Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (1961)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

1961. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason persons that are successful in obtaining a Rebuilding Ireland home loan are required to obtain mortgage protection insurance as part of the scheme which is considerably more expensive than insurance they can obtain themselves (details supplied); if his attention has been drawn to same; if so, his plans to change same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35653/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The local authority mortgage protection insurance (MPI) scheme has applied to all house purchase loans approved by local authorities after 1 July 1986, including the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan introduced on 1 February 2018.

The Consumer Credit Act 1995 applied conditions on lenders which applied to local authorities as well as commercial lenders. Under section 126 of the Act, the lender is legally required to ensure that a prospective borrower has mortgage protection insurance in place before drawing down a mortgage. Where a lender offers a particular policy, sub-section 2(d) of section 126 of the Act provides that the borrower can source an alternative policy to suit their needs. However, sub-section 2(d) does not apply to local authorities.

One of the conditions of the MPI scheme, which is a group policy, is that it is obligatory for all local authority borrowers who meet the eligibility criteria to join the scheme. Altering this condition would have a negative impact on the scheme and increase the cost for all existing borrowers. A local authority housing loan applicant who is not eligible for the local authority MPI scheme must source a suitable comparable individual MPI policy from the market.

The scheme is subject to periodic review and competitive tendering in accordance with the terms of EU Directives relating to the award of public service contracts. This is to ensure that the most appropriate cover at the best value for money is secured for local authority borrowers over the entire life of their mortgages.

The most recent public procurement competition for the provision and administration of this MPI scheme was conducted by the Office of Government Procurement. The contract resulting from this open tender competition came into effect from 1 January 2017 and is due to expire on 31 December 2020.

Homeless Persons Data

Ceisteanna (1962)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

1962. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of deaths of homeless persons by county in each of the years 2016, 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35675/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department's role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level. Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of accommodation and associated services for homeless persons rests with individual housing authorities.

My Department publishes data on a monthly basis regarding the number of homeless persons accommodated in all forms of emergency accommodation funded and overseen by housing authorities. These reports are based on data provided by housing authorities and are produced through the Pathway Accommodation & Support System (PASS), the single integrated national data information system on State-funded emergency accommodation arrangements overseen by housing authorities.

The monthly reports outline the number of individuals accommodated in emergency accommodation over a designated survey week, including a breakdown by local authority, and can be accessed using the following link:

www.housing.gov.ie/housing/homelessness/other/homelessness-data.

My Department does not collect the data referred to the Deputy.

Commencement of Legislation

Ceisteanna (1963)

Joe Carey

Ceist:

1963. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when section 49 of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018 will be fully commenced thus enabling planning applications for data centres to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35680/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Section 49 of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018 will be commenced after the necessary preparations by An Bord Pleanála, and other necessary supporting requirements, have been completed. My Department is working towards the completion of this process as soon as possible.

Housing Assistance Payment Data

Ceisteanna (1964, 1965)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

1964. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the average monthly housing assistance payment for each of the past five years; the average monthly HAP payment for each county; and the highest HAP payment made in 2018 and to date in 2019. [35684/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

1965. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the differential between the monthly cost of paying a housing assistance payment, a REIT provided social house and the cost of building a social house; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35685/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1964 and 1965 together.

Under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme, tenants source their own accommodation. The accommodation sourced by tenants must be within the prescribed maximum HAP rent limits, which are based on household size and the rental market within the area concerned.

Each local authority has statutory discretion to agree to a HAP payment up to 20% above the prescribed maximum rent limit to secure appropriate accommodation for a household requiring such assistance. In addition, the normal 20% discretion beyond the rent limits may be increased up to 50% for homeless households in the Dublin Region. The list of HAP rent limits for each local authority are available on the Irish Statute Book website at: www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2017/si/56/made/en/print.

In addition, section 43(2)(b) of the Housing (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act 2014 allows me in my role as Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to determine the maximum amount of rent in respect of which housing assistance will be provided by a local authority for classes of qualified household, other than those prescribed in regulations, having regard to the composition of the household and the location of the dwelling.

In relation to HAP payments, which are the agreed monthly landlord payment made under the HAP scheme in relation to an individual tenancy, the table below lists the average monthly housing assistance payment for each of the past five years and the average monthly HAP payment for each county. These statistics should be considered in the context of the phased roll-out of the scheme over a number of years. While Homeless HAP has been available in all Dublin local authorities since 2015, the HAP scheme generally only became available in Dublin City, Fingal and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown in 2017. As expected, urban tenancies are more costly than rural tenancies, so average costs increased commensurately.

The highest HAP payment made in 2018 and to date in 2019 was €2,500 for a HAP tenancy in the administrative area of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council. This would be an exceptional case, based on very specific circumstances, and, as can be seen below, does not reflect average HAP payments in that area.

Local Authority

Avg. Payment 2014

Avg. Payment 2015

Avg. Payment Q4 2016

Avg. Payment Q4 2017

Avg. Payment Q4 2018

Avg. Payment Q1 2019

Carlow County Council

-

482

521

542

554

554

Cavan County Council

-

-

-

430

449

455

Clare County Council

-

370

409

430

459

465

Cork City Council

-

563

647

722

764

774

Cork County Council

663

576

629

689

727

737

Donegal County Council

-

342

363

383

392

394

Dublin City Council

-

979

1,244

1,258

1,290

1,292

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Co.

-

620

1,085

1,286

1,343

1,359

Fingal County Council

-

1,060

1,333

1,292

1,325

1,340

Galway City Council

-

-

762

784

795

807

Galway County Council

-

500

612

652

701

711

Kerry County Council

-

-

477

502

512

516

Kildare County Council

-

927

885

911

919

921

Kilkenny County Council

473

474

527

556

576

578

Laois County Council

-

-

-

535

573

581

Leitrim County Council

-

-

450

408

414

414

Limerick City and County Council

501

456

512

552

579

584

Longford County Council

-

-

400

397

405

408

Louth County Council

679

491

622

764

833

846

Mayo County Council

-

-

468

489

501

506

Meath County Council

-

682

851

904

936

937

Monaghan County Council

348

379

427

457

480

490

Offaly County Council

-

409

453

482

508

515

Roscommon County Council

-

-

-

447

454

457

Sligo County Council

-

450

474

488

503

506

South Dublin County Council

1,058

1,006

1,104

1,147

1,213

1,230

Tipperary County Council

-

437

454

471

488

492

Waterford City and County Council

478

427

465

489

509

513

Westmeath County Council

-

-

-

540

551

559

Wexford County Council

-

-

-

502

520

527

Wicklow County Council

-

-

750

975

998

1,005

Average Monthly Landlord Payment

523

527

636

735

801

817

The HAP scheme has been structured in a way that protects exchequer funding, by ensuring that payments are made only on valid and complete applications. For this reason rent is generally paid in arrears, which ensures that money is only paid in respect of time that the property has actually been occupied by the tenant.

Limerick City and County Council provides a highly effective transactional shared service on behalf of all HAP local authorities. This HAP Shared Service Centre (SSC) manages all HAP related rental transactions for the tenant, local authority and landlord.

Once a HAP application has been received and confirmed as valid by the relevant local authority, it is then processed by the HAP SSC. On average, HAP applications are processed by the HAP Shared Service Centre within 1 working day of receipt. Any rental payment arising for a given month will then be made to a landlord on the last Wednesday of that month.

I continue to keep the operation of HAP under review but I am currently satisfied with how the scheme is operating and I consider it to be a key vehicle for meeting current housing need and fulfilling the ambitious programme set out in Rebuilding Ireland.

Over the course of Rebuilding Ireland, the Government is committed to meeting the housing needs of over 138,000 households. This will be achieved through blended delivery, with over 50,000 homes being delivered through build, acquisition and leasing programmes, and some 88,000 further households being supported through the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS). A social house building programme is already well underway, with local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies significantly expanding new build output year on year.

It is not possible to directly compare monthly HAP costs to homes delivered through social housing build programmes. It would depend on a number of variables including - duration of tenancy; location of tenancy; type of property; household composition etc.

The total expenditure for the period 2016-2018 on current funded delivery programmes including HAP, SHCEP and RAS was in the region of €1.17 billion. This funding supported the delivery of nearly 57,000 additional housing solutions, in addition to meeting the ongoing costs of the 34,000 tenancies brought forward from 2015, meaning that, overall, more than 90,500 households were supported through this funding.

At the end of 2018, the housing needs of some 90,500 households were being supported under current-funded programmes. If all of the funding provided for these 90,500 households had been transferred to capital expenditure, to support building or buying homes, it would have delivered approximately 5,500 homes, leaving no resources available to support the other 85,000 households. Looking at it another way, it would take almost €20 billion to provide a new build local authority home for the 90,500 households supported under current-funded programmes at end-2018.

In 2019, a further 22,388 households will benefit through these current funded housing delivery schemes, meaning that with the 2019 budget provision of €712 million across the 3 schemes, a total of €1.88 billion, over the 4 years 2016 to 2019, will have ensured that up to 112,000 families and individuals will have had their housing need met.

Housing Adaptation Grant Funding

Ceisteanna (1966)

James Browne

Ceist:

1966. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount allocated to each local authority under the housing adaptation grant scheme for persons with a disability in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35693/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department provides funding under the suite of Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability, in respect of private houses. There are three separate grant schemes available, being the Housing Aid for Older People Grant, the Mobility Aids Grant and the Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability. Funding of €71.25 million has been allocated for the three schemes in 2019, with responsibility for the apportionment between the individual schemes being a matter for each local authority.

Information on these grant schemes for the years 2016 - 2018, showing the numbers of grants funded per annum and the funding provided to each local authority, is available on my Department’s website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/social-and-affordble/other-local-authority-housing-scheme-statistics.

The following table contains details of the 2019 exchequer funding drawn down by all local authorities in respect of these grants up to the end of August this year. These amounts do not necessarily represent what each local authority has spent, as funding may have been spent but not yet claimed from my Department. Also, the amounts shown for exchequer draw down are topped up by each local authority's own 20% contribution.

Local Authority

Exchequer draw down up to 31 August 2019

Carlow

€760,231

Cavan

€283,853

Clare

€790,100

Cork County

€1,469,782

Cork City

€311,419

Donegal

€536,075

Dublin City

€4,270,982

Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown

€603,777

Fingal

€997,998

Galway County

€703,812

Galway City

€466,613

Kerry

€1,098,828

Kildare

€760,569

Kilkenny

€930,682

Laois

€128,148

Leitrim

€104,476

Limerick

€1,201,874

Longford

€187,173

Louth

€280,066

Mayo

€878,227

Meath

€998,640

Monaghan

€945,482

Offaly

€120,672

Roscommon

€435,670

Sligo

€568,806

South Dublin

€1,231,339

Tipperary

€1,455,303

Waterford

€686,406

Westmeath

€353,003

Wexford

€1,154,390

Wicklow

€435,215

Over the course of each year, my Department works closely with all local authorities, to monitor spend and to achieve a full drawdown of the available funding. As the year progresses, any underspend is redistributed to those local authorities with high levels of grant activity who sought additional funding.

Fire Service

Ceisteanna (1967)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

1967. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the chemical make-up of fire fighting foams used by each county and city fire brigade; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35694/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The provision of fire services, including premises, personnel, appliances and equipment, is a statutory function of fire authorities under the provisions of the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003 and fire services are provided by local authorities in accordance with this legislation.

My Department supports fire authorities mainly through setting national policy and co-ordinating its implementation; providing capital funding for fire appliances, emergency equipment and the construction and upgrading of fire stations; centralised training programmes and co-ordination of the development of guidance on operational and other fire service related matters.

Foam products are a widely available firefighting medium, and are most effective in the case of certain categories of fires – for example, fires involving flammable liquids, where the foam layer forms a barrier between the oxygen in the air and the burning liquid. They may also be deployed at hazardous material incidents and some foams are used to improve the 'wetting' capability of water, by reducing its surface tension.

Decisions to deploy foam products are taken at the discretion of incident commanders, drawing from their fire service training and standard operational guidance. Some firefighting foams can have effects on the environment, and fire services incident commanders balance the use of and the amounts of foam deployed, taking account of the particular circumstances of each case.

Information regarding the specific makeup of firefighting foams in use by individual fire services is not available in my Department. However, I understand that fire services generally carry a range of foam in stock suitable for the identified fire risks within their functional areas.

Local Authority Funding

Question No. 1969 answered with Question No. 1959.

Ceisteanna (1968)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

1968. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when funding will be made available to carry out works to a local authority (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35720/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Disabled Persons Grants (DPG) Scheme applies to works that are necessary to address the needs of older people or people with a disability in local authority housing. This may involve minor adaptations such as stair-lifts, grabs -rails, showers, wet-rooms, ramps etc. It also provides funding for more major adaptations such as extensions, for example in the case of overcrowding, or the installation of a downstairs bedroom or bathroom.

Some €15 million is being made available under the scheme in 2019, an increase of over €1 million on 2018 levels. On top of this exchequer funding, the local authority makes a further 10% contribution in respect of these grants. It is a matter for local authorities to prioritise the works to be funded under the scheme in their area, in the context of available funding and in line with the terms of the DPG scheme.

The available funding for 2019 was apportioned across local authorities having regard to individual funding requests. My Department will review the 2019 allocations and funding drawdown later this month with a view to considering the allocation of additional funding should it become available.

It is open to all local authorities to seek additional funding in 2019, once their allocation is fully expended and the relevant funding recouped from the Department. To date in 2019, Kerry County Council has recouped its allocation of €300,000 and my Department approved a further €68,000 which has also been drawn down. Kerry County Council has been in touch with my Department to seek further funding, and this request will be considered under the forthcoming review.

Question No. 1969 answered with Question No. 1959.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Funding

Ceisteanna (1970)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Ceist:

1970. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if an application has been received under the Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021 in respect of a water scheme (details supplied) to replace pipelines, protective fencing and two separate extensions; when he expects to have the approval for funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35775/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

On 8 February this year, I announced details of the measures being funded through my Department under the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021. Local authorities were invited to submit their bids for the funding of schemes or projects in their functional areas and Donegal County Council included the scheme referred to in its application to my Department under the new Programme.

My Department is currently considering local authorities' bids 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 has made 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. I expect to conclude consideration of the Panel's recommendations and to make an announcement of the allocations shortly.

Local Authority Housing Data

Ceisteanna (1971)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

1971. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the breakdown of each of the social housing lists held by each local authority; the overall increase or decrease on the numbers on the list in each of the past five years in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35832/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Details on the number of households qualified for social housing support in each local authority area are set out in the statutory Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA). The SSHA has been conducted on an annual basis since 2016, prior to which it was carried out once every three years with the previous Summary having taken place in 2013.

The SSHA report includes breakdowns by each local authority across a range of categories. It should be noted that the SSHA is a point in time exercise and does not necessarily reflect the dynamic nature of entry to and exit from the list.

The most recent summary for which results are available, which was carried out in 2018, details the number of households on all local authority waiting lists as at 11 June 2018 and shows that 71,858 households were assessed as qualified and being in need of social housing support. This represents a decrease of 13,941 households or 16.2% on the assessment in June 2017. Indeed, since the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan was launched in 2016, the numbers have decreased from 91,600 to 71,858, a reduction of 22%, as set out in the table below.

Year

Total

Increase/Decrease

2016

91,600

2017

85,799

-5,801 (-6.3%)

2018

71,858

-13,941 (-16.2%)

The SSHAs for 2018, 2017 and 2016 are available on my Department's website at the following links.

Report 2018

www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/summary_of_social_housing_assessments_2018_-_key_findings.pdf

Report 2017

www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/sha_summary_2017.pdf

Report 2016

www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/summary_of_social_housing_assessments_2016.pdf

I expect the results of the 2019 SSHA to be available early in the final quarter of this year.

Home Loan Scheme

Question No. 1973 answered with Question No. 1929.

Question No. 1974 answered with Question No. 1959.

Ceisteanna (1972)

James Lawless

Ceist:

1972. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when funding is expected to be released to local authorities in order that Rebuilding Ireland home loan applications can be assessed and awarded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35856/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

When the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan (RIHL) scheme was initially being developed, it was estimated that the drawdown of loans would be approximately €200 million over three years. However, the RIHL proved to be more successful than initially anticipated. My officials began engaging with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in October 2018 when higher lending and drawdown volumes were beginning to materialise. I informed the Dáil on 29 January 2019 of the scheme’s success and of the need for additional funding and indicated that my Department was in discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Finance with regard to the allocation for 2019.

Following positive engagement with my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, my Department wrote to all 31 local authorities on 15 August 2019, sanctioning an additional €363 million in funding for the RIHL, bringing total funding to €563 million for 2018 and 2019 combined.

Question No. 1973 answered with Question No. 1929.
Question No. 1974 answered with Question No. 1959.

Planning Investigations

Ceisteanna (1975)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

1975. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a report (details supplied) will be published regarding alleged serious planning irregularities in County Donegal; the reason for the delay in publishing same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35993/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Review Into Certain Planning Matters In Respect Of Donegal County Council, by Mr. Rory Mulcahy S.C., was received by my Department in June 2017.

Following initial analysis and assessment of the report’s findings and recommendations, including interaction with the Department’s own legal advisers and the Attorney General’s Office, a comprehensive set of queries and a request for advice in relation to certain matters, including potential dissemination or publication of the report, was submitted to the Attorney General's Office.

Following the receipt of the Attorney's advice, officials in my Department have considered the matter further and prepared a submission for my consideration in respect of, inter alia, the issue of publication or dissemination of the report. Once I have concluded my deliberations, I will be in a position to make a further statement.

Social and Affordable Housing Applications

Question No. 1977 answered with Question No. 1947.

Ceisteanna (1976)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

1976. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if an application for permanent housing will be expedited for a person (details supplied) in view of the circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36061/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The allocation of social housing support is a matter for the relevant local authority in accordance with the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and associated regulations. Section 22 of the Act requires all local authorities, as a reserved function, to make an allocation scheme determining the order of priority to be accorded in the allocation of dwellings to households qualified for social housing support and to households approved for a transfer, the allocation of which would, in the opinion of the authority, meet the accommodation needs and requirements of the households.

Decisions on the qualification of specific persons, including those with disabilities, for social housing support and the allocation of that support are matters solely for the local authority concerned. As Minister, I am precluded by law from becoming involved in individual cases.

The National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability, which has been extended to 2020 under Rebuilding Ireland, identifies a number of Actions to ensure that the housing needs of people with disabilities are met. One of the key initiatives under the Strategy has been the establishment of Housing and Disability Steering Groups (HDSGs) in all housing authority areas, to achieve a coordinated and integrated approach to meeting the housing needs of people with a disability at local level. These are chaired by Directors of Housing in each authority and include HSE and disability representative organisations.

Each HDSG has prepared a local Strategic Plan for its own City/County area, to develop specific local strategies to meet identified and emerging need over the next five years. These Plans, the majority of which are now available on the relevant local authority websites, along with the annual Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA), will allow local authorities to plan more strategically for the housing needs of people with a disability and will support the delivery of accommodation using all appropriate housing supply mechanisms.

Question No. 1977 answered with Question No. 1947.

Legislative Reviews

Ceisteanna (1978)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

1978. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to update the Licensing of Indoor Events Act 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36114/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

A review of public safety in Ireland is currently underway in my Department, including the licensing of both indoor and outdoor events, the planning for and management of crowd events and safety at funfairs. The Review is examining the current regime in Ireland for planning, licensing and managing such events and benchmarking against international best practice. The Review will be concluded in Q4 2019 and legislative amendments will be considered in that context.

Local Authority Staff

Ceisteanna (1979)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

1979. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of engineer position staffing requests under each engineer grade received from either Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council in 2018 and to date in 2019; the number received that were approved, pending or refused, respectively in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36131/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Under section 159 of the Local Government Act 2001, the Chief Executive of each local authority is responsible for staffing and organisational arrangements necessary for carrying out the functions of the local authority. Under current sanctioning arrangements Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council may fill engineering grade vacancies that arise, up to Senior Executive Engineer grade, within the numbers agreed through workforce planning, without recourse to my Department. An application must be made to my Department for sanction approval for additional staff outside of these agreed parameters.

Since 1 January 2018, my Department has received 15 staff sanction requests for engineering related grades from Dublin City Council, all of which have been approved, and 5 from Fingal County Council, all of which have also been approved. Details of these requests are set out in the table below.

FINGAL COUNTY COUNCIL

TITLE OF POST

NUMBER OF POSTS(S)

STATUS

2018

Senior Engineer

1

Approved

Senior Executive Engineer

4

Approved

2019

Nil

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL

TITLE OF POST

NUMBER OF POSTS(S)

STATUS

2018

Senior Engineer

2

Approved

Senior Executive Engineer

6

Approved

Executive Engineer

1

Approved

Assistant Engineer

1

Approved

2019

Senior Engineer

1

Approved

Senior Executive Engineer

2

Approved

Assistant Engineer

2

Approved

An Bord Pleanála Data

Ceisteanna (1980)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

1980. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the budget for An Bord Pleanála in each of the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36132/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Section 116 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (the Act), provides for the payment to the Board in each financial year of a grant of such amount as the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government may fix, with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. The grant goes towards financing the administration and general expenses of the Board.

While the grant-aid funding provides for the majority of the Board’s annual income, the Board also generates income from fees charged. Section 144 of the Act provides for the determination of fees payable to the Board, subject to my approval. In the main, these fees are payable to the Board by parties in respect of Strategic Infrastructure Development applications, planning appeals, referrals, oral hearing requests and certain other matters which are submitted for determination under Planning and Development, Water Pollution, and Building Control legislation.

The following table sets out the operating budget for the Board for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019. The 2019 grant-aid figure represents the amount provided in the 2019 Revised Estimates for the Public Service.

Year

Grant Aid

Miscellaneous Income (incl. income from fees)

Total Operating Budget

€m

€m

€m

2017

17.100

3.453

20.553

2018

17.488

4.595

22.083

2019

18.624

5.413

24.037

I am satisfied that the Board has the necessary resources to deliver effectively and efficiently on its important statutory mandate and functions. I and my Department will continue to engage with the Board in that regard in the years ahead.

Planning Issues

Ceisteanna (1981)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

1981. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when amending regulations for solar panel exemptions on rooftops will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36138/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, all development, unless specifically exempted under the Act or associated Regulations, requires planning permission. Section 4 of the Act and Schedule 2 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended, set out various exemptions from the requirement to obtain planning permission. Any such exemptions are subject to compliance with any general restrictions on exemptions set out in the Act or the Regulations and to the specific conditions set out in each class of exempted development in Schedule 2 of the Regulations.

With regard to exemptions for solar panels, Class 2 of Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the Regulations provides an exemption for "the installation or erection of a solar panel on, or within the curtilage of a house or any buildings within the curtilage of a house", subject to certain siting and size conditions.

Class 56 of Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the Regulations provides an exemption for "the installation or erection on a business premises or light industrial building, or any ancillary buildings within the curtilage of such premises or building, of solar panels (thermal collector or photo-voltaic), subject to certain siting and size conditions.

Furthermore, Class 18 of Part 3 of Schedule 2 of the Regulations provides an exemption for "the installation or erection on an agricultural structure, or within the curtilage of an agricultural holding, of solar panels (thermal collector or photo-voltaic)", again subject to a number of conditions.

My Department is currently undertaking a review of the solar panel exemptions, in consultation with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and other key stakeholders, with a view to bringing forward amending Regulations, as may be required, - for example, to reflect technical developments in the sector - before the end of 2019. As required under planning legislation, any such proposed exempted development regulations must be laid in draft form before the Houses of the Oireachtas and receive a positive resolution from both Houses before they can be made.

Departmental Internships

Ceisteanna (1982)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

1982. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of unpaid internships issued and or granted to persons to work in his Department over the past five years to 28 August 2019; the number of persons that took up unpaid internship roles in that timeframe; if his Department continues to offer unpaid internships; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36151/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department has taken on 3 unpaid interns to facilitate their educational requirements during the period referred to, each for a duration of approximately 3 months. There is no ongoing arrangement in place for unpaid internships; however, they will be considered on a case by case basis having regard to specific circumstances.

Quarrying Sector

Ceisteanna (1983)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

1983. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the procedure in relation to the granting of permission for large-scale rocket blasting of rock; the purposes for which the practice is authorised; the person or body that authorises same; and the way in which it is managed and overseen with particular reference to the relevant legislation and or regulations governing same. [36162/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála, as appropriate, may grant planning permission for a development, which involves rock blasting, such as a quarry. A person is not entitled solely by reasons of a planning permission to carry out development. The issuing of a permit for the use of explosives in the extractive industry, or for other purposes, is a matter for An Garda Síochána, which falls within the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality, whose Department has issued the Guide to Explosives Legislation in Ireland.

When making a decision on a planning application for a quarry, a planning authority or the Board, as appropriate, is required to have regard to the particular local circumstances of the proposed development and may attach appropriate conditions to the permission on a case by case basis.

My Department issued statutory Guidelines to Planning Authorities on Quarrying and Ancillary Activities in April 2004, to which planning authorities and the Board must have regard when considering a planning application for a quarry. The Guidelines include planning guidance on the attachment of appropriate conditions to quarry-related permissions.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, published guidelines in 2006 on Environmental Management in the Extractive Industry, which complement the 2004 Quarry Guidelines issued by my Department and include advice on the management of environmental issues associated with blasting in quarries, such as pollution, noise and vibration.

Furthermore, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is responsible for the enforcement of health and safety in the workplace, including specific requirements in relation to the use of explosives in the extractive industry under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Quarries) Regulations 2008 and its associated guidance. The HSA is under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

Cyber Security Protocols

Ceisteanna (1984)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

1984. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if there are dedicated, professionally trained and certified cybersecurity staff in relation to cybersecurity protocols under the remit of his Department; if such specialists are being recruited; if his Department maintains a risk register of security breaches; if so, if there are staff that analyse, log and maintain such a register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36231/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Cyber security specialists are of critical importance in ensuring the confidentiality, integrity and availability of an organisation's systems, files and data. My Department employs dedicated, professionally trained and certified cybersecurity staff and staffing levels are kept under ongoing review. The Department co-operates fully with the National Cyber Security Centre and implements its recommendations. A new Departmental Cyber Security Strategy 2019-2021 is currently being finalised.

For security reasons, my Department does not comment on details of its ongoing cyber security management, but regular reviews and monitoring of risk are part of the management process.

Departmental Operations

Ceisteanna (1985)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

1985. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his Department has a disaster recovery plan, business continuity plan and or disaster recovery sites; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36247/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department has ICT Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plans which would be invoked in the event of any incident that impacts service delivery. My Department also has Disaster Recovery sites. ICT applications will fail over to designated sites on occasions where the main site is not operational. The Department keeps such matters under ongoing review.