Pyrite Remediation Programme

Questions (677)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

677. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to remediation packages and compensation available for homeowners that recently purchased properties that have been affected by pyrite and that have been refused access to the remediation scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22008/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

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.

The Act also sets out the broad parameters which the Board must have regard to when establishing the eligibility criteria for the pyrite remediation scheme.

The restriction in Section 15(3) of the Act preventing applications being made under the scheme by a person who purchases a dwelling on or after 12 December 2013 (the publication date of the Bill) applies where that person knew or ought to have known that the dwelling was constructed using hardcore containing reactive pyrite.  It is my Department’s view that Section 15(3) does not represent a blanket exclusion preventing applications being made under the scheme by a person who purchases a dwelling on or after 12 December 2013. It is, however, a matter for the Board to determine, based on facts and evidence in each individual case, whether an applicant is or is not entitled to apply for inclusion into the Pyrite Remediation Scheme.

The Board has sought and received legal advice on the interpretation of Section 15, including the facts and evidence it should seek when assessing cases where a dwelling was purchased on or after 12 December 2013 and I am advised that the Board assesses each individual application as it is received, and has regard to all the facts when considering Section 15 of the Act.   

The latest figures available indicate that a total of 2,351 applications have been received under the pyrite remediation scheme. Of these, 1,905 dwellings have been included in the scheme, with the applicants notified accordingly, and 1,542 dwellings have been remediated.  A sum of €32 million is available to fund the operation of the pyrite remediation scheme this year.  This will facilitate the remediation of some 460 additional dwellings and is a clear signal of the continuing importance attached by Government to addressing the issue of significant pyritic damage in private dwellings. This will bring to approximately €126m the total funding provided under the scheme since 2014.

Urban Renewal Schemes

Questions (678)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

678. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 1353 of 26 March 2019, the terms and conditions of URDF support; the work to be undertaken by Kildare County Council in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22050/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) is a flagship element of Project Ireland 2040, with €2 billion identified in the National Development Plan (NDP) to 2027.  Of this, €58m is available in 2019 to provide initial support for the 88 projects approved for URDF support last November, while €550 million is included in the NDP to provide further support for these and other similar projects up to 2022. 

Support from the Fund will assist in rejuvenating Ireland’s five cities and other large towns, and enabling a greater proportion of residential and mixed-use development to be delivered within the existing built-up footprints of our cities and towns.  It will ensure that more parts of our urban areas can become attractive and vibrant places in which people choose to live and work, as well as to invest and to visit.

Bids were invited from public bodies throughout Ireland for funding under the URDF and a total of 189 applications were received by my Department under the first call for proposals. On 26 November 2018, initial URDF support of €100m was provisionally allocated to a total of 88 projects throughout the country. 

As part of this first tranche of approvals, Kildare County Council was awarded initial URDF support of €400,000 towards the provision of technical assistance for the advancement of their Celbridge Southern Relief Road & Second Liffey Crossing proposal.

Since last November’s announcement, the Department has engaged with a large number of the successful applicants to further clarify the details of their proposals, the proposed composition and progression of projects, and to establish the level of related URDF funding demands expected to arise for 2019 and beyond.

The Department has now concluded this process and further correspondence setting out the terms and conditions attached to URDF support, together with the arrangements for management and disbursement of the associated Exchequer funding, will issue shortly.

Home Loan Scheme

Questions (679)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

679. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason income from the working family payment is not taken into account as reckonable income under the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22074/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan is operated in accordance with the Housing (Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan) Regulations 2018 and the credit policy issued in accordance with the Regulations, which set out the criteria under which an applicant may be eligible for a loan. The credit policy states that as a general rule, the loan is not available to those in receipt of unemployment or other social welfare benefits. However, where there is a primary income of a waged or salary nature, long-term State benefit payments of the second applicant may be considered.  State benefit payments allowable are: 

- State Pension (Contributory);

- State pension (Non-Contributory);

- Widow’s / Widower’s Pension;

- Blind Pension;

- Invalidity Pension; and

- Disability Allowance.

The long-term nature of the payment must be confirmed by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. All applications are dealt with on a case-by-case basis and are referred to the relevant local authority's Credit Committee for a final decision.

As the payment referred to by the Deputy does not fall within this category of long-term payment it is not reckonable for the purpose of the scheme.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Grants

Questions (680)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

680. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the grant funding available to householders that cannot connect to the public water mains or a group water scheme to upgrade a well; if consideration is being given to increasing this grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22076/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

On 8 February this year, I announced details of the measures being funded through my Department under the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021. This included an improved funding scheme for individual wells (more commonly known as private or household wells).

The composition of the new multi-annual programme is based on recommendations from the Working Group that I established in April 2018 to conduct a review of investment needs and rural water services.

The changes that I have approved to the individual wells grant scheme are as follows:

- A maximum grant for rehabilitation works of €3,000, which represents an increase of 47% on the current maximum grant amount;

- Where the local authority agrees that the most appropriate solution is to provide a new well, the maximum grant payable would be €5,000;

- Recognising the role of the grant in improving quality, the water quality treatment element (typically filtration and UV filtration) will qualify for 100% funding up to a maximum of €1,000;

- Up to 85% of other costs would be met, subject to the total combined maximum costs of €3,000 for well rehabilitation or €5,000 for a new well, and;

- For clarity, applicants would not be able to avail of both grant amounts, so they would not be able to avail of €3,000 for well rehabilitation as well as the €5,000 available for a new well. 

Work is at an advanced stage of development for the funding scheme. I expect that the process will be completed in the coming weeks when the necessary regulations dealing with the financial assistance arrangements and related administrative matters are put in place. This will enable a circular letter, terms and conditions, guidance and the application form to issue to local authorities shortly thereafter.

Emergency Accommodation Data

Question No. 682 answered with Question No. 672.

Questions (681)

John Curran

Question:

681. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the cost to each local authority to provide emergency accommodation for the homeless in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22117/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department does not fund any homeless service directly but provides funding to housing authorities towards the operational costs of homeless accommodation and related services under Section 10 of the Housing Act, 1988.  Under Exchequer funding arrangements, housing authorities must provide at least 10% of the cost of services from their own resources. Furthermore, housing authorities may also incur additional expenditure on homeless related services outside of the Exchequer funding arrangements provided by my Department.  

Exchequer funding for homeless services is provided through my Department to housing authorities on a regional basis.  Drawdown for 2016 to date in 2019 is set out on a regional basis in the table below.

Exchequer funding for homeless services under the Housing Act, 1988 

Region

2016

2017

2018

2019

(to date)

Dublin 

€68,627,075

€83,616,643

€106,267,187

€68,351,245

Mid-East 

€2,746,651

€3,092,923

€3,738,000

€1,025,000

Midland 

€1,109,748

€1,467,615

€2,177,128

€663,000

Mid-West 

€3,500,000

€3,906,686

€5,044,000

€1,889,000

North-East 

€1,493,336

€2,762,845

€3,007,520

€790,000

North-West 

€411,946

€450,000

€541,522

€248,000

South-East

€3,041,840

€3,444,510

€3,815,000

€1,645,000

South-West 

€5,375,609

€6,703,444

€9,687,741

€2,650,000

West

€2,370,295

€3,791,334

€4,721,895

€1,470,000

Financial reports from each of the regions, setting out expenditure on homeless services in each region, are published on my Department's website at the following link: 

https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/homelessness/other/homelessness-data.

Question No. 682 answered with Question No. 672.

Planning Issues

Questions (683)

John Curran

Question:

683. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the additional resources he plans to provide to local authorities to speed up the planning process for renewable generators and to An Bord Pleanála for it to prioritise planning consents for renewable generators in view of the fact that a climate emergency has been declared; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22122/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (the 2000 Act), planning authorities are required to make a decision in respect of an application for planning permission within 8 weeks of the date of receipt of such an application unless further information in relation to the proposed development is requested.

Where an appeal is lodged with An Bord Pleanala in relation to a planning decision by a local authority, the Board has a statutory objective under section 126(2) of the 2000 Act to determine the matter within 18 weeks of receipt of the appeal. Furthermore, under Section 37J(2) of the 2000 Act, the Board has an objective to make a decision on Strategic Infrastructure Development cases within a period of 18 weeks beginning on the last day for making submissions or observations on such planning applications.

These timeframes are considered reasonable for the purpose of enabling the relevant consent authorities to give full consideration to such planning applications and appeals.  I am not aware of any particular problems being encountered in the determination of planning applications in respect of renewable generators.

Limistéir Pleanála Teanga

Questions (684)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

684. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Catherine Connolly den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cén líon pleananna teanga a dhíríonn ar na Limistéir Pleanála Teanga atá ceadaithe ag an bpointe seo; an ndéanfaidh sí ainmneacha na limistéar cuí a thabhairt; cén líon pleanálaithe teanga atá ceaptha chun na pleananna sin a chur i bhfeidhm; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [21408/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

Tá ullmhú nó feidhmiú pleananna teanga idir lámha i gcás gach ceann den 26 Limistéar Pleanála Teanga (LPT) Gaeltachta atá aitheanta faoi Acht na Gaeltachta 2012. Tá pleananna ceadaithe faoin bpróiseas go dáta i leith 14 den 26 LPT eadhon:

- Cois Fharraige;

- Gaoth Dobhair, Rann na Feirste, Anagaire & Loch an Iúir;

- Cloch Chionnaola, Gort an Choirce, An Fál Carrach & Machaire Rabhartaigh;

- Na Déise;

- Múscraí;

- Ciarraí Theas;

- Dúiche Sheoigheach & Tuar Mhic Éadaigh;

- Ciarraí Thiar;

- Maigh Eo Thuaidh;

- Árainn Mhór;

- An Cheathrú Rua;

- Ráth Chairn & Baile Ghib;

- Conamara Láir; agus,

- Dún na nGall Theas

Tá dhá phlean eile curtha faoi bhráid na Roinne agus iad á mheas faoi láthair chun críche aitheantais:

- Ceantar na nOileán; agus,

- Tuaisceart Dhún na nGall

Go dáta tá 11 Oifigeach Pleanála Teanga agus 3 Oifigeach Cúnta Pleanála Teanga ceaptha ag ceanneagraíochtaí na limistéar pleanála teanga faoi seach chun na pleananna ceadaithe a chur i bhfeidhm.

Tá cistíocht faoi leith ar fiú €3.2m in iomlán curtha ar fáil i 2019 chun freastal a dhéanamh ar fheidhmiú rathúil an phróisis pleanála teanga, idir phleananna a ullmhú, fheidhmiú pleananna agus bhearta tacaíochta eile don phróiseas pleanála teanga i gcoitinne.

Wildlife Protection

Questions (685)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

685. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if research was carried out in relation to possible side effects of new and brighter LED street lights on wildlife and specifically birds. [21435/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

My Department is not aware of any significant published research on the impacts of new and brighter LED street lights on birds.

Wildlife Conservation

Questions (686)

Denis Naughten

Question:

686. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the mechanism for the compensation of a landowner that is prohibited from planting their lands with forestry due to its designation under the Curlew Conservation Programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21437/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

The population of breeding curlew in Ireland is in extreme danger of extinction, having declined by 97% in recent decades.

There is no formal designation process, rather my Department shares information with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on the known remaining breeding sites. Protecting these sites is a shared responsibility across sectors, although the decision in regard to afforestation licenses and payments is made by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

 I understand that the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine guidance on forestry schemes,  provides information on where compensation may not be paid, such as, inter alia, where the refusal is related to the protection of the environment; this would apply in the case of protection of a critically endangered species such as Curlew.

I also understand that Curlew areas have been prioritized in the GLAS scheme , offering up to €7,000 per annum for 5 years, depending on how much ground is available.  

Seirbhísí trí Ghaeilge

Questions (687)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

687. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Catherine Connolly den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cén gníomh a dhéanfar maidir leis an méadú 44% ar líon na ngearán a rinneadh leis an gCoimisinéir Teanga le linn 2018 i dtaca le deacrachtaí ainmneacha agus nó seoltaí i nGaeilge a úsáid agus daoine ag plé le háisíneachtaí stáit; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [21465/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

Mar is eol don Teachta, tá oifigigh mo Roinne ag obair faoi láthair i gcomhar le hOifig an Ard-Aighne chun Bille na dTeangacha Oifigiúla (Leasú) a dhréachtú. Tá an Bille seo ar Chlár Reachtaíochta an Rialtais don seisiún seo.

Mar chuid thábhachtach den leasú ar an Acht, tá sé i gceist aird a thabhairt ar an ábhar atá luaite ag an Teachta, eadhon, an ceart atá ag saoránaigh a n-ainmneacha agus/nó seoltaí Gaeilge á úsáid agus iad ag plé leis an Stát. 

Mar chúlra, is iarracht é an Bille seo, trí na ceannteidil éagsúla, an timpeallacht a chruthú ina mbeidh ról níos lárnaí ag an teanga in obair an Stáit, go mbeidh an teanga níos feiceálaí agus go mbeidh fáil níos leithne ar sheirbhísí trí Ghaeilge. 

Tá sé i gceist sa Bhille foráil a dhéanamh a chinnteofar go n-éascóidh comhlachtaí poiblí úsáid ainmneacha agus seoltaí sa dá theanga oifigiúil, lena n-áirítear úsáid an tsínidh fhada agus sloinnte níos faide a éascú.

Táthar ag súil go réiteoidh na forálacha seo na deacrachtaí atá ardaithe ag an gCoimisinéir Teanga ina Thuarascáil Bhliantúil..

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (688)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

688. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the amount spent in fees to companies (details supplied) by her Department in each of the years 2011 to 2018. [21576/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

I am advised that the only payments made by my Department to those companies specified by the Deputy during the period in question are as set out below:

In 2012,  a payment of €1,600 was made to Deloitte & Touche in respect of training it provided on Relevant Contracts Tax.   

In 2014 €34,449 was paid to  Ernst & Young in respect of a review of the PSO Air Service for the Aran Islands.   

No payments were made to PWC or KPMG during this period.

Turf Cutting

Questions (689)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

689. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if matters in relation to a bog (details supplied) in County Kerry will be examined; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21620/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

As set out in my reply to Question No. 1605 of 8 May 2019 and as set out in the National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017-2022, the site referred to in the Deputy's Question is one of the sites being examined as regards the potential for domestic turf cutting on the site in accordance with the provisions of article 6.3 of the EU Habitats Directive.

For the smaller plot of land within the proposed domestic turf cutting area in the south of the site, the results of scientific investigations conclude that domestic turf cutting could take place there subject to consent being received and consultation with the landowner and turbary right holders, if any.

I am advised that my Department has written to the relevant individuals with a view to making further progress on this issue. In addition, the matter of the consent required for the proposed activity is currently being assessed.

For the larger plot of land within the proposed turf cutting area, scientific equipment has been installed there.  This will facilitate monitoring of this area for an estimated  period of a year to assess the level of risk of peat failure (bog burst). I understand that it is essential that no turf cutting takes place in this area during the monitoring period.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank local turf cutter representatives and the Deputy for their assistance in trying to resolve this complex issue. Officials from my Department as well as contractors engaged by it will continue to liaise on the matter.

Departmental Funding

Questions (690)

John Lahart

Question:

690. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the grants available for the development of bands specifically pipe bands; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21643/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

The Music Capital Scheme which is supported by my Department and managed by Music Network comprises two distinct awards that provide funding for the purchase of musical instruments to both non-professional performing groups and to individual professional performing musicians.

In February, I announced that my Department were providing funding of €270,250 for the Music Capital Scheme 2019.  The Music Capital Scheme is a vital music resource through which groups and talented individuals may be awarded funding towards the purchase of musical instruments. The Music Capital Scheme has benefitted thousands of people since its inception, supporting a range of individuals and groups countrywide.

The Music Capital Scheme is designed to provide support for the purchase of musical instruments, and respond to a broad range of capital needs within the music sector in Ireland. A particular area of difficulty for musicians and ensembles is purchasing musical instruments. The cost of instrument purchase, maintenance and repair can be significant barriers to the development of many organisations and this scheme aims to address this.

 The scheme is designed to provide support as follows:

- Stream 1, Instrument banks for non-professional performing groups

- Stream 2, Individual instruments for musicians of a professional performing standard

Applications for the Music Capital Scheme 2019 are now closed and I understand that Music Network will be informing applicants of assessment decisions in June .  Further information including lists of previous award recipients which include a number of pipe bands is available at the following link www.musicnetwork.ie/musicians/funding

National Museum

Questions (691)

Micheál Martin

Question:

691. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she has received representations from a group (details supplied) in relation to the allocation of funding to the National Museum of Ireland for an exhibition on An Gorta Mór; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21817/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

I have received a number of representations in relation to the Famine from the group. 

As I have previously advised the House, decisions in relation to the curation and presentation of temporary or permanent exhibitions within national cultural institutions are operational matters for the relevant cultural institutions.  

As the Deputy may be aware, the National Famine Commemoration 2019 took place in Sligo on Sunday, May 19th 2019. An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar T.D., led the official representation at the commemoration ceremony accompanied by myself, in my role as Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee.

 The commemoration programme opened with a ceremony in which the local community participated and culminated in the formal State ceremonial event.  Defence Forces Personnel took part in the ceremonial event which included military honours, a minute’s silence  and a wreath-laying ceremony. 

National Monuments

Questions (692)

James Browne

Question:

692. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the position regarding a location (details supplied) in County Wexford; if funding to secure this unstable site will be allocated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21917/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

The structure referred to by the Deputy is a recorded monument that is listed under Section 12 of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1994. It is one of 58 tower houses recorded by the Archaeological Survey of Ireland in County Wexford and is in private ownership.

My Department’s National Monuments Service is aware of and shares local concerns about the condition of the monument. The Department is in ongoing contact with the local authority to explore any possible solutions and potential sources of funding that might assist in safeguarding it. The Department has met the landowner on site, and with Wexford County Council, and will continue to provide guidance and advice with a view to helping to identify viable solutions. The Department has also made available photographic and drone survey material on the monument as part of that engagement.   

My Department will continue to work with the relevant parties to try to ensure that that the current threat to the stability of the monument can be resolved.

Licence Applications

Questions (693)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

693. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of an application for a section 42 licence by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22055/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

Two applications dated 28 and 29 March 2019 for licences under Section 42 of the Wildlife Acts, in respect of the persons referred to in the Question, were received in my Department on 4 April last. It is a requirement of the Section 42 application process that applicants must provide a map with the land holdings that are subject of the application showing the areas where serious damage is occurring.  As neither application included such maps, the applicants were requested to provide the necessary documentation.  There is no record of maps having been received in my Department.  On receipt of the outstanding information further consideration will  be given to the applications.