Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (274, 275)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

274. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the number of individual performers who received employment through the live performance support scheme (details supplied). [7221/21]

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Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

275. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if a report will be produced on the success or otherwise of the live performance support scheme before the scheme is implemented again; when such a report will be completed and published; and when a decision will be made on the continuation of the scheme. [7222/21]

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Written answers (Question to Tourism)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 274 and 275 together.

Over €5 million in funding was provided through the pilot Live Performance Support Scheme (LPSS) to assist commercial venues, producers and promoters to plan live performances across the country, with a total of 59 organisations benefitting from the scheme. The main objective of this pilot scheme was to provide employment opportunities in this uncertain time and allow commercial organisers of live performances to prepare productions for either a live audience or to share content through streaming.

My Department continues to receive very positive feedback in relation to this pilot scheme. Officials in my Department are compiling data in relation to the pilot Live Performance Support Scheme including information relating to performances and these findings will be published shortly. The Deputy should note, however, that the LPSS aimed to provide employment and income to a wide range of creatives, crew and support staff and not just to performers. In fact, performers made up a minority of the people who benefited from the scheme. For example, the Live Venue Collective received 23 of the 59 grants, published a post event report. The Report showed that of 2,110 people who were engaged to work, 655 were artists. The Report which lists all of the participating artists and bands is available at the following link:

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5f8da465d3ff107278a2df78/t/6016c586264e010802345ab0/1612105148938/LVC_Post+Event+Report_FINAL.pdf.

An allocation of €50 million was made in Budget 2021 for the live performance sector. It is intended that the rollout of the funding would include measures that will build on grant schemes launched under the July stimulus, such as the pilot Live Performance Support Scheme and the Music Industry Support Package. Officials have gained valuable insights from these schemes and will apply these learnings when allocating funding this year. Other measures are also under consideration including those which have emerged from engagement with the sector and with stakeholders. This engagement is ongoing and it is hoped that further details and decisions will be announced shortly.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (276)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

276. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media her plans to provide long-awaited supports for artists, musicians and events workers who have benefited neither from the Covid restrictions support scheme as they are without premises nor from the selective and competitive live performance support scheme which depends on an easing of Covid-19 restrictions; and the way in which these workers that are without supports since March 2020 are expected to pay mortgages, loans and bills. [7223/21]

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Written answers (Question to Tourism)

An allocation of €50 million was made in Budget 2021 for the live performance sector. It is intended that the rollout of the funding would include measures that will build on grant schemes launched under the July stimulus, such as the pilot "Live Performance Support Scheme" and the "Music Industry Support Package".

Over €5 million in funding was provided through the pilot "Live Performance Support Scheme" to assist commercial venues, producers and promoters to plan live performances across the country, with a total of 59 organisations benefiting from the scheme. The main objective of the pilot scheme was to provide employment opportunities in this uncertain time and allow commercial organisers of live performances to prepare productions for either a live audience or to share content through streaming.

Officials have gained valuable insights from these schemes and will apply these learnings when allocating funding this year. The operation of the pilot Live Performance Support Scheme clearly demonstrated the versatility of the live entertainment sectors and particularly showed that staging high quality live entertainment does not depend on an easing of Covid-19 restrictions. Since mid-November throughout the Christmas period, and continuing even now, the scheme has provided a pipeline of streamed live performances. On 31 January the Landmark Production of Happy Days was streamed live to theatre lovers in Ireland and across the world from the Olympia Theatre. This week can I invite the Deputy to watch Aslan live from the Irish National Event Centre by tuning into the Live At The INEC series every Monday at RTÉ Culture.

Other measures are also under consideration including those which have emerged from engagement with the sector and with stakeholders. This engagement is ongoing and it is hoped that further details and decisions will be announced shortly.

Under the current Level 5 restrictions supports such as the PUP and the CRSS will continue to be made available to those impacted. Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is also available to help maintain people in jobs. Further details of the range of government supports available to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis can be viewed at the following link - https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/Government-supports-to-COVID-19-impacted-businesses.html.

Cruinnithe an Aire

Questions (277)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

277. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Turasóireachta, Cultúir, Ealaíon, Gaeltachta, Spóirt agus Meán an ndéanfaidh sí na daoine a bhí i láthair ag na cruinnithe ar Shráid Chill Dara atá luaite ar dhialann an Aire Stáit don 5 Lúnasa agus 11 Lúnasa 2020 faoi na teidil Gaeltacht meetings etc agus Gaeltacht meetings, agus miontuairiscí na gcruinnithe sin a lua, agus ar bhain na cruinnithe sin le hoifigigh inmheánacha sa Roinn amháin nó le haon ghrúpaí nó eagraíochtaí seachtracha eile, agus na grúpaí sin a lua má bhain. [7267/21]

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Written answers (Question to Tourism)

Ba mhaith liom a chuir in iúl don Teachta gur cruinnithe inmheánacha Gaeltachta le hoifigigh iad an dá chruinniú an 5 agus 11 Lúnasa, 2020.

Cruinnithe an Aire

Questions (278)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

278. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Turasóireachta, Cultúir, Ealaíon, Gaeltachta, Spóirt agus Meán cé a bhí i gceist le MNH atá luaite ar dhialann an Aire Stáit agus a bhaineann le cruinniú ar 9 a.m. an 9 Deireadh Fómhair 2020. [7268/21]

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Written answers (Question to Tourism)

Cruinniú dáilcheantair a bhí an chruinniú MNH i mo dhialann agus ní raibh baint aige le mo ról mar Aire Stáit.

Cruinnithe an Aire

Questions (279)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

279. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Turasóireachta, Cultúir, Ealaíon, Gaeltachta, Spóirt agus Meán an sonróidh sí liosta de na heagraíochtaí go léir, idir chomhlachtaí poiblí agus eagraíochtaí deonacha, lenar bhuail an tAire nó an tAire Stáit chun plé a dhéanamh ar chúrsaí Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta ó ceapadh iad sna hoifigí sin suas go dtí an lá inniu. [7269/21]

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Written answers (Question to Tourism)

Thug an tAire Catherine Martin agus mé féin faoinár ndialanna a fhoilsiú de réir an Achta um Shaoráil Faisnéise agus de réir an Achta um Chosaint Sonraí.

Bíonn dialanna na hAirí ar fáil ar suíomh Gréasáin na Roinne.

Is féidir teacht orthu anseo https://www.gov.ie/ga/eolas-eagraiochtai/32666-dialann-na-nairi/.

Cruinnithe an Aire

Questions (280)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

280. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Turasóireachta, Cultúir, Ealaíon, Gaeltachta, Spóirt agus Meán an sonróidh sí liosta de na heagraíochtaí go léir, idir chomhlachtaí poiblí agus eagraíochtaí deonacha, lenar bhuail an tAire nó an tAire Stáit chun plé a dhéanamh ar chúrsaí spóirt ó ceapadh iad sna hoifigí sin suas go dtí an lá inniu. [7270/21]

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Written answers (Question to Tourism)

Thug an tAire Catherine Martin agus mé féin faoinár ndialanna a fhoilsiú de réir an Achta um Shaoráil Faisnéise agus de réir an Achta um Chosaint Sonraí.

Bíonn dialanna na hAirí ar fáil ar suíomh Gréasáin na Roinne.

Is féidir teacht orthu anseo https://www.gov.ie/ga/eolas-eagraiochtai/32666-dialann-na-nairi/.

Cruinnithe an Aire

Questions (281)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

281. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Turasóireachta, Cultúir, Ealaíon, Gaeltachta, Spóirt agus Meán ar labhair sí nó an tAire Stáit riamh leis an Aire Sláinte faoin ndroch-thionchar a bhí agus atá ag ráig Covid-19 ar phobal na Gaeltachta, agus an ndéanfaidh sí sonraí a thabhairt dúinn faoi aon chruinniú nó comhrá faoin méid sin. [7271/21]

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Written answers (Question to Tourism)

Is rí-mhinic a bhíonn plé ag bord an Rialtais maidir le cúrsaí COVID-19 agus an tionchar atá aige ar phobal na hÉireann i gcoitinne, pobal na Gaeltachta san áireamh.

Aithníonn an Rialtas gur tréimhse dhúshlánach í seo do phobal na tíre trí chéile agus go bhfuil tionchar á imirt ag COVID-19 ar gach éinne.

Mar is eol don Teachta, tá roinnt tacaíochtaí curtha ar fáil ag mo Roinn ó thús na paindéime chun cuidiú leis na hearnálacha a thagann faoi scáth na Roinne.

Cuireadh ciste éigeandála ar fáil an samhradh seo caite chun tacú le cobhsú earnáil na gcoláistí samhraidh Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht. Faoin gciste cobhsaithe, íocadh thart ar €2.7m le húdaráis na gcoláistí le cur ar a gcumas táillí/éarlais a aisíoc le tuismitheoirí, agus íocadh thart ar €1.6m leis an 700 teaghlach Gaeltachta atá cláraithe faoi scéim na Roinne.

Maidir leis an tréimhse seo romhainn, tá sé idir dhá cheann na meá an mbeifear in ann dul ar aghaidh le cúrsaí an samhradh seo. Chuige sin, tá go leor oibre ar bun ag mo Roinn in éineacht le páirtithe leasmhara, lena n-áirítear an Roinn Oideachais, na húdaráis sláinte agus scáthghrúpa na gcoláistí samhraidh, CONCOS, chun treoirlínte COVID-19 a ullhmú do na coláistí samhraidh.

Mar is eol don Teachta, fógraíodh €14.8m breise d’earnáil na Gaeilge agus na Gaeltachta sa cháinaisnéis don bhliain seo agus ciallaíonn sé sin go bhfuil maoiniú iomlán d'os cionn €78m ar fáil anois d’earnáil na Gaeilge agus na Gaeltachta in 2021.

Leis an gcistíocht bhreise seo, beidh mo Roinn féin, Foras na Gaeilge agus Údarás na Gaeltachta in ann níos mó airgid a dháileadh ar ghrúpaí pobail ar fud an oileáin a bhfuil obair den scoth ar bun acu ar son na teanga.

Chomh maith leis sin, cheadaigh an Rialtas maoiniú breise don Roinn seo mar chuid den Phlean Spreagtha Post i mí Iúil 2020, ina raibh soláthar caipitil €8m breise d'Údarás na Gaeltachta in 2020 chun uasghrádú riachtanach a dhéanamh ar a stoc foirgneamh agus ar chórais chóireála uisce.

Tá measúnacht déanta ag mo Roinn ar thionchar an Bhreatimeachta agus COVID-19 ar Údarás na Gaeltachta agus ar a chliantchuideachtaí. Chuige sin, tá maoiniú breise €8.1m san iomlán ceadaithe d'Údarás na Gaeltachta in 2021 mar seo a leanas:

- €4.45m breise in airgead caipitil á chur ar fáil d’Údarás na Gaeltachta chun fostaíochta a chruthú agus chun cliaint-chomhlachtaí an Údaráis a chosaint ón mBreatimeacht agus ón bpaindéim;

- beagnach €3m eile á chur isteach i mbuiséad riaracháin an Údaráis. Saoróidh sé seo airgead a ghinneann an tÚdarás óna chuid acmhainní féin le caitheamh ar obair fhorbartha pobail agus teanga agus ar chothabháil maoine, rud atá éilithe ag an eagraíocht le blianta beaga anuas.

- allúntas breise de €700,000 a chur ar fáil don Údarás le cur i dtreo obair na gcomharchumann Ghaeltachta agus forbairt óige, luathbhlianta agus na n-ealaíon sa Ghaeltacht de réir mar a aithnítear na tosaíochtaí.

Maidir leis an gcistíocht bhreise do mo Roinn féin, lena n-áirítear an Clár Tacaíochtaí Pobail agus Teanga, mar aon leis an bpróiseas pleanála teanga agus Foras na Gaeilge, tá airgead ceadaithe mar seo a leanas:

- beagnach €2.4m breise á chur isteach i Scéimeanna Tacaíochta Gaeilge na Roinne.

- beagnach €1.8m breise á chur isteach i gcomhoibriú thuaidh-theas a thabharfaidh an chéad ardú san allúntas d’Fhoras na Gaeilge ó 2016; agus,

- €1.3m breise ar fáil don phróiseas pleanála teanga chun tacú leis na pobail éagsúla taobh istigh agus taobh amuigh den Gaeltacht a gcuid pleananna a chur i bhfeidhm agus a ullmhú de réir mar a bhaineann, chomh maith le roinnt bearta ar leas an phróisis a mhaoiniú ar bhonn lárnach.

Is fiú a nótáil chomh maith go bhfuil €3.5m breise ó allúntas na Roinne do na Meáin ag dul go TG4, rud a chuirfidh go mór le cur i bhfeidhm ghealltanais atá sonraithe sa Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge.

Anuas air seo uile, tá cliaint-chomhlachtaí de chuid Údarás na Gaeltachta agus comhlachtaí Gaeltachta i gcoitinne in ann tairbhe a bhaint as bearta náisiúnta eile chun dul i ngleic leis an mBreatimeacht agus COVID-19. San áireamh leis seo, mar a fógraíodh sa Bhuiséad, tá an Ciste Tacaíochta um Shrianta COVID-19.

Wildlife Control

Questions (282)

Patricia Ryan

Question:

282. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if the derogation that allows the shooting of wood pigeons causing damage to crops will be extended beyond April 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6800/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I refer the Deputy to the reply to Question No 288 of 3 February 2021.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (283, 288, 289, 310, 311)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

283. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he will address a matter raised in correspondence (details supplied). [6332/21]

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Seán Canney

Question:

288. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the rationale for allowing social housing sites to remain open; if he will consider reopening private housing estates to allow private and social houses to be classified as essential; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6447/21]

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Seán Canney

Question:

289. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he will allow construction work to recommence on improvement works supported through the housing aid for older people, mobility aid and housing adaptation grants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6449/21]

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Thomas Gould

Question:

310. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if financial support is available to those who have had renovations or house builds delayed due to Covid-19 restrictions and have incurred additional financial delays due to same such as extended renting. [6585/21]

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Thomas Gould

Question:

311. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if consideration will be given to those renovating single properties who are unable to occupy the properties due to the continued construction and renovation on the properties under current Covid-19 restrictions. [6586/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 283, 288, 289, 310 and 311 together.

The Government announced that additional public health restrictions would apply under Level 5 of the Plan for Living with COVID-19 on 6 January 2021. The additional restrictions required all construction activity to cease from 6pm on Friday 8 January, with a number of exceptions. These measures are set out in the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No. 10) Regulations 2020 (as amended).

These exemptions included certain social housing developments which meet criteria outlined in the regulations and for housing adaptation grants where the person in respect of whom the grant is payable consents to such works of adaptation being undertaken in his or her home.

With regard to private housing development, the Regulations provide that housing and construction works ongoing on 8 January could continue where the works required to render the property capable of occupation were scheduled for completion by 31 January 2021

On 26 January, the Government announced that the current level 5 restrictions will remain until 5 March 2021. Accordingly, no extension has been provided beyond 31 January in respect of private housing development. These restrictions on construction will remain in place until 5 March.

Housing Policy

Questions (284)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

284. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the policy he is following with respect to social integration of housing; if that applies to new housing estates that are being part or wholly long leased for 25 years by local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6351/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Sustainable communities are created in neighbourhoods where an efficient use of land, high quality urban design and effective integration with the physical and social infrastructure such as public transport, schools, amenities and other facilities combine to create places people want to live in. Additional features of sustainable communities include:

- compact, energy efficient and high quality urban development;

- tenure mix with a wide range of accommodation types;

- accessibility via public transport networks and also meeting the needs of the pedestrian and cyclist; and

- provision of a good range of amenities and services within easy and safe walking distance of homes.

These policies were adopted by the Department in its 2007 publication "Delivering Homes Sustaining Communities" and confirmed in the subsequent 2014 document "Social Housing Strategy 2020".

Subject to limited exemptions for projects of 4 dwellings or less, all leasing proposals are submitted to my Department by local authorities for review and to ensure that the project complies with the terms of the relevant leasing scheme; that there are sufficient funds available; and that the project is sustainable in the long-term and represents value for money. The local authority is also required to examine the proposal and report to my Department that it is suitable to meet housing need in the local area; that the properties comply with relevant standards and regulatory requirements; and that the objectives of the Department’s policy on sustainable communities, as set out above, are being met. Proposals under the Leasing Programme, as with all forms of social housing, must demonstrate that they do not conflict with the mixed dwelling type/mixed tenure dimension of the overall sustainable communities’ objective. This reflects the broad objectives of sustainable communities which are at the heart of the Government's housing policy.

Social and Affordable Housing

Questions (285)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

285. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of housing units that have been leased for social housing since 1 September 2020 to date; the locations of same, in tabular form; the developer in each case; the number of units in each development; the length of time each lease has been agreed for; the cost of each; the number agreed in principle and not as yet finalised, respectively; the locations of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6352/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

To end September 2020, 722 homes were delivered under the Social Housing Leasing Programme in 2020. A breakdown of the delivery by location can be found on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/6060e-overall-social-housing-provision/?referrer=http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision#social-housing-current-expenditure-programme-shcep.

Leasing delivery data for Q4 2020 is being collated at present and will be published as soon as that process is finalised. Details of the developer involved in each social housing leasing project are not held by my Department. That level of granular detail would be kept at local level.

The total expenditure for leasing up to end 2020, together with the average cost and agreement length of a new unit in 2020, is set out in Table 1 below. There are some further claims due into my Department in respect of 2020 delivery.

Table 1: Leasing Expenditure 2020

Total 2020 Leasing Expenditure

Average Annual Leasing Cost (New Unit) 2020

Average Annual Agreement Length (New Unit) 2020

€78,342,768

€13,389

19.6 years

To date, my Department has approved local authority applications for the delivery of a further 2,864 homes under the leasing delivery stream up to end 2022. This figure includes homes that were approved, and due for delivery in Q4 2020, but have not yet been confirmed as delivered as part of the Department's quarterly statistical process. Additional homes may be delivered through the delegated sanction allowed to each local authority. A breakdown by Local Authority can be found in Table 2 below.

Table 2: Approved for Delivery under Leasing from Q4 2020 to End 2022

-

Total Leasing

Carlow

37

Cavan

18

Clare

41

Cork City

246

Cork County

71

DLR

191

Donegal

20

Dublin City

563

Fingal

132

Galway City

15

Galway County

49

Kerry

27

Kildare

330

Kilkenny

29

Laois

30

Leitrim

11

Limerick

119

Longford

15

Louth

97

Mayo

39

Meath

85

Monaghan

14

Offaly

57

Roscommon

13

Sligo

16

South Dublin

274

Tipperary

49

Waterford

42

Westmeath

57

Wexford

41

Wicklow

136

Total

2,864

Water Quality

Questions (286)

Martin Browne

Question:

286. Deputy Martin Browne asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a boil water notice has been in place in the villages of Golden, Kilfeacle and Thomastown in County Tipperary for almost 12 months; and the measures taken to ensure that a usable water supply is returned as soon as possible without further delay. [6401/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Since 1 January 2014, Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of water services planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local levels and the Minister has no function in relation to this matter, under section 7 of the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013.

Furthermore, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as environmental regulator, is responsible for setting quality standards and enforcing compliance with EU Directives and national regulations for the provision of drinking water.

However, from enquiries which my Department has made with Irish Water, I understand that a precautionary Boil Water Notice for the area supplied by the Galtee Regional Water Supply Scheme was issued following consultation between Irish Water, Tipperary County Council and the Health Service Executive (HSE). The notice was issued after scheduled network testing identified low chlorine levels in an area between Kilfeacle, Golden and Thomastown.

Remedial works carried out to date have enabled the removal of approximately 40 properties between Tipperary Town and Golden from the Boil Water Notice. Works are still ongoing to ensure an appropriate level of chlorine remains in the water to maintain disinfection of the supply for the remaining customers affected by this notice including the installation of additional flush valves on the network and a chlorine dosing system. A programme of flushing in the network to improve circulation of flows in this area is also continuing.

Irish Water and Tipperary County Council are continuing to work as a matter of priority to resolve this issue and in addition to the short-term remedial actions noted above, are progressing with the design of a longer term solution that would involve the replacement of a length of water main along the N74 between Kilfeakle and Thomastown.

In the meantime, the water quality will continue to be monitored to determine if the remedial measures have been successful. Once the monitoring results verify the satisfactory residual chlorine levels and that drinking water quality is in compliance with the Drinking Water Regulations, then Irish Water will consult with the HSE to determine whether the Boil Water Notice can be lifted.

It may be helpful to note that Irish Water has established a dedicated team to deal with representations and queries from public representatives. The team can be contacted via email to oireachtasmembers@water.ie or by telephone on a dedicated number, 1890 578 578.

Planning Issues

Questions Nos. 288 and 289 answered with Question No. 283.

Questions (287)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

287. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if consideration will be given to extending the observation period for planning applications for SHD during Covid-19 (details supplied). [6433/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The planning system continues to operate during the current Covid Level 5 restrictions subject to appropriate safety protocols and services operating online where feasible.

For the purpose of giving legal effect to the current Level 5 restrictions announced by the Government, new Regulations have been made by the Minister for Health entitled the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No. 10) (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2021 (S.I. No. 29 of 2021) which will continue in operation until 5 March 2021. These Regulations classify "statutory planning system activities, insofar as they cannot be carried out remotely" as an “essential service”, as specified at paragraph 14, Part 2 of the Schedule to the Regulations concerning public administration, emergency services and defence. This enables the staff of planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála to travel to and from their offices as may be required for the performance of their statutory functions. It also enables such staff to perform related statutory functions including site visits and inspections as well as enforcement activity subject to public health and social distancing requirements.

In addition, for the purpose of facilitating continued public participation in the planning process during the Level 5 restrictions, regulation 4(1) of the above Regulations provides that an applicable person shall not leave his or her place of resident without reasonable excuse. Regulation 4(2) in this regard provides that such reasonable excuse includes the possibility to attend the offices of a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála to engage in a statutory planning process (including making or inspecting a planning application or appeal, making an observation or submission, or participating in a Development Plan process) or to inspect a site notice. The foregoing arrangements enabling planning authority staff to perform their statutory functions and facilitating continued public participation in the planning process have enabled the planning system to remain open for business to the extent possible during the current restrictions.

An Bord Pleanála (the Board) introduced an on-line facility to accept public observations relating to planning applications for Strategic Housing Developments and the associated required fee in November 2020 and this facility is currently in operation for those cases only. The Board intends to use its experience with this initial pilot project to inform its development of similar facilities for other case types, including other strategic infrastructure development cases and planning appeals, and it is intended to advance these during the current year. Details of the pilot project arrangements are available on the Board’s website at www.pleanala.ie.

The Board is also currently in the process of finalising the development of a new upgraded website which will be more user-friendly and informative. The new website is currently scheduled to go live before the end of Quarter 1 2021. This will further help to improve communications and interaction between An Bord Pleanála and the public.

My Department, in consultation with the County and City Management Association, continues to monitor the ongoing situation in planning authorities across the country and is keeping the situation under review.

Questions Nos. 288 and 289 answered with Question No. 283.

Coastal Protection

Questions (290)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

290. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of times the national coastal change management strategy steering group has met since its first meeting was held in late August, early September 2020; the exact dates of each meeting; the list of attendees for each meeting; the bodies or agencies they represent; the items discussed at each meeting; the decisions made; the target date for the group to deliver its initial findings to him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6453/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The National Coastal Change Management Strategy Steering Group is jointly chaired by my Department and the Office of Public Works (OPW). The Group is comprised of senior officials from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Met Éireann, and the County and City Management Association. The Group met for the first time on 3 September 2020.

Further to the meeting of the Steering Group in September, a technical working group has also been established under the stewardship of the OPW. The work of this group has focused on the identification and initial analysis of data sources, to underpin the work of the Steering Group.

Since the initial meeting in September, the work of the Steering Group is being progressed through a series of bilateral meetings to scope out the extent of the issues, including, inter alia, the threats and effects of coastal change as they relate to the remit of the individual Steering Group members and the wider stakeholders. At this stage of the process these bilateral engagements are considered to be the most effective approach to progressing the scoping work prior to reconvening the Group. This phase of the work is currently being finalised and I understand that the Steering Group will reconvene in the coming weeks to build further on the progress made with a view to initial reporting to Government as soon as possible.

Planning Guidelines

Questions (291)

Dara Calleary

Question:

291. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the exact legislative guidance for local authorities on the status of live planning applications when a new county development plan comes into effect; if applications will be adjudicated on the old or new development plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6509/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Section 34(2)(a) of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (the Act), provides that when making its decision on a planning application, the planning authority shall be restricted to considering the proper planning and sustainable development of the area having regard to the provisions of the local development plan as well as a number of other factors including any guidelines issued by the Minister under section 28 of the Act, the policy of the Government, the Minister or any other Minister of the Government.

A development plan made under section 12 of the Act shall have effect 6 weeks from the day that it is made. Where a proposed development would contravene materially the development plan or local area plan, a planning authority may, notwithstanding any other provision of the Act, decide to grant permission through the prescribed process set out in section 34(6) of the Act. This process includes placing a notice in at least one daily newspaper circulating in the area of any proposed material contravention of a plan, notifying prescribed parties of any such proposal, offering them and the public the opportunity to make submissions on the proposal within 4 weeks of the notice or notification, the preparation of a report by the Chief Executive on the proposed material contravention taking into account any submissions received and ultimately, the adoption of a resolution by the elected members approving the proposal of the Chief Executive to grant permission.

Housing Issues

Questions (292)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

292. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he will commission the Housing Agency or another appropriate body to undertake a comparative study of housing and apartment construction and professional fee costs in the public and private sector to determine the reason for the recent significant increase in costs in a number of social housing tenders in Dublin City Council. [6510/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department assesses, approves and records local authority social housing delivery costs for each project submitted for funding approval. As part of this process submitted costs are reviewed, taking cognisance of the particular circumstances of each project and the context of the overall housing need. On occasion, tender approval has been withheld by my Department or only a reduced budget approved, where costs were at a level which could not be justified.

As SHIP-funded construction projects by local authorities must, like all publicly-funded construction programmes, comply with the Public Spending Code and Capital Works Management Framework, my Department periodically issues Unit Cost Ceilings (UCCs) for each local authority area, for use as a key benchmark for the development and costing of scheme designs at capital appraisal stage.

To monitor tender cost trends and to inform the UCC levels, my Department analyses the tender data for the construction cost element of new build schemes approved under the SHIP and CAS four stage pre-construction process as well as the purchase costs for turnkey and Part V projects at final approval stage for each unit type, where sufficient information is available to allow such costs to be extrapolated and where the information available is appropriate for comparison purposes.

My Department have recently undertaken a high level analysis of tender price construction costs for social housing over the period 2017 to 2020. This analysis provides the average unit cost for construction.

Following a recent report from Dublin City Council (DCC) Housing Department on average costs my Department have engaged with it in relation to the points it has made on tender prices in respect of a selection of recent tender competitions run by them. An exercise is on-going with DCC to ensure that costs it used for analysis and reporting align with the approved funding budgets provided by my Department.

My Department intends to engage with the SCSI to further review issues raised in the recently published SCSI report on apartment delivery costs.