Question No. 464 answered with Question No. 457.

Community Development Projects

Ceisteanna (465)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

465. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if it is possible for there to be more than one local community development company set up in a local authority area; the procedure for this; the criteria for approving such an arrangement; if the decision to have more than one LCDC is one for him or the local authority in question to decide upon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21212/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

The Local Government Reform Act 2014, which provides inter alia for the establishment of Local Community Development Committees in all local authority areas, allows for the establishment of more than one Committee per local authority area.

The need to establish more than one Committee will be primarily a matter for the consideration of the relevant city or county council. However, in accordance with the 2014 Act, a decision by a city or county council to establish two or more Committees would be subject to the approval of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.

The procedures and criteria for approving such arrangements have not yet been finalised, but these will be set out, as appropriate, in policy guidelines that will issue to all local authorities when the relevant sections of the Act are commenced in June 2014.

Water Charges Administration

Ceisteanna (466)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

466. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if in view of the statement in the documentation by his Department regarding water charges that each household will receive an annual free allowance of 30,000 litres of water and a corresponding allowance for waste water per year, if there will be a lower charge per litre for water for persons that are not connected to a public sewer and have to provide their own waste water treatment; alternatively if it is intended to introduce a free desludging service for these households, in the interests of equity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21215/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

I refer to the reply to Question No. 145 of 7 May 2014. The position is unchanged.

Departmental Communications

Ceisteanna (467)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

467. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if any telephone calls in or out of his Department are being, or ever have been recorded, and if so, if he will provide details of the systems used to record and store such calls, the cost to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21233/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

No systems for recording incoming or outgoing telephone calls are currently in place or have ever been installed in my Department, beyond the provision of standard voicemail facilities for callers to leave a message should they so wish.

Water Services Provision

Ceisteanna (468)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

468. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that his Department has allocated a sum of €500,000 regeneration funding to the local authority in Sligo for the enhancement of O’Connell Street; if it has been further drawn to his attention that the local authority expected Irish Water to undertake the water conservation stage 3 phase 1 works in O’Connell Street in conjunction with said enhancement works; if it has been drawn to his attention that on 2 May 2014 Irish Water advised the local authority that Irish Water would not be undertaking the works in the short to medium term; if it has been further drawn to his attention that Sligo local authority intends to proceed with the enhancement works at the end of August 2014, the cost of which is estimated at €800,000; if it has been drawn to his attention Irish Water will be required to undo and reinstate the enhancement works at a significant cost when it undertakes the water conservation stage 3 phase 1 works in O’Connell Street; if he considers this good value for money; if his Department can intervene and encourage Irish Water to undertake the works in conjunction with the local authority this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21247/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

In 2011 my Department agreed to contribute up to €500,000 towards the cost of a suite of enhancement works to facilitate the future pedestrianisation of O’Connell Street, Sligo. My Department does not have details at this time with regard to level of overlap, if any, between the enhancement works and water conservation works contracts. However, these are matters which will be further considered in the context of the approval process for the funding of the enhancement works.

The Sligo Water Conservation Stage 3 Works – Watermain Rehabilitation Phase 1 was included in my Department’s Water Services Investment Programme 2010 – 2013 at an estimated cost of €4.7 million. Under the project, in February 2012, I approved the provision of funding to allow Sligo County Council complete the tender formalities for a Watermain Rehabilitation Contract and the Pearse Road Storm Water Sewer Advance Works Contract at a cost of over €3.7 million. This approval enabled the Council to undertake necessary Water Conservation Works in conjunction with any street enhancement works, as appropriate, on O’Connell Street.

Since 1 January 2014, Irish Water is responsible for the delivery of water services capital infrastructure. The further progression of all water services capital projects, including the Sligo Water Conservation Stage 3 Works, is now a matter for Irish Water.

Irish Water has confirmed to my Department that it has established a dedicated team to deal with representations and queries from public representatives. The team can be contacted via an email to oireachtasmembers@water.ie or by telephone on 1890 278 278.

Local Authority Finances

Ceisteanna (469)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

469. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the exact levels of debt on local authority accounts for unfunded capital projects including land purchases and housing loans in south and north Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21298/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

In 2012 , the latest year for which audited information is available, loans payable by local authorities amounted to some €4.9bn. Information on unfunded capital projects, and loans outstanding in respect of land purchases is not available in my Department.

The information requested in respect of South Tipperary County Council and North Tipperary County Council, from Note 8 of the 2012 Annual Financial Statements, is set out in the table below.

-

Loans Payable

Mortgage Loans

South Tipperary County Council

€68,027,034

€ 8,442,169

North Tipperary County Council

€49,640,649

€6,401,072

Irish Water Administration

Ceisteanna (470, 472, 491)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

470. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on the issues raised in correspondence (details supplied) and if he will indicate if the installation of water meter boxes in vehicle access locations by Irish Water is in compliance with BS 5834 standard and his departmental directive BC6/2009; if Irish Water have ISO 9001 quality management system in place; and the actions he proposes to address the concerns raised in the correspondence. [21315/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Clare Daly

Ceist:

472. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if Irish Water have ISO 9001 quality management systems in place; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the installation of grade C water meter boxes in vehicle access locations actually deems these meters to be not fit for purpose under existing legislation; and the action he will take regarding same. [21334/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seamus Healy

Ceist:

491. Deputy Seamus Healy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the rights of the householder in respect of supply of water from Uisce Éireann; if the householder has to consent to the termination of supply from the local authority; if the householder will have the right to agree or disagree a written contract with Irish Water; if so, the date on which the contractual document will be issued; Uisce Éireann has informed citizens that the water meter is the property of Uisce Éireann but the householder is responsible for the repair/replacement of the meter even when it is installed on the public road, if this is correct; if so, his views that this position is unfair; if there are health and safety reports on all meters being used by Uisce Éireann; if so, if he will supply the reports; if Uisce Éireann requires permission from the relevant local authority to begin installing meters on a specific street; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21515/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 470, 472 and 491 together.

The Programme for Government sets out a commitment to the introduction of water charges based on usage above a free allowance. The Government considers that charging based on usage is the fairest way to charge for water and it has, therefore, decided that water meters should be installed in households connected to public water supplies. The Water Services Act 2013 provided for the establishment of Irish Water as an independent subsidiary within the Bord Gáis Éireann Group and assigned the necessary powers to allow Irish Water to undertake t he metering programme. In common with meters for other utility services, the meters will be the property of Irish Water which will also be responsible for meter repair and maintenance. The 2013 Act also provides that, for the purposes of the domestic metering programme, Irish Water is exempt from the requirement to obtain the consent of the relevant local authority.

Irish Water has confirmed to my Department that the meters it has procured comply with all relevant European and international standards designed to protect the health and safety of customers and the public. Irish Water has also confirmed to my Department that it has a Quality Management System in place designed in accordance with the ISO 9001 standard. Additionally the regional contractors working for and on behalf of Irish Water on the metering programme all have Quality Management Systems designed in accordance with the ISO 9001 standard.

In designing the technical specification for the Metering Capital Programme, Irish Water has drawn both from international standards and from extensive local experience of the installation of both Grade B and Grade C meter box covers over the last 12 years. Irish Water monitors the installations by its contractors and can require the installation of a Grade B meter box if it is deemed necessary. Irish Water regularly undertakes technical reviews of the metering programme with the aim of making improvements.

With effect from 1 January 2014, Irish Water is responsible for public water services. The Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 provides that Irish Water can collect charges from its customers in receipt of water services provided by it. The Act also provides that responsibility for the independent economic regulation of the water sector is assigned to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) and the CER has been given statutory responsibility for protecting the interests of customers. Section 71 of the Water Services Act 2007 provides that Irish Water may require any consumer of water to take such supply through a water meter. Section 21 of the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 provides that Irish Water shall not disconnect the supply of water to a household. However, Irish Water may reduce the supply of water to a property, where charges remain unpaid.

The 2013 Act also requires that Irish Water will prepare codes of practice, on a range of matters, including standards in relation to the performance by Irish Water of its functions and billing by Irish Water of persons in respect of water services provided. Irish Water will also be required to prepare a code of practice on any matter considered necessary by the CER. Consultation is currently being undertaken by the CER on the requirements for Irish Water in relation to the codes of practice, customer charters and terms and conditions. Full details of the CER’s public consultation plans are available on its website (www.cer.ie ).

Housing Issues

Ceisteanna (474)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

474. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his Department's position regarding the possible plans to change the criteria for the buying out of houses for voluntary housing groups (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21367/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

Approved housing bodies (AHBs) are organisations approved under section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992 to provide social housing support in conjunction with local authorities. Since the late 1980s, close to 25,000 units of accommodation have been provided under capital funding schemes underpinned by 20 and 30 year mortgages. More recently, a scheme was introduced that provides an up-front capital payment of up to 30% of the property value to facilitate AHBs in raising private finance to acquire or build new social housing units. The capital advanced is repayable at the end of a payment and availability agreement, usually after 30 years.

Under the terms of these various funding schemes, AHBs are the de facto owners of the properties and are required to make them available for social renting for the duration of the mortgage or, as the case may be, the availability agreement.  My Department cannot unilaterally make provision for their sale to tenants. Any such decision would have to involve the AHB concerned and have regard to the mortgage on the property. On expiry of the mortgage period and subject to compliance with the terms of the funding agreement, the AHB becomes the owner of the property.

Building for the Future, a Voluntary Regulation Code was introduced in July 2013 as a precursor to a statutory regulatory framework to support the long-term growth of the AHB sector. Regulation is an important element in providing the conditions necessary for the growth and development of the sector. Financing that growth is equally important and the question of how best to utilise the existing asset base, including the option of selling existing stock to tenants, is a factor to be considered.

Leader Programmes Applications

Question No. 476 answered with Question No. 447.

Questions Nos. 477 to 479 inclusive, answered with Question No. 457.

Questions Nos. 480 and 481 answered with Question No. 447.

Questions Nos. 482 and 483 answered with Question No. 475.

Question No. 484 answered with Question No. 452.

Ceisteanna (475, 482, 483)

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

475. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding an application to Mayo North East LEADER Development Company in respect of an organisation (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21386/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

482. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason there is a continuing delay in approving an application to Mayo north east LEADER programme in respect of a company (details supplied) to purchase essential equipment; if the application will be expedited due to the negative impact that the delay is having on the business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21406/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

483. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding an application to Mayo north east LEADER by an organisation (details supplied); if same will be expedited in order that this much sought-after facility will be operational during the current peak usage period [21407/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

I propose to take Question Nos . 475, 482 and 483 together.

In line with the ‘bottom-up’ approach to rural development, there are 35 Local Action Groups (LAGs) contracted, on my Department’s behalf, to deliver the LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 (RDP) throughout the country.

The relevant LAG in respect of the projects referred to is Mayo North East LEADER Partnership (MNELP). The LAGs are the principal decision-makers in relation to the allocation of project funding. Such decisions are made in the context of the local development strategy of the individual groups and in line with Programme’s Operating Rules and EU regulations.

I understand that MNELP has received applications from all of the promoters referred to and these applications are currently at various stages in the review process which I expect will be completed shortly.

Question No. 476 answered with Question No. 447.
Questions Nos. 477 to 479 inclusive, answered with Question No. 457.
Questions Nos. 480 and 481 answered with Question No. 447.
Questions Nos. 482 and 483 answered with Question No. 475.
Question No. 484 answered with Question No. 452.

Leader Programmes Funding

Ceisteanna (485)

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

485. Deputy John O'Mahony asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government when a decision will issue on an application for Leader funding (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21438/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

I have been advised that the Tithe Cois Trá - Lacken Housing Association project was reviewed by the Board of Mayo North East LEADER Partnership on 25 February 2014. The project was resubmitted to my Department for further review and my Department is referring a number of outstanding issues back to the Board of MNELP and will consider the matter further on receipt of a satisfactory response.

Irish Water Expenditure

Ceisteanna (486, 487)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

486. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will confirm that the domain name, water.ie, has been acquired by Irish Water; and if so the date and cost of acquisition; the identity of the previous owner; and if not, if he will provide details of the ongoing cost of using the domain name to Irish Water. [21440/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

487. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will confirm when the domain name, water.ie, was first acquired by a State agency; the name of the State agency which acquired the domain name; the consideration paid to the previous owner; and the identity of the previous owner. [21441/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 486 and 487 together.

My Department acquired the domain name water.ie in February 2011 with the intention of setting up a public information website on emergency issues related to water services as well as broader policy issues. The domain name was originally registered by the Local Government Computer Services Board (LGCSB) in 2001. The LGCSB has subsequently merged with the Local Government Management Services Board to become the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) . There was no fee charge d by the LGCSB for transferring the domain name to my Department. The yearly registration fee of €50 was paid by my Department.

In January 2013, my Department transferred the domain name to Bord Gáis Éireann for use by Irish Water and again there was no fee charged for the transfer. The transfer occurred on 16 January 2013 . Irish Water is now responsible for paying the yearly registration fee.