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Thursday, 18 Oct 2018

Written Answers Nos. 336-345

Exceptional Needs Payment Applications

Ceisteanna (336)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

336. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an application for an exceptional needs payment for a deposit for a rented house will be facilitated in the case of a person (details supplied); if their application will be considered in view of the ongoing housing situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43022/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned applied on 27th September 2018 for an exceptional needs payment (ENP) towards a deposit on a new rental accommodation. ENPs are only made in exceptional circumstances. The customer had already made a planned move from the family home to the new accommodation and had provided her own deposit prior to making her ENP application. When applying for this ENP, she advised that she had paid the deposit in cash herself and had funded same through loans from several people and her own savings. The ENP was refused on the basis that the need was not exceptional as it had already been met through the payment of the deposit.

If the customer is dissatisfied with this decision, it is open to her to request a review.

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Dental Services

Ceisteanna (337)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

337. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) is eligible for dental benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43024/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Qualification for dental benefit is based on satisfying certain PRSI conditions. In order to qualify, the person concerned would need to have paid 260 PRSI contributions at either Class A, E, H, P or S, since first starting work, and also have 39 contributions paid or credited in the tax year on which the claim is based, the 2016 year in this case. As the person concerned does not have the required number of contributions paid they do not qualify for the dental benefit scheme.

However, if the person concerned has a Medical Card, they should contact their local HSE office which will advise on entitlements under HSE schemes.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Rent Supplement Scheme

Ceisteanna (338)

John Curran

Ceist:

338. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the case of a person (details supplied) who was renting a property to a tenant in receipt of rent supplement will be reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43140/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Rent Supplement is paid to people living in private rented accommodation who cannot afford the cost of their accommodation from their own resources. A lease agreement is made between landlord and tenant and it is the responsibility of the tenant to discharge their liability to the landlord. While it is not possible for the Department to discuss the details of individual cases with landlords, landlords do have the option of contacting the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) with individual issues they experience or to obtain assistance in recouping rent arrears due to them.

All Rent Supplement claims are subject to regular reviews but the Department is not at liberty to comment on individual cases without the prior permission of the Rent Supplement claimant.

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Wastewater Treatment

Ceisteanna (339)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

339. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, guidelines on set-back distances of buffer zones from urban wastewater treatment plants serving a population equivalent of 1,000 or more and 2,000 or more that are in place and which take highly sensitive receptors such as school and preschool children into account (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42777/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

There are no statutory minimum buffer zones set for wastewater treatment plants.

The Environmental Protection Agency was established in 1993 to license, regulate and control activities for the purposes of environmental protection. In Section 60 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992, it is stated that:

"the Agency may, and shall if so directed by the Minister, specify and publish criteria and procedures, which in the opinion of the Agency are reasonable and desirable for the purposes of environmental protection, in relation to the management, maintenance, supervision, operation or use of all or specified classes of plant, sewers or drainage pipes vested in or controlled or used by a sanitary authority for the treatment or disposal of any sewage or other effluent to any waters”.

Irish Water’s site selection process for wastewater treatment plants is informed by EPA guidelines. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Guidance document, ‘Wastewater Treatment Manuals – Treatment Systems for Small Communities, Business, Leisure Centres and Hotels’, sets out that 50m is the minimum recommended distance that a wastewater treatment plant, with a treatment capacity of 161 population equivalent or more, should be located from sensitive receptors. The EPA guidance states that this distance is required to avoid odour and noise nuisance that may be generated from a wastewater treatment plant.

There are different scenarios which impact a site selection process for the provision of a wastewater treatment plant. The first step in such a process is to identify and define the project need and scope. There are varying complexities in site selection depending on whether a wastewater treatment plant is required to be backfilled into an existing town / village or if it is greenfield development.

The impacts of a proposed development, such as a wastewater treatment plant, on the general amenity of a community is assessed against general planning policies (including, but not limited to, land use, amenity and social sustainability (economic and population growth)). Potential impacts on environmental quality are measured against established standards, which Irish Water must comply with.

Wastewater treatment plants serving a population of more than 10,000 must undergo an Environmental Impact Assessment which examines among other things the effect of the proposed development on human health.

Furthermore, proposed Irish Water wastewater treatment plants are subject to planning permission and Irish Water must comply with any planning conditions attached to a grant of permission.

There are human health concerns in the absence of an efficient and modern drainage and sewage system capable of dealing with the demands put upon it. The provision of a wastewater treatment plant can contribute to environmental benefits and protection of the population from public health dangers. It can also contribute to socio-economic growth.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (340)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

340. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he or his departmental officials have met a person (details supplied) or representatives of companies in the past two years to date; if so, if he will publish a schedule of these meetings and the associated minutes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42824/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I can confirm that neither myself, nor any of my officials, have met the individuals or representatives of the company concerned in the past two years.

Fire Service

Ceisteanna (341, 342)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

341. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the arrangements he has put in place in consultation with his colleague, the Minister for Health, to implement all the terms of the motion passed by Dáil Éireann on 19 June 2018, which was supported by the Government, relating to the fire-based emergency ambulance service operated by the Dublin Fire Brigade; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43058/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

342. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if provision will be made in the procurement process for the upgrading of the fire services call-out system, that is, the Ctrí project for the fire-based emergency ambulance service operated by the Dublin Fire Brigade in accordance with the provisions of the Fire Services Act 1981; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43060/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 341 and 342 together.

I note the motion passed by Dáil Éireann on 19 June 2018 regarding Dublin Fire Brigade's emergency ambulance service.

Responsibility for the provision of emergency medical services, including pre-hospital emergency care, rests with the Health Service Executive (HSE), which operates the National Ambulance Service (NAS) and emergency departments in hospitals in accordance with health sector legislation and national health policy.

Therefore, it is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Health, and the HSE to consider further the motion referred to.

As Minister with policy and legislative responsibility for fire safety and the provision of fire services by local authorities, I am primarily concerned that local authority-provided fire services are meeting their statutory obligations in respect of provision of fire services and fire safety, as set out in the Fire Services Act 1981 (as amended).

Under section 10 of the Act, fire authorities are required to make adequate provision for the reception of and response to calls for the assistance of the fire brigade via the 999/112 system. Fire services work together to deliver this function at three Regional Communications Centres in Limerick, Castlebar and Dublin.

The C-trí Project will move the current three region-based fire services emergency call systems to a single, unified call-handling system, while continuing to use the current three centres. This will enhance both the resilience and capacity of the individual Regional Communication Centres for handling 999/112 calls. I have no plans to amend the existing terms of reference of the C-trí project at this time.

Dublin City Council provides fire services for the city and county of Dublin, which are resourced by the four Dublin Local Authorities, through Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB). Dublin City Council, through DFB, also provides an emergency ambulance service on behalf of the HSE on an agency basis in the greater Dublin area. Any amendment to this arrangement, including in relation to call handling, governance and cost reimbursement, is a matter for Dublin City Council and the HSE in the first instance.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Ceisteanna (343)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

343. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the details of the recently announced affordable housing scheme that was included in budget 2019; the expected timeline for the commencement of the scheme; the application procedures; the details of the institutions that will manage and operate the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43065/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In order to deliver affordable housing in the areas of the country most affected by a lack of affordable housing supply, a three-pronged, targeted approach is being pursued. The Government has committed €310 million to support this programme of work, under the Serviced Sites Fund (SSF), as part of Budget 2019. The Exchequer contribution is €275 million with €35 million to be contributed by local authorities. In 2019 funding of €100 million will be available under the Fund with a further €142 million in 2020 and €68 million in 2021. The funding is available for key facilitating infrastructure on local authority sites to support the provision of affordable homes to purchase or rent.

A first call for proposals, under the SSF, issued to local authorities in Dublin, the Greater Dublin Area, Cork and Galway on 29 June 2018. The closing date for applications was 31 August and 15 proposals were received from 9 local authorities. These are currently being assessed and I expect this process to be finalised and an announcement of the first successful bids to be made in the coming weeks. Further calls for proposals will be made thereafter.

Once the funding is awarded and the infrastructure is provided I expect delivery of affordable homes from 2019 onwards. Separately, all local authorities will now carry out an economic assessment of the requirement for affordable housing in their area, and the authorities' capacity to deliver housing at affordable prices from their sites. Based on this analysis further local authorities may be considered for funding under the SSF.

I envisage a maximum amount of SSF funding of €50,000 per affordable home and on this basis some 6,200 affordable homes could be facilitated.

In terms of the type of affordable housing that will be delivered on local authority sites it may be affordable housing for purchase, under the recently commenced provisions of Part V of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, or cost rental, which is being advanced on a number of pilot sites before being rolled out more generally. Under the 2009 Act, the maximum discount is 40% of the market value of the home and the local authority takes a charge, equivalent to the discount, against the property. The scheme applies to new homes, and is targeted at single applicants earning up to €50,000 per annum or €75,000 for dual applicants.

This new scheme replaces the time-limited claw-back which applied under the various previous affordable housing schemes. The local authority will retain a charge equivalent to the discount and the household must recoup the charge at re-sale or during the charge period. The funding repaid by the purchaser is paid into a new Affordable Dwellings Fund which can then be used to fund more affordable housing.

An Bord Pleanála Data

Ceisteanna (344)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

344. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of cases and appeals with An Bord Pleanála that have been awaiting decision for more than six but less than 12, more than 12 but less than 18, more than 18 but less than 24 and more than 24 months, respectively. [43066/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The following is a summary of the number of cases awaiting decision by An Bord Pleanála for six-monthly periods in excess of 6 months as at end September 2018:

On Hands Period

Number of Cases - All Case Types

>6 months <12 months

247

>12 months <18 months

26

>18 months <24 months

23

>24 months

35*

Total

331

* This figure includes 19 pre-application consultation cases in relation to proposed strategic infrastructure development where the prospective applicant has requested that An Bord Pleanála maintains the case as open and which accordingly does not proceed to a determination as to whether the proposed development qualifies as strategic infrastructure development.

It should also be noted that many of the cases on hand for extended periods of time arise from the issuing of further information requests by the Board in order to be able to more comprehensively assess the cases in question. In this regard, there can be delays in the submission of the requested information to the Board by the parties concerned which, on receipt, must then be further circulated to other parties in the case.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Ceisteanna (345)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

345. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the provision of affordable housing on the Poolbeg SDZ site; the steps he will take in terms of funding and schemes to ensure the delivery of the affordable housing as approved by Dublin City Council; and if there is a timeframe for the commencement and completion of the affordable homes on the site. [43081/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In May 2016, the Government designated Poolbeg West as a Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) because of its potential to deliver a large proportion of the extra homes needed in the centre of Dublin. This was followed by the publication for consultation by Dublin City Council of a detailed planning scheme for the area. The Council prepared a draft planning scheme which was considered by the elected members of the Council in May 2017. As a statutory consultee for that process, my Department highlighted the importance of the planning scheme, addressing a variety of housing needs and relevant matters.

I and my Department remain committed to working with the City Council, any relevant housing bodies (AHBs) and either the receiver and/or developers of the SDZ area in order to secure additional social and affordable housing from this site over and above Part V obligations and of the order of magnitude laid out in the adopted planning scheme, but subject to agreement on all the normal and relevant terms, including value for money aspects.

It is my Department's understanding that the receiver is engaging with Dublin City Council with a view to advancing an approach that would both better enable the orderly development of this strategic but complex city location and to assist in delivering much needed additional social housing. My Department stands ready to support such initiatives, subject to observance of all the normal value-for-money, procurement and wider legal aspects.

It should be noted that there is currently an appeal to An Bord Pleanála in relation to the Poolbeg SDZ planning scheme. The progress of development of the site will be dependent significantly on the nature and timing of the decision of the Board.

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