Housing Issues

Questions (362)

Clare Daly

Question:

362. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to detail the number of housing estates where construction commenced this century which have not yet been taken in charge by local authorities. [11851/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department does not hold the information requested in the question.

Wastewater Treatment Facilities Inspections

Questions Nos. 364 and 365 answered with Question No. 344

Questions (363)

Clare Daly

Question:

363. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to set out his views on the results of such inspections of septic tanks or treatment systems for individual houses that have been completed. [11852/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 assigns responsibility to the EPA to make a National Inspection Plan for domestic wastewater treatment systems. The National Inspection Plan 2013: Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems was adopted and published by the EPA in February 2013. The Plan provides for a minimum of 1,000 inspections to be carried out by the water services authorities (which are the 34 county and city councils) in the 12 month period up to July 2014. Details of the minimum number of inspections to be carried out in each county are included in the Plan.

An IT system, developed by the EPA for use by the water services authorities, underpins implementation of the National Inspection Plan. The system facilitates the selection of treatment systems for inspection, based on the risk to human health or the environment, and captures all information relating to inspections. This will ensure a consistent approach to inspections nationally. Implementation of the Plan is a matter for the individual water services authorities, under the supervision of the EPA. The IT system in use enables individual water services authorities to track progress in completing inspections against the Plan’s requirements and enables the EPA to monitor the progress by all authorities. The EPA has committed to review the implementation of the National Inspection Plan in 2014.

To date, no applications for recoupment of grants made by the local authorities towards the remediation of failing domestic wastewater treatment systems have been submitted to my Department by those authorities. As neither I nor my Department have any direct role in monitoring implementation of the National Inspection Plan, I have no information on the number of inspections carried out to date or on the results of those inspections.

Questions Nos. 364 and 365 answered with Question No. 344.

Departmental Legal Costs

Questions (366)

Denis Naughten

Question:

366. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will set out in tabular form by reference to each named firm the amount paid out in respect of legal fees during 2013 by his Department to law firms in or outside the State for services rendered; if he will provide in a similar format the amount paid out in respect of legal fees during 2013 by State bodies, including commercial or non-commercial and regulatory bodies established by or under his Department, to law firms in or outside the State for services rendered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11870/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The information requested in respect of legal fees paid by my Department in 2013 is set out in the following table. The table does not include legal fees associated with the Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters and Payments. Payments of this nature by agencies or bodies under the aegis of my Department are a matter for the agencies/bodies concerned.

  Law Firm

Legal Fees paid in 2013

  Arthur Cox Solicitors

€71,855

  McDowell Purcell Solicitors

€6,476

Private Residential Tenancies Board Remit

Questions (367)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

367. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if the Private Residential Tenancies Board has the power following a ruling to make a charge to a person's social welfare to make a repayment to a landlord; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11893/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 regulates the tenant-landlord relationship in the private rented residential sector. The Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) was established under the Act to operate a national tenancy registration system and to facilitate the resolution of disputes between landlords and tenants in this sector. The Act does not make provision for the PRTB to make a charge on a person's social welfare payment in order to make a repayment to a landlord.

Under the Act, enforcement of PRTB orders is a discretionary power and the Board exercises this power taking account of the circumstances pertaining to each case. In many cases the best option, and one which the PRTB facilitates, is for the parties to agree a schedule of payments. However, while there is no legal obligation on the PRTB to enforce, this does not in any way preclude parties from pursuing enforcement independently through the courts including the seeking of a garnishee order.

Pyrite Resolution Board Remit

Questions (368)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

368. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if there is a panel of approved surveyors recommended by the Pyrite Resolution Board; his views on the costs; if he will advise on whether a deal has been done to keep the cost as low as possible for the homeowner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11906/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Pyrite Resolution Board has not set up a panel of approved surveyors and it is not the Board’s intention to do so. In accordance with the provisions of the Pyrite Resolution Act 2013 and under the terms of the pyrite remediation scheme, each application must be accompanied, inter alia, by a Building Condition Assessment which must be carried out by a competent person. A competent person is defined in the Act as a person having sufficient theoretical and practical training, experience and knowledge appropriate to the nature of the work to be undertaken.

I understand that a number of training courses have been provided by one of the representative bodies in relation to the professional services that will be required during the course of the remediation process and in that context Engineers Ireland has set up a register of competent persons who have undertaken appropriate training in respect of carrying out Building Condition Assessments and overseeing remediation works.

The costs associated with procuring Building Condition Assessments are determined by market forces. Neither my Department nor the Pyrite Resolution Board has any function in such matters. The pyrite remediation scheme provides for the reimbursement to the homeowner of the cost of procuring a Building Condition Assessment subject to a maximum of €500 and the indications are that this figure is substantially meeting the costs involved.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Status

Questions (369)

Dara Calleary

Question:

369. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to set out the position regarding a proposed new water scheme for a townland (details supplied) in County Mayo; if he will consider changing the criteria regarding the minimum contribution requested from households to enable rural group water schemes such as the one in question to go ahead; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11919/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Responsibility for the administration of the Rural Water Programme, which includes group water schemes, has been devolved to local authorities since 1997. The selection and approval of individual scheme proposals for advancement and funding under the programme, within the overall priorities set by my Department and subject to the block grant allocations provided, is therefore a matter for the local authorities, Mayo County Council in this case. The block grant allocations under the 2014 Rural Water Programme will be notified to local authorities as soon as possible.

There are particular issues with regard to the putting in place of some new group water schemes where the costs involved call in to question the viability of the scheme. At present, grants of up to 85% of cost, subject to a maximum grant of €6,475 per house, are available towards new group water schemes. The National Rural Water Services Committee, which has a role in advising me in relation to policy and investment in rural water services, has been considering the issue of funding of new group water schemes. Last month, I approved proposals by the committee for the carrying out of an exercise to get an estimate of the number and costs of new group water schemes that might have gone ahead if CLÁR funding remained in place. The results of this exercise, which is underway, are awaited.

Local Government Reform

Questions (370)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

370. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the issues recently raised at a meeting of Killarney Town Council in respect of the lack of a replacement administrative structure for the town following the end of the town council this summer; if he will clarify whether any special arrangements have been made for other tourist towns similar to Killarney; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11949/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Government’s Action Programme for Effective Local Government sets out Government policy decisions in relation to a range of local government reform measures and the Local Government Reform Act 2014 provides the legislative basis for these measures.

Specifically in relation to sub-county municipal governance, the 2014 Reform Act provides that all town councils will be dissolved and that the local authority for the county in which the town council was situated will become the successor authority for all purposes. Following the 2014 local elections, members elected for the local electoral area of Killarney will be members for both Killarney Municipal District and Kerry County Council and will perform functions at the appropriate level and in accordance with the listing of reserved functions set out in Schedule 3 of the 2014 Reform Act. There will be a single operational structure across the county and municipal districts will not have separate local authority or corporate status.

Irish Water Appointments

Questions (371)

Micheál Martin

Question:

371. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to set out the position regarding staff recruitment and earnings in Irish Water; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4828/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Staff recruitment to and earnings in Irish Water are operational matters for the company and I refer to the reply to Question No. 158 of 23 January 2014 which sets out the relevant information obtained from Irish Water. My Department has asked Irish Water to put in place specific arrangements to address the queries which public representatives may have in relation to matters pertaining to the operation of water services under the new utility. I understand that Irish Water has made contact with Oireachtas members to outline the arrangements for addressing such queries in a timely manner.

Nuclear Safety

Question No. 373 answered with Question No. 340

Questions (372)

Micheál Martin

Question:

372. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he recently discussed Sellafield with the United Kingdom Prime Minister, Mr. Cameron; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6196/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I have not met Prime Minister Cameron to discuss Sellafield. As I have policy responsibility for nuclear safety issues, my Department monitors the UK nuclear sector on an on-going basis and convenes regular meetings with UK counterparts to discuss general policy matters and raise matters of interest or concern, where appropriate, on Sellafield or other nuclear related issues. In addition, Ireland is a stakeholder in all UK nuclear consultations and is on the relevant notification lists, should incidents occur at Sellafield or anywhere else.

In November 2012, I published a summary of a commissioned report prepared by an independent team of international experts which assessed the probable risks to Ireland from incidents at the Sellafield nuclear site. The experts quantified the likelihood of an incident occurring at Sellafield resulting in the release of radioactive material and found that such an incident would give rise to “no observable health effects in Ireland”.

Question No. 373 answered with Question No. 340.

Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan Implementation

Questions (374)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

374. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to set out the position regarding permission given by his predecessors to wind power developers on the Kish bank, the Bray bank, the Codling bank and the Arklow wind park; and if these consents are subject to the preparation of environmental impact statements or the recently published offshore development renewable energy plan. [11639/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Foreshore leases were granted on 11 January 2002 and 15 November 2005 for the Arklow Wind Park and for Codling Wind Park (known as Codling I) respectively. Both of the applications were considered and granted in accordance with the regulatory and legislative framework in place at the time. Furthermore, both involved environmental impact statements and public consultation, and they were subject to comprehensive assessment by a multi-disciplinary team of experts who advised the then Minister.

In addition to these two leases, my Department has an application on hand for an extension to Codling I. A foreshore lease application for the Codling Extension project was lodged in 2009. This proposed development is contiguous to the already consented wind farm (Codling I), approximately 13 km off the Wicklow coast. An environmental impact statement accompanied the application but no assessment or public consultation has been undertaken to date.

Pending publication of the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP) the consideration of applications for such foreshore leases has been placed on hold. My Department is now reviewing this and other applications in light of the OREDP and the associated Strategic Environmental and Appropriate Assessments.

Severe Weather Events Response

Questions (375)

Dara Calleary

Question:

375. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if moneys allocated towards the repair of flood and storm-damaged infrastructure in County Mayo are being diverted from other funding set aside for other developments such as harbours and slipways; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11954/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Following consideration of a report from me on the severe weather that affected Ireland in the period from mid-December 2013 to 6 January 2014, the Government decided on 11 February that a sum of up to €70 million will be made available for a programme of repair and remediation works. €62 m of this will be for local authorities in the areas worst affected by severe weather to help affected communities by restoring roads, coastal protection and other infrastructure and amenities/ facilities/ infrastructure, including piers and harbours. The Government decision was based on estimates provided by local authorities, including those received from Mayo County Council. Requests for funding of new works to protect coastal areas have been referred to the Office for Public Works and are not covered by the Government decision of 11 February 2014.

The Report on the Severe Weather from 13 December 2013 to 6 January 2014 contains details of estimates of the cost of damage caused on a county by county basis and has been published on my Department’s website, www.environ.ie. The arrangements for the drawing down of the funds by local authorities on foot of the Government decision were finalised following discussions between local authorities, my Department, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Office of Public Works, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Local authorities, including Mayo County Council, have been notified of the sums being made available to them and have been requested to prioritise works which are significant for economic activity, with particular regard to the forthcoming tourist season. It is proposed to make a sum of up to €6,396,900 available to Mayo County Council for a programme of repair works to roads, piers and harbours, coastal protection repairs, tourism infrastructure and other facilities which are classified as necessary community infrastructure. The sum of €6,396,900 for Mayo is based on Mayo County Council’s estimates of repair costs provided to my Department and is allocated across a number of headings, as shown in the following table.

Local Authority

Roads Infrastructure

Piers and Harbours

Coastal Protection Repairs

Tourism Infrastructure

Other Facilities

Total

Mayo County Council

1,620,500

382,500

4,205,800

189,900

0

6,396,900

Each Local authority has been requested to prepare and submit a programme of works for the projects identified showing the indicative timescales and drawdown profiles. These will be submitted directly to the relevant funding Departments/ Agencies. Local authorities have been informed that there will be a degree of flexibility available for prioritising projects to include works necessary as a result of more recent storms within the sub-headings of the overall funding envelope, pending preparation of more comprehensive assessment of the impacts of these recent storms. The flexibility in prioritising projects indicated above is permissible within individual programmes (e.g. roads) and not across the various programmes.

In addition to the above funding arrangement, a once-off allocation of €509,000 is being made to Mayo County Council to recoup the costs associated with the response to the storms from the period 13 Dec 2013 to 27 Jan 2014. This includes the costs of response, clean-up works and necessary immediate works which were undertaken in the aftermath of the storms. This allocation will be drawn down from my Department on provision of appropriate documentation.

Further considerable damage has been caused by flooding and storm events that have occurred since 27 January. Details on damage caused and estimated repair costs in relation to these more recent events will be assessed when they are available.

Local and Community Development Programme Project Funding

Questions (376)

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

376. Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will clarify the position regarding a local and community development project procurement (details supplied); and if those involved will make a statement on the request. [12003/14]

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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 implementation of a new Programme in January 2015. Management of contracts and Programme oversight will transfer to the Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) of the Local Authorities from 1 July next.

Local Community Development Committees will be established in each local authority area over the coming months in line with the provisions in the recently enacted Local Government Reform Act 2014. These Committees will bring together both statutory and not-statutory partners, including the community sector, to bring greater co-ordination to area-based activity in their respective areas. The Committees will have responsibility for community and local development programmes funded by my Department and I am confident they will bring a strong, strategic focus to their implementation.

This implementation will involve local development actors and, therefore, the skills and experience that has been built up will continue to be available and utilised locally. In the case of the LCDP and in accordance with public procurement rules, the Local Community and Development Committees will procure the programme locally. While I cannot pre-empt the outcome of such a procurement process, I expect, given their experience in the area, that the LDCs will apply to deliver the programme in their areas.

The Local Community Development Committees will comprise stakeholders from local government, local development, State agencies and the community and voluntary sector and will focus on identifying the local and community development needs and priorities for their area. They will draw up Local Economic and Community Plans that will prioritise the needs of the most socially deprived communities and the means of addressing these needs, especially in the context of ensuring that programmes deliver best value for the scarce resources available at this time. In this way, we are strengthening the operational management, oversight and planning arrangements for local and community programmes.

Climate Change Negotiations

Questions (377)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

377. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide a copy of the Government's initial analysis of the technical background to the European Commission's communication on 2030 climate targets, which, he told the Council of Ministers, raised some serious issues of concern from a national perspective, including concerns relating to the anticipated marginal abatement cost on which the framework is based and the projected overall cost in terms of GDP; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12015/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Technical analysis of the Commission’s proposal is on-going and will not be completed for some time. The Impact Assessment, published in tandem with the Commission Communication on a policy framework for climate and energy in the period 2020 to 2030, provides indications of where the burden would fall in terms of greenhouse gas emission reductions in the event that the proposal is accepted as presented and in its entirety. The technical work by my Department is focussed on making an assessment of both the robustness and affordability of the proposal.  A definitive comparative analysis would require a breakdown of the results of the Commission’s analysis at a level that is currently not available to Member States.

Pending further information from the Commission on its impact assessment, the initial analysis by my Department is being carried out, using assumptions about sectoral impacts of the proposal. This ongoing work points to significantly higher levels of marginal abatement cost and a larger impact on energy costs as a percentage of GDP for Ireland than estimated by the Commission. These are matters of serious concern for Ireland in terms of the overall fairness of the proposed framework, including the economic impact.

It is important to stress that this initial analysis is based on a number of assumptions and that a further round of analysis, based on a more detailed breakdown of the Commission’s impact assessment, may differ in nature and degree.  My Department has initiated engagement with the Commission regarding the technical analysis underpinning its Impact Assessment, to gain a clearer understanding of the analysis and further refine our own assessment.

Local Authority Housing Provision

Questions (378)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

378. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if a directive has been given by his Department to local authorities to ensure they turn around boarded-up houses in a timely manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12039/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Returning vacant social housing stock to productive use in as short a time as possible remains a key priority under my Department’s Social Housing Investment Programme. A €50 million capital stimulus was announced on Budget Day to support construction and related social housing programmes. Some €15 million will be used to fund a targeted measure aimed at returning vacant and boarded-up houses to productive use.

Last week my Department wrote to local authorities advising that funding of up to €30,000 per dwelling will be provided for a suite of retrofitting works to bring vacant properties back to a high standard. Funding will be allocated on the basis of equitable and evidence-based criteria which reflect the merit and cost effectiveness of proposals and the level of local housing need. Local authorities are required to submit proposals to my Department by Friday 28 March, 2014. I intend to announce details of the funding allocations as soon as possible afterwards.

Local Authority Functions

Questions (379)

Catherine Byrne

Question:

379. Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will indicate the local authority that has responsibility for a stretch of road (details supplied) in Dublin 12; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12048/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Local authority areas and boundaries are provided for in section 10 of the Local Government Act 2001, and the maps showing the boundaries are prepared by the Commissioner of Valuation. Issues concerning roads maintenance are a matter for the local authority in whose area the road is situated in the first instance and for my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.