Fire Service

Questions (952)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

952. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he is satisfied that the Dublin Fire Brigade has all the necessary equipment and resources to protect the public in view of the increasing density and height of commercial and residential buildings in the city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31151/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The provision of fire services is a statutory function of fire authorities under the provisions of the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003. In the case of Dublin, the City Council also provides fire services on behalf of the other three Dublin local authorities. My Department supports the fire authorities through setting national policy, providing a central training programme, issuing guidance on operational and other related matters and providing capital funding. The capital programme includes recoupment for the purchase of fire appliances and emergency equipment and the construction and upgrading of fire stations within the overall funding available.

While the fire authorities obviously have a critical role, the people that control buildings have primary statutory responsibility for ensuring the safety of persons using the building. In this regard, inbuilt features such as layout and fire resistance are critical as are fire detection and alarm systems. Safety features should support early detection, safe evacuation of occupants and the containment of fires. The appropriate measures vary based on the scale, density and height of buildings and are set out in Building Regulations and associated Technical Guidance and Codes of Practice.

It is important to note that there has been a steady decline in the number of fire incidents and the number of fatalities resulting from fires in Ireland. With a three year averaged annual fire death rate of less than six per million of population, Ireland is among the countries where fire fatalities are deemed to have been minimised. Of course, we must remain vigilant and work to avoid the tragedy of fatalities from fire, the vast majority of which occur in the home. However, it is important to recognise the positive impact of improvements in community fire safety strategies and fire brigade response.

In terms of equipment, management of the number, type and age profile of fire appliances is a matter for each of the fire authorities based on their local needs and requirements. Continued investment in the national fleet is one of the key priorities for the Fire Services Capital Programme. Under the capital programmes since 2008, my Department has funded nine ‘Class B’ appliances and two turntable ladders for Dublin and close engagement continues with fire authorities in relation to future needs. In this regard, in assessing requirements, fire service management use multi-annual data of actual fires to determine "Area Risk Categorisation" (ARC) for each fire station area benchmarking against national standards, set out for the first time in the 2013 policy document “Keeping Communities Safe”.

The ARC process helps fire service management establish a risk grading of: very high risk (A); high risk (B) medium risk (C); low risk (D); or very low risk (E) categories across areas. The initial fire station risk ratings for Dublin are published in the 2016 report “Local Delivery – National Consistency – Fire Services in Ireland”, and are set out in the following table.

FIRE SERVICE

FIRE STATION

ARC RATING

DUBLIN

Tallaght

A1

DUBLIN

Tara Street

A1

DUBLIN

Dolphins Barn

A2

DUBLIN

Finglas

A2

DUBLIN

Kilbarrack

A2

DUBLIN

Phibsboro

A2

DUBLIN

Swords

A2

DUBLIN

Blanchardstown

B1

DUBLIN

Dunlaoghaire

B1

DUBLIN

North Strand

B1

DUBLIN

Rathfarnham

B1

DUBLIN

Donnybrook

B2

DUBLIN

Balbriggan

C1

DUBLIN

Skerries

D1

The “Keeping Communities Safe” policy document indicates that local authority fire services should have an initial response capability in place which is linked to the assessed Area Risk Category, as set out in the following table.

Risk CategoryDescription

Risk Category

Standard Fire Appliance (Class B) Response Capability

Fire Brigade Travel Times

Associated Crew Levels (incl. crew commanders)

Very High

A

1st2nd3rd4th

in 8 minsin 10 minsin 15 minsin 20 mins

591317

High

B

1st2nd3rd

in 10 minsin 15 minsin 20 mins

5913

Medium

C

1st2nd3rd

in 10 minsin 20 minsin 30 mins

5913

Low

D

1st2nd

in 20 minsin 40 mins

59

Very Low

E

1st2nd

in 30 minsin 60 mins

59

The National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management (NDFEM) oversees an external validation process across fire services. The External Validation Report “Local Delivery – National Consistency” indicates that the fire services provided in Dublin areas are meeting, and indeed exceed, the appropriate standards.

Operational response to a particular incident or category of incidents is a matter for each fire service, taking account of national policy and guidance. A National Incident Command System was developed by the NDFEM in 2009, including appropriate training and support materials. The Incident Commander decides on the appropriate course of action to be taken in any given situation, taking into consideration the balance of needs, risk and resources with particular regard to health, safety and welfare.

In relation to fighting fires in high-rise buildings, my Department issued guidance titled “Fighting Fires in High-Rise Buildings” in April 2011. This was part of a suite of 47 Standard Operational Guidance (SOG) documents developed between 2010 and 2012 by fire service personnel and issued by the NDFEM. A copy of the SOG concerned, SOG 3.02, is available on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/migrated-files/en/Publications/Community/FireandEmergencyServices/FileDownLoad%2C33367%2Cen.pdf .

Based on the foregoing the current arrangements in place at both national and local level for fire safety and fire service response, including in Dublin, are deemed appropriate and effective. These matters are kept under constant review by the NDFEM and its dedicated Management Board made up of key stakeholders, including chief executives of local authorities/fire authorities.

Planning Guidelines

Questions (953)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

953. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the new revised planning guidelines will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31244/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department is currently undertaking a focused review of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines in line with the “preferred draft approach” which was announced in June 2017 by the then Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, in conjunction with the then Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment. The review is addressing a number of key aspects including sound or noise, visual amenity setback distances, shadow flicker, community obligation, community dividend and grid connections.

As part of the overall review, a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is being undertaken on the revised Guidelines before they come into effect, in accordance with the requirements of EU Directive 2001/24/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment, otherwise known as the SEA Directive. SEA is a process by which environmental considerations are required to be fully integrated into the preparation of plans and programmes which act as frameworks for development consent, prior to their final adoption, with public consultation as part of that process.

While the revised draft guidelines had been expected to be published in Quarter 1 2019, some delays to the planned schedule arose, due to the recent publication of updated World Health Organisation (WHO) noise standards and the need to focus on certain Brexit-related planning issues.

As part of the SEA process, there will shortly be an 8-week public consultation on the revised draft Guidelines, together with the comprehensive environmental report. Finalised Guidelines will be prepared following detailed analysis and consideration of the submissions received during the consultation phase, and the conclusion of the SEA process. My Department will aim to commence the public consultation later in Q3 2019.

When finalised, the revised Guidelines will be issued under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. Planning authorities and, where applicable, An Bord Pleanála must have regard to guidelines issued under section 28 in the performance of their functions generally under the Planning Acts. In the meantime, the current 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines remain in force.

Land Development Agency

Questions (954)

Robert Troy

Question:

954. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the land development agency will be established; the properties to be transferred to the body; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31253/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Land Development Agency (LDA) has been established on an interim basis by statutory instrument under the Local Government Services (Corporate Bodies) Act 1971. The Establishment Order is an initial and enabling measure to get the LDA up and running as quickly as possible, ahead of the provision of a more comprehensive primary legislative basis for the Agency and its intended scope of powers and operations.

The Government has recently approved an updated General Scheme of the LDA Bill for priority drafting. It is intended that the LDA Bill will be brought before the Oireachtas later this year for early enactment.

On establishment, the Agency had access to an initial tranche of 8 sites – listed below - that have near term delivery potential for 3,000 new homes. The LDA is also currently engaged in the progression of a number of other sites with potential for significant housing output.

1. Central Mental Hospital Site, Dundrum

2. Hampton, Balbriggan

3. Hacketstown, Skerries

4. Devoy Barracks, Naas

5. Former Meath Hospital, Dublin City Centre

6. St. Kevin's Hospital, Cork

7. Columb Barracks, Mullingar

8. Dyke Road, Galway

Significant preparatory work is underway in relation to the initial sites, with feasibility, planning and other preparatory works already initiated. Construction activity is envisaged to commence on the first homes by mid-2020, subject to the grant of planning permissions.

Departmental Communications

Questions (955)

Shane Cassells

Question:

955. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the oversight of his Department of directives, circulars, advice or requirements issued since 2016; if surveys have been carried out of compliance with these communications to date; the surveys carried out; the results of the surveys; the compliance rate; the actions taken by his Department following these results; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31328/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department has a broad remit with responsibility for housing, planning, water, local government and the provision of weather information and related services. In the period since 2016, the Department would have issued a vast array of communications of the kind referred to and has a variety of arrangements in place, ranging from formal statutory arrangements through to more informal mechanisms, and from written or statistical reports to reporting through workshops or other bilateral or Department/sector-wide engagement, for monitoring consequent actions taken by local authorities. Compilation of the range of information sought would involve a disproportionate amount of time and work. However, if there is a more specific issue in respect of which the Deputy wishes to table a question, I will endeavour to provide the information concerned.

Climate Change Policy

Questions (956)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

956. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the recurring weekly meetings attended by either him or the Secretary General of his Department in 2019 at which climate change and or preparations within his Department to enact a climate plan has been an agenda item; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31344/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department has played an active part in the development of the Government’s Climate Action Plan 2019 and has also been assigned lead and supporting roles in the implementation of a range of actions set out in the Plan. In addition, prior to the finalisation of the Climate Action Plan, I met on a bilateral basis on several occasions with my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, who has the lead responsibility for climate change agenda.

My Department’s engagement with the climate agenda is multifaceted.  Accordingly, rather than dealing with the issue in recurring weekly meetings as referred to by the Deputy, I and my Department engage actively on the issues involved on a thematic basis, in different meeting/engagement formations, on a regular basis, often multiple times per week as circumstances demand.   These arrangements include work undertaken through the Department’s own work programmes, on issues such as Nearly Zero Energy Buildings, the Department’s engagement with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, attendance at which was led by the Secretary General, and through meetings of the relevant Senior Officials Group dealing with climate issues (including the preparation of the Climate Action Plan), chaired by the Department of An Taoiseach, and the associated Cabinet Committee and Cabinet discussions, in which I lead my Department’s participation. 

As the Deputy may be aware, the Climate Action Plan provides for its implementation to be overseen by a Delivery Board, chaired by the Department of An Taoiseach and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, the first meeting of which is scheduled to take place next week.  The Secretary General of my Department will be a member of the Delivery Board, which will report to Cabinet through the relevant Cabinet Committee, in which I will continue to engage actively.

Regeneration Projects Status

Questions (957)

Robert Troy

Question:

957. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the regeneration of the Blackhall area of Mullingar, County Westmeath. [31414/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

In 2018, bids were invited from public bodies for funding support from the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) either under Category A, for projects that were proposed as being ready to be initiated, or under Category B, as projects that required further consideration and development. On 26 November 2018, initial URDF support of €100m was provisionally allocated to a total of 88 projects throughout the country under the first call for proposals.

Westmeath County Council has been approved for URDF support in respect of preliminary costs, including technical assistance, for the development of a masterplan for the comprehensive regeneration and redevelopment of the southwest quadrant of Mullingar’s urban core.

The advancement and completion of this Category B project is, in the first instance, a matter for Westmeath County Council. It will also be a matter for the Council to consider the advancement of subsequent elements of the wider project, and whether additional funding support should be sought for them under a future URDF call for proposals.

Housing Adaptation Grant Expenditure

Questions (958)

Robert Troy

Question:

958. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount each council received under housing aid for elderly, mobility and housing adaption grants for 2019; the amount each council has allocated; and the average processing time for each council for an application. [31442/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

In 2019, a total of €71.25 million is available for the Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability Scheme, in respect of private houses. This is made up of €57 million exchequer funding, which is an increase of some 8% on the 2018 figure, with the balance of €14.25m being contributed by the local authorities. Information on the individual exchequer allocations and the respective funding contributed by each local authority is publicly available on my Department’s website, at the following link - https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/special-housing-needs/older-people/minister-english-announces-eu7125-million-funding-improve.

The detailed administration of the grants including their assessment, approval and prioritisation, is the responsibility of the local authorities. My Department does not hold information in relation to the average processing times for applications. This information may be available directly from the local authorities.

Cyber Security Protocols

Questions (959)

Jack Chambers

Question:

959. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the cybersecurity protocols under the remit of her Department; if it has had a cybersecurity breach in the past 12 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30583/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

My Department views ICT security as being of central importance in ensuring the security and integrity of systems, files and data. Working with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), an operational arm of the Department of Communication, Climate Action and Environment, my Department ensures that we are aware of the latest threats and necessary actions are taken to offset risks to the Department's ICT facilities.

My Department has deployed various market leading, latest generation ICT security systems and tools to ensure that the risk of attacks are mitigated as effectively as possible.

 For security reasons, my Department does not provide public details of our cyber security management.

National Parks and Wildlife Service

Questions (960)

Danny Healy-Rae

Question:

960. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason the NPWS will not erect signage making persons aware of ticks and Lyme disease in national parks, for example, Killarney National Park; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30675/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

Ticks are widespread throughout the countryside and in areas of rough vegetation and forestry. They are not confined only to National Parks or Nature Reserves. The issue of warning notices is a matter for the HSE/Local authorities to consider. Any such signs would need to be countrywide as opposed to specifically located in particular National Parks or Nature Reserves.  The National Parks & Wildlife Service of my Department is willing to engage with the Local Authorities on any county-wide initiatives they (or the HSE) wish to propose.  

Ticks can be found on a variety of domesticated and wild animals including sheep, goats, horses, cattle, dogs, deer and various wild mammal species. Information on  Lyme Disease is available to the public from the HSE website http://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/vectorborne/lymedisease/informationforthepublic/. The HSE booklet on lyme disease also contains useful information in this regard.

With regard to Killarney National Park, information on ticks is contained within the health and safety section of the dedicated park website for members of the public who intend on visiting the National Park: https://www.killarneynationalpark.ie/plan-your-visit/safety-in-the-park/ and is also available in the visitor centre at Killarney House. The HSE booklet  is also available to download from the Killarney National Park website: https://www.killarneynationalpark.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Lyme-DL-April2017-D2.pdf.

National Parks and Wildlife Service

Questions (961)

Danny Healy-Rae

Question:

961. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if the NPWS will place fire belts on its property to prevent fires spreading within national parks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30676/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

I would first like to thank the Deputy for raising this important matter. Significant environmental damage is caused by wildfire and, more specifically, illegal burning. This issue has become more acute in recent years, as evidenced by the recent spate of fires in various parts of the country, including earlier this year at Torc Mountain in Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry.  Wild fires are not a natural phenomenon in Ireland and can have a local impact on species that cannot escape, or that lose breeding habitat as a result. Such impacts are generally fairly short term, but could be very serious for species that are already in decline, such as curlew. Some plant and moss species  may be lost  or greatly reduced. UK research showed that where scrub such as gorse is burned it can have a lasting impact on soils and cause increased erosion which can in turn impact on rivers through increasing siltation of the water, especially if this burning happens repeatedly.

I strongly condemn the spate of wildfires in recent years and would appeal to members of the public to be conscious of the dangers posed by fire on open ground. Even planned and/or "controlled" burning can get out of hand very quickly, so it is critically important that every member of society realises the damage that can be caused to property and, indeed, the health and welfare of family, neighbours and the wider community, and the responding emergency services. The main source of wild fires is thought to be the deliberate starting of fires without concern for the consequences.  Aside from such malicious activities, one of the main challenges is to encourage members of the public, (including landowners, farmers and recreational users of publicly accessible land), to act responsibly at all times, to be mindful of their own safety and the safety of others, to be mindful of the need to protect property, both publicly owned and privately owned and to appreciate the value of our natural heritage, particularly in our National Parks, Nature Reserves and Designated (Natura 2000) Sites.

 With regard to the National Parks, on an on-going basis, officials from my Department  are in close liaison with both the Gardaí and the Fire Service. With regard to gorse fires in particular, there are a number of Inter-Agency Gorse Fire Groups that explore issues surrounding such fires. My Department, through its National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), is one of a number of agencies represented on such groups.  An Garda Síochána is also represented on these groups and lead any criminal investigation). There are a number of these groups in different locations around the country. They are convened by the Fire Services Department of the relevant Local Authority and the Chief Fire Officer for the Local Authority. Generally, the Chief Fire Officer for the Local Authority would chair the meetings and maintains records. Usually, the membership of such groups would include representation from stakeholders such as:

- Fire Services Department of the Local Authority

- Gardaí

- Forest Service Section of the Department of Agriculture and Food

- NPWS

- Coillte

- Teagasc

My Department (NPWS) meets and liaises with the Fire Officer directly as appropriate and necessary. For example to review arrangements and practical details in respect of our National Parks and other recreational properties e.g. re access point, codes, etc.

Some 14 per cent of the terrestrial area of the State is designated and this includes many remote and inaccessible areas.  Most land in special areas of conservation, special protection areas and natural heritage areas is in private ownership.  Through the NPWS, my Department directly manages a property portfolio in respect of national parks and reserves of approximately 87,000 hectares. These important biodiversity areas are located all around the country.   Given the sensitivity of these habitats, with regard to firebreaks, there are a number of ecological concerns with regard to their use. A balance has to be achieved between works necessary or desirable to assist in the control of wild fires within designated areas on the one hand and the sustainable conservation and protection of the qualifying interests within such sites. Where possible, targeted and minimal on site work – including the cutting back of combustible material (furze, heathers, over-grown grassland areas) – to create these “natural fire breaks” could help to control the spread of wild fires, without impacting significantly on habitats.  My Department remains very committed to the prevention, early detection and minimisation of the impacts of such fires, and recently piloted a joint action with Coillte using drones to assist in the early identification of fires and communication of real-time information to my staff when they work with the emergency services to prevent such fires from spreading.

Given the sheer scale of property involved, (for example, Killarney National Park on its own comprises over 10,000 Hectares (26,000 acres) coupled with the remote locations of much of the designated lands and the sporadic occurrence and dynamic nature of such fires, it is very difficult to provide a visible “presence” on the ground to discourage and prevent unauthorised burning in the countryside.  Equally, trying to identify those who deliberately set fires in open areas without concern for the consequences can be challenging.  NPWS staff remain ever-vigilant when conditions exist that might result in fires in the National Parks.

Living Wage

Questions (962)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

962. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the estimated cost of implementing a living wage €12.30 for all employees directly employed and or in agencies under her remit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30767/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

I am informed that the annualised cost of implementing a wage of €12.30 per hour for all employees employed directly by my Department or in agencies under the remit of my Department is estimated to be in the order of €600,000.

Departmental Data

Questions (963)

Denis Naughten

Question:

963. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the different income streams directly paid by persons to her Department or agencies under her remit, such as motor tax; the number of persons making annual payments; the value of same; the number of payments made through staged or increment payments; the value of same; the additional income generated as a result of payments being made on an incremental basis; if incremental payments are not available, the reason for same; the corresponding figures for 1999 and 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30850/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

As the Deputy will appreciate, and my Department and those bodies under its aegis are responsible for a broad range of activities. While some of these activities may be subject to charge none would constitute an income stream of the type instanced by the Deputy.   

Details of income and expenditure by my Department and those bodies under its aegis are set out in the Annual Report and Accounts published each year which are subject to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Project Ireland 2040

Questions (964)

Jack Chambers

Question:

964. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the capital projects which have been delayed under Project Ireland 2040 under the remit of her Department and agencies in tabular form; when these projects will commence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30879/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

My Department has been allocated nearly €1.2 billion in capital expenditure over the course of the National Development Plan, 2018-2027, as part of Project Ireland 2040. My Department has developed a detailed sectoral investment plan, Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage, which sets the high-level, strategic capital priorities for the Department from 2018 to 2027.  The plan will deliver on this investment through the following activity strands; capital investment and infrastructure programmes, capital grant schemes and major capital projects.

The plan provides for an allocation of:

- €725 million towards enhancing our cultural infrastructure, incorporating,

- A €460 million investment in our National Cultural Institutions and,

- €265 million for a national Culture and Creativity Investment Programme;

- €285 million towards a heritage investment programme; and,

- €178 million towards investment in our language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands.

My Department manages its annual capital expenditure in the context both these programmatic allocations and the 5-year multi-annual Departmental capital allocations outlined in Project Ireland 2040 - National Development Plan. Investment programmes and capital grant schemes progress on a multi-annual basis, while major capital projects are being undertaken as part of the National Cultural Institutions Investment Programme.  

As the Deputy will be aware, the Further Revised Estimates for 2019 provides for a capital allocation for my Department of €73.8 million.  This reflects a deferral of €2 million of capital expenditure from 2019 into 2020 through changes to the timing of payments relating to certain capital investment programmes operated by my Department.  I am confident that the flow of liabilities maturing in 2019 will be managed in line with the resources available and that this deferral of expenditure will not impact on the overall delivery of the Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht elements of Project Ireland 2040.

No capital projects have been delayed to date and we continue to manage the flow of capital projects through the phases set out in the Public Spending Code.  At present, two of our major capital projects have passed the detailed appraisal stage: a four-year redevelopment of the National Library of Ireland involving the upgrading of the East and West Wings of the Library, and the provision of a secure environmentally-controlled archival repository at the National Archives.  The first phase of the National Library project, comprising 4,700 linear metres of storage and the movement of 350,000 volumes, was unveiled last month.  Detailed plans have been prepared for the National Archives Repository Redevelopment and it is expected that this project will go to tender later this year.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (965)

Jack Chambers

Question:

965. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the capital projects which have commenced under Project Ireland 2040 under the remit of her Department and agencies in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30915/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

My Department has been allocated nearly €1.2 billion in capital expenditure over the course of the National Development Plan, 2018-2027, as part of Project Ireland 2040. To direct this investment, my Department has developed a detailed sectoral investment plan, Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage, which sets the high-level, strategic capital priorities for the Department from 2018 to 2027.  This plan involves three types of investment activity; capital investment and infrastructure programmes, capital grant schemes and major capital projects.

The plan provides for an allocation of:

- €725 million towards enhancing our cultural infrastructure, incorporating,

- A €460 million investment in our National Cultural Institutions and,

- €265 million for a national Culture and Creativity Investment Programme;

- €285 million towards a heritage investment programme; and,

- €178 million towards investment in our language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands.

Capital projects under the plan are appraised, planned, implemented and evaluated in line with the Public Spending Code and best practice guidance outlined in the Capital Works Management Framework published by the Office of Government Procurement.

While the majority of capital projects under Project Ireland 2040 are moving through the early appraisal stage, two major capital projects have already commenced: a four-year redevelopment of the National Library of Ireland involving the upgrading of the East and West Wings of the Library, and the provision of secure environmentally-controlled archival repository at the National Archives. The National Archives project is being carried out in partnership with the Office of Public Works, and the National Library project with the Office of Public Works and the National Library.

The first phase of the National Library of Ireland redevelopment project, comprising the completion of a new book repository in the East Wing of the Library comprising 4,700 linear metres of storage and the movement of 350,000 volumes, was unveiled last month. Enabling works to prepare for the construction work at the National Archives was completed last month. It is intended to undertake the tender for the National Archives Repository Redevelopment later this year.

National Cultural Institution

Lifecycle Phase

Commenced

National Library of Ireland

Construction

2018

National Archives

Pre-tender for main construction contract

2018

Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (966)

Jack Chambers

Question:

966. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if expenditure estimates for capital projects under Project Ireland 2040 under the remit of her Department and agencies match projected cost requirements in tabular from; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30961/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

My Department will invest some €1.2 million in capital expenditure as part of Project Ireland 2040 -  the National Development Plan.  To direct this investment, my Department has developed a detailed sectoral investment plan, Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage, which sets the high-level, strategic capital investment priorities for the Department from 2018 to 2027.   The investment plan sets out three strands of activity, capital investment and infrastructure programmes, capital grant schemes and major capital projects, across the following programme areas:

- €725 million towards enhancing our cultural infrastructure, incorporating,

- A €460 million investment in our National Cultural Institutions and,

- €265 million for a national Culture and Creativity Investment Programme;

- €285 million towards a heritage investment programme; and,

- €178 million towards investment in our language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands.

My Department manages its annual capital expenditure in the context of both these programmatic allocations and the 5-year multi-annual Departmental capital allocations outlined in the National Development Plan. Investment programmes and capital grant schemes progress on a multi-annual basis, while major capital projects are being undertaken as part of the National Cultural Institutions Investment Programme. 

Capital projects are appraised, planned, implemented and evaluated in line with the Public Spending Code and best practice guidance outlined in the Capital Works Management Framework published by the Office of Government Procurement.

Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage outlined indicative investment levels for capital projects in each of the National Cultural Institutions. These are not project budgets, but are rather intended to guide the scale and scope of proposed capital investment in each National Cultural Institution.

As provided for by the Public Spending Code and the Capital Works Management Framework, broad budgetary parameters are established and approved on the basis of the detailed appraisal of the capital project in question. Accordingly, it is not possible to provide an expenditure estimate until a detailed appraisal has been completed and budgetary parameters for the project in question have been approved. In line with the Capital Works Management Framework, the project budget is assessed at key stages of the project lifecycle, including throughout the planning and design and implementation phases.

Given that the sites upon and buildings within which many of our National Cultural Institutions reside are themselves distinctive parts of our built and architectural heritage, capital works will necessarily be complex and significant investigation work will need to be undertaken to further establish the risks and costs association with each project.  Moreover, it is important to ensure that the Institutions can, insofar as possible, remain open to the public throughout construction. Accordingly, a number of the capital projects at the National Cultural Institutions may be undertaken in discrete phases, to assist both planning, cost control and to ensure continuity of services to the public.

I have approved the detailed appraisals of two major capital projects within the National Cultural Institutions Investment Programme: a four-year redevelopment of the National Library of Ireland involving the upgrading of the East and West Wings of the Library, and the provision of secure environmentally-controlled archival repository at the National Archives. The National Archives project is being carried out in partnership with the Office of Public Works, and the National Library project with the Office of Public Works and the National Library.

The first phase of the National Library of Ireland redevelopment project, comprising the completion of a new book repository in the East Wing of the Library comprising 4,700 linear metres of storage and the movement of 350,000 volumes, was unveiled last month. The final cost of the first phase was broadly in line with the project budget.

It is intended to undertake the tender for the National Archives Repository Redevelopment later this year. Accordingly, the cost plan for the Redevelopment is currently under review following planning and design phase and prior to going to tender, in line with the requirements of the public spending code.

Heritage Sites

Questions (967)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

967. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she is still considering the purchase of an estate (details supplied); if so, the stage at which discussions are at; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31007/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

The position of my Department with regard to estate referenced in details supplied remains unchanged. As has been stated in my previous responses, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has no direct role in the sale process of the estate in question as it is a commercial matter between the owners of the property and any parties interested in the purchase. 

While the estate in question would be a significant addition to the Department’s stock of publicly owned heritage lands, acquisition of this property could only be considered if the price fell to within a certain range, or in the context of a donation or bequest.  This is known to the vendors.

It should be noted that in late 2016 the Department negotiated the extension of the Wicklow Mountains National Park by purchasing almost 4,900 acres of Dublin Uplands at Glenasmole at a cost of €800,000. The purchase underpins the Government’s on-going commitment to the preservation of our natural heritage for future generations of citizens and visitors alike to enjoy.

I am aware that concerns have been raised regarding the use of the area by hillwalkers, climbers and the public in general. It should be noted that this Department has no statutory function regarding the provision of access to private lands. However, the Estate has allowed a permissive access to its hugely popular walking route for many decades and the Department hopes that this would continue under any new ownership arrangements and the Department has conveyed this desire directly to the vendors and their agent.

Furthermore, the Estate has been an excellent neighbour to the National Park, working closely with it on habitat management and the promotion of our stunning Wicklow Mountains for tourism, film making and amenity. It is my wish that this close co-operation would continue too in future.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (968)

Barry Cowen

Question:

968. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of capital projects being undertaken by her Department; the final agreed tender price; the estimated cost of each capital project in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31071/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

My Department has been allocated nearly €1.2 billion in capital expenditure under Project Ireland 2040 -  National Development Plan, 2018-2027. To delivery on this investment, my Department has developed a detailed sectoral investment plan, Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage, which sets the high-level, strategic capital investment priorities for the Department from 2018 to 2027.  This plan is being delivered through the following strands of activity: capital investment and infrastructure programmes, capital grant schemes and major capital projects.

The plan provides for an allocation of:

- €725 million towards enhancing our cultural infrastructure, incorporating,

- A €460 million investment in our National Cultural Institutions and,

- €265 million for a national Culture and Creativity Investment Programme;

- €285 million towards a heritage investment programme; and,

- €178 million towards investment in our language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands.

My Department manages its annual capital expenditure in the context of both these programmatic allocations and the 5-year multi-annual Departmental capital allocations outlined in the National Development Plan. Investment programmes and capital grant schemes progress on a multi-annual basis, while nine major capital projects are being undertaken as part of the National Cultural Institutions Investment Programme. 

Capital projects are appraised, planned, implemented and evaluated in line with the Public Spending Code and best practice guidance outlined in the Capital Works Management Framework published by the Office of Government Procurement.

Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage outlined indicative investment levels for capital projects in each of the National Cultural Institutions. These are not project budgets, but are rather intended to guide the scale and scope of the proposed capital investment in each National Cultural Institution.

As provided for by the Public Spending Code and the Capital Works Management Framework, broad budgetary parameters are established and approved on the basis of the detailed appraisal of the capital project in question. Accordingly, it is not possible to provide an estimated cost for a project until a detailed appraisal has been completed and budgetary parameters for the project in question have been approved. In line with the Capital Works Management Framework, the project budget is assessed at key stages of the project lifecycle, including throughout the planning and design and implementation phases.

Given the sites upon and buildings within which many of our National Cultural Institutions reside are themselves distinctive parts of our built and architectural heritage, capital works will necessarily be complex and significant investigation work will need to be undertaken to further establish the risks and costs association with each project. Moreover, it is important to ensure that the majority of the Institutions can, insofar as possible, remain open to the public throughout construction. Accordingly, a number of the capital projects at the National Cultural Institutions may be undertaken in discrete phases, to assist both planning, cost control and to ensure continuity of services to the public.

To date, I have approved the detailed appraisal of two major capital projects within the National Cultural Institutions Investment Programme: a four-year redevelopment of the National Library of Ireland involving the upgrading of the East and West Wings of the Library, and the provision of secure environmentally-controlled archival repository at the National Archives. The National Archives project is being carried out in partnership with the Office of Public Works, and the National Library project with the Office of Public Works and the National Library.

The first phase of the National Library of Ireland redevelopment project, comprising the completion of a new book repository in the East Wing of the Library comprising 4,700 linear metres of storage and the movement of 350,000 volumes, was unveiled last month.

It is intended to undertake the tender for the National Archives Repository Redevelopment later this year.

The table below outlines the indicative allocation for each capital project currently being undertaken (indicating the broad budgetary parameters provided following the completion of a detailed appraisal under the Public Spending Code) and related contract sums.

National Cultural Institution

Indicative allocation

Contract Sum

National Library of Ireland

 €23m

€1.618m in relation to contracts for phase 1

National Archives

€22m

€0.309m for enabling works.

Main contract to go to tender in 2019. 

 

A number of other projects under the National Cultural Institutions programme are currently progressing through the appraisals stages under the Public Spending Code including the Crawford Art Gallery, the Natural History Museum, the National Concert Hall, the National Gallery of Ireland and the Abbey Theatre.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (969)

Barry Cowen

Question:

969. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the capital projects completed since 2010; the final agreed tender price for each project; the actual cost of each project; if the actual cost exceeded the tender price; the reason therefor in each case in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31087/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

As previously advised to the House in response to Dáil Question No. 283 of 14th February last the information requested by the Deputy in relation to the capital projects valued in excess of €10m completed by my Department since its establishment in 2011 is set out in the following table.

Project

Initial Contract Value

Final Cost

Phase 3 of the Master Development Plan of the National Gallery of Ireland including refurbishment of the Dargan and Milltown Wings (Completed in 2017)

€31.4m

€31.7m subject to final account

Cill Rónáin Harbour Development (Completed 2011)

€44.1m

€46.5m

 As the Deputy will appreciate, it is not possible to provide a final outturn cost where work is ongoing on establishing the final account. 

In April 2018, I was pleased to announce details of the ten year plan, “Investing in Our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018 - 2027” setting out the Government’s commitment for capital investment of almost €1.2 billion in Ireland’s culture, heritage and language infrastructure as part of Project Ireland 2040 and I can assure the House that capital projects are appraised, planned, implemented and evaluated in line with the Public Spending Code and best practice guidance outlined in the Capital Works Management framework published by the Office of Government Procurement.

Architectural Heritage

Questions (970)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

970. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the level of protections and supports available to a local community which is anxious to preserve and continue to use a historic community and former school building (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31152/19]

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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.

Part IV of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, gives primary responsibility to planning authorities to identify and protect the architectural heritage by including particular structures on their Record of Protected Structures.  Inclusion on the Record of Protected Structures places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers to deal with development proposals affecting them and to seek to safeguard their future. 

The building in question is recorded in my Department’s National Inventory of Architectural Heritage as being of Regional Importance, qualifying it for recommendation to the local authority for inclusion in its Record of Protected Structures.

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. 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.

Wildlife Protection

Questions (971)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

971. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question No. 777 of 25 June 2019, if her Department has responsibility for and-or an obligation under its statutory responsibilities for species and habitat management to take a proactive role in the protection of fauna from harmful levels of predation by other species. [31226/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

My Department has a role in relation to the conservation of habitats and species which is achieved in part through the designation of Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas and Natural Heritage Areas under European and national legislation.  My Department works with farmers, other landowners and users, and national and local authorities, to achieve the best balance possible between farming and land-use on the one hand, and requirements for conserving nature in these selected areas, on the other.  Details of these conservation areas are provided in the website of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of my Department at https://www.npws.ie/protected-sites.  My Department has also a role in relation to the conservation of habitats and species under the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 and the Wildlife Acts 2016 to 2018. 

As outlined in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 777 of 25 June 2019, there is a facility under Section 42 of the Wildlife Acts whereby permission may be obtained on a case by case basis, to prevent serious damage caused by certain animals and species and such damage could include damage to other fauna.

Wildlife Rangers

Questions (972)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

972. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question No. 777 of 25 June 2019, if wildlife rangers have raised the issue of the negative impacts of urban seagulls on other fauna or reported same to her Department in relation to St. Stephen's Green and or Marlay Park. [31227/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

Officials of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department have not raised any such issues.