funded construction programmes. The Government is committed to responding more quickly and on a larger scale to social housing support needs through a variety of mechanisms, including through increased provision of social housing. In spite of the challenging circumstances within which local authorities are forced to operate, the projected outcome for 2012 is expected to be in the region of 4,000 to 4,500 housing units. Given the current volatility of the market and different challenges to the channels of supply, it is difficult to estimate the likely output of new units for social housing this year. However, it is provisionally estimated that in the region of 5,000 units will be provided for social housing in 2013.

Delivery of social housing will be significantly facilitated through more flexible funding models such as the Rental Accommodation Scheme and leasing, but the Government is also committed to developing other funding mechanisms that will increase the supply of permanent new social housing. Such mechanisms will include options to purchase, build to lease and the sourcing of loan finance by approved housing bodies for construction and acquisition. There is also obvious potential, across a range of housing programmes, for the Government’s objective of sourcing and providing suitable residential units for use as social housing to be aligned with the commercial objectives of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). My Department and the Housing Agency are engaged with NAMA to ensure delivery of housing units for social purposes.

Pyrite Remediation Programme Issues

Questions (103, 117)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

103. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if the services to be provided in the expenditure of up to €50 million in the pyrite resolution process will be decided by competitive tender. [12784/13]

View answer

Clare Daly

Question:

117. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that during house surveys carried out to inspect damage caused by pyrite that non-pyrite related damage to houses and significant non-compliance with Building Regulations Fire Safety has been found in housing units which had been approved by the structural guarantee company Homebond and that complaints based on these failures have been made to local authority building control; and if he will confirm that no personnel from the Homebond company will be employed in the management of the Pyrite Resolution process. [12782/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 103 and 117 together.

The Building Control Acts 1990 and 2007 provides a clear statutory framework for construction activity based on legal enforceable minimum standards as set out in the Building Regulations and in detailed Technical Guidance Documents (TGDs). Responsibility for compliance with the Building Regulations rests with the owner of a building and with the builder/developer who carries out the construction works.

Enforcement of the Building Regulations is primarily the responsibility of the 37 local Building Control Authorities who have strong powers to serve enforcement notices for non-compliance or to institute proceedings for breaches of regulatory requirements within a period of five years from the date the building has been completed. Building Control Authorities have successfully used such powers to achieve compliance. However, my Department has no direct involvement in these matters.

Homeowners and indeed their public representatives should report any concerns about non-compliance with the Building Regulations to the local Building Control Authority.

Remediation of defects is a matter for resolution between the parties concerned, namely the owner and the builder/developer and their insurers. In the event that a satisfactory resolution cannot be achieved through dialogue and negotiation the option of seeking a civil legal remedy can be considered.

I have recently established the Pyrite Resolution Board under the chairmanship of Mr. John O’Connor, former Chairman of An Bord Pleanála, to oversee and ensure the effective implementation of a pyrite remediation programme for homeowners who have no alternative avenues for redress. I am confident that the Board will require compliance with normal procurement procedures. I have also appointed four other Board members, who together with the Chairman, have the particular range of skills and experience to ensure that the public interest, and the interest of the affected homeowners, will be well served. The Board will be working closely with the not-for-profit entity, which will be established by the Construction Industry Federation, the Irish Concrete Federation and HomeBond to deliver an efficient and effective remediation scheme.

Work is underway by the Pyrite Resolution Board on developing the scope and detail of a pyrite remediation scheme. Issues in relation to testing for pyritic heave, eligibility criteria for homeowners, public procurement, certification, warranties and other key concerns will be considered by the Board in the context of its work.

Traveller Accommodation

Questions (104)

Joan Collins

Question:

104. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding the recent underspend of €50 million by local authorities on Traveller accommodation in view of the latest European Commission report against racism and intolerance regarding Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12780/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

In accordance with the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, statutory responsibility for the assessment of the accommodation needs of Travellers and the preparation, adoption and implementation of multi-annual Traveller accommodation programmes, designed to meet the accommodation needs of Travellers, rests with individual housing authorities. My Department’s role is to ensure that there is an adequate legislative and financial system in place to assist the authorities in providing such accommodation.

My Department provides 100% capital funding to housing authorities for the provision of new and refurbished Traveller-specific accommodation, such as halting sites and group housing schemes. Traveller families are also accommodated in local authority social housing dwellings, which are funded through the main local authority social housing programme. The most recent Housing Needs Assessment has shown that the vast majority of Travellers have opted for standard housing. Nevertheless, Traveller-specific accommodation continues to be provided by housing authorities, and funded by my Department, to meet the accommodation needs of those Travellers who opt for such accommodation.

Between 2007 and 2012, €170 million was allocated by my Department to local authorities for the provision of Traveller-specific accommodation. Funding under the Traveller Accommodation Programme is allocated annually to housing authorities based on the programmes submitted to my Department for the year in question. It is then a matter for housing authorities to progress those projects for which an allocation was provided and to arrange for the appropriate and timely drawdown of the funding from my Department.

My Department carefully monitors the drawdown of expenditure and progress generally under the Traveller Accommodation Programme. Concerns have been raised with housing authorities regarding the drawdown of allocations in recent years. While my Department will continue to monitor the drawdown of expenditure this year to ensure that the maximum return is achieved from resources provided, it must be acknowledged that overall responsibility for the progression of schemes and the efficient and effective drawdown of allocations lies with housing authorities.

Dormant Accounts Fund Grants

Questions (105)

John McGuinness

Question:

105. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the details of the new schemes or programmes he intends to fund in 2013 out of the dormant accounts fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12705/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Disbursement Plan of 2009, put in place by the Dormant Accounts Board, will be replaced by a new disbursement scheme to be created in 2013 in accordance with the Dormant Accounts (Amendment) Act 2012. My Department will consult with relevant Government Departments, and such other persons as appropriate, in relation to drafting the disbursement scheme, specific details of which are not yet available. The new scheme must be approved by Government and laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas which then have 21 days to consider it.

The legislation also provides for the preparations of an action plan each year following the making of a scheme. The plan, which will also be subject to consultation, must indicate the programmes or types of projects that may apply for disbursement and the maximum funds available. Different amounts may be specified in the plan in relation to a particular class or classes of programme or project.  Once the plan is adopted, a copy must also be laid before each House of the Oireachtas, where it may be considered within a 21 day period. Provision is made, in addition, for adopting or not adopting a plan and for not proceeding to invite applications under a plan, if appropriate in particular circumstances. Any decision not to proceed must be approved by Government.

Environmental Regulations

Questions (106, 111)

John Halligan

Question:

106. Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans to review regulations in relation to environmental impact assessments in view of the decision of a company (details supplied) to surrender its foreshore licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12836/13]

View answer

John Halligan

Question:

111. Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the discussion that took place between his Department and a company (details supplied) that led to the company surrendering its foreshore licence to drill an exploratory well in Dublin Bay, including details of the elements of the EU, EIA directive that were apparently not transposed correctly into Irish law in 1999; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12835/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 106 and 111 together.

In the context of a judicial review of the grant of a foreshore licence to Providence Resources plc, my Department and the Office of the Attorney General met the company and their legal representatives on 12 February 2013. As that meeting was held in the context of and with regard to the judicial review, the discussions are confidential and privileged.

The Company announced its intention to surrender the foreshore licence in question. The surrender was not made at the request of my Department, no conditions were attached to the surrender, and neither were any commitments or assurances given to the company.

Compliance with EU legislation is a matter the State takes very seriously and there has been significant improvement in this area in recent years. In order to ensure full compliance with the Directive in question, the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, my Department has initiated a review of the relevant legislation and will introduce amending regulations as required.

Forestry Sector

Questions (107)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

107. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has raised any concern with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine in relation to the effect the proposed sale of the forest crop could have on rural recreation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12706/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I have not had discussions with the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, or his Department in relation to the effect the proposed sale of the forest crop could have on rural recreation. My Department is currently considering the various issues associated with the proposal and the potential impacts on rural recreation.

RAPID Programme

Questions (108)

Brendan Smith

Question:

108. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the latest date on which the national monitoring committee for the RAPID programme met; when its next meeting is scheduled; if he intends being present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12709/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The National Monitoring Committee for the RAPID programme met on 6 October 2010. My Department last met with RAPID Chairs and Coordinators at a conference in February 2012 as part of an extensive consultation process in the context of the development of local government reform proposals. As part of my continuing engagement with both the local development and local government sectors, I have met with many of the Chairs and Coordinators at different times and in various fora. No meeting of the National Monitoring Committee is scheduled at present. However in implementing local government reform decisions, my Department will continue to consult as necessary with the relevant stakeholders, including local authorities, Local Development Companies, RAPID Area Implementation Teams and others.

Local Authority Boundaries

Questions (109)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

109. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government when the local government boundary review will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12687/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I established a Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee on 15 November 2012 to review and make recommendations on the division of each council area, other than Cork City, into local electoral areas, and to make recommendations on the number of members of each council to be assigned to each local electoral area.

The Committee was requested to submit its report as soon as possible and, in any event, not later than 31 May 2013.

Motor Tax Collection

Question No. 111 answered with Question No. 106.

Questions (110)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

110. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide an update on discussions taking place between the CCMA and his Department on the retention of some of motor tax funding in the Local Government Fund in order to maintain existing levels of general purpose grant allocations. [12813/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I assume that the Question refers to general purpose grants from the Local Government Fund. The principal source of revenue for the Local Government Fund in 2013 is the proceeds of motor tax which are being re-distributed on an equalised basis to local authorities within the context of the annual allocations of General Purpose Grants.

My Department continues to work closely with the County and City Managers Association on all matters impacting on the local government sector, including funding issues.

Question No. 111 answered with Question No. 106.

Building Regulations Application

Questions (112)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

112. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he is satisfied that the housing units-apartments constructed during the past ten years comply with fire safety regulations. [12785/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

Since 1 June 1992, all new, extended or materially altered buildings must be built in compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations. The requirements of the Building Regulations are set out in 12 parts (classified as parts A to M) addressing the legally enforceable performance standards which a completed building must achieve. My Department publishes a Technical Guidance Document (TGD) to accompany each part of the regulations outlining how the legal requirement may be achieved in practice. Part B/TGD B addresses the requirements in relation to Fire Safety.

Primary responsibility for compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations rests with the designers, builders and owners of buildings. Implementation of enforcement measures is a matter for the local building control authority. Local authorities have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement as Building Control Authorities under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2007, and as Fire Authorities, Planning Authorities and Housing Authorities under other Acts relevant to the built environment. I am aware that local authorities have used such powers on a number of occasions where circumstances have given rise to concern and I expect local authorities to continue to use all of the powers currently available to them to address serious building defects.

Neither I nor my Department have any function in relation to assessing, checking or testing compliance, or otherwise, of specific works or developments under the Building Control Acts or the Fire Safety Acts.

My Department is currently engaged in a review of Part B/TGDB. The question of the appropriate future regulatory requirements for all buildings, including housing units, will be addressed as part of this review. Any proposals for change will be subject to a comprehensive public consultation process and a rigorous Regulatory Impact Assessment in due course prior to their being signed into law.

Water Quality Issues

Questions (113)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

113. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the extent to which he expects ground water quality to improve over the next five years with particular reference to upgrading of septic tanks, improvement to public sewerage treatment systems, including major, small or group schemes; if he will quantify the extent to which improvements under each heading can contribute to overall improvement in water quality in line with EU regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12730/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

In accordance with the Water Framework Directive, groundwater is classified according to its chemical and quantitative status. The most recent EPA report Ireland’s Environment 2012 – An Assessment states that the majority of groundwater bodies ( 85.6% ) are in good status as required under the Water Framework Directive. The general reduction in nitrate concentrations in groundwater observed in recent years has been attributed to the dilution effect of increased rainfall, reductions in inorganic fertiliser, improvements in organic fertiliser storage and the implementation of land-spreading restrictions.

Groundwater quality is dependent to a large extent on the quality of surface water and so the upgrading of septic tanks and of waste water treatment plants can be expected to contribute to improved groundwater quality.

The priorities in my Department’s Water Services Investment Programme include the provision of works required to comply with Water Framework Directive requirements, to improve sewage treatment and collection infrastructure in accordance with the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive, to respond to judgments of the European Court of Justice and to achieve environmental and public health objectives arising from various regulations and EPA reports dealing with water quality. A total of €328.7 million in Exchequer funding is being provided for water services capital investment this year including investment under the Rural Water Programme. My Department also provides funding from the Local Government Fund towards the operational costs of group water schemes.

Over the past decade, substantial improvements have been made in the group water sector, reflected in improved infrastructure and management and leading to greater compliance with water quality standards. This has been accomplished through a partnership approach between my Department, the water services authorities and the group water sector itself, with the support of the National Federation of Group Water Schemes. My Department is committed to ensuring that the substantial progress made in the group water sector is sustained over the coming years.

The implementation of the National Inspection Plan 2013: Domestic Wastewater Treatment Systems, published recently by the Environmental Protection Agency, will also contribute to the existing range of measures in place to improve and protect our water quality.