Unfinished Housing Developments

Questions (341)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

341. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the problems being experienced by the residents of a housing development (details supplied) in County Laois; his plans to address these issues as a matter of priority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11604/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The administration of issues relating to unfinished housing developments is a matter for the individual local authority involved. Each local authority has appointed an Unfinished Housing Development Co-ordinator; contact details can be found at: www.housing.ie/our-services/unfinished-housing-developments/local-authority-contacts.aspx. “Resolving Unfinished Housing Developments: Annual Progress Report on Actions to Address Unfinished Housing Developments”, published in November 2013, appends a Summary Report of the 2013 National Housing Development Survey. Riverside housing development was not inspected as part of the 2013 survey on the basis that it was recorded as substantially complete in the 2012 survey.

My Department understands that Offaly County Council is aware of the issues arising in Riverside housing development and that enforcement proceedings were commenced on 1 April 2010 for non-compliance with a number of conditions of planning permission, mainly related to drainage.

There has been on-going communication between the Council and the Receiver’s office in an effort to: a) identify the exact nature of the problems; and b) find a definitive engineering solution. An engineering solution has only recently been agreed and the Council now awaits the submission of a planning application from the Receiver for the rectification of the drainage issues.  It is anticipated that this application will be lodged in the next number of weeks.

Pyrite Issues

Questions (342)

Clare Daly

Question:

342. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will confirm that quarries (details supplied) are among those which have been brought to the attention of the Pyrite Resolution Board as having sold infill which contained heave-inducing pyrite. [11634/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Pyrite Panel stated in its report that five quarries had been identified to it as “possible sources” of the hardcore used in dwellings displaying signs of pyritic heave. The report did not name the quarries, nor would it have been appropriate for it to do so; no information was passed on to my Department in relation to the quarries identified to the Pyrite Panel. In the absence of conclusive evidence establishing traceability it is not appropriate for my Department or the Pyrite Resolution Board to speculate on the source of hardcore which has caused pyritic heave.

Housing Assistance Payments Administration

Questions (343)

Noel Grealish

Question:

343. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he intends to broaden the membership of the housing assistance payment committee to include members other than the present membership which solely comprises State and local authority representation in the form of his Department, the Department of Social Protection and the Local Government Management Association; if consideration has been, or will be, given to the inclusion of non-governmental bodies representing landlords, tenants and social housing; the indicative timescale for the full implementation of HAP after the initial roll-out of the pilot scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11636/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Building on the work carried out by the HAP Steering and Implementation Groups, and in recognition of the movement towards a new phase of implementation, revised governance arrangements have been put in place for the Housing Assistance Payment. The HAP Oversight Group is co-chaired by the Secretaries General of my Department and the Department of Social Protection and includes representatives from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, City and County Managers Association and the Housing Agency.

A Project Board is also in place to drive and oversee delivery of the project and to report to the Oversight Group. It is chaired by my Department and includes representatives from local authorities, the Local Government Management Agency, the Housing Agency and the Department of Social Protection. My Department has engaged and will continue to engage as appropriate, with other stakeholders outside the governance structures outlined. In this regard, my Department has recently provided a progress update to the Irish Council for Social Housing and Traveller representative groups, and is scheduled to meet with landlord representative groups shortly to discuss HAP and the implications for landlords. A communications and engagement plan is being developed as part of the implementation strategy, this will provide for consultation as appropriate with stakeholders in advance of the introduction of HAP.

My Department is working closely with key stakeholders in overseeing plans for the implementation of HAP, but more specifically at this stage in relation to an early pilot phase and phased roll out of the scheme later in 2014, subject to the enactment of the Housing Bill providing for HAP and associated items. Limerick local authorities have been identified as lead authority to drive implementation in the local government sector including the delivery of the early HAP pilot in 2014. Subject to the required legislation being in place the full HAP scheme will then extend to the other 6 local authorities (Cork, South Dublin, Monaghan, Kilkenny, Louth and Waterford) identified for participation in the first phase of HAP.

Implementation by the remaining local authorities is scheduled to begin in 2015. During implementation, it is envisaged that authorities will initially focus on taking across new applicants, before moving on a progressive basis to dealing with those already in receipt of rent supplement. This is a reasonable approach to implementation, which will allow any issues that arise to be dealt with in a graduated way and give local authorities sufficient time to scale up the operation of HAP.

Building Regulations Compliance

Questions (344, 364, 365)

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

344. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 528 of 18 February 2014, where he states it is not clear what useful purpose would be served by imposing a requirement for independent verification of design or construction by a third party, his views on whether this is consistent with departmental insistence on such systems for the upholding of standards in fire safety and universal access, for example, as regulated by Part B and Part M respectively of the building regulations. [11666/14]

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Clare Daly

Question:

364. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on whether the ability to sue a builder or design professional who has certified building works as complying with building regulations when a defect appears after the fact is of little worth compared to prevention of the defector the non-compliance through robust inspections by competent public building control officials. [11853/14]

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Clare Daly

Question:

365. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government regarding cases of non-compliance with the building regulations (fire safety) that have come to his notice, the measures he is proposing to enforce the building regulations (fire safety) in each of these cases. [11854/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 344, 364 and 365 together.

The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 which came into operation on 1 March 2014, greatly strengthen the arrangements in place for the control of building activity by requiring greater accountability in relation to compliance with Building Regulations in the form of statutory certification of design and construction, lodgement of compliance documentation, mandatory inspections during construction and validation and registration of certificates. Since 1 March 2014, a building owner, prior to commencing work on a new building, must assign a competent builder, have the design certified by a competent registered professional and assign a competent registered professional to inspect the works during construction and, in conjunction with the builder, to certify the building on completion for compliance with the building regulations.

Empowering competence and professionalism on construction projects in this way is an important and necessary step forward and will, I believe, greatly improve the quality of construction. It is not the function of the local building control authority to quality assure construction projects. Owners, builders and designers must at all times take responsibility for their statutory obligations in line with the Building Control Act 1990 and take whatever steps are necessary in order to achieve compliance in respect of the building or works concerned.

Requirements in relation to independent verification and third party certification have not been imposed for the reasons already outlined in the reply to Question No. 528 of 18 February 2014.

Notwithstanding the primary responsibility of owners, designers and builders to comply with the law, local building control authorities also have extensive powers under the Building Control Acts which they can and do use to enforce compliance with the Building Regulations. These include the powers to scrutinise proposals and inspect works in progress; to approve, as noted, designs in respect of fire safety (Part B of the Building Regulations) and accessibility (Part M of the Building Regulations) in the case of buildings other than dwellings, to serve enforcement notices for non-compliance; to institute proceedings for breaches of regulatory requirements; and to seek High Court injunctions if non-compliance poses considerable and serious danger to the public. Independence by local authorities in relation to the use of such powers of inspection and enforcement under the Acts is necessary and appropriate.

I see no inconsistency between the requirement to demonstrate by way of certificates of compliance that owners, builders and designers have fulfilled their statutory obligation to design and construct in accordance with the requirements of the Building Regulations and the use by a local authority of its powers of inspection and enforcement where reasonable and appropriate to do so.

Enforcement activity under the Building Control Acts and the Fire Safety Act is a matter for local authorities and I have no function in relation to this aspect of the matter. I have urged, and will continue to urge, local authorities to use all of the powers available to them to address failures to comply with statutory requirements and my Department continues to liaise closely with local authorities in this regard.

Building Regulations Application

Questions (345)

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

345. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 528 of 18 February 2014, when the IT lodgment system is expected to be available for testing by ordinary members of the regulated professions in view of the implementation date of 1 March 2014. [11667/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The online Building Control Management System (BCMS) has been available for public use since 1 March 2014. Construction professionals who may use the system in connection with the design or the inspection and certification of construction projects may now register their details on the BCMS, familiarise themselves with the system and use it as required to upload and submit documentation required for building control purposes.

Housing Issues

Questions (346)

Clare Daly

Question:

346. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will amend section 62 of the Housing Act 1966 which is deemed to be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. [11675/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Government, on 17 December 2013, approved priority drafting of a Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill that will provide, among other things, for a revised procedure to replace section 62 of the Housing Act 1966, enabling housing authorities to recover possession of their dwellings from households in serious breach of their tenancy agreements, including engaging in anti-social behaviour. The Bill will be enacted as quickly as possible and it is anticipated that this will be by summer 2014.

Capital Assistance Scheme Applications

Questions (347)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

347. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding the proposed development for community housing for elderly persons on Arranmore Island, Burtonport, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11728/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Under my Department’s Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS) funding is provided to Approved Housing Bodies, through the local authorities, for the provision of accommodation for persons with specific categories of housing need, including older persons, persons with a disability or homeless persons. An outline proposal by Respond Housing Association for the development of 21 units of accommodation for elderly persons on Arranmore Island under the CAS was submitted to my Department by Donegal County Council in February, 2004. However, no subsequent application for funding in respect of the construction stage of this project has been received from the Council.

In January, 2014 my Department requested local authorities to submit by 28 March, 2014 a prioritised list of new CAS projects to be progressed over the next two years. It will be a matter for local authorities to determine the relative priority of projects on the basis of their contribution to meeting local housing need and to shortlist these in order of merit. Further consideration of the CAS projects for funding approval over the next two years, including projects in County Donegal, must await the receipt of submissions from the local authorities.

Water Meters

Questions (348, 349)

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

348. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if householders will be able to read their water meters so that they can monitor their usage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11734/14]

View answer

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

349. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the provision that has been put in place for homes with a shared water supply, so as to ensure that each individual residence is only billed for their own usage and as such is not billed additionally for the usage of the residence with which they share the supply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11735/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 348 and 349 together.

The Programme for Government sets out a commitment to the introduction of water charges based on usage above a free allowance.  The Government considers that charging based on usage is the fairest way to charge for water and it has, therefore, decided that water meters should be installed in households connected to public water supplies.  The Water Services Act 2013 provided for the establishment of Irish Water as an independent subsidiary within the Bord Gáis Éireann Group and assigned the necessary powers to allow Irish Water to undertake the metering programme. Water meters will be installed, where possible, at the stop valve on the public footpath or verge outside a property. Meters are the property of Irish Water and it is illegal to tamper with a meter. However, it will be possible for a customer to access the meter to verify readings.

A study commissioned by Irish Water on possible approaches to metering properties that are not part of the current metering programme, including apartments and properties with shared service connections, has been recently submitted to my Department for consideration. Any proposals for the metering of such properties would need to be considered by the Government in the first instance. 

The Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 provides that the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) will be responsible for the independent economic regulation of Irish Water.  In particular, the CER will be responsible for approving the water charges plans prepared by Irish Water, and for approving codes of practice to be prepared by Irish Water. The Act also requires the CER to perform its functions in a manner that best serves the interests of the customers of Irish Water.  In discharging its functions, the CER proposes to undertake public consultation on the approach to the design of domestic water tariffs during 2014. This will include the approach to charges for both metered and unmetered properties.

Rural Development Programme Funding

Questions (350, 383)

Brendan Smith

Question:

350. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will further consider a request by Monaghan County Council (details supplied) regarding the rural development programme funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11782/14]

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Brendan Griffin

Question:

383. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the level of co-funding he will make available to the new Leader programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12080/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 350 and 383 together.

Ireland has agreed an allocation of €2.1 billion for the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 (RDP) with the EU. Within that, the governing EU Regulations provide for a minimum allocation of 5% for Leader. The Government has decided to increase this to 7% and I welcome this. Therefore €153 million in EU funding will be available for Leader during the 2014 – 2020 programming period. This will be co-financed by Exchequer funding and this is currently subject to discussions between my Department, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Following the conclusion of these discussions, I will announce the overall value of the Leader elements of the Programme.

Irish Water Administration

Questions (351)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

351. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding Irish Water; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11802/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

With effect from 1 January 2014, Irish Water is responsible for public water services. The Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 provides that Irish Water can collect charges from its customers in receipt of water services. Irish Water will not collect charges from any households not connected to a public water supply, including private group water schemes.

My Department will remain responsible for the overall policy and funding of the non-public water sector, including the group water sector. 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 drinking water standards. This has been accomplished through a partnership approach between my Department, the local authorities and the group water sector itself, with the important involvement of the National Federation of Group Water Schemes. This co-operative approach will be maintained as the reform of water services provision is progressed.

Group Water Schemes that are supplied by way of a connection to the public water supply network will now become customers of Irish Water, having previously been customers of the relevant local authority. Group Water Schemes that have their own water sources will not be customers of Irish Water and will continue to operate as before.

Local Authority Staff

Questions (352)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

352. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding the appointment of a lollipop person to supervise the crossing of children and parents outside schools in Clogheen/Kerry Pike; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11815/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The moratorium on recruitment and promotion in the public service was introduced in March 2009 in response to the financial crisis. My Department operates a delegated sanction from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for implementation of the moratorium in relation to local authorities, and any exceptions to the moratorium in local authorities require sanction from my Department.

Under section 159 of the Local Government Act 2001, each City and County Manager is responsible for staffing and organisational arrangements necessary for carrying out the functions of the local authorities for which he or she is responsible. In this regard, it is a matter for City and County Managers, in the first instance, to ensure that the moratorium is implemented while the appropriate service levels are maintained.

My Department examines all staffing sanction requests on a case by case basis having due regard to the continued delivery of key services in the context of staffing and budgetary constraints. In considering sanction requests public safety, maintaining key front line services, and economic issues are given precedence. My Department has not received a staff sanction request from Kerry County Council for school warden positions for schools in Clogheen/Kerry Pike.

Water Services Provision

Questions (353)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

353. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the date on which councils were notified that contracts regarding the delivery of water services infrastructure not signed before 31 December 2013 could not proceed and would become the responsibility of Irish Water; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11823/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Legislation was enacted in December 2013 (The Water Services (No.2) Act 2013) which established Irish Water as the national water services authority from 1 January 2014. The Act provides for the transfer of water services functions from the 34 local authorities to Irish Water. Section 14 of the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 provides that the Minister may, from time to time, designate the transfer of rights and liabilities from a water services authority to Irish Water. This would include contracts entered into by local authorities for the provision of water services. An Order providing for the transfer of 642 Design-Build-Operate (DBO) and capital project contracts to Irish Water was signed by me on 20 February 2014. It was only possible to proceed with the transfer of contracts when the appropriate legislation was enacted.

Steering Group meetings between my Department and each local authority were held on a quarterly basis during the lifetime of the Water Services Investment Programme. Over the past two years, since the announcement of the transfer of water services to Irish Water, local authorities were advised that the Department would cease to have responsibility for the delivery of water services from 1 January 2014; this responsibility would then transfer to Irish Water.

Correspondence to this effect issued from Irish Water to the local authorities in December 2013 outlining the capital delivery process which would be applied by Irish Water when it took water services in hand. Local authorities were not informed that contracts regarding the delivery of water services infrastructure not signed before 31 December 2013 could not proceed, rather that such projects would be reviewed by Irish Water in line with its strategic objectives.

Irish Water is currently preparing a Capital Investment Plan for 2014 – 2016 that will provide for the transition of projects included in the 2010 – 2013 Water Services Investment Programme. The further progression of all water services capital projects is a matter for Irish Water. This includes confirmation that funding will be available to progress schemes.

Planning Issues

Question No. 355 answered with Question No. 337.

Questions (354)

Willie Penrose

Question:

354. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will confirm receipt of correspondence (details supplied) and if in the context thereof, he will acknowledge the importance of ensuring the protective measures installed by way of P-WIN6 in the Westmeath county development plan are retained; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11830/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I can confirm receipt of a copy of the correspondence in question. I wrote to Westmeath County Council on 15 February 2014 giving notification that I am considering issuing a direction pursuant to Section 31 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) in relation to minimum setback distances for wind farm developments and other issues contained in the Westmeath County Development Plan 2014-2020. In this regard, I do not consider that the Council took the Wind Energy Development Guidelines and other relevant national policies sufficiently into account in drawing up its County Development Plan. The draft direction is now the subject of a public consultation by Westmeath County Council until 12 March and I await receipt of the Manager’s Report on the matter by 9 April, following which I will make a final decision on the issue of a direction.

My Department is currently conducting a review of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines focused specifically on noise (including the issue of setbacks) and shadow flicker. As part of this process, my Department has written to the Department of Health inviting any input that it might have on the public health aspects, if any, of wind farms and preliminary discussions have also taken place.

A public consultation on draft revisions to the Wind Energy Development Guidelines was commenced on 11 December 2013 and my Department received submissions from over 7,000 individuals and organisations by the 21 February 2014 deadline. Following consideration of all the submissions received on the proposed revisions to the Wind Energy Development Guidelines, my Department will consult further with the Department of Health prior to finalising the revised Guidelines. I would expect to issue the final revised guidelines by the end of June 2014 under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000, which will require both planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála to have regard to them in the assessment of planning applications.

Question No. 355 answered with Question No. 337.

Local and Community Development Programme Planning

Questions (356)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

356. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government when the last alignment working group meeting took place; when the next meeting will take place; the status of the agreement in principle reached last October with the alignment working group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11836/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The most recent meeting of the Alignment Working Group took place on 6 March 2014 and the next meeting is scheduled for 2 April, 2014. Previous consideration by the Working Group focused on an approach for the implementation of my Department’s local development programmes under Local Community Development Committees. This involved a key role for the existing partnership companies in that implementation. That approach is now under active consideration by the Working Group in respect of the Leader programme. Legal advice received in respect of the Local and Community Development Programme means that local implementation will now be subject to procurement.

Local and Community Development Programme Staffing

Questions (357)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

357. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if local development companies are unsuccessful in their tendering for the local and community development programme contracts in July, the implications for the staff in local development companies currently delivering the programme; the person that will cover the cost of potential redundancies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11837/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP) is the largest social inclusion intervention, of its kind, in the State. The current Programme officially ended at the end of 2013 having operated for four years. It is being implemented by the Local Development Companies (LDCs) on a transitional basis for 2014 pending the roll-out of a new Programme in January 2015. Management of current contracts and Programme oversight will transfer to the Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) of the Local Authorities from 1 July next. The new Programme will be subject to the EU procurement Directive, and the competitive process for it will be open to LDCs, other not-for-profit community groups and commercial firms that can provide the services to be tendered for, to deliver the new Programme.

All proposals received will be assessed in accordance with the assessment criteria notified with the tender documentation and the contract or contracts will be awarded on the basis of that assessment. While I cannot pre-empt the outcome of such a procurement process, I expect, given their experience, that LDCs will apply to deliver the Programme in their areas.

My Department has no role in the internal operations of LDCs and, therefore, does not have a role in relation to staff or employment matters, which are for the Board of the company, as the employer, to manage. Each funding Department is responsible for its own funding and contractual arrangements with the LDCs. While business continuity remains a key concern for all stakeholders it is not possible to predict what impact, if any, the outcome of the competitive process for the new Programme will have with regard to those entities, which are independent limited companies.

Leader Programme Administration

Questions (358)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

358. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if a conflict of interest arises when the local community development committees, which fall under the public authority, can both bid for and hold the contract for Leader; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11838/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

In line with the Local Government reform process and Putting People First it is envisaged that there will be closer alignment with Local Government for the LEADER elements of the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme (RDP). However, the composition of the Local Action Group (LAG) will be in line with the Regulations which require that the LAG comprises of representatives of public and private local socio-economic interests. The Regulations also require that, at the decision making level, ‘neither public authorities, nor any single interest group represents more than 49% of the voting rights’. Accordingly, the decision making will not be dominated by the local authorities or any single interest group.

The LEADER element of the RDP will be delivered using a Community led Local Development approach through the design and implementation of Local Development Strategies submitted by LAGs. It is envisaged that a call for proposals for Local Development Strategies will be issued in the second half of 2014 and in this context any entity that fulfils the eligibility criteria will be eligible to express an interest in making a submission to deliver the LEADER elements of the RDP.

It is a requirement of the regulatory framework that the LAG, the entity that submits the Local Development Strategy, will also be the entity that implements the local development strategy; this was also the case for the current programming period. In this context any entity, including the Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) that submits a local development strategy, fulfils the necessary criteria as outlined in the selection process and is successful in that process will be eligible to hold a contract for the delivery of the LEADER element of the RDP for 2014-2020. I do not see any issue with conflict of interest regarding the LCDC once they fulfil the necessary criteria as outlined in the Local Development Strategy selection process.

In addition to a clear and transparent selection process , it should also be noted that subsequent to the issuing of a contract to deliver LEADER for the 2014-2020 programme period each Local Action Group will also be required to adhere to a comprehensive set of operating rules. These will include the need to ensure robust systems to address conflict of interest at individual project decision making level that will also require full and comprehensive documentation of the decision making process.

Leader Programme Administration

Questions (359)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

359. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if, in the context of local government reforms, he would comment on the findings of the European Court of Auditors report in 2010 and 2011 regarding the implementation of rural development Leader, that the potential added value of a partnership was not achieved in LAGs where the decision making was dominated by the local authorities. [11840/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) report examined a number of Members States in its 2010 and 2011 reports. One of the issues highlighted by the ECA related to an imbalance with regard to decision making in the LAGs of some Member States. The ECA stated that the “potential added value of a partnership was not achieved in LAGs where the decision-making was dominated by the local authorities”. That is not the case in Irish LAGs as no one sector, including local authorities, holds a majority position.

I intend that there will be closer alignment with local government for the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme. However, the composition of the LAG will be in line with the Regulations which require that the LAG is composed of representatives of public and private local socioeconomic interests. The Regulations also require that, at the decision making level, ‘neither public authorities, nor any single interest group represents more than 49% of the voting rights’. Accordingly, the decision making will not be dominated by the local authorities or any single interest group.

Local Authority Housing

Questions (360, 361)

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

360. Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to persons living in Dublin who are on the local authority housing list and who cannot obtain private rented accommodation and if they have to move outside the city outside of their council area, they are obliged to have their name removed from the council list and reapply in the new council area where they are renting; his views that this is unsatisfactory as many of the applicants would be many years on the housing list and through no fault of their own have to rent accommodation outside their local authority area resulting in them having to reapply and as a consequence lose their place on the council list; his views that this is unfair; if he will address the situation as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11841/14]

View answer

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

361. Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will review the situation whereby persons who have been assessed and gone through all processes, vetting and so on to get on a local authority housing list, who if they move to rental accommodation outside their local authority area must start this whole reassessment again thereby creating unnecessary duplication of work by two different local authorities; if he will review the situation and be satisfied that once a person has cleared their name and been accepted onto a local authority housing waiting list that there would be no need to go through the rigours of the process a second time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11842/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 360 and 361 together.

Section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 set down a standard procedure for assessing applicants for social housing support. A household may apply for support to one housing authority only, which may be the authority for the area in which the household normally resides or with which it has a local connection, or the authority that agrees, at its discretion, to assess the household for support. In determining whether a household has a local connection with its area, a housing authority must have regard to whether a household member:

- lived in the area for a continuous 5 year period at any time in the past;

- is employed in the area or within 15 km of the area;

- is in full-time education, or attending specialist medical care in the area; or

- has a relative (defined in the Regulations) living in the area for 2 years or longer.

A household meeting either the residence or local connection condition may specify up to 3 areas of choice for receipt of support in the areas of all housing authorities in the county and city concerned and, if qualified, will be entered on the housing waiting list of each of those housing authorities. Thus, a household that applies to Dublin City Council could, if qualified for support, be entered on the waiting list of 3 of the four housing authorities in Dublin city and county.

A qualified household that moves house within the county and city concerned remains on the waiting lists of the housing authorities for its areas of choice , provided the household continues to fulfil the relevant eligibility and needs criteria for social housing support. Such a household does not, therefore, lose the time that it spent on waiting lists when residing at its previous address.

A qualified household that moves to reside in another part of the State may continue to qualify for support in the county and city for the area from which it moved on the basis of its local connection with that area. Alternatively, the housing authority managing the household’s social support application at the time that it moved may decide, at its discretion, to retain the household on its waiting list. However, a household that moves to another part of the State and applies for social housing support to the housing authority for its new area of residence ceases to be qualified for support in the county and city for the area in which the household no longer resides.