Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1002-1020
 Header Item State Bodies Numbers
 Header Item Appointments to State Boards
 Header Item Local Authority Charges Application
 Header Item Property Taxation Application
 Header Item Mortgage Arrears Report Implementation
 Header Item Nitrates Action Programme Implementation
 Header Item EU Directives
 Header Item Homelessness Strategy
 Header Item Waste Management Regulations
 Header Item Pyrite Remediation Programme
 Header Item Local Authority Charges Application

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 774 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 162 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 1002-1020

State Bodies Numbers

 1002. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Communications; Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the number of State bodies that have been set up since 9 March 2011; the rationale behind these decisions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39993/12]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte I wish to advise the Deputy that I have not set up any State Bodies since taking office on 9th   March 2011.

Appointments to State Boards

 1003. Deputy Gerald Nash Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Communications; Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the number of appointments that have been made to positions available on the boards of semi-State companies and statutory agencies following public advertisement; if he will provide details of the names of persons who have been appointed under this initiative and the agencies on which they now sit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40031/12]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte I wish to advise the Deputy that on the 3rd of June 2011 I invited Expressions of Interest from persons wishing to be considered for appointment to vacancies on State Boards under the aegis of my Department, which were expected to occur up to the end of 2011. On 9th February 2012 I invited further expressions of interest from persons wishing to serve on any of the Boards under the aegis of my Department. The Deputy will appreciate that appointments to State Boards are made in accordance with the relevant governing statute and I am not obliged to make appointments from tendered expressions of interest and have the discretion to do so if I consider it appropriate.

  The following table sets out details of appointments made from expressions of interest received.

Body Appointee
An Post Mr James Wrynn
- Mr Paul Henry
Bord na Móna Mr John Horgan
EirGrid Ms Regina Moran
- Mr Liam O’Halloran
Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland Ms Julie O’Neill
TG4 Mr Joe Connolly
- Mr Des Geraghty
Digital Hub Development Agency (DHDA) Mr Paul Holden
Ordnance Survey Ireland OSI Mr Padraic Jordan

Local Authority Charges Application

 1004. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the measures he has implemented to improve competitiveness in relation to commercial rates and water rates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37404/12]

 1005. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan his policy on commercial rates and water rates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37415/12]

 1098. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan when a re-evaluation of commercial rates will take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38445/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I propose to take Questions Nos. 1004, 1005 and 1098 together.

Local authorities are under a statutory obligation to levy rates on any property used for commercial purposes in accordance with the details entered in the valuation lists prepared by the independent Commissioner of Valuation under the Valuation Act 2001. The levying and collection of rates are matters for each individual local authority. The annual rate on valuation (ARV), which is applied to the valuation of each property, determined by the Valuation Office, to obtain the amount payable in rates, is decided by the elected members of each local authority in the annual budget and its determination is a reserved function.The Commissioner of Valuation, who has sole responsibility for all valuation matters, is conducting a programme of revaluation of all commercial and industrial properties throughout the State on a county by county basis. The purpose of the revaluation process is to provide for more consistent and up-to-date valuations for rating purposes and to assist in providing a more equitable distribution of valuations across those liable to pay rates.

The Commissioner, in consultation with my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, has been reviewing various options for streamlining the valuation process and speeding up the national revaluation programme. In this regard, the Government agreed to the drafting of an amending Bill and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform recently published the Valuation (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012.

Commercial rates income makes a significant contribution to the current funding requirements of local authorities. Rates provide the means by which local authorities can fund the services essential to communities, and therefore business, across the full range of local activities including roads, water and waste services, fire and emergency, libraries and a range of community, amenity and social activities.

I have, however, asked local authorities to exercise restraint in setting their Annual Rate on Valuation (ARV) in the context of the adoption of their 2012 budgets. From the adopted Budgets for 2012 submitted to my Department by the 88 rating local authorities, 68 authorities have maintained their ARVs at 2011 levels and 19 local authorities have reduced their ARVs. One local authority has increased its ARV and will continue to increase it until 2015, but this is a technical adjustment and legal requirement following the extension of a town boundary. Overall, the average change of ARV from 2011 to 2012 shows a decrease of 0.31%.

I recognise that these are difficult economic times for many businesses and I will continue to keep all matters relating to rates under consideration in my Department.

In relation to water charges, local authorities are required to recover the cost of providing water services from all non-domestic users of these services. This is in accordance with the polluter pays principle and the requirements of Article 9 of the EU Water Framework Directive. The policy provides for full cost recovery without profit, with charges based on actual metered consumption. The cost of providing water services to the non-domestic sector includes elements of infrastructure provision including meter installation and operation and maintenance costs, and varies from authority to authority. The Programme for Government provides for the introduction of a fair funding model to deliver clean and reliable water. The Government considers that charging based on usage is the fairest way to charge for water and it has therefore been decided that water meters should also be installed in households connected to public water supplies.

The Government has also decided, based on the recommendations of an independent assessment and in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government, to establish a public water utility company, Irish Water, to take over the operational and capital delivery functions of local authorities in the water services area. The establishment of Irish Water will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of water services delivery and ensure competitively priced water services are made available to users of these services.

Property Taxation Application

 1006. Deputy Peter Mathews Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan his views on the difficulties surrounding the introduction of a fair property tax (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37734/12]

 1009. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he has consulted the Department of Finance on possible exemptions to the property tax based on a person’s pension or a variation of the tax to reflect different levels of income or a person’s relative means. [38034/12]

 1010. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if a new property tax will be applied to commercial buildings. [38350/12]

 1011. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the length of time it will take to implement a property tax; the model that will be used and estimates of compliance percentages. [38926/12]

 1012. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will bring forward proposals for a property tax based on a person's or household's ability to pay rather than on the size or value of their property; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39163/12]

 1130. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the property tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39222/12]

 1090. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding property taxation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38241/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I propose to take Question Nos. 1006, 1009 to 1012, inclusive, 1090 and 1130 together.

An independently-chaired Inter-Departmental Expert Group was established to consider the structures and modalities for an equitable local property tax to replace the household charge. The Group recently submitted its report to me and its recommendations will be considered in due course. Proposals will be brought to Government as soon as possible and it will then be a matter for the Government to decide on the exact details of implementation taking into account the modalities involved. The Government has decided that the local property tax will be collected and administered by the revenue Commissioners.

Mortgage Arrears Report Implementation

 1007. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan his views on mortgage to rent schemes (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37791/12]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan On foot of the recommendations of the Keane Report on mortgage arrears, the Government launched a mortgage to rent scheme on a pilot basis in February 2012. This scheme was extended nationally in June 2012, targeting those low income families whose mortgage situation is unsustainable and where there is little or no prospect of a significant change in circumstances in the foreseeable future. The scheme ensures that the family remains in their home, while ownership is transferred to an approved housing body who in turn rent it to the original owners.

Householders seeking to avail of the mortgage to rent scheme must meet the following criteria: have had their mortgage deemed unsustainable under a Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process as provided for under the Central Bank’s Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears; agree to a voluntary repossession of their home; be eligible for social housing support, and; not have significant positive equity in the property.

Additionally applicants must own the property, and it must have a current market value of less than €220,000 in the Dublin area or less than €180,000 in the rest of the country. The property must be in good condition, be in a suitable location and must suit the household’s needs. In addition applicants must not own any other property or have assets in excess of €20,000 and the net household annual income must not exceed a maximum of €35,000, depending on its location. Borrowers wishing to avail of this scheme may access further information on the Housing Agency website, www.housing.ie.

Nitrates Action Programme Implementation

 1008. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if in view of the very wet weather this summer and the need to conserve fodder it is intended to relax the rules in relation to the spreading of fertiliser this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37893/12]

 1065. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if in view of the very wet weather this year it is intended to extend the latest date for slurry spreading this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37894/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I propose to take Questions Nos. 1008 and 1065 together.

I am keenly aware of the challenges farmers are facing as a result of the very difficult weather conditions this summer. In order to assist with this situation, I have decided to grant an extension to the period during which chemical fertiliser may be applied. The closed period for chemical fertiliser will now commence on 1 October 2012 instead of 15 September 2012. I have also decided to extend the period for spreading livestock manures produced on farms. In this instance, the closed period was due to start on 15 October 2012 but will not now commence until 1 November 2012.

The purpose of these extensions is to allow farmers the opportunity to optimize the management of manure disposal on their farms while also addressing fodder shortages through extended grazing. In the interest of minimising the risk to the aquatic environment and maximising the return on application, farmers should apply fertilisers as early as possible, as conditions allow. Application is conditional on weather and ground conditions being suitable as set out in the Nitrates Regulations.

  Questions Nos. 1009 to 1012, inclusive, answered with Question No. 1006.

EU Directives

 1013. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will report on the recent passing of European Parliament legislation on reducing the sulphur levels in shipping fuels; if it will have any impact on the Irish shipping sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39228/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan In July 2011 the European Commission published a proposal to revise Directive 1999/32/EC (the ‘sulphur content of liquid fuels directive’) that regulates the maximum level of sulphur permitted for fuels used in the shipping sector. Following negotiations between Member States and the European Commission, the proposal was adopted by the European Parliament on 11 September 2012. All EU Member States will be required to transpose the new Directive into national law.

  The aim of the new Directive is to reduce air pollution from the shipping sector thereby protecting human health and the environment. This will be achieved through a lower sulphur content limit for marine fuel in order to reduce sulphur oxide emissions. Ireland supported the aim of the new Directive throughout the negotiation process and welcomes its adoption by the European Parliament.

  The new Directive, for the most part, aligns EU legislation with the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (known as the MARPOL Convention). Ireland is party to MARPOL and has already implemented most of the provisions of the new Directive through regulations previously given effect by the Minister for Transport, the Sea Pollution (Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships) Regulations 2010).

  The difference between MARPOL and the new Directive is the timing of the introduction of the new lower 0.5% sulphur content limit in marine fuel. Under MARPOL, and current national legislation giving effect to MARPOL, the 0.5% maximum sulphur content limit will apply in 2020 or in 2025, depending on an IMO review to be completed in 2018. The new Directive introduces the 0.5% sulphur content limit for marine fuel in 2020 regardless of the outcome of the 2018 IMO review.

  The provisions of the new Directive apply equally to shipping operators in all EU Member States. The new Directive also provides for a degree of greater clarity in that 2020 is now confirmed as the deadline by which the shipping sector must prepare for the switchover to lower sulphur fuel.

Homelessness Strategy

 1014. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan his plans to phase out the use of bed and breakfast accommodation for dealing with homeless persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37017/12]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan 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 related services for homeless persons rests with the housing authorities and the implementation of the homeless strategy at local and regional level is being carried out through the framework of statutory homelessness action plans adopted by housing authorities.

Government policy envisages a move away from the traditional bed and breakfast accommodation with the emphasis on housing authorities adopting a housing led approach. This will reduce the amount of time spent in homeless services, in particular bed and breakfast accommodation, eliminate the need to sleep rough and place prevention at the forefront of the delivery of services.

Waste Management Regulations

 1015. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan in view of the ongoing waste dumping in our forests, bogs, and all over our country, if he will consider amending the Waste Management Act 1996 to include rewards to citizens who assist in bringing convictions either by supplying evidence or by taking cases themselves; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37018/12]

 1016. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will consider amending the Waste Management Act 1996 to include on the spot fines for dumping; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37019/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I propose to take Questions Nos. 1015 and 1016 together.

Penalties available under the Litter Pollution Acts for litter offences range from an on-the-spot fine of €150, to a maximum fine of €3,000 on summary conviction, and a maximum fine of €130,000 on conviction on indictment. The fines for continuing offences are €600 per day for summary offences and €10,000 per day for indictable offences. A person convicted of a litter offence may also be required by the court to pay the local authority’s costs and expenses in investigating the offence and bringing the prosecution.

Penalties for more serious dumping offences available under the Waste Management Acts are also substantial. Persons who are found to be responsible for, or involved in, the unauthorised disposal of waste are liable to a maximum fine of €3,000 on summary conviction and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months, and to a maximum fine of €15 million on conviction on indictment and/or imprisonment for up to 10 years. The fines for continuing offences are €1,000 per day for summary offences and €130,000 per day for indictable offences. Under section 58 of the 1996 Act (as amended) a court may also make an order which requires a person who is holding, recovering or disposing of waste in a manner that is causing environmental pollution to remediate the effects of their actions in a specified manner and within a specified period. It is at the discretion of the local authorities, which have responsibilities for enforcement of both the Litter Pollution Act and the Waste Management Act, to decide whether a specific incident warrants the application of either Act.

My Department is currently considering the introduction to the Waste Management Act of an on-the-spot fine for incidences of fly tipping/small scale illegal dumping of a significantly higher quantum than that which exists under the Litter Pollution Act. There are no plans to amend the Waste Management Act to include rewards to citizens who assist in bringing convictions at this time.

My Department is also running an anti-dumping campaign in the print media to raise awareness of the value of our countryside both environmentally and economically. The campaign includes the contact details for the National Environmental Complaints hotline (1850 365 121) to encourage the reporting of instances of illegal dumping. I believe that the combined efforts of the public, communities, local authorities and the Environmental Protection Agency will produce a reduction in such instances and result in a cleaner countryside.

Pyrite Remediation Programme

 1017. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the date on which he expects a testing protocol to be put in place for the testing of pyrite in homes; the date on which he expects all the actions in the pyrite report to be implemented; when he expects remedial work to be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37020/12]

 1074. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he agrees with the designation of an amber category in the Pyrite Panel report which could lead to homeowners affected by pyrite being unable to access remediation works and removal of pyrite from their homes and unable to sell their homes due to no fault of their own; who he proposes will be responsible for conducting the monitoring of pyrite damage on an ongoing basis for homes in this category; if he will ensure instead that all homes with reactive pyrite have the infill removed and replaced and are certified pyrite free without delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37944/12]

 1076. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will ensure that pyrite remedial works are carried out in a systematic rather than an ad hoc manner to ensure homeowners receive full structural certification and avail of economies of scale given the impact both pyrite damage and remedial works can have on adjoining properties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37946/12]

 1079. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will ensure that all pyrite remedial works are coordinated and managed by an independent person/agency and not by HomeBond which the Pyrite Panel clarified for the Oireachtas environment committee was responsible for managing only a handful of the properties remediated so far and does not have extensive experience of managing the remediation specifically of pyrite related damage as noted on page 113 of the Pyrite Report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37949/12]

 1081. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he proposes to take action to identify pyrite affected developments and counties as further pyrite related problems emerge; the person homeowners should contact if they suspect that their home or development is affected by pyrite now that the Pyrite Panel has completed its work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37951/12]

 1113. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if, arising from the report of the Pyrite Panel, he intends to proceed with a particular plan to mutualise or share the responsibility for pyrite damage between the various bodies including the insurers and HomeBond with a view to achieving the highest possible level of protection for the householder; if it might be feasible to compile a federation of suppliers of product, builders, HomeBond and any relevant insurers culminating in the creation of an insurance bureau which might share any liability arising and thus protect the consumer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36902/12]

 1136. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the extent to which progress is being made to address the on-going issue of pyrite; if the full extent of the problem is being identified, quantified or costed; if he has studied the points raised by the Pyrite Action Group with a view to identifying a financial structure and a comprehensive plan to deal with the issues arising with particular reference to the need for the adoption of a fully integrated system to deal with the issues in order that householders can be reassured and that the financial impact on them can be minimised by way of home bond or other insurance provisions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39316/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I propose to take Questions Nos. 1017, 1074, 1076, 1079, 1081, 1113 and 1136 together.

Homeowners affected by pyrite are faced with very difficult and challenging situations and my objective in setting up the Pyrite Panel was to find solutions for those homeowners. My focus now is to ensure that the recommendations in the pyrite report are implemented in a way that delivers solutions for the affected homeowners. Liability for the problem must lie with the responsible parties. The costs of remediating pyrite damaged dwellings must fall to those stakeholders who are deemed to be responsible for the pyrite problem and who are identified in the pyrite report.

I have always said that the State is not responsible or liable for the pyrite problem and this position is vindicated in the pyrite report which clearly states that those parties with direct or indirect responsibility for the pyrite problem should bear the costs of remediation. Those identified as having responsibility include quarries, material suppliers, vendors, builders/subcontractors and relevant insurance companies.

On receipt of the pyrite report I immediately engaged in discussions with the key stakeholders, the Construction Industry Federation, the Irish Concrete Federation, HomeBond, the Irish Banking Federation and the Irish Insurance Federation and outlined my position to them and what I expected from them in the context of advancing solutions for homeowners. I have set a deadline of the end of September for them to come back to me with credible solutions. As I have previously stated, my preferred approach to deal with this problem is for the stakeholders to take ownership of the problem and work with me in advancing solutions for affected homeowners. However, in the absence of credible proposals from the stakeholders, I will consider an imposed solution along the lines recommended in the report in relation to the establishment of a Resolution Board which could be funded by a levy on the construction/quarrying sectors and the related insurance sector.

I have asked the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) to develop a testing and categorisation protocol for reactive pyrite in sub-floor hardcore material and a method statement to provide guidance for the remediation of pyrite damaged dwellings. This work has already commenced. The NSAI has set up two broad based Technical Standards Committees with people who have expertise in the particular areas and they have also sought written submissions from the public. They are aware of the timeframe which the Pyrite Panel suggested for the completion of this work and they are also aware of the urgency I am attaching to it. The testing protocol will facilitate the categorisation of dwellings to determine the appropriate approaches to remediation and provide guidance on how monitoring of pyrite damage should be undertaken. It will also incorporate a certification process.

I agree with the proposition in the pyrite report that it would be unreasonable to expect dwellings not exhibiting damage to be remediated simply because there is pyrite in the hardcore and this position is supported in the High Court judgement of Mr Justice Charleton in the case of JEC-v-Irish Asphalt which is on appeal to the Supreme Court. The pyrite report details the basis for arriving at this decision. I believe the approach suggested by the Pyrite Panel to classify the dwellings into red, amber and green is a practical solution to prioritise the remediation of affected dwellings.

The Pyrite Panel recommends progressive implementation of the report’s recommendations. Implementation of many of the recommendations requires the involvement and co-operation of a number of stakeholders and other bodies and may also involve detailed policy and legislative considerations. The Pyrite Panel included a detailed Implementation Plan in its report identifying the bodies with primary responsibility for implementation of the various recommendations. While it is not possible to put a definite timeframe on implementation at this early stage, I will be working with those bodies identified in the Implementation Plan to achieve progress as quickly as possible.

Recommendations in relation to the development of a mandatory certification system for buildings and a registration process for builders are currently being dealt with by my Department under the Building Control reform programme that I announced last year. I hope to have revised Building Control Regulations signed in the next few months.

The Pyrite Panel undertook a desktop study, in conjunction with stakeholder consultation, to establish facts in relation to the potential exposure to pyrite problems. The information was gathered from a number of sources including local authorities, structural guarantee providers, representatives of homeowners, private builders, construction professionals and public representatives and was cross referenced, to verify, as far as practicable, its validity. Seventy four estates were identified to the Panel which amounts to 12,250 ground floor dwellings. Of these dwellings, the Panel understands that approximately 850 dwellings currently have a claim with a guarantee provider and a further 1,100 dwellings have already been remediated or are in the process of being remediated, leaving the remaining 10,300 ground floor dwellings as the estimated future potential exposure to pyrite. However, it should be noted that in the case of 23 estates (included in the figure of 74 above), with 3,250 ground floor dwellings, there are no claims with structural warranty companies or no other evidence to support the view that they have pyrite problems other than being notified to the Pyrite Panel. Taking cognisance of the methodology used to conduct the study and the rate of presentation in Ireland to date, I am reasonably confident that the figures given represent the extent of potential future exposure to pyrite.

Local Authority Charges Application

 1018. Deputy Noel Grealish Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the rationale considered by him or his Department in preparing the Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 which led to tenants of residential properties not being considered as having any liability for the local services to which the charge contributes through the local government fund. [37021/12]

 1019. Deputy Noel Grealish Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if legislation suggesting that tenants of residential properties are not liable for the household charge is discriminatory, in view of the fact that tenants, whether in public or private accommodation, benefit from the local services provided through the charge, notwithstanding the legislative provision that certain buildings are not considered as residential for the purposes of the legislation. [37022/12]

 1020. Deputy Noel Grealish Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan his views on the provision in standard residential letting contracts whereby owners of private residential property can legally pass on the household charge and the non-principal private residence charge to tenants. [37023/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I propose to take Questions Nos. 1018 to 1020, inclusive, together.

  The household charge is a charge levied on the ownership of property, not on its occupation. The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 provide the legislation underpinning the household charge.

  Under the legislation, an owner of a residential property on the liability date of 1 January 2012 is liable to pay the household charge by 31 March 2012, unless otherwise exempted or entitled to claim a waiver. Section 1 of the Act provides a definition of “owner” for the purposes of the Act, which, in relation to a residential property, means -

(a  ) a person (other than a mortgagee not in possession) who -

(i) in the case of a residential property that is let under a lease or held under a tenancy for a term not exceeding 20 years, is entitled to receive the rent under that lease or tenancy whether in his or her own right or as trustee or agent for another person, or

(ii) in the case of a residential property that is not so let or so held, would, subject to paragraph (b)  , be so entitled if the residential property were so let or so held, whether in that person’s own right or as trustee or agent for another person,

or

(b  ) where the property is let under a lease or held under a tenancy for a term exceeding 20 years, the person (other than a mortgagee not in possession) who is the lessee under that lease or tenant under that tenancy.

  A tenant holding a lease of less than 20 years’ duration, whether in public or in private rented accommodation, is not an owner of the property in which he or she is living and is therefore not liable in respect of that property. The legislation governing tenancies generally is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality.


Last Updated: 06/05/2020 09:09:44 First Page Previous Page Page of 162 Next Page Last Page