Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Questions (301, 302, 303)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

301. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to set out the number of homes that have been remediated under the pyrite remediation scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4699/18]

View answer

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

302. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to outline his plans for homes that are affected by pyrite but which have been left out of the current remediation scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4700/18]

View answer

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

303. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to outline his plans to extend and expand the pyrite remediation scheme for homes that failed to reach the high thresholds set down under the previous Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4701/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 301 to 303, inclusive, together.

The Pyrite Resolution Act 2013 provides the statutory framework for the establishment of the Pyrite Resolution Board and for the making of a pyrite remediation scheme to be implemented by the Board with support from the Housing Agency. The pyrite remediation scheme is a scheme of “last resort” and is limited in its application and scope. The full conditions for eligibility under the scheme are set out in the scheme which is available on the Board’s website, www.pyriteboard.ie.

In accordance with the provisions of the Act, the Board is independent in the performance of its functions, and as Minister, I have no role in the operational matters (including sampling and testing) pertaining to the implementation of the scheme. The Board may be contacted by phone at Lo call 1890 252842 or by email to info@pyriteboard.ie or alternatively at oireachtasinfo@pyriteboard.ie.

The scheme is applicable to dwellings, which are subject to significant damage attributable to pyritic heave, established in accordance with I.S. 398-1:2013 - Reactive pyrite in sub-floor hardcore material – Part 1: Testing and categorisation protocol. In this regard, it is a condition of eligibility under the scheme that an application to the Board must be accompanied by a Building Condition Assessment with a Damage Condition Rating of 2. Dwellings which do not have a Damage Condition Rating of 2 are not eligible to apply under the scheme. This ensures that, having regard to the available resources, the focus of the scheme is on dwellings which are most severely damaged by pyritic heave. I have no proposals to amend this eligibility criterion.

The Report of the Pyrite Panel (June 2012) recommended a categorisation system as a means of prioritising pyrite remediation works in recognition of the expensive and intrusive nature of pyrite remediation and the unpredictability of pyritic heave. The independent Pyrite Panel was clear in its view that only dwellings with significant damage due to pyritic heave should be remediated and that it would be unreasonable to expect dwellings not exhibiting such damage to be remediated.

Dwellings which have no significant damage but have reactive pyrite in the hardcore material should be monitored and only remediated if they display significant damage due to pyritic heave. This remains the position with regard to dwellings which do not display significant pyritic damage.

On foot of this recommendation of the Pyrite Panel, the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) published I.S. 398-1:2013 Reactive pyrite in sub-floor hardcore material Part 1: Testing and categorisation protocol in 2013. The standard provides the means by which dwellings that may be affected by pyrite can be tested and categorised.

In late 2015, the NSAI commenced a review of I.S. 398-1:2013 in the light of practical experience since the standard was first introduced in January 2013. The standard was updated and revised to reflect the on-site experiences and evidence gathered by technical experts, such as engineers, geologists, professionals providing sampling and testing services and other technical experts, who have been using the standard over the past four years and was published on 4 August 2017.

I welcome the revised standard published by the NSAI and in this context I signed the Pyrite Resolution (Standard for Testing) Regulations 2017 (S.I. No. 556 of 2017) on 6 December 2017. These Regulations provide that pursuant to section 14(9)(a) of the Pyrite Resolution Act 2013, the “standard for testing” for the purpose of the Act shall be Irish Standard 398-1:2017 Reactive pyrite in sub-floor hardcore material —Part 1: Testing and categorisation protocol, as published by the National Standards Authority of Ireland on 4 August 2017.

My Department is in regular contact with the Pyrite Resolution Board and the Housing Agency with regard to the implementation of the scheme. Any amendments, which the Board consider are required to the scheme as a result of the revised standard will be given full consideration should they be submitted to me in accordance with the requirements of the Act.

The latest figures available indicate that a total of 1,963 applications have been received under the pyrite remediation scheme. Of the 1,963 applications received so far, 1,523 dwellings have been included in the pyrite remediation scheme and the applicants notified accordingly.

A further 110 applications have been validated and referred to the Housing Agency for the Assessment and Verification Process, while another 218 applications are at the initial Application and Validation Process. 112 applications under the scheme were not successful.

Of the 1,523 dwellings that have been included in the pyrite remediation scheme: 343 are at remedial works planning stage; 96 are at tender decision; 139 are under remediation; and 945 are complete.

With regard to funding, a sum of €25 million was expended on the operation of the pyrite remediation scheme in 2017. This funding facilitated the remediation of some 400 additional dwellings.

An increased amount of €30 million was announced under Budget 2018 to fund the operation of the pyrite remediation scheme in 2018. This allocation will facilitate the remediation of some 430 additional dwellings this year and is a clear signal of the continuing importance attached by Government to addressing the issue of significant pyritic damage in private dwellings.

Ultimately, the Pyrite Remediation Board, together with the Housing Agency, will arrange for all eligible dwellings to be remediated to a high standard and at no additional cost to the affected homeowners. Remediation works will continue to be carried out at the earliest possible opportunity having regard to the existing demands of the scheme and the optimum use of available resources.