Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Questions (14, 29)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

14. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans for long-term supports for home owners affected by pyrite; if any financial support is earmarked beyond next year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44851/13]

View answer

Clare Daly

Question:

29. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in view of the fact that the €50 million initially promised for remedial works to houses damage by heave due to pyrite has not been delivered and these home owners have been abandoned by the structural guarantee company, HomeBond, if he will request that HomeBond now contribute its €25 million surplus to help remediate these damaged houses. [44770/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 14 and 29 together.

Following from Government consideration of the funding of a pyrite remediation scheme through the imposition of mandatory levies on the quarrying and insurance sectors, work commenced on the development of a Pyrite Remediation Bill. However, legal difficulties arose during the drafting process and it was not possible to proceed on the intended basis. My Department and I have worked over the past number of months to resolve these difficulties and put in place an alternative means of funding a pyrite remediation scheme. In this context, I am very pleased to have secured Exchequer funding to support the implementation of a pyrite remediation scheme under the auspices of the Pyrite Resolution Board. In addition, a revised general scheme of a Bill to provide for the establishment of the Pyrite Resolution Board has been approved for drafting as a matter of priority. My Department will be working with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to ensure that the Bill is published at the earliest possible date and I hope to bring the legislation to the Oireachtas in this term.

The Pyrite Resolution Board, which I set up on an administrative basis earlier this year, has already made significant progress on developing appropriate systems and procedures. They will now quickly advance work on the proposed online application and processing system and also finalise work on developing other complementary systems, with appropriate checks and balances, to ensure that effective and efficient programmes of remediation are delivered to affected homeowners.

The initial phase of the remediation programme will deal with approximately 1,000 dwellings which, it is estimated, are in need of repair. Initially, €10 million is being made available to my Department. Additional funding will be provided over the next two years, in the context of the further capital stimulus programme to be announced in early 2014, to deal with all dwellings deemed by the Pyrite Resolution Board to be in need of remediation. The post-2015 funding position will be dealt with having regard to the position at that time. While it is not possible, at this point in time, to estimate the number of dwellings that may require remediation post-2015, the considered view is that the numbers will not be as large as previously thought. There are a number of positive indicators that support this view. The number of persons who have registered an interest with the Pyrite Resolution Board to receive an application form for the proposed scheme is 700 approximately.

As I have indicated previously, HomeBond is a private limited company providing a structural guarantee scheme to purchasers of new homes which, since November 2008, has become an insurance scheme underwritten by Allianz Insurance. As a private company my Department has no role or function in its operations. However, the Pyrite Resolution Board is in discussions with HomeBond in relation to how best they can make a positive contribution to the implementation of a pyrite remediation process.

While it was not possible to proceed with the imposition of levies on the quarrying and insurance sectors as a means of funding a remediation scheme, it would be indefensible to leave affected homeowners without redress. Despite budgetary constraints, I am glad to have secured Exchequer funding for a pyrite remediation scheme. I would like to assure affected homeowners that there will be no undue delay on my part or on that of my Department and the Pyrite Resolution Board to ensure that the pyrite remediation scheme is delivered in the shortest possible timeframe.