Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014: Second Stage

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I welcome the opportunity to introduce Second Stage of the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014. The Bill provides for a number of important legislative amendments, corrections and updates to a range of policy areas across the environmental field and is important in introducing new streamlined procedures that will help to reduce the administrative burden on enforcing authorities, as well as companies and individuals. It also provides for a more responsive system to changing environmental pressures and priorities.

This included provision for fixed payment notices - or on-the-spot fines - for certain alleged offences under existing environmental regulations. Fixed payment notices have proved an effective deterrent against breaches of environmental regulation. They also provide local authorities with an additional enforcement tool that is less costly and resource-intensive than prosecutions in the Circuit and District courts, especially for relatively small-scale offences. The Bill also proposes to extend regulation-making powers providing for payments to the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, for areas that are generating a large volume of work and providing a significant service to industry while not currently generating any fee income. These amendments will strengthen the agency's own income strand.

The Bill makes provision for several items, the first being the transfer of powers and functions under the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park Act to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. In effect this will transfer ownership of the core of Killarney National Park to the Department of the Minister, Deputy Heather Humphreys. Second, it provides for the reinstatement of existing fixed payment notices, FPNs, for certain offences relating to the marketing, sale and distribution of solid fuel by referring to the updated consolidating regulations, namely, SI 326 of 2012. Third, it provides for the extension of FPNs to a range of other existing offences in the areas of air quality and waste management, in particular with regard to waste electrical and electronic equipment, WEEE, batteries, waste packaging and end-of-life vehicles. Fourth, it extends the scope of the EPA to impose licensing fees for new and expanding areas. Fifth, it extends the deadline for the making of a declaration of non-use in the case of registration of a new vehicle and on change of ownership of a vehicle and sixth, it amends some minor typographical errors in existing primary legislation.

There are 35 heads in the published Bill and my Department has worked closely with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel to advance the Bill for publication. Legal advice was received from advisory counsel on several heads and in particular on the conditions that allow for the application of fixed payment notices to certain offences. The Bill is divided into seven parts. Part 1 deals with preliminary and general matters. Part 2 covers the amendments to the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park Act 1932. Part 3 addresses amendments to the Air Pollution Act 1987. Part 4 deals with amendments to the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992. Part 5 covers amendments to the Finance (No. 2) Act 1992. Part 6 provides for amendments to the Waste Management Act 1996. Part 7 deals with amendments to the Dog Breeding Establishments Act 2010 and the Control of Dogs Act 1986.

I will now give Members a more detailed overview of the Bill. Part 1 is a preliminary and general part and contains two sections. Section 1 sets out the Short Title of the Bill on enactment and allows the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park Acts 1932 and 2014 to be construed together as one Act. Section 2 defines the use of key terms and phrases upon enactment.

Part 2 concerns amendment of the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park Act 1932. It deals with the transfer of functions under the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park Act 1932 from the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. In so doing, it provides specifically for the transfer of ownership of the property forming the park. Part 2 consists of four chapters. Chapter 1 consists of one section, section 3, which defines key terms the use of which is specific to Part 2. Chapter 2 consists of two sections. Section 4 provides that the functions identified in it will, on the commencement of Part 2 in its entirety, transfer from the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The functions that will so transfer include all those functions which, under the 1932 Act, were exercisable by the Commissioners of Public Works.

The transferred functions will also include most of the functions which, under the 1932 Act, were exercisable by the Minister for Finance. One function under section 3(2) of the 1932 Act relating to the disposal of moneys received under the Act, which is currently vested in the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, will remain with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. Section 5 clarifies that references to any Minister or to the Commissioners of Public Works contained in any other enactment and relating to functions transferred by section 4 will mean the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Chapter 3 consists of four sections which deal with matters consequent on the transfer of functions brought about by chapter 2. Section 6 provides that all the property currently vested in the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government under the 1932 Act will transfer to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Section 7 provides for the transfer of rights and liabilities arising from the exercise of the transferred functions and for the continuation of leases, licences and permissions granted under the transferred functions. Section 8 clarifies that following the transfer of functions, a claim for loss or injury arising out of the exercise before that transfer of any of those functions will lie against the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Section 9 contains a number of miscellaneous provisions intended to ensure continuity in the management of the park following the transfer of functions.

Chapter 4 consists of seven sections that amend the 1932 Act. For the most part, these amendments are intended to revise the 1932 Act to ensure clarity that there will be one statutory authority managing the park, namely, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The 1932 Act, as enacted, provided for some functions to be exercisable by the Minister for Finance and others to be exercisable by the Commissioners of Public Works. The management of the park by the commissioners was subject to the general directions of the Minister for Finance and certain other functions required specific ministerial sanction or approval. It is important to understand that the commissioners have not been involved in the exercise of any of these functions since 1996 and they all have been exercised as ministerial functions since that time.

Section 10 amends section 3 of the 1932 Act, concerning expenses and receipts, by inserting a requirement that expenses incurred in the administration of the Act be sanctioned by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. This brings the section into line with current standard procedures. Section 11 amends section 11 of the 1932 Act to remove the redundant requirement that management and control of the park be carried out in accordance with the general directions of the Minister. It is appropriate to do this, given that the management of the park is now a ministerial function. Section 12 amends section 12 of the 1932 Act by deleting the reference to ministerial sanction regarding aspects of the management of the park, such management now being a ministerial function.

Section 13 amends section 13 of the 1932 Act by deleting requirements for ministerial approval and sanction in respect of appointments made under the Act, as the making of such appointments is now a ministerial function. Section 14 amends section 14 of the 1932 Act by deleting the requirement for by-laws made in respect of the park to be approved by the Minister, given that the making of such by-laws is now a ministerial function anyway. Section 15 amends section 21 of the 1932 Act by deleting requirements for ministerial sanction in respect of aspects of the management of the chattels, that is, personal property, acquired under the 1932 Act. As with previous amendments, the management of this property is now a ministerial function. Finally, section 16 repeals section 20 of the 1932 Act. Section 20 provides that the management of the chattels acquired under the 1932 Act would be carried out in accordance with the general directions of the Minister. This is no longer necessary as such management is now a ministerial function.

Part 3 deals with amendments to the Air Pollution Act 1987. Section 17 inserts a new definition for the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, established in 1992, some five years after the Air Pollution Act had been given effect. The agency has an integral role in air quality monitoring, air pollution prevention and control, as well as enforcement. Definitions are also inserted in the section relating to fuels registers and activities. The EPA already maintains registers for certain upstream activities in the supply of bituminous coal - smoky coal - for the residential heating market.

Section 18 amends the penalties provision in the Act with regard to fixed payment notices, or on-the-spot fines, for alleged breaches of certain designated offences. This amendment will remove the option for indictable prosecutions against fixed payment notice offences.

Section 19 sets out fixed payment notice offences for alleged breaches of the Air Pollution Act (Marketing, Sale, Distribution and Burning of Specified Fuels) Regulations 2012, SI No. 326 of 2012. The regulations provide for the ban on the marketing, sale, distribution and burning of bituminous coal inside certain designated areas - the smoky coal ban as it is more commonly known. There are 26 areas where the ban applies, including all urban areas with populations greater than 15,000. The amounts of the fixed payment notices range from €250 to €1,000. The offences relate to the distribution and-or sale of bituminous coal and other prohibited fuels within ban areas. These fixed payment notice offences were previously provided for under section 10 of the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011. However, the regulations have since been consolidated. This requires references to the fixed payment notice offences to be updated accordingly. It is important to note that no new fixed payment notice offences relating to solid fuel are being introduced. However, fixed payment notices have proved to be resource-efficient enforcement tools, as well as effective deterrents. As such, the EPA has recommended extending fixed payment notices to other areas relating to the wider protection of air quality.

Section 20 introduces two new fixed payment notice offences under the European Union (Paints, Varnishes, Vehicle Refinishing Products and Activities) Regulations 2012, SI No. 564 of 2012. The first offence concerns the sale or supply of prohibited paint products and the amount of the fixed payment notice is €1,000. The second offence concerns the operation of an uncertified vehicle refinishing installation. The amount of the fixed payment notice is €500.

Section 21 introduces a new fixed payment notice for a designated offence under the European Union (Installations and Activities Using Organic Solvents) Regulations 2012, SI No. 565 of 2012. The offence concerns the operation of an uncertified solvents installation and the amount of the fixed payment notice is €500.

Section 22 amends the powers of authorised persons under the Air Pollution Act. As certain activities regulated under the Act such as the distribution of solid fuel are carried out from vehicles, the powers of authorised persons are being strengthened to allow for the stopping and searching of such vehicles.

Section 23 introduces a new Part 1A to the Act that provides a legal basis for the EPA to establish and maintain a fuels register. The persons and activities required to register with the agency will be set out separately by way of regulation. The EPA already maintains registers of coal bagging operators and certain upstream solid fuel suppliers trading in bituminous coal under the Environmental Protection Agency Act (Registration of Coal Bagging Operators and Solid Fuel Suppliers) Regulations 2012, SI No. 454 of 2012. Persons supplying bituminous coal to the residential market are required to demonstrate that their product contains no more than 0.7% sulphur content and to be registered with the EPA. The Bill’s provisions will strengthen and clarify existing provisions relating to registration, in particular the circumstances in which the agency can refuse or revoke registration, as well as provide for an appeals procedure relating to such decisions.

Section 24 will replace An Bord Pleanála with the EPA as the appeals body for decisions made by local authorities for the licensing of certain small-scale industrial activities under the Act, given the agency's particular expertise in this area. This will give effect to a recommendation of the independent review of the EPA carried out in 2011.

Section 25 amends and clarifies the scope of the regulation making powers of the Minister under section 53 of the Act. This will allow for the regulation of the storage of fuel alongside the existing powers to regulate for the placing on the market, distribution or sale of fuel. Further provisions will provide for the designation of persons involved in commercial fuel activities who are required to be registered with the EPA, the conditions that must be satisfied prior to registration and allow for the charging of fees relating to registration. The activities envisaged all relate to the supply of solid fuel, in particular bituminous coal.

Part 4 amends the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 to extend the fees base of the EPA. On the matter of environmental licensing fees, the EPA provides several licensing services without charge as it does not have the statutory authority to levy an appropriate fee. In many cases, work to assess and license these activities can be resource and time-consuming, as well as costly. These costs are often borne by other revenue generating activities carried out by the agency, which is inappropriate. The proposed amendment of section 99A of the 1992 Act will extend the powers of the Minister to make fee regulations in respect of these EPA services. Such regulations will also require the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

It is also proposed to make required minor technical amendments to the 1992 Act following transposition of the Industrial Emissions Directive 2010/75/EU. Section 26 proposes to extend the definition of an integrated pollution control activity to include the industrial processes involved in certain wood-based production systems.

Section 27 proposes to extend the application of section 82A(5)(e) of the 1992 Act to independently operated wastewater treatment activities in compliance with the terms of the industrial emissions directive. The effect of this amendment is to underpin the requirement that, with effect from 7 July 2015, operators of independently operated wastewater treatment plants must hold the appropriate licence from the EPA.

Section 28 proposes to amend section 99A of the 1992 Act which empowers the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to make regulations providing for the payment of fees in respect of a range of environmental licensing services. The proposed amendment will allow the Minister to make regulations to set charges for the licence reviews instigated by the EPA - licence reviews necessitated following publication of a decision by the European Commission on best available techniques, BAT, conclusions under the industrial emissions directive; licence reviews, instigated by the EPA, in response to improved environmental protections, safety concerns, legislative change or substantial changes in the nature or extent of emissions or the local environment; licence reviews, in specified circumstances, of licences issued in respect of air, water or noise pollution; where new environmental standards are prescribed; and to make technical amendments under section 96 of the 1992 Act.

The proposed amendment will require the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to obtain the consent of the Ministers for Public Expenditure and Reform and Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation before making the aforementioned fees regulations. The proposed amendment within this section will empower the EPA to pursue fees owing as a simple contract debt before an appropriate court.

Section 29 proposes to amend the First Schedule to the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992. The First Schedule defines industrial activities as either "industrial emissions directive" activities or "integrated pollution control activities" for licensing purposes. The effect of the proposed amendment will be to refine further certain definitions to ensure full compliance with the terms of the Industrial Emissions Directive.

Part 5, Sections 30 and 31, contain two amendments to the Finance (No. 2) Act 1992, which provides for the making of a declaration of non-use of a motor vehicle. Amendments to the 1992 Act were made last year in the Non-Use of Motor Vehicles Act 2013 to introduce a system of prospective declarations if a vehicle is temporarily not being used in a public place. This was intended to replace procedures which had allowed non-use to be declared after the fact, which was unverifiable, and which were estimated as leading to losses of some €50 million annually.

The new system has, in general, been working well. In 2014, revenue, at €1.159 billion, was up €41 million on 2013, despite the fact that there had been no increase in motor tax since the new measures took effect, and where losses of the order of €20 million would otherwise have been expected given the ongoing changeover of the car fleet to the CO2-based system which carries a lower average car tax. However, under the new system, owners have ten days from change of ownership or from registration to make a declaration of non-use if it is not intended that the vehicle will be in immediate use. This has proven to be quite a tight deadline, particularly on change of ownership of a vehicle. Accordingly, it is proposed to extend the ten-day deadline to 21 days. While delays are not proving problematic on registration of a new vehicle, it is proposed, for consistency of approach, to apply the same 21 day deadline. These are both minor technical changes intended to provide additional time to allow owners of newly purchased vehicles to comply with the legislation.

Part 6 amends the Waste Management Act 1996. Section 33 inserts a new section 10A in the Waste Management Act to provide for the introduction of a range of fixed payment notices, ranging from €100 to €2,000, in respect of specified offences under regulations concerning producer responsibility initiatives, PRIs. PRIs are based on the producer pays principle and have been developed over a range of waste streams, including waste electrical and electronic equipment, WEEE, batteries, packaging, and end-of-life vehicles, ELVs. There are a range of administrative-type obligations, most of which are required under EU law, in the producer responsibility area, such as registration and reporting requirements. Non-compliance with these provisions represents breaches of national and EU legislation. In such instances, the introduction of fixed payment notices will be a less costly and less resource-intensive enforcement route than initiating court proceedings against the offender and will also serve to build on the successful implementation of the PRI system in Ireland, tackling free riders and increasing compliance at local level.

Under Part 7, section 34 amends the Dog Breeding Establishments Act 2010 by making two minor typographical corrections to existing provisions and clarifying one existing provision. There are no new or changed policies being introduced as a result of the proposed changes, which are intended to simply clarify what is required under the 2010 Act and minimise any policy confusion if these matters were raised as part of a court action. Section 35 amends the Control of Dogs Act 1986 to ensure that establishments which are registered as dog breeding establishments, DBEs, but which are exempt from dog breeding registration fees, do not also have an exemption from paying for a general dog licence fee.

While I appreciate that this Bill proposes to address a wide and diverse range of issues, it is nonetheless an important technical Bill with a number of broad-reaching provisions ranging from the transfer of certain State-owned assets through to measures which will serve to enhance the protection of the environment. I commend the Bill to the House. Go raibh maith agaibh.

I thank the Minister of State for her detailed briefing on the contents of this miscellaneous Bill. For a miscellaneous Bill, there are quite a lot of miscellaneous provisions within it. It appears to be a big tidying effort to adhere, one would imagine, to many EU controls that have been brought to bear on the Department. While one might initially react positively to the thrust of the Bill, when one begins to read into it and analyse exactly what is being proposed, one does so with a note of caution.

The fixed payment notices that deal with air and chemical pollution offences are, of course, a more reasonable and cost-effective means for local authorities to deal with issues that are brought to their attention by the general public for pollution matters and offences, which may be quite obvious, in the areas for which they have jurisdiction. There is no doubt that the costly manner in which these issues were dealt with in the past - trawling through the courts with great cost and great effort on the part of the local authority, often without achieving the desired result - did have to be analysed and examined. It was necessary to find a resolution and a solution that would be more beneficial to the localities in which these issues occur, and that would incur the least cost to local authorities in order for them not to be hamstrung in their efforts to address other issues for which their representatives chase them on a daily basis, considering the mandate they have been given by the public they represent.

I welcome those increased functions and powers being given to local authorities in those areas, but there are some issues I would like to query or question. I hope during the course of Second Stage or on Committee and Report Stages that many of these issues will be expanded upon and more reasoning and explanation will be given. We must be happy that the relevant and appropriate consultation has taken place with the various stakeholders affected by what is proposed within many of the miscellaneous provisions in the Bill.

In the first instance, taking them in the order in which they appeared during the course of the Second Stage speeches, regarding the amendments on the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park Act 1932, which deals with the whole area of Killarney National Park, I seek assurance and guidance from the Department and the Minister in respect of legal issues and overhangs from the abolition of town councils and the transfer of properties to local authorities and the county councils thereafter. I seek assurance that there are no outstanding issues impinging on the ability of local authorities to provide services pertaining to their localities, whether it be in the area of housing and lands that may have been in the ownership of town councils and so forth. I need clarification and confirmation that all issues pertaining to the adequate and appropriate transfer of lands formerly in the ownership of town councils have moved swiftly and effectively into the ownership of local authorities and that there are no constraints attached to or conditions within any mechanism of transfer denying local authorities the capacity to use and maximise the use of those lands and buildings for the provision of services and facilities to the electorate in the respective area. This was brought to my attention by Senator Byrne in respect of issues concerning Navan town council or urban council as a particular example at that time.

I am sure that was replicated throughout the country. As I said, I would appreciate it if the Minister of State took the opportunity, when replying, to clarify that issue.

I refer to the amendments to the Air Pollution Act 1987 and the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 designed to enhance enforcement of the ban on smoky coal within restricted boundaries. The ban on the burning of this coal was recently extended beyond the major cities to the urban centres of Greystones, Letterkenny, Mullingar, Navan, Newbridge, Portlaoise and Wicklow town. What consultation, negotiation or engagement took place with the sectorial interests? In the event of this being enshrined in law, what provisions will be available in terms of fines for failure to comply? If it is not provided for in this legislation, it will be very easy for people to go to areas outside the restricted boundaries to purchase coal. There is nothing wrong with that. It is a free market and it is up to consumers to decide what fuel they use, what they pay for it, where they get it and so on. I see dangers there as there must be uniformity. What engagement has taken place? What concerns were raised? How have these concerns been addressed? Do the provisions cater for what was raised during that process?

The Bill aims to enhance enforcement measures by the EPA by introducing a ban on the marketing, sale and distribution of smoky coal within specified areas. The EPA can introduce a ban on the marketing, sale and distribution of certain forms of coal within specified areas, but not with other areas. That is what is jumping out at me when I read the provisions in the Bill. How that can be the case needs to be clarified.

The Bill also puts the EPA's existing register of smoky coal bagging suppliers on a statutory footing, with the intention of deterring the sourcing of coal from Northern Ireland where lower environmental solid fuel standards apply. What research or what information has been supplied to substantiate those claims? Where is the scientific evidence to substantiate this? What exactly is the difference in standards in the EPA's guidelines as against the guidelines imposed in the North of Ireland? That must be clarified so that we understand exactly the provisions relating to this sector and the implications they have on it. While increased powers for the EPA and the local authorities may be welcome, it is questionable how enforceable this ban is, and will be, in restricted areas.

Individuals willing to flout the ban can simply go outside the ban zones to buy the fuel. This should be uniform across areas to support the monitoring of households and businesses within banned zones to ensure compliance. The onus of responsibility will be placed on local authorities. What is the extent of their resources, in terms of staff and funds, to deal with the extra responsibilities they have been given in this area to carry out what the Minister of State expects them to do appropriately? Have there been consultations with the unions and the managers' association? Have they given a commitment that they can work within the confines of this? Have they given a commitment that they are prepared to stand over the provisions which seek to restrict certain areas but not others? I find it incomprehensible and I expect the Minister of State to elaborate on its workings. Is it a pilot scheme in certain areas? It is quite extensive when one thinks that Greystones, Letterkenny, Mullingar, Navan, Newbridge, Portlaoise, and Wicklow town will be included. What are the thoughts of the specific staff in those areas?

I refer to the regulation of harmful chemicals in paint products. The Bill transposes an EU directive into law to charge persons supplying paint products which supposedly have harmful chemicals in them. How extensive is this among our EU partners? Has this been piloted in other countries? Has it worked successfully? No more than in the area of fuel suppliers, what consultation or engagement has taken place with the paint manufacturing industry and the retail industry which supplies paint throughout the country? What scientific evidence is available to support the EU directive? Could we have examples of where this is in place and how effective it has been? Has this had any harmful effect on that sector, the trade and the stakeholders involved? Have they been given ample time to change the products to adhere to the directive coming down the tracks? The Minister of State said many products in paints are a threat to public health. If that is the case, we welcome this provision but we need to substantiate those claims with proper and adequate expertise in the areas of relevance in order to enforce that point.

I refer to the regulation of vehicle respraying operations. The Minister of State, who comes from a partly rural constituency, knows well, no more than myself, that many small car repair garages are located at the back of houses. They carry out an effective and appropriate service in their localities. If they were seeking planning permission for such businesses today, they may not meet with the requirements or planning regulations associated with such operations. However, they have been there for many years and, in some cases, the businesses have been passed from one generation to the next. therefore predating the very laws which govern planning, dating from 1963 and 1964 onwards. Has an audit of such facilities been carried out by the Department, in conjunction with the local authorities, in order to ascertain the extent of this? Are they aware of the implications of what is contained in this Bill? Are they aware that it appears their activities have been harmful to those around them because of the lack of proper facilities in the EU's mind to deal with these issues? While it appears a sound basis from which to proceed into the future, that is, to monitor and police that whole area, many people are carrying out effective and appropriate businesses from which they achieve their livelihoods. My party, representatives throughout the country and I need to know if there has been positive and appropriate engagement with this sector also, considering the possible implications of the provisions in this Bill on their livelihoods in the future.

I refer to the regulation of dry cleaning solvents. This Bill allows local authorities to issue fixed payment notices to dry cleaners and other operators using a solvent installation without required certification. I would have expected that in the course of the planning process, any such operation would have been through the rigours of the planning process which would have contained many queries and questions about the various solvents and chemicals being used by such an operation in carrying out its business effectively and in order to assure the public no pollutants or potential danger was entering into wastewater treatment plants which, in time, would be treated and used for other purposes. This is almost a retrospective provision in this legislation perhaps to penalise people who were not afforded the correct procedure during the planning stages of setting up their businesses in the first place.

Many agents within that business would have been working to certain standards with their advisers and their planning expertise when making an application in the first place. Now they find that the provisions and deterrents that exist at present must be retrospectively applied. Is the industry to suffer such a blow that it might affect its ability to move forward without having adequately provided for the changes that are necessary to meet these new directives and the provisions of this Bill? The Bill transfers the appeals procedures in the granting or refusing of air pollution licences issued by local authorities from An Bord Pleanála to the EPA. Could the Minister of State confirm that in the case of applications already in the system, only the laws pertaining to their application as of the date of the application itself will affect that process? If that is the case, what plans does she have to deal with it, any more than the way in which she is dealing with the dry-cleaning industry retrospectively? Under the present appeals system, the appeals mechanism for anybody who is in the system seeking a licence is to An Bord Pleanála and new applications from the date this legislation is enacted will be to the EPA. If the EPA in its subsequent decisions is found to be more stringent and restrictive, will local authorities be forced to retrospectively apply conditions imposed by the EPA to those who received permission during the course of the existing legislation? If so, what provision is there to assist that industry rather than expecting it to find funding to deal with it by virtue of the existing legislation?

On the regulations on non-use of motor vehicles, the Minister of State has said there was a €41 million increase in revenue. I asked in a parliamentary question about the breakdown of the increase in revenue throughout the country, because I want to see local authorities retain those funds for the provision of facilities and services in their own counties, especially in the area of the upkeep and maintenance of roads, because we have seen a progressive fall-off in funding being made available. We have seen much of the motor tax revenue, unfortunately and unbelievably, transferred to Irish Water. We have seen Irish Water gobble up enough of the taxpayers' money from other sectors without motor tax being an annual contributor to that super-quango. That is for another day's argument. We have had many of them and we will have many more. People need to see a correlation between the revenue derived from motor taxation in a particular local authority area and an improvement in their roads.

I had representations from many people who are associated with and partake in the vintage car industry, the vintage tractor sector and so forth, and were very worried about impending amendments to existing legislation, which will leave them facing huge costs for their hobby in the future. I hope the Minister of State has met them. I do not believe there is anything in the provisions of this Bill that seeks to implement what was spoken about towards the end of last year. Can she confirm that representatives of her Department have met with these people, have listened to their concerns about what was proposed and its effect on their industry and the huge costs associated with them continuing in that sector? It is not only of benefit to themselves, but generates a great deal of money for the charity sector and also the tourism sector, by virtue of many of the rallies that are held in various locations throughout the country at various times of the year. During the course of this debate on Committee and Report Stage, she must confirm she has met with that sector, has allayed its fears and will row back on the intentions she had to further increase costs associated with road tax for vehicles in that sector.

The Bill gives provision to an EU directive based on the "producer pays" principle. We welcome that concept, which specifically deals with the disposal of electrical equipment, batteries, packaging, end-of-life vehicles and so forth. It is paramount that the House is informed that there has been extensive negotiation, consultation and engagement with the relevant sectors to allow them appropriate time to carry out the sort of research that is necessary for them to meet the provisions of this directive, among many other provisions within the Bill. There must be active engagement with that sector, whereby we can assure the House that there is agreement between both parties to address the issues in a cost-efficient manner that will not negatively affect the industry or jobs in the industry, while recognising their obligation from an environmental perspective not to harm the environment to such an extent that it costs local authorities a significant amount of money to rectify this.

That is where we stand on the Bill. We agree with its thrust. We agree with the concept and the background to it, but we expect the Department to have engaged with the relevant sectors and stakeholders to such an extent that it has their co-operation to make the provisions contained within the Bill appropriate to the needs in that sector by balancing those against the effect of continual harm that might exist for many of these sectors. We ask the Minister of State to address many of the concerns during the time allocated for the remainder of this debate and through the various Stages of the passage of the legislation.

Before we move to Topical Issue Matters, I can call on Deputy Brian Stanley if he wishes to speak now, but he will be the next speaker anyway.

Given the length of time left, I ask that we leave the debate until the afternoon, after the Order of Business. It would be better than starting and stopping.

Debate adjourned.