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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 447-465
 Header Item Local Authority Finances
 Header Item Housing Adaptation Grant Funding
 Header Item Illegal Dumping
 Header Item Noise Pollution
 Header Item Departmental Staff Remuneration
 Header Item Water and Sewerage Schemes Provision
 Header Item Local Government Reform
 Header Item Buidling Control Regulations
 Header Item Local Authority Housing
 Header Item Local Authority Housing Repossessions
 Header Item Closed Circuit Television Systems
 Header Item Cross-Border Co-operation

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 800 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 87 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 447-465

Local Authority Finances

 447. 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 further to Parliamentary Question No. 137 of 13 March 2013, if he will confirm the component of the €312,483,594.87 debts from previous years are more than six years old; and if local authorities are now time barred from recovering these debts. [18728/13]

 448. 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 further to Parliamentary Question No. 137 of 13 March 2013, if he will confirm the total written off by local authorities in 2012 in respect of development levies due but which were no longer collectable because of statute of limitations issues. [18729/13]

 449. 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 further to Parliamentary Question No. 137 of 13 March 2013, if he will provide a breakdown of the €312,483,594.87 of development levies due for previous years by year in which the amount became payable. [18730/13]

 450. 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 further to Parliamentary Question No. 137 of 13 March and following the filing for bankruptcy in the United States state of Connecticut by a person (details supplied) on 29 March 2013 and his listing of his creditors, if he will indicate the liability he has to Kildare County Council, Wicklow County Council and Dublin City Council; and when those liabilities arose. [18731/13]

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. 447 to 450, inclusive, together.

  The information requested is not available in my Department.

Housing Adaptation Grant Funding

 451. 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 review Kerry County Council's 2013 housing grant allocation that has been reduced by a massive 56% on the 2012 allocation; if he will allocate an additional €250,000 from the capital reserve for this scheme to County Kerry and take into consideration the volume of priority one applications that cannot now be processed due to the cuts in funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18744/13]

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 This year I set aside a small capital reserve under the suite of Grants for Older People and People with a Disability to deal with any acute or particular difficulty which might arise in the operation of the schemes over the course of the year. I recently announced supplementary allocations to 13 local authorities including an allocation of €114,694.50 to Kerry County Council. This brings the Council’s overall allocation for the year to €1,560,666.50.

Illegal Dumping

 452. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he is considering amending current legislation to allow for the naming and shaming of illegal rubbish dumpers; if his attention has been drawn to the current problem of illegal dumping throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18745/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I am well aware of the problems caused by illegal dumping and while this is a matter in the first instance for local authorities, my Department has taken a number of actions to address the issue. In 2012 , I introduced a once-off Litter Enforcement Grants Scheme, targeted specifically at the issue of fly tipping and small scale illegal dumping, encouraging local authorities to enhance their existing enforcement activities, through measures such as the purchase of CCTV equipment to allow for the effective monitoring of known litter black spots. I also launched, again in 2012, a national campaign in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland, local authorities and the Environmental Protection Agency and supported by the print media, to highlight the economic value of our environment and encouraging the public to report all incidences of illegal dumping to the Agency’s National Environmental Complaints hotline at 1850 365 121.

Existing 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 provided for 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.

Following a review of legislation in this area and notwithstanding the significant penalties currently in place, my Department is currently preparing legislative proposals that would provide for the introduction of a specific on-the-spot fine for incidences of fly-tipping or small-scale illegal dumping. I expect to be in a position to submit proposed Heads of a Bill in this regard to Government for approval shortly.

Enforcement action in relation to illegal dumping is a matter for the relevant local authority concerned and also the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Enforcement (OEE), which supervises the environmental protection activities of local authorities. My Department provides funding to support the activities of a network of local authority environmental enforcement officers and the OEE. Each local authority sets out an annual programme of action, detailing its planned enforcement action in relation to activities such as illegal dumping, towards which this funding will be utilised.

In relation to the issue of “naming and shaming”, the Data Protection Commissioner has previously indicated to my Department that actions taken by local authorities in publishing the names and addresses of persons fined or convicted as a result of littering or illegal dumping, whether by publication on their websites or by notices published in the local press and paid for by the local authority, would be in breach of the principles of data protection. These principles are contained in the Data Protection Act 1988, as amended by the Data Protection (Amendment) Act 2003, and in particular, by Section 2A of that Act. Having examined this matter in some detail, I do not plan to introduce legislation allowing for “naming and shaming” at this time.

Noise Pollution

 453. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will commit to providing any necessary funds to complete an action plan on noise reduction in the Strawberry Beds area following the noise mapping currently being conducted by the Dublin local authorities along the route of the M50 [18764/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Environmental Noise Directive (END) 2002/49/EC sets out certain requirements for the assessment and management of environmental noise from transport sources, including the making of strategic noise maps and action plans. It is important to note, however, that the Directive does not set binding limit values, nor does it prescribe the measures to be included in the action plans, leaving those issues at the discretion of the national competent authorities. The END was transposed into national law by the Environmental Noise Regulations 2006.  The Regulations designate noise mapping bodies and action planning authorities for the making of strategic noise maps and action plans. Primary responsibility for both noise mapping and action planning is assigned to local authorities. The Regulations require noise mapping bodies periodically to review and revise noise maps. A new round of noise mapping was conducted during 2012. Individual maps, along with details on the revised population exposure statistics, can be viewed at the following link-   www.dublincity.ie/WaterWasteEnvironment/NoiseMapsandActionPlans. The production of the revised noise maps is the first step in the review of the noise action plan for the Dublin Agglomeration, which is to be completed by July 2013. The draft Noise Action Plan will be made available for public consultation on the websites of the Dublin-based local authorities, with notices being placed in newspapers inviting submissions from interested parties for consideration before the Plan is finalised.

  My Department does not provide funding for implementing measures proposed in noise action plans, which is a matter for the relevant noise mapping body. Complaints about local traffic-related noise should be addressed to the relevant roads authority in the first instance. For national road schemes, potential noise emissions are addressed as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment process undertaken by, or on behalf of, the National Roads Authority.

  Question No. 454 answered with Question No. 432.

Departmental Staff Remuneration

 455. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will provide in tabular form the number of civil/public servants under the remit of his Department who earn more than €500,000, between €400,000-€500,00, €300,000 - €250,000, €250,000 - €200,000, €200,000 - €150,000, €150,000 - €100,000, €100,000 - €80,000, €80,000 - €60,000, €60,000 - €40,000 and less than €30,000. [18868/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The information requested is set out in the following table.   

Salary Range
Staff by Head Count


< €500,000
0
   
€400,000 - €500,000
0
   
€300,000 - €400,000
0
   
€250,000 - €300,000
0
   
€200,000 - €250,000
1*
   
€150,000 - €200,000
0
   
€100,000 - €150,000
22
   
€80,000 - €100,000
94
   
€60,000 - €80,000
138
   
€40,000 - €60,000
330
   
€30,000 - €40,000
126
   
> €30,000
95
   
 
806
   


*The current salary of the Secretary General of my Department is €215,590 per annum. In line with the general Government policy of a €200,000 pay ceiling for senior positions across the Public Service, she has voluntarily waived salary in excess of the €200,000 pay ceiling under Section 483 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.   

Information in respect of agencies under the remit of my Department are as follows:
Salary Range
Head Count
< €500,000
0
   
€400,000 - €500,000
0
   
€300,000 - €400,000
0
   
€250,000 - €300,000
0
   
€200,000 - €250,000
0
   
€150,000 - €200,000
3
   
€100,000 - €150,000
29
   
€80,000 - €100,000
83
   
€60,000 - €80,000
196
   
€40,000 - €60,000
257
   
€30,000 - €40,000
100
   
> €30,000
67
   
 
735

Water and Sewerage Schemes Provision

 456. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if his Department will provide approval for the production of a preliminary report to assess the current and future needs of Killarney town, County Kerry and environs with regard to waste water collection and treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18887/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Water Services Investment Programme 2010 – 2013, provides for the development of a comprehensive range of new water services infrastructure in County Kerry. The Programme includes contracts under construction and to commence to the value of over €92 million in Kerry during the period of the Programme. However, the Killarney Sewerage Scheme was not amongst the priority contracts and schemes selected for inclusion in the current Programme.

The Programme aims to prioritise projects that target environmental compliance issues and support economic and employment growth. A key input to the development of the Programme was the assessment of needs prepared by local authorities, including Kerry County Council, in response to my Department’s request to the authorities in 2009 to review and prioritise their proposals for new capital works in their areas. These were subsequently appraised in the Department in the context of the funds available and key criteria that complemented those used by the authorities. Inevitably, through this process, certain projects that had been proposed had to give way to others that were more strategically important at that time.

Progress under the Water Services Investment Programme 2010 – 2013 was reviewed in mid-2011 and through this process consideration was given to any newly emerging priority contracts and schemes submitted by local authorities for addition to the Programme. No proposal for the Killarney Sewerage Scheme was received from Kerry County Council in response to the review process.

Local Government Reform

 457. Deputy Derek Nolan Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will provide an update on current proposals to realign local development companies; his views that their role will be overtaken by county socio-economic committees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18925/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Following on from the publication of Putting People First – Action Programme for Effective Local Government, an Alignment Working Group has been established to assist and advise on the implementation of the recommendations of the Local Government/Local Development Alignment Steering Group. The Working Group is currently overseeing the practical arrangements necessary to give effect to the new local structures, including the establishment of Socio-Economic Committees in each local authority administrative area.

  Socio-Economic Committees will have responsibility for planning, oversight and management of local development and community development interventions at a local level. Local development companies will continue to have an important role in implementing the programmes for which they are contracted by my Department and others . In this regard, they will be key partners on the Socio-Economic Committees. The value of Socio-Economic Committees will be to provide for a broader-based collaboration across a wider range of publicly-funded programmes and entities, over and above those contracted to local development companies. This broader collaboration is aimed at bringing a greater strategic coherence to the implementation of such programmes at local level, for the benefit of our citizens and communities.

  Question No. 458 answered with Question No. 425.

Buidling Control Regulations

 459. Deputy Billy Timmins Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the position regarding a mandatory building certification (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19086/13]

 463. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the reason he has excluded chartered architectural technologists from the list of competent assigned certifiers under the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2013 which are to come into effect in March 2014; if he will outline his response to correspondence from a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19144/13]

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. 459 and 463 together.

  Section 6 of the Building Control Act 1990 provides for the making of building control regulations which, among other things, may require the submission to building control authorities of certificates of compliance with the requirements of the building regulations and may prescribe the designation of the persons or the classes of persons by whom certificates of compliance may be given.

  With effect from 1 March 2014 the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2013 will require, among other things, that design drawings demonstrating compliance with the requirements of the second schedule to the Building Regulations be lodged with the local building control authority prior to commencement of works and that a registered professional be assigned to inspect the implementation of the design during construction so that he/she is in a position to certify the completed building for compliance with the requirements of the second schedule to the Building Regulations. The statutory certificates of completion underpinning the procedures outlined must be signed by a registered professional i.e. a person who is included on the statutory registers of architects or building surveyors maintained in accordance with parts 3 and 5 respectively of the Building Control Act 2007 or on the register of chartered engineers established under the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland (Charter Amendment) Act 1969.

  Architects, Building Surveyors and Chartered Engineers are the construction professions typically involved in the design of construction works in Ireland and reference to these professions in regulation is entirely appropriate. It is open to persons, including members of the Architect’s Alliance of Ireland, the Group of Independent Architects of Ireland and the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists, who possess the requisite experience and competence in the design and surveying of buildings to seek inclusion on either of the statutory registers of architects or building surveyors as established under Part 3 and Part 5 respectively of the Building Control Act 2007. Inclusion on either register will enable a person to sign statutory certificates of compliance as provided for under the new regulations when they come into effect on and from 1 March 2014.

  I have recently asked Mr. Garrett Fennell, Solicitor, who is currently serving as the Chairperson of the Admissions Board relevant to the register of Architects, to carry out an independent review of the experience to date in relation to the operation of the register with a view to identifying any further improvements that can be made at this point.  The terms of reference for the review specifically address the matter of how the registration of practically trained architects can be further encouraged and I look forward to any recommendations and views the review report may offer in this regard in the coming months.

Local Authority Housing

 460. Deputy Dessie Ellis Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan when the changeover from the points system in Dublin City Council to time on record will be approved and signed off by him; if legislation is required; when it will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19099/13]

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 Under Section 22 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 all housing authorities are required to make an allocation scheme (in place of a scheme of letting priorities) for social housing. The making and amendment of such an allocation scheme is a reserved function of the elected members of each housing authority. The Social Housing Allocation Regulations 2011, which came into effect on 1 May 2011, set out the conditions that housing authorities must take into account when making their allocation schemes. Guidance on the making of allocation schemes has issued both from my Department and the Housing Agency. This guidance is available on the Housing Agency’s website ( www.housing.ie).

  My Department is currently overseeing a programme of social housing reform which includes elaborating on the allocation Regulations. The intention is to place a greater emphasis on ‘time on the list’ as a criterion for allocating local authority housing, which will provide a more transparent system for the operation of a waiting list than the current point based system operated by many authorities. While it is intended to formalise this position through Regulations, housing authorities may already pursue this approach under the current Regulations which require them to set out the manner of allocation and order of priority for their authority.

Local Authority Housing Repossessions

 461. Deputy Dessie Ellis Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan when section 62 of the Housing Act will be reviewed and legislation brought forward by him in order to close loopholes created by recent Supreme Court rulings associated with serious anti-social behaviour. [19100/13]

 462. Deputy Dessie Ellis Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if it is correct that two officials responsible for dealing with a review of section 62 of the Housing Act are no longer in these positions due to a retirement and a move; his plans to replace these officials in order to complete this review. [19101/13]

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 Questions Nos. 461 and 462 together.

The Government’s legislative programme for the Summer 2013 Parliamentary session, which was published on 16 April, includes a Housing Bill expected to be published this year that will provide, among other things, for a revised procedure for the repossession of local authority dwellings following breach of the tenancy agreement. Staff are deployed across my Department to deal with a range of business needs and take account of emerging priorities and normal staffing occurrences such as retirements and transfers.  I am satisfied that the level of staffing currently assigned to the Bill is adequate to advance the legislation as expeditiously as possible.

  Question No. 463 answered with Question No. 459.

Closed Circuit Television Systems

 464. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will give details of community based CCTV schemes (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19064/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Community-based CCTV Scheme was first launched in 2005 to provide financial assistance towards the capital costs of establishing a community CCTV system. To date, two major rounds of the Scheme have been advertised, in 2005/2006 and 2007, under which 45 substantive schemes were approved for funding. The locations of these schemes are outlined in the table below:

Athy Letterkenny
Blackpool, Cork City Limerick (5 Schemes)
Ballinasloe, Co. Galway Longford
Ballymun (5 Schemes) Mallow
Carrick-on-Suir Manorhamilton
Cavan Mullaghmatt
Clonmel Navan
Clondalkin New Ross
Corduff, Co. Dublin Sligo (2 Schemes)
Drogheda (2 Schemes ) Tallaght  (3 Schemes)
Dublin City (3 Schemes) Thurles
Dundalk Tralee (2 Schemes)
Ennis Tuam
Kilkenny Waterford City ( 2 Schemes)
Killorglin  


The current position is that all available funding provided under the previous two rounds has been fully allocated and there are currently no plans to further extend the Scheme. However, the matter will continue to be kept under ongoing review in the context of overall policy considerations and the availability of funding.

Cross-Border Co-operation

 465. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the outcome of any discussions he may have had with cross-border agencies, the Northern Ireland Executive and the British Government, in order to tackle the growing problem of cross-border fuel laundering. [19130/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy will appreciate that responsibilities with regard to the problem of fuel laundering, both in the State and in the context of cross border cooperation, arise for a number of Departments and agencies. In particular, it is worth recalling that the lead role in combating fuel laundering rests with the Revenue Customs Service who work closely with all the relevant law enforcement agencies within the State and from Northern Ireland in tackling this activity.

With regard to those responsibilities that fall within the remit of my Department, and particularly in the context of cross border cooperation in the investigation of organised crime, I can inform the Deputy that the issue of fuel laundering does, of course, feature in discussions at the various fora established for the purpose of promoting such cooperation. As highlighted in the Cross Border Threat Assessment for 2012, fuel laundering continues to be a serious concern for authorities, North and South. Recognising this shared concern a Cross Border Tobacco Enforcement Group Task Force, comprising representatives from PSNI, HM Revenue Customs, SOCA (UK), the Revenue Commissioners, An Garda Síochána and the Criminal Assets Bureau has been established to target these activities on an all island basis.

The annual Cross Border Seminar on Organised Crime, which is an important event in the law enforcement calendar for agencies on both sides of the border, provides an opportunity to assess and address the ever changing trends in crime and the related Cross Border Threat Assessment. This seminar is organised jointly each year between the Department of Justice Northern Ireland and my Department. Such cross border co-operation is further reflected in the joint Cross Border Policing Strategy which has as its aims to improve public safety throughout Ireland, to disrupt criminal activity and to enhance the policing capability of both police services on the island.

At political level, I meet and maintain contact very regularly with the Northern Ireland Minister of Justice, David Ford, to address matters of mutual concern and enhance effective co-operation and co-ordination on all criminal justice matters. Under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Co-operation on Criminal Justice Matters we operate a structured framework to further develop this co-operation. Officials from our Departments also meet regularly to assess and report to us on developments in these matters. In concluding, I can assure the Deputy that there continues to be comprehensive and positive North-South co-operation in combating all forms of cross border crime.


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