Commissioner of Valuation

Ceisteanna (205)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

205. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on the connection between small business owners in Fingal being notified by the Valuations Office of a reduction in the valuation of their premises from 2020 and within days notification from Fingal County Council of a significant increase in their AVR from.150 to.191, negating the relief small businesses received from the reduced valuation. [22143/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the performance of his statutory functions and the setting of valuations for rating is his sole responsibility. I have no function in relation to decisions in this regard. The Valuation Office is currently engaged in a national revaluation programme, on a phased basis, the first revaluation of that scale, encompassing all rating authority areas, in over 160 years.

Under the current phase of the revaluation programme, Proposed Valuation Certificates were issued in March 2019 to ratepayers in the Cavan, Fingal, Louth, Meath, Monaghan, Tipperary, Wexford and Wicklow rating authority areas.  The amount of rates payable in any calendar year is a product of the valuation set by the Commissioner of Valuation and the Annual Rate on Valuation (ARV) decided annually by the elected members of each local authority as part of their reserved functions.

The proposed valuation entered on the Proposed Valuation Certificates is not a bill for rates. It is a statement of the valuation that the Commissioner proposes to set with effect from 1 January 2020.  In order to arrive at an estimated rates liability for 2020 and subsequent years, the proposed valuation provided by the Valuation Office would need to be multiplied by the indicative ARV published by the relevant local authority. 

The Fingal County Council rating authority area is undergoing a second revaluation in 2019, having initially been the subject of a revaluation in 2009. The new valuations for Fingal County Council will be published on 17 September 2019, and become effective for rates purposes from 2020 onwards.

Given that the process of a revaluation involves both an adjustment to valuations and an adjustment to the Annual Rate on Valuation (ARV), local authorities notify ratepayers of an indicative ARV, when proposed valuations are issued to ratepayers, in order to help contextualise their proposed valuation and estimate their potential rates bill. The actual ARV is decided by the elected members of each local authority in the annual budget and its determination is a reserved function.

In order to ensure that the revaluation promotes equity across sectors and areas, but is also a revenue neutral exercise in overall terms, the Minister may limit the total amount of rates collectable within the local authority area in the year following a revaluation to that collected in the previous year, subject to minor adjustments.

Ports Merger

Ceisteanna (206, 207)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

206. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a trustee elected by the members of the scheme can be vetoed by the council even though the members of the scheme have always elected two trustees in relation to Dún Laoghaire harbour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22184/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

207. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason the final accounts for Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company have not yet been submitted to his Department despite this being a requirement of the Harbours Act 2015; the action he will take in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22185/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 206 and 207 together.

Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company transferred to Dún Laoghaire County Council late last year in accordance with Sections 28 to 33 of the Harbours Act 2015, which provide, inter alia, for the dissolution of the Port Company and the transfer of assets, liabilities  and rights to the Council. Section 30 of the Act provides that staff of the Port company become employees of the local authority while Section 31 deals specifically with superannuation. Section 31 provides that staff transferred under Section 30, that were members of a superannuation scheme immediately beforehand, continue to be a member of the Scheme in accordance with its terms and conditions in force from time to time. The scheme continues in force as if made by the local authority who in turn have the same powers and functions in relation to the scheme that the dissolved company had immediately prior to its dissolution. In this regard, I understand that the Council is working through the details of the transfer and issues arising that need to be resolved before the final accounts can be completed.

Notwithstanding the transfer of the Harbour Company to the local authority, central Government responsibility for ports policy and associated issues, which remain a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (208)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

208. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of applications received to date under the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme; the number and value of mortgages that have been approved; the number of mortgages in which some or all of the mortgage has been drawn down; the amount drawn down to date; the number and value of applications in the system awaiting a decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22205/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Housing Agency provides a central support service which assesses loan applications made to the local authorities and makes recommendations to the authorities as to whether loans should be offered to applicants.  I have asked the Agency to centrally compile figures on the numbers of applications that it has assessed and recommended for approval.  The most recent figures, as at the end of April, indicate that 3,912 applications had been assessed, of which 1,996 had been recommended for approval.  The value of the approvals was €373m.

My Department continues to publish information on the overall number and value of (i) local authority loan approvals and (ii) local authority loan drawdowns.  Information up to Q4 2018 is available on the Department's website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/house-prices-loans-and-profile-borrowers/local-authority-loan-activity, and this information will be updated on a quarterly basis as additional data is compiled.

As with the previous local authority home loan offerings, loan applications under the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan are made directly to the local authority in whose area the property proposed for purchase is situated. My Department does not directly collect information on the number of enquiries to local authorities regarding the loan or the number of loan applications received by local authorities.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Funding

Ceisteanna (209)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

209. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the annual current and capital funding allocations made under the Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021; the 2019 allocation made for capital works on group water schemes; and the 2019 allocation for grant aid for private wells and septic tanks in tabular form. [22236/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Details of the measures being funded under the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021 were notified to local authorities by my Department on 8 February 2019. Local authorities were invited to submit their bids for the funding of schemes or projects in their functional areas, with the deadline for receipt of proposals set as 14 March 2019.

My Department is currently considering local authorities' bids, including for group water schemes, for funding allocations. An Expert Panel has been put in place to support the evaluation process. In addition to providing an expert perspective, the Panel brings independence, openness and transparency to the bids evaluation process which is done on a national prioritised basis. The Expert Panel’s membership includes Departmental, stakeholder and independent representation.

The Expert Panel will make recommendations to my Department on the suitability of schemes and projects for funding based on objective criteria which are set out in the framework document issued to local authorities when requesting proposals. My Department will then consider the recommendations of the Panel, and based on these, will propose allocations for the duration of the funding cycle, for my consideration as Minister. I expect this process to be completed later in the second quarter of 2019. 

The Vote of my Department provides for €23 million in capital funding for the programme in 2019, an increase of €3 million from the previous programme which finished in 2018. A total of €75 million in capital funding has been committed to the programme under the National Development Plan to 2021.  

From within the capital allocation for the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme in 2019, a provision of €4 million has been made for the grants scheme for individual wells and €1.25 million in respect of on-site wastewater treatment systems (more commonly known as septic tanks).  These amounts will be kept under review throughout 2019, having regard to the level of demand.

Provision for current funding of €24 million has been made for 2019 to recoup to local authorities annual subsidy payments made by them to group water schemes.

The grants schemes for individual wells and domestic wastewater treatment systems, as well as the annual subsidy for group water schemes, are demand-led.  Decisions on individual grant or subsidy approvals are made on an on-going basis by local authorities, rather than through a single allocation process.

EU Legislation

Ceisteanna (210)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

210. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her views on proposed EU legislation involving restrictions on the use of lead in ammunition in areas of wetland; her plans to undertake consultations on the proposal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22128/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) was developed under the UN Convention on Migratory Species.  Ireland signed up to the Agreement in 2003.  The agreement includes a commitment that “Parties shall endeavour to phase out the use of lead shot for hunting in wetlands as soon as possible in accordance with self-imposed and published timetables.”

The European Commission have published a draft Regulation for consideration by Member States on the use of lead shot in wetlands following a report on the matter by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).   My Department’s position is to support the AEWA commitment to phase out the use of lead shot over wetlands. The draft Commission Regulation, if accepted by Member States, would appear reasonable in the circumstances as it is in line with the AEWA commitment.  It is also my understanding that the draft Regulation will provide for a generous lead-in time to allow hunters to make the necessary arrangements to source alternatives to lead shot.  

My Department had already had initial discussions with a major hunting body on the draft Regulation and will be engaging with other interested parties on the matter.

Licence Applications

Ceisteanna (211)

John Brady

Ceist:

211. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of licences granted to import animals that have been killed as a result of trophy hunting in each of the years 2010 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the animal to which each licence refers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22190/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to which Ireland is a Party, governs the trade in a range of endangered species of flora and fauna.  My Department is responsible for the implementation of the Wildlife Acts and the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations, both of which provide for the implementation of CITES in Ireland.

The CITES Management Authority of my Department has not issued any import permits for hunting trophies during the period 2010 to 2018 or to date in 2019.  

In accordance with Ireland's obligations under CITES, the import of any CITES listed animal, including parts or derivatives and trophies, must be carried out in accordance with the relevant Irish and EU legislation.