Foreshore Licence Applications

Questions (531, 532, 533)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

531. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 357 of 8 April 2014, if he will provide a breakdown in tabular form, by county, of the number of applications that have received ministerial approval and are with the Chief State Solicitor's office; the current longest waiting time of an application with the office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22489/14]

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Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

532. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 357 of 8 April 2014, if he will provide a breakdown in tabular form, by county, of the number of applications that have been progressed as far as possible; the current longest period of time that an application has remained in that situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22490/14]

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Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

533. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 357 of 8 April 2014, if he will provide a breakdown in tabular form by county of the number of applications that are deemed by his Department as dormant; the number of those applications which are dormant specifically as a result of habitat directives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22491/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 531 to 533, inclusive, together.

The breakdown by County of the different categories of foreshore consent applications is set out in the following table.

County

CSSO

On Hold (i.e. progressed as far as is possible)

Dormant

Clare

4

4

2

Cork

35

37

10

Donegal

9

7

2

Dublin

9

5

2

Galway

6

8

0

Kerry

13

2

1

Limerick

9

1

0

Louth

4

1

1

Mayo

9

4

2

Meath

0

1

1

Sligo

1

0

0

Waterford

6

8

1

Wexford

14

4

0

Wicklow

3

1

0

A total of 122 foreshore consent applications that have received ministerial approval are currently with the Chief State Solicitor’s Office (CSSO) for drafting of the necessary legal agreements. Of these 122 applications, the longest period that an application has been with the CSSO is since November 2000. In this particular case a draft lease issued to the applicant for execution in January 2001. However, complexities subsequently arose that have delayed bringing the case to a conclusion.

The specific information requested relating to (1) the longest period of time that an application has been progressed as far as possible and is currently on hold and (2) the number of applications that are considered dormant specifically as a result of the Habitats Directive is not readily available. Applications are categorised as on hold for varying reasons such as if agreement cannot be reached on financial considerations or if proposals are under review by applicants. Applications are deemed dormant if applicants have not provided sufficient information to allow a determination that complies with legislative requirements, which may include obligations arising under the EU Habitats Directive, to be made. In general, there can be a number of gaps in the information submitted by applicants. However, the introduction by my Department of a mandatory pre-application consultation process has greatly improved the quality of applications in recent times and resulted in greater understanding by applicants of the requirements.

Foreshore Licence Applications

Questions (534)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

534. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 357 of 8 April 2014, if he will provide a breakdown on the length of time that the 13 lease applications for offshore renewable energy projects are waiting to be concluded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22492/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The following table details applications for all offshore renewable projects currently before my Department.

Project

Resource Type

Date of Receipt

Oriel Louth

Wind

19 February 2007

Codling II Wicklow

Wind

25 March 2009

Sceirde Galway

Wind

15 May 2008

Kish Dublin/Wicklow

Wind

02 June 2009

Bray Wicklow

Wind

02 June 2009

Gaelectric Louth/Meath (Investigation)

Wind

20 June 2011

Pandion Ocean Energy Ltd. Mayo (Investigation)

Wave

September 2009

Westwave Clare (Investigation)

Wave

04 March 2011

Westwave Mayo (Investigation)

Wave

04 March 2011

Smartbay Galway (cabling)

Wave

23 May 2011

AMETS Mayo

Wave

23 December 2011

CETO Wave Energy Ireland Ltd. Clare (Investigation)

Wave

1 June 2012

Smartbay Galway (lease extension)

Wave

14 May 2014

Consideration of foreshore applications for offshore energy developments, other than for site investigation works, was placed on hold by my Department pending the publication of the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP). The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources published the OREDP in February 2014. All applications for offshore energy developments currently on hand in my Department will now be reviewed in the context of the plan and other relevant policy developments.

Planning Issues

Question No. 536 answered with Question No. 515.

Questions (535)

Clare Daly

Question:

535. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the steps open to residents who believe there was a conflict of interest in the preparation of a local area plan, in that the company which conducted a supposedly independent traffic management study was a company under the directorship of the owner of the land; and the remedy open to them in that regard. [22495/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

A complaint concerning a possible conflict of interest of a company involved in the preparation of a local area plan should in the first instance be made to the engaging authority.

Question No. 536 answered with Question No. 515.

Local Authority Finances

Questions (537)

Michael McGrath

Question:

537. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his Department has issued any policy direction to local authorities regarding the holding of local authority funds in accounts at the pillar banks in view of the current ratings of these banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22546/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Banking and investment arrangements with financial institutions for the prudent management of funds are a matter for individual local authorities under section 98 of the Local Government Act 2001.

Motor Tax Collection

Questions (538, 544, 546)

Ciara Conway

Question:

538. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide a comparison of the commercial road vehicle tax in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; his plans to restructure commercials vehicle tax here to ease the burden and help improve competitiveness of operators here; if he will consider setting up a working group to examine this issue (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22549/14]

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Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

544. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will consider restructuring commercial vehicle road tax in the South of Ireland in line with comparable costs in Northern Ireland; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a local haulier in Ireland pays an average of €3,500 per annum per truck to the local authority or Department, while a local haulage operator in Northern Ireland pays an average of £640 per truck per annum; if he will establish a working group with the Irish Road Haulage Association within his Department in order for these issues to be addressed in time for budget 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22685/14]

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Charlie McConalogue

Question:

546. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has considered the Irish Road Haulage Association commercial vehicle road tax proposal; his plans to implement any or all of its proposal; and if not the reasons for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22700/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 538, 544 and 546 together.

I have no function in relation to commercial road vehicle tax in Northern Ireland. Motor tax rates in this jurisdiction are available on my Department’s website at: http://www.environ.ie/en/LocalGovernment/MotorTax/PublicationsDocuments/FileDownLoad,31672,en.doc.

The Irish Road Haulage Association have proposed the introduction of a road charging scheme for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), along with a change in the basis of motor taxation from unladen to gross design vehicle weight. The proposal in relation to the road charging scheme is a matter for the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. His Department has established an Inter-Departmental Working Group on this matter which includes representation from, inter alia, my Department.

Any change to the basis of motor taxation for commercial vehicles as requested by the Irish Road Haulage Association, either as a stand-alone change or in conjunction with the introduction of a road charging scheme, would need to take account, inter alia, of the lack of correlation between unladen and gross design vehicle weight, the impacts on other motor tax payers and the impact on income to the Local Government Fund and, consequently, on the provision of local services. Any such change would also require amendments to primary legislation and technical modifications to the National Vehicle and Driver File.

Any consideration of changes to motor tax for HGVs can only place in the context of the outcome of the work of the inter-Departmental Working Group.

Private Rented Accommodation Costs

Question No. 540 answered with Question No. 508.

Questions (539)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

539. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he is concerned about the increase in rental prices for private accommodation in Dublin (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22555/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The private rented sector is an increasingly important element of the housing market, with the proportion of households in the sector almost doubling in the period 2006-2011. Against this background, I am acutely conscious of the difficulties caused by rising rents and the problem of sourcing suitable accommodation, especially in Dublin and other urban centres.

The most recent data from the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) Rent Index and from the Daft.ie Rental Report show the extent of rising rents, particularly in Dublin and the major cities. In Dublin, rents for houses increased by 6.4% annually, and for apartments the figure was 8%.

The fundamental reason behind the rise in rents is a lack of supply. In 2006, some 93,419 housing units were completed across the country, 19,470 of them in Dublin. In 2013, a total of 8,301 homes were completed nationally with just 1,360 in Dublin. The volume of activity in residential building and construction remains less than half of the volume seen in the year 2000.

Increasing both public and private housing supply is a critical issue and the Government’s Construction Strategy, published on 14 May 2014, is a blueprint for a properly functioning and sustainable construction sector. It provides for a strategic approach to the provision of housing based on real and measured demand and addresses the full range of relevant issues including the planning process, financing, access to mortgage finance and the construction workforce.

Over half a billion euro in funding is being made available through my Department across a range of housing programmes in 2014 and I expect that in the region of 5,000 social housing units will be provided this year.

Resolution of the housing supply situation is the key element in restoring stability to the market but I recognise that the provision of additional units of housing takes time. Consequently, I have asked the PRTB to carry out a focused piece of research that will explore options to address the difficulties being experienced in segments of the private rented sector due to rising rents and to report back to me with policy recommendations before the end of June. My goal is to achieve stability and sustainability in the market for the benefit of tenants, landlords and society as a whole.

Question No. 540 answered with Question No. 508.

Building Regulations Amendments

Question No. 542 answered with Question No. 515.

Questions (541)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

541. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will clarify the existing statutory position relating the self-building of their own homes by those who wish to do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22567/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Building Control Act 1990 places a clear statutory obligation on owners, designers and builders to ensure that buildings are designed and constructed in compliance with the building regulations. This applies to all sectors of the construction industry, including the self-build sector.

Neither the Building Control Act nor any regulations thereunder, including the new Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, place any restrictions on whom an owner may assign as a builder once the owner is satisfied that the builder is competent to undertake the works involved.

An owner who intends to self-build, and who contracts out elements of their work to other parties, must assume legal responsibility for ensuring that the building or works concerned will comply with the requirements of building regulations.

The reply given to Question Nos. 432 and 434 of 4 February 2014 addresses some of the practical considerations that arise for an owner in meeting their obligations as owner and as builder in a self-build situation. An Information Note on Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 and the Self-Build Sector issued by my Department on 26 February 2014 has also been placed in the Oireachtas library.

A number of local authorities have in recent weeks brought it to the attention of my Department that valid commencement notices for self-build projects have now been registered on the new online Building Control Management System. In all such cases, the owners have assigned themselves as builders (taking on the legal responsibility that this entails) and have found registered construction professionals to take on the roles of designer and assigned certifier.   Any doubts about the operability of the new regulations in the self-build sector are therefore clearly unfounded.

The major concern for families intending to build their own homes remains the cost of doing so. A number of cases have, however, been brought to my attention whereby consumers have been quoted exorbitant charges for professional services in relation to residential construction projects. The new regulations support improved competence and professionalism which will provide additional work opportunities for competent practitioners and construction professionals. While it is worthwhile for homeowners to have the home they invest in checked and inspected, they should not have to pay a inflated rates or for excessive inspection services.

In this regard, I have asked my Department, in conjunction with the Housing Agency and the construction professional bodies, to prepare guidance on an appropriate inspection plan for a single, stand-alone dwelling. This will inform the market in relation to offering realistic and appropriately priced professional services for such work. I understand that the construction professional bodies are already well advanced in terms of providing similar guidance on this and other matters relevant to the new arrangements for building control. I have asked my Department to keep the issue under close and continuing review.

Question No. 542 answered with Question No. 515.

Irish Water Funding

Question No. 544 answered with Question No. 538.

Questions (543)

Michael Ring

Question:

543. Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will outline in full the funding for County Mayo under the Irish Water proposed capital investment plan 2014-2016, to include the exact funding of each of the water supply schemes; and the exact funding of each of the wastewater treatment schemes included in the plan. [22672/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Since 1 January 2014, Irish Water is responsible for the delivery of water services capital infrastructure. Irish Water has recently published its Proposed Capital Investment Plan for 2014–2016 and this is available on the Irish Water web site, www.water.ie.

The further progression of all water services capital projects is now a matter for Irish Water to consider. Irish Water has confirmed to my Department that it has established a dedicated team to deal with representations and queries from public representatives. The team can be contacted via an email to oireachtasmembers@water.ie or by telephone on 1890 278 278.

Question No. 544 answered with Question No. 538.

Control of Dogs

Question No. 546 answered with Question No. 538.

Questions (545)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

545. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason a growing number of local authorities are increasingly not rehoming or releasing dogs to rescue centres and instead directly euthanase dog breeds currently listed under the Control of Dogs Act 1998 regulations; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the current legislation incentivises councils to euthanase rather than taking the risk of releasing them for fear of legal prosecution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22689/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Dog control activities are the responsibility of local authorities. My Department publishes statistics in relation to these activities, which are available at the following link: http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/StatisticsandRegularPublications/DogControl/. Those statistics show no evidence that a growing number of local authorities are not rehoming or releasing dogs to rescue centres; in fact, all local authorities rehome dogs, the majority doing so in co-operation with dog welfare groups.

The current legislation does not incentivise dogs being put down over efforts to rehome them. The dog control statistics show a consistent decrease in the number of dogs put down over the last number of years, including a decrease of over 20% between 2012 and 2013.

Question No. 546 answered with Question No. 538.

Leader Programmes Expenditure

Questions (547)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

547. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has additional funding for a project (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22726/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

In line with the ‘bottom-up’ approach to rural development under the LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013, there are 35 Local Action Groups (LAGs) contracted, on my Department’s behalf, to deliver the LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 (RDP) throughout the country. The LAG for the area referred to in the question is North and East Kerry LEADER Partnership Teoranta (NEKD). The LAGs are the principal decision-makers in relation to the allocation of project funding. Such decisions are made in the context of the local development strategy of the individual groups and in line with the Programme’s Operating Rules and EU regulations.

On 20th December last, NEKD received an additional allocation of funding under the RDP of €283,121. As the LAG is the principal decision maker in relation to project funding, it is the responsibility of the LAG to determine what projects will be allocated funding.

Leader Programmes Applications

Questions (548)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

548. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government when community groups will be able to apply for the new Leader programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22731/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Preparations for Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 (RDP) have begun and while these preparations are primarily the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), my Department will be responsible for the LEADER elements of the Programme. It is envisaged that Ireland will submit a draft Programme to the European Commission for approval by the end of June.

My Department intends to begin the process of selecting Local Development Strategies for implementation in the second half of 2014. It is envisaged that that process will take at least six months and possibly up to a year to complete. Following selection of the Local Development Strategies, it is intended that the new Programme will commence in 2015.

Leader Programmes Applications

Questions (549)

John O'Mahony

Question:

549. Deputy John O'Mahony asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason for the delay in making a decision on an application for Leader funding (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22756/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

In line with the ‘bottom-up’ approach to rural development, there are 35 Local Action Groups (LAGs) contracted, on my Department’s behalf, to deliver the LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 (RDP) throughout the country.

The relevant LAG in respect of the project referred to is Mayo North East LEADER Partnership (MNELP). The LAGs are the principal decision-makers in relation to the allocation of project funding. Such decisions are made in the context of the local development strategy of the individual groups and in line with the Programme’s Operating Rules and EU regulations. I understand that the promoter in this case has been contacted regarding the provision of some additional information which is required in order to enable the evaluation of the application for funding to progress. The project assessment process will recommence once the required information is provided.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Questions (550)

Michael McCarthy

Question:

550. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the progress that has been made on the planned review into Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 particularly in terms of changes to the legislation which may affect shared ownership schemes; if he has reviewed the stand-alone analysis of the shared ownership scheme by the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency; the recommendations contained in same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22763/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Government’s 2011 Housing Policy Statement announced the standing down of all affordable housing schemes, including the shared ownership scheme, in the context of a full review of Part V of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2013. Details regarding the review are avail able on my Department’s website: http://www.environ.ie/en/DevelopmentHousing/Housing/PublicConsultations/.

As regards the review of Part V of the Planning and Development Acts, Action 9 of the recently published Construction 2020 – A Strategy for a Renewed Construction Sector provides that the review of Part V will be completed in Q2 of 2014. It is anticipated that any legislative changes required on foot of the review will be incorporated into the General Scheme for a Planning Bill, which is being prepared at the moment.

As regards shared ownership, I fully recognise that shared ownership home owners, amongst others, have been affected by issues such as unemployment and possible negative equity. In 2013, I asked the Housing Agency to conduct a standalone review of the shared ownership scheme, including identification of the main difficulties and recommendations for mitigating measures for shared ownership households. While I have received an initial draft of the review from the Agency, a number of issues have been identified that need further detailed financial analysis.

Full information on the status of each local authority’s loan book is required in order to accurately determine the implications of any possible solutions to shared ownership issues on Local Authority debt.  This substantial project involving my Department, the Local Government Management Agency and the local authorities themselves is under way. It will be a number of months before sufficient data has been collected in order to complete the requisite analysis to enable the completion of the review.

Pending full conclusion of this review, my Department issued a circular letter to local authorities setting out some of the options and interim actions that might be explored to alleviate the difficulties of those in shared ownership distress. These include the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process and room rental for Shared Ownership mortgage holders. It is accepted that these proposals are not a complete solution to the issues that arise for such mortgage holders but are intended as an interim measure pending the outcome of the review.