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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 117 - 123
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Provision
 Header Item Building Regulations Application
 Header Item Building Regulations Application
 Header Item Water and Sewerage Schemes Provision
 Header Item Library Projects
 Header Item NAMA Social Housing Provision

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 3

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Written Answers Nos. 117 - 123

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

 117. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he anticipates an allocation of funding towards the construction of houses under the voluntary housing initiative during 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56020/12]

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 The Government’s housing policy statement, published in June 2011, clearly identifies that the priority for Government will be to meet the most acute needs of households applying for social housing support. It also recognises the approved housing body sector as a key partner in the delivery of social housing solutions for low-income families and persons with specific categories of housing need.

Delivery of social housing will be significantly facilitated through more flexible funding models such as the Rental Accommodation Scheme and leasing, but the Government is also committed to developing other funding mechanisms that will increase the supply of permanent new social housing. Such mechanisms will include options to purchase, build to lease and the sourcing of loan finance by approved housing bodies (AHBs) for construction and acquisition. In this regard, the Housing Finance Agency has received eighteen applications from AHBs for Certified Borrower status and awarded such status to five bodies, with a number of others currently being assessed. The Agency has approved six applications for 128 social housing units in total (at a valuation of €11.6 million).

I am conscious that the move from capital funded programmes of construction and acquisition by AHBs to more revenue funded options presents challenges for them. I intend to develop an enabling regulatory framework for the sector that will provide support and assurance both to the sector itself and to its external partners as it takes on the expanded role envisaged for it by Government and to underline its status as a viable and attractive investment opportunity for financial institutions. My Department is actively working with the sector on the development of a voluntary code which I expect most bodies will endorse. This code, which should be finalised and agreed in the coming months, will serve as a learning opportunity for the sector and for my Department as we develop a longer-term statutory framework that will best support the enhanced role of AHBs.

Under the Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS), funding of up to 100% of the approved cost is available for the provision of accommodation to meet the needs of persons with specific categories of housing need including older people, people with an intellectual, physical or mental health disability, the homeless, returning emigrants and victims of domestic violence. My Department’s involvement with these voluntary and co-operative housing schemes relates primarily to the provision of funds for individual projects. The detailed administration of the schemes, and the certification that projects comply with the terms and conditions of the funding schemes, are the responsibility of the relevant local authority.

In early 2012, some €46 million in CAS funding was allocated to local authorities in respect of existing commitments on CAS projects then underway. In July I announced details of a €35 million programme of special needs housing provision which is intended to deliver some 377 housing units at 55 locations across the country. Approvals were based on local housing need and on the priority afforded to individual proposals by local authorities.

Projected levels of activity in 2013 will be subject to the financial provision for housing determined in the context of the 2013 Estimates.

Building Regulations Application

 118. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if housing associations, such as an association (details supplied), are obliged to have building energy rating assessments carried out if requested by their tenants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56022/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Where a building, including a dwelling, is commissioned or offered for sale or letting the European Communities (Energy Performance of Buildings) Regulations 2006 – 2008 require the building owner to obtain a Building Energy Rating (BER) certificate and advisory report in respect of the building concerned and to provide a copy of same to any person who expresses any interest in availing of the offer to sell or let the building. This statutory obligation also applies in the case of dwellings which are owned by housing associations and which are offered for sale or letting . However there is no statutory obligation on any landlord or housing association to obtain a building energy rating in respect of a building which was originally let to its current tenant on or before 1 January 2009, the date on which the relevant statutory requirement came into general application. In such cases, the statutory obligation to obtain a BER certificate will arise if and when the dwelling is again offered for sale or letting.

Building Regulations Application

 119. Deputy Eric Byrne Information on Eric J. Byrne Zoom on Eric J. Byrne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the position regarding a flue stove (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56066/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Part J of the Building Regulations requires a heat producing appliance to have adequate provision for the discharge of the products of combustion to the outside air, and any heat producing appliance, flue pipe, or chimney to be designed and constructed so as to reduce to a reasonable level the risk of the building catching fire as a consequence of its use.

Technical Guidance Document J, published by my Department, gives guidance on how to comply with Part J. In particular, guidance is given covering the appropriate location of flue terminals for both natural draught and balanced flue appliances, shielding of flue pipes from combustible materials, encasement of flues where passing through compartment walls and floors and the need for provision for flue cleaning.

The relevant distances for flue locations are based on the European standard EN 15287-1: 2007 Design, Installation and Commissioning of Chimneys - Part 1 Chimneys for non-room sealed heating appliances, which deals with all fuel type appliances.

The distance of not less than 2.3m from an adjoining building as specified in TGD J is therefore in keeping with European standards.

It is worth noting, however, that the building regulations and European standard referred to above are primarily concerned with ensuring public safety and minimising the risk of fire. Airborne pollution and air-related public nuisance are addressed under the Air Pollution Act 1987. Section 24(2) of the Air Pollution Act, 1987, stipulates that an occupier of any premises must not cause or permit an emission in such a quantity, or in such a manner, as to be a nuisance. Where it appears necessary in order to prevent or limit air pollution, a local authority may serve a notice on the occupier of any premises from which there is an emission. In any prosecution brought against the occupier of a premises causing an emission it is a good defence to establish that the best practicable means have been used to prevent or limit the emission concerned.

  Statutory responsibility for the enforcement of the Air Pollution Act, as well as regulations made under the Act, is vested in the relevant local authority, in this case Dublin City Council.

The Office of Environmental Enforcement (OEE) of the Environmental Protection Agency supervises the environmental protection activities of local authorities. This function includes supervising the enforcement of air pollution legislation by local authorities. In this regard, the OEE is a resource for members of the public who have exhausted all other avenues in regard to a local authority response to an environmental complaint they have made.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Provision

 120. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan his plans to deal with the fact that almost two thirds of the raw sewerage pumped into the sea 50 yards from the coast at Rush, County Dublin, is untreated in view of the fact that this is in breach of EU and Environmental Protection Agency regulations. [56092/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The operation, maintenance and management of existing sewerage infrastructure is a matter for the relevant water services authority, in this case Fingal County Council.   

The Portrane/Donabate/Rush/Lusk Sewerage Scheme is included in my Department’s Water Services Investment Programme 2010 – 2013, with some elements to advance to construction and others to advance through planning during the lifetime of the Programme.   

Some contracts of the scheme, including the new wastewater treatment plant, are being advanced or have been completed, while others , including works within the Rush catchment, are still at the planning stage. Fingal County Council has recently requested my Department to review the priority of the Rush element of the scheme with a view to advancing relevant contracts to procurement and construction. This request is under consideration and a decision will be made as soon as possible.   

Library Projects

 121. Deputy Michelle Mulherin Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the total amount of Exchequer funding approved for the development of the Jackie Clarke Library, Ballina, County Mayo; the date on which the various tranche of payments will be made; when he expects the final payment to be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56127/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The library in question is not part of my Department’s public library capital programme .   

NAMA Social Housing Provision

 122. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the numbers of homes acquired from the National Assets Management Agency for the provision of social housing from March 2011 to date in 2012. [56141/12]

 123. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan his future plans for social housing and the National Assets Management Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56142/12]

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 I propose to take Question Nos. 122 and 123 together.

To the end of November 2012, 133 housing units have been provided from the portfolio of units identified by NAMA. Of these units 49 are funded under leasing arrangements with the balance of units delivered (84) purchased with funds from the local authority social housing capital investment programme or by Approved Housing Bodies under the Capital Assistance Scheme. A further 24 were the subject of a private sale with Cluid Housing Association.

Since December 2011 NAMA has identified over 3,800 properties as being potentially available for social housing. The Local Authorities and the Housing Agency are working systematically with NAMA to determine if there is a social housing demand for properties identified as potentially suitable for social housing, including the need for accommodation for those who are homeless. Where a demand is identified this information is provided to NAMA and efforts are made to secure as many of the suitable properties as possible for social housing. This will continue to be my Department's objective in 2013, to maximise the delivery of social housing using all of the resources available. Leasing offers us the most effective and efficient way of doing this more generally, taking account of not just the availability of resources but also market conditions and the need for a broader range of more flexible delivery mechanisms than the traditional methods of social housing provision.


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