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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 415-426
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Provision
 Header Item Motor Tax Rates
 Header Item Foreshore Issues
 Header Item Leader Programmes Applications
 Header Item Local Authority Staff Recruitment
 Header Item Local Authority Funding
 Header Item Local Authority Housing Provision
 Header Item Local Authority Expenditure
 Header Item EU Regulations
 Header Item Waste Management

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 861 No. 1

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Written Answers Nos. 415-426

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

 415. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly the basis of the identification for the need for 35,000 additional properties for social housing as prepared by the Housing Agency on page 13 of the Government's social housing strategy; if he will publish the analysis; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [46798/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly The Social Housing Strategy 2020, approved by Government and published last month, builds on the provisions contained in Budget 2015 and sets out clear, measurable actions and targets to increase the supply of social housing, reform delivery arrangements and meet the housing needs of all households on the housing list. The total targeted provision of over 110,000 social housing units, through the delivery of 35,000 new social housing units and meeting the housing needs of some 75,000 households through the Housing Assistance Payment and Rental Accommodation Scheme, will address the needs of the 90,000 on the housing waiting list in full, with flexibility to meet potential future demand.

  The Strategy delivery target of 35,000 new social housing units is in line with the level of necessary new provision which the Housing Agency has identified based on their analysis of the results of the Housing Needs Assessment. The Summary of Social Housing Assessments 2013 identified 89,872 households assessed by local housing authorities as being eligible and in need of some form of social housing support. As part of the reporting exercise, additional information on households was collected including, household composition, category of need and current tenure type for each household. I understand that the Housing Agency analysis utilised all data collected to estimate the additional new social housing supply requirement. I have asked the Housing Agency to publish a report of its analysis and findings on its website,
www.housing.ie.   

  Chapter 2.4 of Social Housing Strategy 2020: Support, Supply and Reform, entitled the “The Nature and Scale of Social Housing Need”, provides details on the factors that were taken into account in arriving at the overall delivery target of 35,000 new social housing units.

  The Strategy contains 37 actions, including a commitment to carry out the Housing Needs Assessment on an annual basis from 2016 onwards and to review progress on delivery of the Social Housing Strategy, including all targets and underlying assumptions, by Q1 2017.

Motor Tax Rates

 416. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly if he will review the policy on commercial motor tax in view of the difficulties it is posing for small farmers and the variation in implementation from county to county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46830/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly Motor tax is based on the construction and use of a vehicle. In order to qualify for the commercial rate of motor tax, a vehicle must be constructed or adapted for use as a goods vehicle and used solely for the conveyance of goods in the course of trade or business.

Licensing authorities have an obligation under Article 3 of the Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing)(Amendment) Regulations 1992 to be satisfied that a vehicle is correctly taxed and it is thus open to a motor tax office to seek supporting documentation when commercial motor tax is being applied for. Such documentation may include a certificate of commercial insurance or evidence of registration for VAT purposes or, at the discretion of the licensing authority concerned, any other appropriate documentation that would indicate that the applicant is in trade or business. It is up to the individual concerned to provide whatever evidence is required by the licensing authority in order for it to be satisfied that the applicant is entitled to the commercial rate of motor tax, which is effectively a concessionary rate.

Foreshore Issues

 417. Deputy Derek Nolan Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly the enforcement action that has been taken regarding complaints of in-fill of the foreshore (details supplied) in County Galway; if he will provide an update on the situation and its history; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46832/14]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Paudie Coffey): Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey My Department is currently consulting with the Chief State Solicitor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office in order to identify the most suitable approach for dealing with the issues arising at the Old Mud Dock in Galway . My Department will consider what actions are appropriate in light of final legal advice on these issues.

Leader Programmes Applications

 418. Deputy Michelle Mulherin Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly the status of an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; if it will be expedited due to the time taken to process the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46839/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly My Department has been in contact with Mayo North East Leader Partnership and I understand that they have not received any application in the name of the promoter referred to in the Question.

  Question No. 419 answered with Question No. 414. 

Local Authority Staff Recruitment

 420. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly if he will lift the recruitment embargo in Cork County Council to allow them to hire outdoor staff as since the embargo was put in place in 2008 Cork County Council have lost a total of 893 staff and front line services have been severely affected with the loss of one third of outdoor staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46940/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly The moratorium on recruitment and promotion in the public service was introduced in March 2009 in response to the financial crisis. My Department operates a delegated sanction from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for implementation of the moratorium in relation to local authorities, and any exceptions to the moratorium in local authorities require sanction from my Department.

Under section 159 of the Local Government Act 2001, each Chief Executive is responsible for staffing and organisational arrangements necessary for carrying out the functions of the local authorities for which he or she is responsible. In this regard, it is a matter for each Chief Executive, in the first instance, to ensure that the moratorium is implemented while the appropriate service levels are maintained.

My Department works closely with Cork County Council in relation to the Council’s overall staffing requirements. The Council’s staffing requests are examined on a case by case basis having due regard to the continued delivery of key services in the context of staffing and budgetary constraints. In considering sanction requests public safety, maintaining key front line services, and economic issues are given precedence.

As announced in the Budget, it is proposed that with effect from 2015, the moratorium and the Employment Control Framework for the Public Service will be lifted but recruitment or promotion will be subject to adherence to binding 3 year pay ceilings. Staffing resources must be managed within these overall ceilings. Detailed arrangements in terms of the local authority sector will be worked out between my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Local Authority Funding

 421. Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Sligo County Council has been incurring revenue deficits over the past six years and that the cumulative revenue debt now stands at €19.67 million while the council's long-term debt is in excess of €120 million; if his Department has received the council's long-term financial plan which the Department asked to be submitted on or before 24 January 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46964/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly It is a matter for each local authority, including Sligo County Council, to determine its own spending priorities in the context of the annual budgetary process having regard to both locally identified needs and available resources. The elected members of a local authority have direct responsibility in law for all reserved functions of the authority, which include adopting the annual budget and authorising borrowing, and are democratically accountable for all expenditure by the local authority.

The continued deterioration of Sligo County Council’s financial position is of serious concern to me. While it is a matter for individual local authorities to manage their own day-to-day finances in a prudent and sustainable manner, my Department is in regular consultation with the Council in relation to its financial position, including in relation to the agreement of a long term financial plan; this process is ongoing.

Local Authority Housing Provision

 422. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly if he will be providing direction on the way capital funding will be allocated by local authorities to single rural cottages housing applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47016/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly As housing authorities, local authorities are responsible for the identification of the social housing need in their area and the development of appropriate responses to the need identified. My Department is working with all local authorities on the planning and development of new social housing units that could be advanced in 2015 and beyond to meet the social housing need in their areas. This could include the development of single rural dwellings where identified and prioritised by local authorities in response to any call for proposals under my Department’s Local Authority Social Housing Construction and Acquisition Programme.

Local Authority Expenditure

 423. Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly if it has been brought to his attention that Sligo County Council in its budget for 2015 has included a sum of €50,000 to help fund a golf tournament; if it is the intention of his Department to provide matching funds for the event; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47052/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly It is a matter for each local authority to determine its own spending priorities in the context of the annual budgetary process having regard to both locally identified needs and available resources. The elected members of a local authority have direct responsibility in law for all reserved functions of the authority, which includes adopting the annual budget, and are democratically accountable for all expenditure by the local authority.

It is not the intention of my Department to provide match funding for this event as I have no function in relation to this matter.

EU Regulations

 424. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on  Zoom on  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly the consultations that took place regarding the EU standard EN 1090 regarding structural steel and aluminium which came into effect in July 2014; if pre-legislative scrutiny took place; the groups which were consulted regarding its potential impact; his response to its introduction at each stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47059/14]

 446. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly the consultations that took place here regarding the EU standard EN 1090 regarding structural steel and aluminium which came into effect in July 2014, if pre-legislative scrutiny process was entered into; the organisations that were consulted regarding its potential impact; if a regulatory impact assessment was prepared and published and if so, if he will provide it in the response; the interaction his Department or any other Departments' input was to its introduction at every stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47275/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 424 and 446 together.

  The development of European standards is principally a matter for the CEN (ie the European Committee for Standardisation ) of which the National Standards Authority of Ireland is a member . My Department’s role relates to overseeing the implementation of the overarching Construction Products Regulation (and its predecessor , the Construction Products Directive). In this regard, my Department has been working with a wide range of organisations in both the public and private sectors in order to ensure that the construction industry was made aware of, and could prepare for, the Construction Products Regulation, and that an effective system of market surveillance would be in place, when it came into full effect in Ireland (and throughout the European Union ) on 1 July 2013.

  EN 1090-1 Execution of steel structures and aluminium structures - Part 1: Requirements for conformity assessment of structural components is one of a series of standards for the execution of steel and aluminium structures developed by a European standardisation technical committee, CEN TC 135, which is responsible for the standardisation of rules for execution of steel and aluminium structures for building and civil engineering works, including rules for inspection and control. Membership of CEN TC 135 is open to all CEN members, including the National Standards Authority of Ireland. Harmonised European standards are developed through an open and transparent process, are built on consensus between all interested parties and are published as national standards when formally adopted and published. My Department understands that public engagement was held in late 2004 - early 2005 on the standard when it was in draft form , ahead of its adoption in 2008, and its ultimate entry into force earlier this year.

  I understand that a significant number of steel fabricators operating in the State have already established the systems necessary to comply with their obligations under the Construction Products Regulation and the requirements of I.S. EN 1090-1. While my Department will continue to work with all stakeholders to facilitate the implementation of the Construction Products Regulation in Ireland, I would urge all affected steel fabricators to make the arrangements necessary to comply with their obligations under both the Construction Products Regulation and I.S. EN 1090-1 at the earliest possible opportunity.

Waste Management

 425. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on  Zoom on  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly if he will provide in tabular form with respect of each of the relevant local authorities, the date on which domestic refuse charges were introduced; the date on which competition was introduced; and the date on which the service was fully privatised. [47064/14]

 426. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on  Zoom on  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly if he will provide in tabular form with respect of each of the relevant local authorities, the amount each local authority charged when domestic refuse charges were first introduced; the dates and amounts of subsequent increases in the charges; and the current charges for domestic refuse collection. [47065/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 425 and 426 together.

Local authorities have statutory responsibility, under section 33 of the Waste Management Act 1996, to collect, or arrange for the collection of, household waste within their functional areas. In recent years and following a transitional phase in some cases whereby local authorities continued to offer services in parallel with private operators, the significant majority of local authorities fully exited the waste collection market at different times with private collectors now providing household waste collection services in all but three local authority areas.

For those authorities still active in the waste collection market, the making of a charge in respect of a waste service is a local authority executive function under section 75(8) of the Waste Management Act 1996, as amended. Authorities that have now withdrawn from the market would also have set their own fees under the relevant legislative provisions in force at the time. Where a private operator provides the collection service, it is a matter for that operator to determine charges. Consequently, the information sought in relation to charges either by local authorities or private collectors or the introduction of private collection services in different local authority areas is not held in my Department.


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