Wind Energy Guidelines

Questions (50)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

50. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the outcome of the wind energy guidelines focused review, the deadline for which closed in February; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44803/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department is currently undertaking a targeted review of the Wind Energy Guidelines 2006 focusing on noise, proximity and shadow flicker. The indicative timetable for the publication of the draft revised guidelines is Quarter 4 2013. 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, to allow for publication of the final guidelines in 2014. The public will be notified about the consultation period through media notices and a copy of the draft guidelines will be made available on my Department's website. All interested parties are welcome to make written submissions during this consultation period. Once the consultation period is closed, the submissions received on the draft guidelines will be considered and taken into account in the final form of the guidelines.

My Department previously invited submissions from the public as part of a pre-consultation process in January 2013 which marked the initial stage in this review process. This was essentially a pre-draft consultation intended to inform the preparation of revised draft guidelines. This previous consultation has allowed for the public and other stakeholders to input into the process at an early stage.

Community Development Initiatives

Questions (51)

Brendan Smith

Question:

51. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the projected reduction in funding for the RAPID and LCDP programmes in 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44877/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP) is one of my Department's main social inclusion programmes. The objective of the LCDP is to tackle poverty and social exclusion through partnership and constructive engagement between Government, and its agencies, and people in disadvantaged communities. It is a key tool of Government in providing supports for the 'harder to reach' in the most disadvantaged areas and communities. €47.707 million is being provided in the 2014 indicative allocation for the Local and Community Development Programme, a reduction of €1million or 2% on the 2013 allocation, the smallest reduction to the Programme since 2010.

In allocating resources in the prevailing stringent budgetary situation, I am particularly conscious of the need to support funding levels for the LCDP, to ensure that resources are allocated in the fairest way possible and to make the maximum contribution to job creation and economic recovery. In our current economic circumstances and with high levels of unemployment, the LCDP is more relevant than ever as it creates employment opportunities and gives those most distant from the labour market the skills to access training and jobs. The Programme provides employment supports, training, personal development/capacity building and other supports for the harder to reach in the most disadvantaged areas in society.  The funding provided in 2014 will be used to increase access to formal and informal educational activities and resources, and to increase people's work readiness and employment prospects. For example, some 14,000 people who are distanced from the labour market will receive direct one-to one labour market training and supports through the Programme in 2014.

I provided €2 million in capital funding for RAPID in 2013, which is being used to meet my Department's existing contractual commitments on RAPID projects, mainly Sports Capital top-ups and CCTV systems, jointly funded with the Departments of Transport, Tourism and Sport and Justice and Equality respectively. The capital allocation for RAPID for 2014 is €1.9million, a reduction of 5%.

The LCDP and RAPID programmes will in future be overseen by new Local Community Development Committees which are to be established in each Local Authority area as part of the reforms set out in Putting People First – Action Plan for Effective Local Government with the objective of bringing greater co-ordination on an area basis to publicly – funded programmes.

Dormant Accounts Fund Deposits

Questions (52, 55)

John Browne

Question:

52. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the amount of moneys accumulated to date in the dormant account fund since its inception; the amount available at present; his plans to allocate such funds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44895/13]

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Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

55. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the allocation in next year's Estimate for expenditure under dormant accounts measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44882/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 and 55 together.

Under the Dormant Accounts legislation, balances on dormant accounts with banks, building societies and An Post and the net encashment value of certain life assurance policies are paid into the Dormant Accounts Fund, which is managed by the National Treasury Management Agency. The primary purpose of the legislation is to re-unite the original account holders with their moneys, including all interest due. In addition, the legislation also provides that disbursements from the fund may be made for charitable purposes or for purposes of community benefit. Since its establishment in April 2003 to the end of September 2013, the transfers to the Dormant Accounts Fund have totalled some €724.6m, which includes interest earned of approximately €39.8m. Funds reclaimed in that period by account holders amounted to around €267.6m. €278m of disbursements have been approved, with €251m already spent on projects designed to benefit the community over the same period. The current balance of uncommitted funds is €120.6m.

The Disbursement Plan of 2009, put in place by the Dormant Accounts Board, will be replaced shortly by a new disbursement scheme in accordance with the Dormant Accounts (Amendment) Act 2012. The 2012 Act also provides for the preparation of an action plan, to give effect to the disbursement scheme. The plan will 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.

This year, I have allocated €6.385m for Dormant Accounts Measures, which includes €2.835m to be used to support labour force activation measures in local authorities. The budget provision for 2014 is €5.456m, made up of €3.45 current and €2.006 capital. This will allow for the continuation of funding to support the labour force activation measures and the implementation of a modest action plan. Further data in relation to Dormant Accounts Funding is available on my Department's website at www.environ.ie.

Shared Ownership Scheme

Questions (53)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

53. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in respect of the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency's review of the shared ownership housing scheme if he will indicate the main recommendations; the specific difficulties that have been identified; the potential financial exposures to local authorities that have been identified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44806/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Government's 2011 housing policy statement announced the standing down of all affordable housing schemes, including the shared ownership scheme, in the context of a full review of Part V of the Planning and Development Act. The review is available on my Department's website www.environ.ie.

Earlier in 2013, I asked the Housing & Sustainable Communities Agency to conduct a standalone review of the shared ownership scheme, including identification of the main difficulties and recommendations for mitigating measures. I have received an interim draft of the review from the Agency and I intend to issue a circular letter to local authorities this month with preliminary recommendations arising from the review.

A number of issues have been identified that need further detailed financial analysis in order to fully assess the impact on local authority finances of possible mitigating measures. This additional work is underway and I expect to make further determinations in the coming months. At that time consideration will be given to the publication of relevant inputs to the review process.

Wastewater Treatment Issues

Question No. 55 answered with Question No. 52.

Questions (54)

Mick Wallace

Question:

54. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if planned upgrades for waste water treatment are likely to be delayed due to the establishment of Irish Water. [44820/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Wastewater schemes and contracts included in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2010 – 2013 (WSIP) have been progressed as expeditiously as possible over the period of the programme. From 1 January 2014 Irish Water will be responsible for the delivery of water services capital infrastructure and is currently preparing a Capital Investment Plan for 2014 - 2015. I expect that this Plan will provide for the transition of relevant projects currently included in the WSIP.

Question No. 55 answered with Question No. 52.

Leader Programmes Expenditure

Questions (56)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

56. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the total allocation of funding available under the Leader programme 2007-2013; the amount spent to date; the amount remaining to be spent until the end of the programme; the latest date for the spending of this money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44875/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The total spend under Axes 3 & 4 of the Programme to date is €213 million, leaving an estimated balance of €157 million to be spent on projects and operating costs. The Local Development Companies (LDC) contracted to deliver the Programme on behalf of my Department also administer a food measure under Axis 1 of the Programme and to date almost €2 million has been committed under this measure with expenditure of €230,147. The EU regulations allow for expenditure under the Programme to continue up to the end of 2015.