Question No. 345 answered with Question No. 342

Tenant Purchase Scheme Eligibility

Questions (346)

David Stanton

Question:

346. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 86 of 4 December 2012, the progress that has been made with regard to a regulatory framework to allow tenants of approved housing bodies and voluntary housing bodies to purchase their homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14740/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

Approved housing bodies (AHBs) are organisations approved under section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992 to provide social housing support in conjunction with local authorities. Since the late 1980s, close to 25,000 units of accommodation have been provided under capital funding schemes underpinned by 20 and 30 year mortgages. More recently, a scheme was introduced that provides an up-front capital payment of up to 30% of the property value to facilitate AHBs in raising private finance to acquire or build new social housing units. The capital advanced is repayable at the end of a payment and availability agreement, usually after 30 years.

Under the terms of these various funding schemes, AHBs are the de facto owners of the properties and are required to make them available for social renting for the duration of the mortgage or, as the case may be, the availability agreement. My Department cannot unilaterally make provision for their sale to tenants. Any such decision would have to involve the AHB and have regard to the mortgage on the property. On expiry of the mortgage period and subject to compliance with the terms of the funding agreement, the AHB becomes the owner of the property.

In relation to a regulatory framework for the sector, Building for the Future, a Voluntary Regulation Code was introduced in July 2013 as a precursor to a statutory regulatory framework to support the sector's long-term growth. In February 2014, I appointed an interim Regulatory Committee (iRC) to oversee the implementation of the voluntary code and to advise on the development of statutory regulation.

Regulation is an important element in providing the conditions necessary for the growth and development of the sector. Financing that growth is equally important and the question of how best to utilise the existing asset base, including the option of selling existing stock to tenants, is a factor to be considered.

Building Regulations Application

Questions (347)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

347. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the legislation and guidelines that deal with the erection and minimum standards of chimneys for wood burning stoves in private residences in urban settings; if and when planning permission is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14760/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Building Regulations 1997 set out the statutory performance standards for buildings in 12 parts, A to M, and Technical Guidance Documents (TGDs) which are published to accompany each of the twelve parts demonstrate how the statutory requirements can be achieved in practice. Part J of the Regulations set out the minimum requirements in relation to Heat Producing Appliances (including chimneys and flues) in buildings generally and the accompanying TGD J (1997 edition) sets out how the legal requirements can be achieved in practice.

The Building Regulations are kept under continuing review to ensure that they reflect current up to date research and best practice and in this context Part J has recently been reviewed and updated. Revised regulations, Building Regulations (Part J Amendment) Regulations 2014 and Technical Guidance Document J – Heat Producing Appliances (2014), have recently been published and will come into effect from 1 September 2014. These regulations apply to all buildings regardless of whether planning permission is required.

Dormant Accounts Fund Administration

Questions (348)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

348. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans to open the Dormant Accounts Fund to application this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14761/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Dormant Accounts Board was dissolved on 31 December 2012 and a new disbursement scheme was approved by Government in December 2013 in accordance with the Dormant Accounts (Amendment) Act 2012. This was laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas on the 18 December 2013.

The 2012 Dormant Accounts (Amendment) Act also provides for the preparation of an action plan to give effect to the disbursement scheme. Organisations will be able to apply for funding once the action plan is approved, which is expected to be later this year, following a consultation process with relevant Government Departments and Pobal. I have allocated €5.456 million for Dormant Accounts Measures under my Department in 2014, which includes €2 million to be used to support labour force activation measures in local authorities and the implementation of a modest action plan.

Further data in relation to the Dormant Accounts Fund are available on my Department's website at www.environ.ie.

Pyrite Remediation Programme Implementation

Questions (349)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

349. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will outline the details of the pyrite remediation scheme; if it is the case that those residents having work done on their home must pay for alternative accommodation for the duration of the works; if he will review this decision in view of the existing hardships on these residents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14776/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The pyrite remediation scheme applies to dwellings which are affected by significant damage attributable to pyritic heave in the counties of Kildare, Meath, Offaly and the administrative areas of Fingal County Council and Dublin City Council. The scheme is one of “last resort” and to be included in the scheme applicants must be able to demonstrate to the Pyrite Resolution Board that they have no practicable options other than under the scheme and discounting their own resources to secure the remediation of their dwelling. Full details of the scheme are available on the Pyrite Resolution Board's website at www.pyriteboard.ie.

The scheme provides for the recoupment of the vouched cost of alternative accommodation, furniture removal and storage subject to limits of €3,000 and €2,500 (inclusive of VAT) respectively. However, where a scheme participant can satisfy the Housing Agency, who will be making the payments, in advance that suitable rental accommodation cannot be obtained for €3,000 or less the expenses for the accommodation and furniture removal can be combined, subject to the overall limit of €5,500. In addition, earlier payment in part or in whole may be made where a scheme participant can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Housing Agency that payment of these costs on completion of the works would cause financial hardship.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Funding

Questions (350, 352)

James Bannon

Question:

350. Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide a funding grant in 2014 for the construction of the extension to the Ballinalee group sewerage scheme in County Longford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14828/14]

View answer

James Bannon

Question:

352. Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding the promised funding for the construction of the Legan group sewerage scheme in County Longford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14927/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 350 and 352 together.

Responsibility for the administration of the Rural Water Programme, which includes group sewerage schemes, has been devolved to local authorities since 1997. In December 2012, I announced an increase in the grant for group sewerage schemes to €6,500 per house or 75% of the cost of the scheme, whichever is the lesser. The previous rate of grant available was €2,031.58 per house or 75% of the cost, whichever was the lesser.

I proposed, in the first instance, to carry out a number of pilot schemes based on the increased grant level. My Department asked local authorities to include in their requests for funding under the 2013 Rural Water Programme proposals for pilot group sewerage schemes which might be viable based on the increased grant. Following an examination of the proposals received, with particular regard to the environmental justification provided and the estimated costs, I approved grant assistance towards pilot schemes in nine different counties in 2013.

A review of progress on the selected pilot schemes will be completed as soon as possible with a view to deciding how best to proceed with the grant scheme.

Departmental Funding

Question No. 352 answered with Question No. 350

Questions (351)

John O'Mahony

Question:

351. Deputy John O'Mahony asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the amount of funding allocated by his Department in County Mayo, and the list of projects that benefited in 2011 to 2013, inclusive, and to date in 2014 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14892/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department has a wide and diverse business agenda, including protecting the environment, providing necessary housing supports and fostering community and rural development in partnership with local government and other local development bodies.

In order to deliver on this broad business agenda, my Department allocates significant resources to a wide range of organisations, including local authorities, dedicated agencies and non-statutory bodies, as well as to individuals.

In this regard, some €4 billion has been expended by my Department in the period from 2011 to 2013; in addition, the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2014, published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, provide for a further €889 million in funding this year to be expended in support of the Department's programmes. In that context, a county breakdown of expenditure by reference to the various classes of recipients and a listing of projects that benefited in 2011, 2012, 2013 and to date in 2014 in respect of County Mayo are not readily available in my Department and their compilation would involve a disproportionate amount of time and work. If the Deputy wishes to put down a more specific question concerning funding from my Department, I will endeavour to provide the information sought.

Question No. 352 answered with Question No. 350.

Ambulance Service Provision

Questions (353)

Finian McGrath

Question:

353. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will support the Dublin Fire Brigade ambulance service, which is internationally recognised as being a best practice service in respect of survival rates of cardiac patients. [14931/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The provision of emergency ambulance services is a matter which falls primarily within the remit of my colleague the Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly, T D. I recognise the quality and caring emergency ambulance service provided by Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) across most of the greater Dublin area, including the strength of its experience, infrastructure and personnel. There are significant issues, however, including the funding arrangements associated with DFB's provision of services on behalf of the HSE, which need to be addressed. Involvement in other areas of work should not compromise DFB's capacity to provide fire services or impose additional costs on the local authorities. I am aware that a review has been commissioned by the HSE and Dublin City Council regarding the emergency ambulance service provided by DFB. It is appropriate that all public services should be reviewed from time to time to ensure that they are fit for purpose and provide value for money. I look forward to the outcome of the review and its contribution to the development of a strategy which will continue to provide a high quality ambulance service to the people of Dublin.

Housing Adaptation Grant Funding

Questions (354)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

354. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government when money will be allocated to Cork County Council for housing adaptation grants for 2014 for council tenants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14937/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

Under section 58 of the Housing Act 1966, the management and maintenance of the local authority housing stock, including the compilation and funding of on-going maintenance programmes and minor adaptation works, is a matter for individual authorities, in this case Cork County Council.

As part of my Department's Social Housing Investment Programme, local authorities are allocated funding each year in respect of a range of measures to improve the standard and overall quality of their social housing stock, including the regeneration of large social housing estates and flat complexes, estate-wide remedial works schemes and a range of retrofitting works aimed at improving the fabric and energy efficiency of properties.

Local authorities were advised earlier this year that funding for adaptations and extensions would be considered on a case by case basis. Authorities should, as far as possible, undertake and fund these works from own resources, including from available Internal Capital Receipts (ICRs), before seeking Exchequer funding. My Department will shortly request local authorities to report on their ICR-funded housing works programme for 2014. Requests for funding for adaptations and extensions to properties will be considered in the light of the returns received in this regard.

Planning Issues

Questions (355)

James Bannon

Question:

355. Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will consider designating Longford town as a strategic development zone for the midlands under the management of Longford County Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14946/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department has received no submissions or requests from Longford County Council or other relevant development agencies for the designation of Longford town as a strategic development zone under Section 166 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended). I have no plans to act in this regard at present.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Questions (356)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

356. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the way funding was allocated under the recently-launched local authority construction initiative; the number of proposals from each local authority with addresses, number of units and estimated costings that were submitted for the initiative but not accepted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14961/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

Last month I announced the approval of some 56 social housing construction projects with an overall value of some €68 million under the Local Authority housing construction programme for 2014-2015. This new construction programme will deliver 449 new units of accommodation for people on the housing waiting list. Projects were selected for funding approval on the basis of the proposals submitted to my Department by the local authorities, the relative priority afforded to each of these projects and the overall level of housing need locally. Accordingly, some 67% of the overall funding was allocated to projects being advanced in those twelve local authorities where social housing need was greatest and which, between them, accounted for some 70% of overall national need.

Details of the proposals received from local authorities and which were not approved to advance under this initiative are set out in the following table:

Local Authority

No. of unapproved proposals

Address of Proposal

Estimated Cost

No. of Units

Carlow County Council

1

Royal Oak Rd, Bagenalstown

800,000

7

Cavan County Council

1

Ballyhaise, Co. Cavan

1,135,810

10

Clare County Council

2

John Paul Estate Kilrush  - Phase 3

1,024,050

12

-

-

Tullyvarrage, Shannon Clare

2,000,000

16

Cork County Council

7

Poulavone, Ballincollig

1,140,000

6

-

-

Kilnagleary, Carrigaline

No Costs Submitted

278

-

-

Commogue Kinsale

No Costs Submitted

152

-

-

Durrus Bantry

No Costs Submitted

9

-

-

Cloughmacsimon, Bandon

No Costs Submitted

58

-

-

Kilworth

780,000

6

-

-

Kilcrohane, Bantry

1,690,000

8

Cork City Council

4

134 Pearse Road, Ballyphehane, Cork

1,200,000

7

-

-

Ballyview, Nash's Boreen, Cork

2,300,000

20

-

-

Bridevalley

345,000

3

-

-

The Meadows, Knocknacullen

700,000

8

Donegal County Council

4

Ardara, Glenties

1,040,000

8

-

-

Tamney, Letterkenny

1,430,695

10

-

-

Gleneely

933,549

6

-

-

Carrowmenagh, Inishowen

694,640

4

Dublin City Council

6

North King Street

7,100,000

30

-

-

Rafters Lane

1,300,000

15

-

-

Raleigh Square

3,000,000

34

-

-

Dunmanus

4,760,100

43

-

-

Ballygall Road

3,500,000

39

-

-

Grattan Lodge

946,674

6

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council

3

St. Michael's Terrace, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin –

772,668

4

-

-

Broadford Rise, Ballinteer

4,500,000

21

-

-

Rochestown House

7,000,000

39

Fingal County Council

8

Rowlestown, Co Dublin

3,000,000

20

-

-

Rathbeale Road, Swords

3,700,000

20

-

-

Fortlawn, Dublin 15

600,000

4

-

-

Elmwood, Swords

300,000

2

-

-

Dromheath, Dublin 15

2,400,000

12

-

-

Foxwood, Swords

750,000

5

-

-

Main Street, Ballyboughal

600,000

4

-

-

St. Cronan's Cottages Swords

300,000

2

Galway County Council

2

No. 2 Moyne Park, Abbeyknockmoy, Galway

81,558

1

-

-

No. 7 & 8 Gilmartin Road

110,000

2

Galway City Council

3

Ballymoneen Road Housing Development - Phase 1

2,000,000

10

-

-

Bothar an Choiste Housing Development - Phase 1

2,000,000

10

-

-

Headford Road Housing Development - Phase 1

2,000,000

10

Kerry County Council

1

Pinewood Killarney

700,000

5

Kildare County Council

16

Part V at Monasterevin

1,800,000

12

-

-

Part V at Maynooth

3,200,000

16

-

-

Part V at Kilcock

4,000,000

20

-

-

Part V at Kill

2,000,000

10

-

-

Part V at Maynooth

2,000,000

10

-

-

Prosperous

1,500,000

10

-

-

7 Convent View

75,000

1

-

-

4 Plewmans Terrace

80,000

1

-

-

8 William Street

90,000

1

-

-

8 Stanhope Street

100,000

1

-

-

30 Woodstock Street

85,000

1

-

-

31 Woodstock Street

85,000

1

-

-

77 Woodstock Street

70,000

1

-

-

22 Dooleys Terrace

88,000

1

-

-

29 Dooleys Terrace

80,000

1

-

-

32 Dooleys Terrace

88,000

1

Kilkenny County Council

9

Hebron Park,Kilkenny City

150,000

1

-

-

Barna,Woodsgift Co. Kilkenny

175,000

1

-

-

Coolnamuck, Inistioge,Co.Kilkenny

175,000

1

-

-

Raheen,Rosbercon

175,000

1

-

-

Rosehill, Kells Road,Kilkenny City.

950,000

7

-

-

Gowran, Co. Kilkenny

900,000

7

-

-

Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny

1,200,000

8

-

-

Callan, Co.Kilkenny

1,800,000

12

-

-

St. Catherine's Wetlands Kilkenny

500,000

2

Laois County Council

Nil

Leitrim County Council

Nil

Limerick County Council

1

Newcastlewest

3,400,000

20

Limerick City Council

Nil

Longford County Council

Nil

Louth County Council

Nil

Mayo County Council

1

3 House development  Church Road, Belmullet

426,625

3

Meath County Council

5

52 Parnell Park  Navan, Co. Meath

51,000

1

-

-

6 O'Growney Terrace Navan Co. Meath

68,000

1

-

-

Clonfane, Trim

70,000

1

-

-

Alverno Court and Alverno Heights, Laytown

3,500,000

41

-

-

Kells

1,500,000

7

Monaghan County Council

4

Mullaghmatt, Monaghan, Co Monaghan - Phase 4 (New Build)

900,000

9

-

-

Teehill Clones Co. Monaghan

500,000

4

-

-

Rooskey Vale New Builds Rooskey County Monaghan

800,000

8

-

-

Mullaghmatt Monaghan Co Monaghan - Phase 4 (Refurbishment)

1,750,000

72

Offaly County Council

3

Kylebeg Banagher

1,275,000

7

-

-

School Lane Edenderry, Offaly

700,000

5

-

-

Puttaughan, Tullamore

800,000

4

Roscommon County Council

5

The Walk, Roscommon

1,530,933

11

-

-

Abbey Court, Roscommon

267,087

2

-

-

Torpanbeg, Phase 2

268,087

4

-

-

Woodstream, Castlerea

757,500

6

-

-

Scramogue

110,000

1

Sligo County Council

2

Mayes Site, Strandhill Road (Knappagh Road)

6,800,000

24

-

-

Connolly Park, Tubbercurry Sligo

1,400,000

8

South Dublin County Council

6

St Aidans

1,200,000

5

-

-

Sundale

2,000,000

10

-

-

St. Marks

2,000,000

10

-

-

Mac Uilliam, Fortunestown

3,000,000

15

-

-

Mayfield, Clondalkin

4,000,000

20

-

-

Tymon, Tallaght

2,000,000

10

Tipperary North County Council

2

Puckane  - Phase 1

2,330,000

12

-

-

Borrisoliegh

2,000,000

12

Tipperary South County Council

Nil

Waterford City Council

2

Larchville Infill

450,000

3

Lisduggan Infill

150,000

1

Waterford County Council

3

Shandon, Dungarvan

5,000,000

44

-

-

Crobally, Tramore

3,000,000

20

-

-

Marine Drive, Tramore

220,000

2

Westmeath County Council

3

Bunbrosna, Mullingar

90,000

1

-

-

St. Laurences Tce, Mullingar

1,000,000

8

-

-

11 Belvedere Orphanage, Tyrrellspass

200,000

1

Wexford County Council

7

Baile Eoghain Gorey

1,000,000

7

-

-

Stream Street, Taghmon

350,000

3

-

-

Taghmon,

2,400,000

16

-

-

Parkton Enniscorthy

1,200,000

15

-

-

Ross Road Enniscorthy

130,000

1

-

-

Barrack Lane New Ross

3,000,000

20

-

-

Francis Street

70,000

1

Wicklow County Council

6

Glending Estate Blessington

388,170

8

-

-

Greystones - new build for family with special needs.

250,000

1

-

-

Ledwidge Crescent

167,000

2

-

-

Killery Terrace

185,000

1

-

-

Castle Street Flats

540,000

6

-

-

87 O' Byrne Road, Bray.

150,000

1

Overall Total

117

€155,345,146

1,589

Building Regulations Qualifications

Questions (357, 364)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

357. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason architectural technologists are excluded from signing design certificates and completion certificates under the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, SI 9 of 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14965/14]

View answer

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

364. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government under the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, the qualifications that are necessary to become an assigned certifier; if there are provisions for a person with extensive relevant experience but without these qualifications to become an assigned certifier; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15088/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 357 and 364 together.

The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI No. 9 of 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 certificates of design and construction, lodgement of compliance documentation, mandatory inspection during construction and validation and registration of statutory certificates.

The statutory certificates of compliance must be signed by a registered professional i.e. a person who is included on the statutory registers of architects or building surveyors maintained in accordance with Parts 3 and 5, respectively, of the Building Control Act 2007 or on the register of chartered engineers established under the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland (Charter Amendment) Act 1969. Architects, Building Surveyors and Chartered Engineers are the construction professions typically involved in the design of construction works in Ireland and reference to these professions in regulation is entirely appropriate.

The profession of Architectural Technologist is not a regulated profession in Ireland. However, depending on their personal background and experience, it may be open to persons who are Architectural Technologists, and who possess the requisite experience and competence in the design of buildings, to seek inclusion on either of the statutory registers in respect of Architects or Building Surveyors. This would enable a person so registered to sign statutory certificates of compliance as provided for under S.I. No. 9 of 2014.

The Building Control Act of 2007 also provides for routes to inclusion on the statutory registers of Architects or Building Surveyors in respect of non-academically qualified persons who are practically trained.

Persons who have been engaged in the design of buildings but who are not registered should contact the designated registration bodies (i.e. Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland or Engineers Ireland) with a view to identifying the most appropriate route to registration appropriate to their own individual circumstances.

I tasked Mr Garrett Fennell, Solicitor, to carry out a review of the routes to entry to the statutory register. Mr Fennell submitted his report to me last September and I intend to implement the report recommendations in full. This should ease access to the register, especially for practically trained persons.

Building Regulations Qualifications

Questions (358, 371, 384)

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

358. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason the transitional arrangements detailed in SI 105 extend only to educational and health care projects (details supplied). [15006/14]

View answer

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

371. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the steps he has taken to ascertain the readiness of all Departments regarding compliance with the regulations, prior to the deferral of the implementation of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 in respect of educational and hospital projects; if he received specific representations from the Departments of Education and Skills and Health and, if so, if he will publish those representations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15215/14]

View answer

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

384. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if changes in public sector construction contract forms had any impact on the decision to defer the implementation of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 in respect of educational and hospital projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15343/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 358, 371 and 384 together.

I refer to the reply to Questions Nos. 127, 128, 129 and 130 of 26 March 2014 which sets outs out clearly the background context leading to the making of the Building Control (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2014. The position remains unchanged. I will make arrangements to have the letter of 5 February 2014 received from the Minister for Education and Skills, referred to in the reply, placed in the Oireachtas Library. This is the only written representation I received from another Minister in relation to this matter.

As indicated, my Department consulted with relevant Departments/ agencies represented on the Government Contracts Committee for Construction (GCCC), in relation to the implications of the Regulations for the public capital programme. Several Departments/Agencies, including the Department of Education and Skills, the National Development Finance Agency and the Health Services Executive, expressed concerns that the new requirements may cause delays in the Public Capital Programme. Large-scale public infrastructure projects, in particular, are prone to costly delays due to strict national and EU procurement rules which do not generally apply to private sector projects. Other agencies, notably the OPW, reported that the necessary arrangements were in place to administer contracts in accordance with the new requirements.

I understand that the Office of Government Procurement at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has issued Guidance Note 1.1.1 – Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 – Procurement Implications for Contracting Authorities. Concerns in relation to the clarity and definition of the Assigned Certifier on public procurement projects do not therefore arise.

Outside of the application of the Building Control (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2014, my Department will liaise closely with industry stakeholders and relevant Departments/agencies in order to ensure that no unforeseen difficulties will arise in relation to the delivery of large scale capital investment projects.

Tenant Purchase Scheme Administration

Questions (359)

James Bannon

Question:

359. Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government when he proposes to introduce a new tenant purchase scheme; if it will accommodate tenants on long-term social welfare payments who believe they have been discriminated against on previous tenant purchase schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15053/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Government, on 17 December 2013, approved priority drafting of a Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill that will, among other things, underpin a new tenant purchase scheme for existing local authority houses along incremental purchase lines. I expect that the Bill will be enacted this year, following which I will prescribe in regulations the commencement date and the detailed terms of the scheme.

Tenants are not precluded from tenant purchase by virtue of being social welfare recipients and there is no intention to change this practice in the future. However, tenants seeking to fund the purchase through loan finance from the housing authority must meet the criteria that apply to such loans, which are set out in the Housing (Local Authority Loans) Regulations 2012 and associated credit policy. This policy provides that loans are not available to social welfare recipients, except where these constitute long-term Department of Social Protection payments in conjunction with a primary income of a permanent and salaried nature. The final decision on whether or not to approve a loan in a particular case lies with the relevant housing authority, which must satisfy itself as to the borrower's capacity to service the loan over its full term.

Water Services Provision

Questions (360)

Tom Fleming

Question:

360. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will request Irish Water to make funding available as a matter of urgency to address the mid-Kerry water supply crisis (details supplied); if he will direct Irish Water to defer the introduction of water meters and water charges to all households in mid-Kerry until such time as these ongoing problems are addressed and the entire pipe network is replaced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15054/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I have no responsibility for, or role in relation to, the management, operation or maintenance of water services infrastructure. From 1 January 2014 Irish Water has responsibility for the delivery of these services and for the delivery of water services capital infrastructure. It is currently preparing a Capital Investment Plan for 2014 – 2016. The further progression of all water services capital projects is now a matter for Irish Water.

The Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 provides that responsibility for the independent economic regulation of the water sector is assigned to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) and the CER has been given statutory responsibility for protecting the interests of customers of Irish Water. This is similar to the CER's statutory role in respect of the gas and electricity sectors.

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 codes of practice will cover matters such as the standard of performance, by Irish Water, of its functions and billing by Irish Water of persons in respect of water services provided; the provision of information by Irish Water to its customers; and the making of complaints by its customers. In discharging its functions, the CER may consult with Irish Water, the public, or any other person it considers appropriate. The Commission has already undertaken public consultations on the development of the economic regulatory framework for water services and will be undertaking further consultations during 2014.

My Department 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.

Local Elections

Questions (361)

Finian McGrath

Question:

361. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason the word "independent" is excluded from the ballot paper in the local elections of 23 May; and if he will facilitate a change on this matter. [15058/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Regulation 14(6) of the Local Elections Regulations 1995 provides that where a candidate is not the candidate of a registered political party contesting the local elections, the candidate may include on his or her nomination paper the expression 'Non-Party' and, if the candidate does so, that expression will also be specified in relation to the candidate on all the ballot papers and on notices.

This regulation is based on the premise that the expression 'Non-Party' on the ballot paper indicates adequately that a person does not belong to a political party. There are no proposals for legislative change in this regard.