Seniors Alert Scheme

Questions (120)

Billy Timmins

Question:

120. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding a monitoring fee in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21648/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Seniors Alert Scheme aims to encourage community support for vulnerable older people in our communities by providing grant assistance towards the purchase and installation of personal monitored alarms to enable older persons, of limited means, to continue to live securely in their homes with confidence, independence and peace of mind. The Scheme is administered by local community and voluntary groups with the support of my Department.

The maximum grant per beneficiary for equipment is as follows:

-  Monitored personal alarms (with pendant) - €250

-  Additional pendant/Re-installation - €50

The annual monitoring costs (generally between €60-€80 per annum) are borne by the beneficiary.

Motor Tax Collection

Questions (121)

Michael McNamara

Question:

121. Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will consider allowing cars first registered before 2008 to opt to pay road tax based on the CO2 emissions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21757/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The system of motor tax based on CO2 emissions introduced in 2008 applies only to new private cars registered from 1 January 2008 onwards. CO2 data on the National Vehicle and Driver File (NVDF) for earlier years have not been validated for business purposes and it would not be safe to apply charges on the basis of such data. Cars registered before 2008 will continue to be taxed on the basis of engine capacity. I have no plans to change this system.

Water Charges Exemptions

Questions (122, 123, 130)

Clare Daly

Question:

122. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the provisions that will be put in place for homes where extra water is consumed due to specific treatments for various medical conditions. [21989/14]

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Ciaran Lynch

Question:

123. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if in regard to water charges the special allowance for children will be extended to children over 18 years who are in full-time education and living at home; if severe eczema will be a qualifying medical condition for which special allowance will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21628/14]

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Olivia Mitchell

Question:

130. Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if there is a recommended daily minimum water usage for adults under European health policy and, if so, if he will confirm what that minimum is; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21746/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 122, 123 and 130 together.

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 provided by it. The Act also 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.

The Government has decided, following consideration of proposals in relation to the funding model for Irish Water and taking account of the work of the Inter-Departmental Working Group, which was established to advise the Government on the appropriate method for addressing affordability issues which may arise with the introduction of domestic water charges, to provide a free allowance of 30,000 litres of water supplied and waste water treated per annum for a primary residence on a public supply. The Government has also decided to provide for an additional free allowance to cover the normal usage of water services by every child in their primary residence based on the same qualifying conditions as child benefit, such that water charges will in effect only apply to adults in such households. The normal consumption is estimated at 38,000 litres annually per child of water supplied and waste water treated and so the allowance being provided will be up to 38,000 litres per annum. This level of consumption will be verified over time thr ough actual data from metering.

The Government has also decided that bills will be capped at the relevant assessed charge level for those customers with particular medical conditions which necessitate high water usage. Qualifying medical conditions will be set out, following consultation with the nister for Health and the Health Services Executive.

I intend to use my powers under the Water Services (No.2) Act 2013 to issue a policy direction to the CER in relation to a number of matters relating to domestic water charges. In making its decision on the approval or otherwise of the first water charges plan, the CER will take into account the decisions made by the Government on the funding model for Irish Water and the policy direction issued.

I am not aware of any recommended daily minimum water usage for adults under a European health policy, but the Commission has suggested in a recent communication, that Member States, acting within their competences, should ensure access to a minimum water supply for all citizens, in accordance with World Health Organisation recommendations. The WHO recommendations indicate that 20-25 litres per person per day represents a minimum requirement (i.e. 7,300-9,125 litres per annum).

Foreshore Issues

Questions (124)

Brian Stanley

Question:

124. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has held consultations on the proposed new Foreshore Act in the context of seaweed licences; and with whom he has consulted. [21667/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department held a public consultation on proposed changes to the Foreshore Act 1933 in early 2013. A consultation document entitled A New Planning and Consent Architecture for Development in the Marine Area was published as part of this process. Key stakeholders, including state bodies, NGOs, industry bodies, and local authorities, were notified of the consultation and invited to make submissions. The consultation, which covered all aspects of the consent system, was also advertised in the national press. Approximately 200 submissions were received.

Ministerial Meetings

Questions (125)

Brian Stanley

Question:

125. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has recently met representatives of Atlantic Harvest; and the subject of his discussions. [21668/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I have had no meetings with representatives of the company Atlantic Harvest.

Water Charges Exemptions

Questions (126)

Brian Stanley

Question:

126. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if persons connected to a group water scheme that has a private source and is not connected to the mains previously owned by a local authority will be billed for water by Irish Water. [21677/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Water Services (No.2) Act 2013 provides Irish Water with the power to charge for water services. The Act also provides that the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) will be responsible for the economic regulation of Irish water and the charges to be levied by Irish Water will be subject to the approval of the CER. The CER has already undertaken public consultations on the development of the economic regulatory framework for water services and will be undertaking further consultations during 2014. Water charges will not commence until 1 October 2014 and the first bills will be issued by Irish Water to households from January 2015.

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.

My Department will remain responsible for the overall policy and funding, where appropriate, 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. The co-operative approach will be maintained as the reform of water services provision is progressed.