Housing Data

Questions (361)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

361. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the details of void houses by county over the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28427/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I assume the Deputy is referring to vacant local authority houses, which the National Oversight & Audit Commission (NOAC) reports on annually.  In relation to the Deputy's query, the details sought are reflected in NOAC's Annual Performance Indicator Reports for the years 2014-2017. The most recent data is set out in the 2017 report, which is available on the NOAC website at the following link: http://noac.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NOAC-Performance-Indicators-Report-2017.pdf.  The previous annual reports are also available on the NOAC website.

While local authorities are responsible for the management and maintenance of their own housing stock, it should be noted that the number of vacant properties is not static. As would be expected in the management of around 130,000 social homes, the position in relation to vacancies changes regularly, tenants move in and out.

My Department is continuing to engage with local authorities, to support them in returning both short and longer-term vacant properties to use as swiftly as possible, including through the Voids funding programme. Elected Councils also have a role to play in supporting this work by making adequate budgetary provision for housing repairs and maintenance, utilising the housing rental income available to them.

Repair and Leasing Scheme

Questions (362)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

362. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if there is a grant scheme in place to assist homeowners wishing to renovate and repair rural and rundown dwellings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28441/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Repair and Leasing Scheme (RLS) has been developed under Pillar 5 of the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness to assist private property owners and local authorities or Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) to harness the accommodation potential that exists in vacant properties. The scheme is targeted at owners of vacant properties who cannot afford or access the funding needed to bring their properties up to the required standard for rental purposes. Subject to the suitability of the property for social housing, and the agreement of the property owner, the cost of the necessary repairs will be met upfront by the relevant local authority or an Approved Housing Body (AHB). As part of the agreement, the property owner then leases the dwelling to the local authority for use as social housing for a length that is linked to the value of the repairs but subject to a minimum of 5 years. RLS is not a grant scheme; the value of the repairs is offset incrementally against the agreed rental payment over a defined period within the lease. The RLS is available in all local authority areas. However, it is a condition of the scheme that the property is in an area with a social housing need and fulfils social housing demand. 

Property owners may also qualify for schemes such as the Better Energy Homes Scheme. The Better Energy Homes Scheme is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI) to help homeowners and landlords reduce their energy costs and emissions by providing grants towards insulation, heating control and solar thermal improvements on homes occupied and built before 2006. Further details on grant payments and qualifying works are available from the SEAI website at www.seai.ie. There is also an annual grants scheme for the conservation and repair of traditional farm buildings and related structures for farmers in the Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS). Information is available on the Heritage Ireland website at www.heritagecouncil.ie/projects/traditional-farm-buildings-grant-scheme

Home Loan Scheme

Question No. 365 answered with Question No. 355.

Questions (363, 364)

John Brady

Question:

363. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of Rebuilding Ireland home loan applications received to date by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28486/19]

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John Brady

Question:

364. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of Rebuilding Ireland home loans granted by each county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28487/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 363 and 364 together.

My Department does not collect information on the number of Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan (RIHL) applications received by Local Authorities. However, the Housing Agency provides a central support service, which assesses RIHL applications on behalf of local authorities and makes recommendations to the authorities to approve or refuse applications. I have asked the Agency to compile figures on the numbers of applications that it has assessed since the scheme began. The most recent figures, as at the end of May 2019, indicate that 4,193 applications have been assessed by it since the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan scheme launched in February 2018, details of which are broken down by local authority in the following table.

Local Authority

Applications Assessed

Carlow County Council

55

Cavan County Council

14

Clare County Council

66

Cork City Council

157

Cork County Council

328

Donegal County Council

38

Dublin City Council

464

Dún Laoghaire - Rathdown County   Council

111

Fingal County Council

580

Galway City Council

91

Galway County Council

143

Kerry County Council

100

Kildare County Council

172

Kilkenny County Council

38

Laois County Council

93

Leitrim County Council

14

Limerick City & County Council

114

Longford County Council

44

Louth County Council

107

Mayo County Council

62

Meath County Council

242

Monaghan County Council

34

Offaly County Council

45

Roscommon County Council

44

Sligo County Council

47

South Dublin County Council

306

Tipperary County Council

115

Waterford City & County Council

69

Westmeath County Council

33

Wexford County Council

112

Wicklow County Council

169

Total

4193

In addition to this, my Department publishes information on the overall number and value of (i) local authority loan approvals and (ii) local authority loan drawdowns.  Information up to the end of Quarter 1 2019, including in relation to number and value of mortgage drawdowns, is available on the Department's website at the following link: http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/house-prices-loans-and-profile-borrowers/local-authority-loan-activity .

Question No. 365 answered with Question No. 355.

Wildlife Protection

Questions (366, 367)

Catherine Martin

Question:

366. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the actions she is taking to support the international efforts to cease elephant poaching; if she is requesting the adoption of a mandatory and comprehensive EU-wide ban on all external and domestic trading in ivory; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28428/19]

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Catherine Martin

Question:

367. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she has considered banning a domestic ivory trade. [28429/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 366 and 367 together.

My Department is responsible for the implementation of the Wildlife Act and the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations, which together provide the legislative framework for the implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Ireland.

This UN Convention regulates trade in certain listed species, including elephants, between Parties. Ireland has been a Party to the Convention since 8th January 2002.

Ireland does not have significant trade in ivory specimens and the domestic market allows only for trade in pre-Convention ivory. This trade consists primarily of carved artifacts, antique items and some musical instrument components and is governed by CITES.

Applications for CITES certificates or permits are examined carefully by the Irish CITES Management Authority in my Department to determine that the ivory has an attested legal origin. If the Management Authority is satisfied that the ivory has been legally acquired, it will then issue a certificate or permit to verify that fact in line with current CITES regulations.

The EU and its Member States have been at the forefront in the regulation of ivory trade and stringent rules are already in place cross the Union. While these have functioned effectively to date, the current EU ivory guidance document is in the process of being revised; it is envisaged that the guidance will incorporate stricter rules on trade in raw and worked ivory in the future.

As a Member State, Ireland participates in regular EU CITES Management Committee and CITES Scientific Group meetings and supports a common EU approach to CITES matters, including the ivory trade. The Irish authorities will continue to participate fully in discussions around this issue.

Hedge Cutting Season

Questions (368)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

368. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when the regulations contained within the Heritage Act 2018 will commence. [28393/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The provisions under Section 7 of the Heritage Act 2018 allow for the making of Regulations relating to burning and cutting hedgerows. 

Section 7(1) of the Heritage Act 2018 provides that I as Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht,  may make Regulations to allow the burning of vegetation during such periods in the month of March and in such parts of the country as specified in the Regulations.  

I made a decision last February not to make Regulations to extend the season for the burning of vegetation into March 2019.  This decision was taken as there would have been no basis for me to do so given the fact that the relatively dry weather during the six month period when the burning of vegetation could have been undertaken under the law (September to February inclusive) would not have precluded landowners from burning vegetation.  Therefore, the existing provisions in the Wildlife Acts on burning remained in force.

In relation to hedgerows, Section 7(2) of the Heritage Act 2018 provides for the cutting of roadside hedges only during the month of August under Regulations.  Hedgerows are a very important wildlife and biodiversity resources, providing food, shelter, corridors of movement, nesting and hibernation sites for many of our native flora and fauna.  Ireland has some 300,000 kilometres of hedgerow mainly surrounding fields and properties across the country and only roadside hedges are subject to the provisions of the Heritage Act - a fraction of the entirety of the total hedgerow resource in this country.   I will be making an announcement on this issue shortly.

Historic Structures Fund

Questions (369)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

369. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the financial support available to Sligo County Council in 2019-2020 for the conservation and protection of a location (details supplied) in County Sligo; if her Department provides funding for the commissioning of conservation reports; the estimated cost on the local authority of assessing such a structure as the location for the purpose of submitting an application to the structures at risk fund; the criteria used to assess the eligibility of a structure under the fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28456/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

My role, as Minister, with regard to the protection and management of our built heritage is set out in the provisions of relevant legislation, including the Planning Acts and the National Monuments Acts, as are the role of local authorities and the responsibilities of owners.

I understand that the structure in question is in the ownership of the local authority, which is, therefore, responsible for its upkeep and maintenance. They would be in the best position to advise on the estimated cost of any assessment or conservation report.

My Department provides financial support for the protection of heritage buildings and historic structures through the Historic Structures Fund (HSF), formerly the Structures at Risk Fund and the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS), which are administered by local authorities. This year I have allocated €1.824m and €2.5m respectively to these schemes. Details of these projects and funding, and the criteria by which they are assessed, are available on my Department's website and local authority websites. Sligo County Council was allocated €30,000 under the HSF and €60,000 under the BHIS. While the closing dates for applications have now passed, my Department will remain in close contact with local authorities throughout the year to ensure the best possible use is made of all funds, including by reallocating funds where certain projects do not proceed within agreed timeframes.

In the context of a particular building or historic structure, the best advice is generally to contact the Heritage Officer or Architectural Conservation Officer in the local authority who is well placed to advise on the various types of funding available to assist with its renovation or conservation.  The structure in question is also recorded on the Record of Monuments and Places (RMP) for County Sligo and my Department’s National Monuments Service would be happy to provide any archaeological advice or guidance that might be of assistance.

Departmental Funding

Questions (370)

Willie Penrose

Question:

370. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the estimated cost in a full year if the budget for an organisation (details supplied) increased by 12%; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28607/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The allocations across my Department are published in the Revised Estimates Volume at www.per.gov.ie. My Department secured additional funding of over €36 million in 2019, an increase of 12% on the 2018 allocation and allowing for total expenditure of some €339 million on culture, language and heritage in 2019. As part of that overall funding, the organisation referred to by the Deputy received an additional 11% in 2019. The cost of increasing the 2019 budget for that organisation by 12% would be €2.4 million.