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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 150-169
 Header Item National Spatial Strategy
 Header Item Consultancy Contracts Expenditure
 Header Item Event Licences
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Applications
 Header Item Foreshore Licences Applications
 Header Item Local Authority Staff Numbers
 Header Item Leader Programmes Funding
 Header Item Local Authority Staff Recruitment
 Header Item Greenhouse Gas Emissions
 Header Item Greenhouse Gas Emissions
 Header Item Energy Conservation
 Header Item Local Authority Housing Application Numbers
 Header Item Housing Management Companies
 Header Item Water Services Provision
 Header Item Air Pollution
 Header Item Waste Water Treatment Issues

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 79 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 150-169

National Spatial Strategy

 150. 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 timescale for the development and implementation of a new national spatial strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33940/13]

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 The 2002 National Spatial Strategy (NSS) is Ireland’s first national strategic spatial planning framework. It provides the spatial vision and principles to achieve a better balance of social, economic and physical development and population growth between regions through the co-ordinated development of nine gateway cities and towns, and nine hub towns, together with complementary policies to activate the potential for lasting economic development in their hinterlands and wider regions. The NSS serves as a strategic context for spatial planning in Ireland by regional authorities in their regional planning guidelines role, and for planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála in their statutory planning functions. It also seeks to influence investment priorities particularly in transport, housing, water services, communications, energy, health and education infrastructure.

  While the existing NSS remains in place, together with Minister Hogan, I will be bringing proposals to Government shortly for a roadmap to develop a successor strategy that will take account, inter alia, of our significantly changed economic circumstances and to contribute to sustainable national recovery. A new strategy is expected to be in place in 2015.

Consultancy Contracts Expenditure

 151. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the amount his Department spent on private consultants in 2012; and the amount expected to be spent in 2013. [33967/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan As set out in Appendix 7 of Revised Estimates for Public Services 2013 published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, my Department spent some €298,000 from voted funds on consultancy in 2012 and the estimated expenditure for this purpose in 2013 is €238,000.

Event Licences

 152. 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 the number of event licences that have been issued by local authorities in 2012 for events that were for a duration of longer than two weeks; the type of events they were; the location at which they were held; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33974/13]

 153. 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 the legislation under which local authorities may issue event licences; if he will detail the current legislation; the length of time a particular event may be held continuously; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33975/13]

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. 152 and 153 together.

  Provisions in relation to event licences are contained in Part XVI of the Planning and Development Act 2000 and Part 16 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001. My Department does not hold information in relation to the number of event licences issued by local authorities.

Social and Affordable Housing Applications

 154. Deputy Michael P. Kitt Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the proposals he has to deal with the increased number of applicants for housing; the work of housing organisations and the National Asset Management Agency in housing regeneration projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34021/13]

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 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 identifies approved housing bodies (AHBs) as key partners in the delivery of social housing recognising both the constrained funding levels available for local authority construction programmes and the capacity and track-record of the voluntary and cooperative housing sector. I am determined to ensure that the social housing programme optimises the delivery of social housing and the return for the resources invested. To achieve this, it is essential that we tailor the use of available Exchequer supports to prevailing conditions and explore the full range of solutions to address housing needs.

  The financial parameters within which we will be operating for the coming years rule out a return to large capital funded construction programmes. The Government is committed to responding more quickly and on a larger scale to social housing support needs through a variety of mechanisms, including through increased provision of social housing.

  In July 2012 I announced details of a three-year funding programme of €100 million to deliver some 800 new units of voluntary and local authority owned social housing. Through active management of my Department’s housing programme for 2013, I am now in a position to approve a limited programme of house purchases for both the local authority and voluntary housing sectors. In the case of CAS funded projects, my Department requested local authorities to give priority consideration to proposals which will provide accommodation for persons with a disability. I intend to announce details of the approved projects over the summer period.

  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 for construction and acquisition.

  Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) have a proven track record in managing and maintaining housing estates and flat complexes and in the provision of services and supports to tenants with specific categories of need. AHBs currently play a key role in the management of properties and the delivery of a wide range of services to households and communities within the regeneration areas. AHBs are also directly involved in the planning and construction of new housing projects to provide replacement housing for families where existing poor quality housing is being demolished. It is also intended that AHBs will have a direct involvement in the refurbishment of houses and the provision of replacement housing in certain estates within regeneration areas.

  There is also obvious potential, across a range of housing programmes, for the Government’s objective of sourcing and providing suitable residential units for use as social housing to be aligned with the commercial objectives of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). In this regard, NAMA is working closely with my Department, the Housing Agency and with local authorities and AHBs in relation to the delivery of social housing and all parties are committed to the maximum possible delivery of residential properties under this important initiative.    

  At the end of Quarter 2 2013, 296 properties have been delivered for social housing to date from NAMA's portfolio, with contracts signed in respect of a further 101 properties.  This brings the overall total number of residential properties completed or committed to social housing under this initiative to date to just under 400 properties.

  While these properties did not form part of any specific Regeneration programme, they include some properties where the approved housing body has substantial works to complete to make them suitable for occupation.  NAMA has invested some €6m to date in the works required to complete properties. It will continue to be my Department's objective in 2013 to maximise the delivery of social housing using all of the resources available.

  Quarterly updates in relation to the delivery of NAMA sourced units are available on my Department’s website at www.housing.ie.

Foreshore Licences Applications

 155. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the position regarding a foreshore licence application (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34044/13]

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 The Chief State Solicitor’s Office issued a draft foreshore lease to solicitors acting for Crosshaven Community Association on 30 April 2013. A further draft was issued on 3 May 2013. This would normally signal that an application is close to conclusion. However, the Association subsequently requested a revision to the legal structure of the lease, with a view to naming the relevant local authority as the lessee.

The CSSO has been further notified by my Department of the urgency in finalising the legal instrument and has confirmed that the matter will receive priority.

Local Authority Staff Numbers

 156. 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 the number of dog wardens employed by local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34052/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Statistics on a range of dog control issues are available on my Department’s website at http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/StatisticsandRegularPublications/DogControl/. These statistics include the number of dog wardens employed by local authorities which in 2012 was 44 full-time and 22 part-time staff.

Leader Programmes Funding

 157. 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 in view of the fact that €39 million in Leader funding was handed back this year, the action he is taking to ensure that this situation will not be allowed to recur this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [34068/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan My Department is closely monitoring the situation with regard to the allocation and drawdown of programme funding. I have recently advised all Local Development Companies of their Programme allocations and I have given a commitment to examine the position at 31 August with a view to reallocating any remaining available funding to ensure that all funding is allocated before the end of 2013. It is now up to each Local Development Company to ensure that their revised allocation is fully committed by the end of August and that they ensure full expenditure as soon as possible and in any event before the end of 2014.

I am also asking the Local Development Companies to re-examine their administration spending to see if it can be reduced in order to free up additional funding for projects. It is imperative that the spend on projects is maximised and that local communities see the benefits on the ground. I am convinced that savings can be made in this area.

Local Authority Staff Recruitment

 158. 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 the number of requests received in 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013 from a local authority (details supplied) in County Wicklow seeking sanction to fill positions at the local authority; the outcome of each of these requests; the nature of each of the positions; the term of the contract in each case where the filling of the position was sanctioned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34083/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan My Department received 20 staff sanction requests from Wicklow Council in 2011, 67 staff sanction requests in 2012 and 48 staff sanction requests to date in 2013. The information in relation to these sanction requests is set out in the following table.

Date of Staffing Request Title of Post(s) No. of Post(s) Type of Contract sought Outcome Where Approved, Type of Contract Given
11/02/2011 Senior Resident Engineer 1 Contract Approved Contract
11/02/2011 Project Liaison Officer 1 Contract Approved Contract
11/02/2011 Assistant Resident Engineer 1 Contract Approved Contract
11/02/2011 Assistant Resident Engineer 1 Contract Approved Contract
18/02/2011 Accessibility Officer 1 Contract Approved Contract
23/02/2011 Wastewater Caretaker 1 Permanent Approved Permanent
11/04/2011 Senior Resident Engineer 1 Contract Approved Contract
11/04/2011 Resident Engineer 1 Contract Approved Contract
06/05/2011 Executive Solicitor 1 Contract Approved Contract
07/06/2011 Sports Co-ordinator 1 Permanent Refused N/A
10/06/2011 Fire fighters 2 Supernumerary Approved Supernumerary
10/06/2011 Retained Firefighter 5 Permanent Approved Permanent
23/06/2011 Civil Defence Officer 1 Permanent Approved Permanent
15/09/2011 Chief Fire Officer 1 Permanent Approved Permanent
21/12/2011 Senior Executive Officer 1 Contract Approved Contract
06/02/2012 Retained Firefighter 3 Permanent Approved Permanent
06/02/2012 Town Overseer 1 Permanent Approved Permanent
22/02/2012 Project Resident Engineer 1 Contract Pending N/A
22/02/2012 Senior Resident Engineer 1 Contract Approved Contract
22/02/2012 Senior Resident Engineer 1 Contract Pending N/A
22/02/2012 Resident Engineer 1 Contract Approved Contract
22/02/2012 Assistant Resident Engineer 1 Contract Pending N/A
22/02/2012 Clerical Officer 1 Contract Pending N/A
28/02/2012 General Service Supervisor 2 Permanent Approved Permanent
22/03/2012 Station Officer - Fulltime 1 Permanent Approved Permanent
21/05/2012 Fieldworker 38 Contract Approved Contract
07/06/2012 Retained Firefighter 2 Permanent Approved Permanent
05/07/2012 Marine Officer 1 Permanent Approved Permanent
25/07/2012 Retained Firefighter 1 Permanent Approved Permanent
25/07/2012 Resident Engineer 1 Contract Approved Contract
25/07/2012 Assistant Resident Engineer 1 Contract Approved Contract
14/08/2012 Water Services Caretaker Grade 5 1 Contract Pending N/A
14/08/2012 Resident Engineer 1 Contract Approved Contract
24/09/2012 Environmental Technician 1 Permanent Approved Contract
24/09/2012 Executive Environmental Technician 1 Contract Approved Contract
04/12/2012 Senior Resident Engineer 1 Contract Approved Contract
04/12/2012 Resident Engineer 1 Contract Approved Contract
04/12/2012 Site Technician 1 Contract Approved Contract
05/12/2012 Senior Resident Engineer 1 Contract Approved Contract
05/12/2012 Resident Engineer 1 Contract Approved Contract
05/12/2012 Assistant Resident Engineer 1 Contract Approved Contract
10/01/2013 Irish Officer 1 Permanent Refused N/A
05/03/2013 Retained Firefighter 5 Permanent Approved Permanent
09/04/2013 Irish Officer 1 Permanent Appeal N/A
13/05/2013 Senior Executive Officer 1 Permanent Approved Permanent
17/05/2013 Fieldworkers 38 Contract Approved Contract
20/05/2013 General Operative 2 Contract Approved Contract

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

 159. 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 EU target reductions are being met here in each of the past five years to date; the areas in respect of which further improvement is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34103/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan As signalled by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the latest national greenhouse gas emission projections published on 25 April 2013, Ireland is on course to confirm compliance with its target for the purposes of the Kyoto Protocol in the commitment period 2008-2012.

  Based on current projections published by the EPA in April 2013, Ireland faces a potential challenge to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by some 24 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2e) over the period 2013-2020 in order to comply with the legally binding requirements of EU Decision 406/2009/EC. In addressing compliance with the Decision, Ireland must follow an emissions reduction trajectory over the eight-year period and achieve an overall 20% reduction in relevant emissions by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. I am satisfied that Ireland is on course to comply with the mitigation trajectory in the first half of the compliance period. I will review progress in terms of meeting the compliance challenge in the years 2017-2020 having regard to the outcome of the on-going Programme for the development of national climate policy and legislation.

  Details of Ireland’s emissions over the last 5 years were published on 15 April 2013 in the EPA’s report,“Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990-2011” which is available on the EPA’s website (www.epa.ie).

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

 160. 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 carbon emissions arising from bituminous fuel has stabilised in the course of the past four years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34104/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The ban on the marketing, sale and distribution of bituminous fuel (or ‘smoky coal ban’) was first introduced in Dublin in 1990 in response to severe episodes of winter smog that resulted from the widespread use of smoky coal for residential heating with consequential health impacts.  Air quality monitoring carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that the ban proved very effective in reducing particulate matter and sulphur dioxide levels in Dublin. The ban was subsequently extended in several phases.

  The EPA published its Review of Ambient Air Quality Monitoring in Ireland in December 2010 , which examined the effectiveness of the smoky coal ban. The Review found that the ban on the sale of smoky coal has reduced levels of particulate matter in those areas where it applies by 15-20%. However, levels of particulate matter remain a concern where there is widespread reliance on solid fuel for residential heating, particularly in towns where the ban on smoky coal does not apply, with the result that air quality in some smaller towns is worse than in larger cities. The EPA recommended that the ban be further extended to all urban areas.

  The smoky coal ban has since been further extended:

- from August 2011 to Athlone, Carlow, Clonmel and Ennis; and

- from May 2013 to Greystones, Letterkenny, Mullingar, Navan, Newbridge, Portlaoise and Wicklow.

  In addition, the boundaries of most existing smoky coal ban areas were revised with effect from September 2012 to take account of more recent urban development. A ban on the burning of smoky coal inside ban areas was also introduced to complement the established ban on its marketing, sale and distribution. The ban now applies in 27 cities and towns, including all urban areas with a population greater than 15,000 people.

  Air quality monitoring undertaken by the EPA has shown improvements in air quality in towns added to the ban in 2011. The results and analysis of EPA monitoring data will be made available in the next EPA annual air quality monitoring report, which is expected to be published in September. However, further monitoring will be needed to ascertain the impact of the most recent revisions to the ban introduced since September 2012.

  Details of Ireland’s carbon emissions over the last 5 years were published on 15 April 2013 in the EPA’s report, Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990–2011 which is available on the EPA’s website (www.epa.ie).

  This report notes that solid fuel (coal & peat products) use in homes declined by 8% in 2011 compared to 2010.

Energy Conservation

 161. 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 it is expected to conserve energy by way of home or commercial building insulation; the degree to which improvements have taken place in this regard over the last four years; his expectations for the future in the short and medium term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34105/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Programme for Government contains a commitment to further improve the energy efficiency of new buildings with a view to moving towards carbon neutral homes in the longer term. In tandem with this commitment, Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings requires EU Member States, inter alia, to ensure that all new buildings will be nearly zero-energy by 31 December 2020 (or by 31 December 2018 in the case of new buildings owned and occupied by public authorities).

  The Directive broadly defines a ‘nearly zero-energy building’ as a building with a high energy performance where the very low amount of energy required should, to a very significant extent, be met by energy from renewable sources, including renewable energy produced onsite or nearby.

  Against this background, Ireland has been making significant progress in terms of both improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon dioxide emissions within the built environment. Taking the energy efficiency requirements established in 2005 as the benchmark, the Building Regulations (Part L Amendment) Regulations 2007 set the requirements necessary to achieve a 40% improvement (over the 2005 standards) in the energy and carbon performance of new dwellings. The requirements were subsequently upgraded under the Building Regulations (Part L Amendment) Regulations 2011 which has delivered a 60% aggregate improvement (relative to 2005 standards) in both the energy and carbon performance of new dwellings.

  Part L 2011 marks an important step on the road to carbon neutrality and puts Ireland at the forefront of EU Member States in terms of energy efficiency standards for new dwellings. All the signs indicate that Irish builders and manufacturers continue to innovate and adapt their approaches and products to meet new standards as they continue to evolve progressively over time. This is important in terms of continuing the development of the market for energy efficient buildings and products domestically while also increasing the considerable potential that exists for high energy efficiency products in export markets.

  My Department has recently prepared a nearly zero energy plan for buildings that will enable us to meet our obligations under Directive 2010/31/EU within the prescribed timeframe. In relation to buildings other than dwellings, this will involve amending the Part L requirement in two phases between now and 2020 in order to deliver a 60% aggregate improvement (relative to 2005 standards) in both the energy and carbon performance of new buildings in that category. In relation to dwellings one further upgrade of the Part L requirement is envisaged. Any proposed changes to the Building Regulations Part L will be subject to a comprehensive public consultation process and a rigorous regulatory impact assessment before such changes may be signed into law.

Local Authority Housing Application Numbers

 162. 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 total number of families currently registered on local authority housing lists; the extent to which rent support in lieu of rehousing continues to remain a budgetary matter; the extent to which, in the short to medium term, the local authority house building programme is likely to feature as a means of reducing this expenditure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34106/13]

 163. 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 he will indicate, by each local authority, the number of housing applicants for local authority housing currently registered; his plans to address the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34107/13]

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. 162 and 163 together.

  My Department does not hold information on the number of applicant households for social housing support, or on the number of households on local authority waiting lists. These figures fluctuate as households are allocated housing and new households apply for support.

  In accordance with Section 21 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, I directed all housing authorities to prepare a summary of social housing assessments carried out in their areas on 7 May 2013. A report on the results will be published in the autumn and this will provide an important insight into the level and type of need for social housing support across the country. The results of the assessment carried out in 2011 are available on my Department’s website www.environ.ie and the Housing Agency’s website www.housing.ie.   

  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. I am determined to ensure that the social housing programme optimises the delivery of social housing and the return for the resources invested. To achieve this, it is essential that we tailor the use of available Exchequer supports to prevailing conditions and explore the full range of solutions to address housing needs.

  The financial parameters within which we will be operating for the coming years rule out a return to large capital funded construction programmes. The Government is committed to responding more quickly and on a larger scale to social housing support needs through a variety of mechanisms, including through increased provision of social housing. In July 2012 I announced details of a three-year funding programme of €100 million to deliver some 800 new units of voluntary and local authority owned social housing. This includes a construction programme for 185 local authority houses and 111 houses for special needs accommodation, for the Approved Housing Bodies. 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 for construction and acquisition. There is also obvious potential, across a range of housing programmes, for the Government’s objective of sourcing and providing suitable residential units for use as social housing to be aligned with the commercial objectives of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). My Department and the Housing Agency are engaged with NAMA to ensure the identification of suitable housing units for social purposes and this process is on-going.

  In spite of the challenging circumstances within which local authorities must operate it is provisionally estimated that in the region of 5,000 units will be provided for social housing in 2013.   

  The payment of rent supplement is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Social Protection.

Housing Management Companies

 164. 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 total number of housing associations nationwide that have benefitted from the capital allowance housing scheme; the number of such bodies that have malfunctioned or have failed to meet their statutory obligations or the company legislation; the procedure to restore such housing schemes to local authority management in the short and medium term; the nature of legislation required, if any, to effect such transfer in view of the fact that the entirety of the cost was borne by the Exchequer in the first instance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34108/13]

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 A total of 704 housing associations were granted approved status by my Department under Section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act,1992 for the provision and management of housing. Of these, some 444 have been approved for funding for the construction and/or acquisition of properties under the Capital Funding Schemes.

My Department’s role in relation to the voluntary housing capital funding schemes relates primarily to the provision of funds to support the annual housing construction and acquisitions programmes progressed by the sector. The funding schemes are administered by the local authorities and it is a matter for the relevant housing authority to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of the schemes, and to have appropriate oversight and liaison arrangements in place for their effective administration and for ensuring that the substantial investment in voluntary housing is safeguarded. Matters relating to compliance by Approved Housing Bodies (AHB’s) with company law fall within the remit of the Companies Registration Office.

I will very shortly publish the Voluntary Regulation Code which has been developed by my Department to provide a framework within which statutory regulation of the AHB sector will be pursued. This will provide support and assurance both to the sector itself and to its external partners as it takes on the expanded role envisaged in my Department’s housing policy statement. The Code will assist housing bodies to improve their governance, management and financial capabilities and will facilitate better oversight of the AHB sector.

AHB’s are the de facto owners of the properties provided under the funding schemes for voluntary and co-operative housing. Subject to the approval of the local authority and contingent on having a Mortgage Deed in place, the assets and housing stock of an AHB can be transferred to another AHB. The need to make specific provision for the transfer of assets between AHB’s or from an AHB to a local authority will be considered in the context of the development of the statutory framework.

Water Services Provision

 165. 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 he and-or his Department has identified the full extent of capital investment required to augment-upgrade and or otherwise improve the sourcing, transmission and storage of domestic water supplies; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [34109/13]

 166. 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 total capital investment in the augmentation of drinking water supplies in each of the past five years to date; when he expects the existing faulty pipe systems to be replaced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34110/13]

 167. 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 total investment in waste water management in each of the past five years to date; the expected expenditure in this area over the next five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34111/13]

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. 165 to 167, inclusive, together.

  The overall strategy of investment in water services is to ensure that the timing and scale of investment facilitates economic and other development, achieves compliance with statutory requirements and promotes environmental sustainability objectives. The main vehicle for achieving these objectives for public domestic water supplies is the multi-annual Water Services Investment Programme.

  The current Programme, which runs to the end of 2013, provides for the commencement of contracts with a value of over €800m in relation to water supply infrastructure. This includes contracts to address deficiencies in the quality of supply, to improve the overall capacity of the system and an accelerated programme of mains rehabilitation. The programme also provides for the commencement of contracts with a value of about €1 billion in relation to waste water infrastructure.   

A breakdown of expenditure over the past 5 years is set out in the following table below.

Year Water Water Conservation Waste   water

 
Total WSIP Spend
 - €m €m €m €m
2008 121 31 239 391
2009 130 27 255 412
2010 85 38 284 407
2011 92 38 220 350
2012 78 39 151 268


Responsibility for the provision of water services will pass to Irish Water at the end of the year.

  Insofar as future capital investment is concerned, it is envisaged that in developing investment plans for public water services, Irish Water will take account of the requirements flowing from the programmes of measures in River Basin Management Plans, and the need to support economic and regional development. Irish Water is engaged with the Department, and the Water Services Transition Office established by the County and City Managers’ Association, in planning the transition of the current water services capital programme, as well as looking at longer-term strategic planning for the sector and developing an appropriate asset management plan. Irish water will continue to prepare over the coming months to assume statutory responsibility for the delivery of the public water services capital programme from 1 January 2014.

Air Pollution

 168. 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 air pollution continues to be monitored on an ongoing basis throughout the country; the number of such points currently operational; the degree to which a rise and fall in any particular air pollutants has been recorded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34112/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The ambient air quality monitoring programme in Ireland is carried out to meet the requirements of EU Directive 2008/50/EC on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe, also known as the CAFÉ Directive. The Directive requires that certain minimum levels of monitoring are conducted for the purpose of assessment and management of air quality. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has responsibility for the monitoring of air quality in Ireland, and monitors a range of atmospheric pollutants based on data obtained from the 30 monitoring stations that form the national ambient air quality network.

The EPA publishes also an annual report on air quality, based primarily on the monitoring requirements of the CAFÉ Directive. The most recent report, Air Quality in Ireland 2011 – Key Indicators of Ambient Air Quality, was published in September 2012 and provides an assessment of air quality in Ireland for 2011, compared to the CAFÉ Directive standards. The forthcoming report for 2012 will also include, for the first time, assessments in relation to more stringent World Health Organisation (WHO) air quality guidelines for the protection of human health.

Downward trends have been identified for many pollutants and while no exceedances of current limit values were recorded for 2011, levels of particulate matter (PMs) are a concern, especially where there is widespread reliance on solid fuel for residential heating, particularly in towns where the ban on smoky coal does not apply. Having different standards applying to coal between larger urban and smaller urban/rural locations is not ideal, as it results in different levels of environmental protection and clean air benefits for people across these different locations. For this reason, on 6 May 2013, I announced a joint North-South study on all-island air quality to examine air pollution from residential solid fuel, in particular ‘smoky’ coal, to consider the potential policy options to reduce such emissions with consequential environmental and human health benefits.

Air quality monitoring results have also shown that nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels in larger urban areas, derived mainly from road traffic, have remained relatively static since 2002, with signs of a slight increasing trend in the years 2008-2010. Further reductions of NO2 levels will require improved emission standards from new vehicles, reduced demand for private road transport, increased use of alternatives to the private car such as cycling, walking and public transport.

Waste Water Treatment Issues

 169. 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 total expenditure on waste water treatment approved for County Kildare in each of the past five years to date; the extent of any such required expenditure in the future in the short and medium term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34113/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Recoupment by my Department to Kildare County Council in respect of expenditure by the council on waste water infrastructure in the past five years is set out in the following Table:

Year Recoupment
2008 €1.25m
2009 €12.07m
2010 €7.54m
2011 €13.25m
2012 €4.12m
  

My Department’s Water Services Investment Programme 2010–2013, a copy of which is in the Oireachtas Library, contains an indicative list of waste water schemes and contracts in County Kildare on which expenditure has been, or will be, incurred up to the end of 2013.

  Responsibility for the provision of water services will pass to Irish Water at the end of the year.

  Insofar as future capital investment is concerned, it is envisaged that in developing investment plans for public water services, Irish Water will take account of the requirements flowing from the programmes of measures in River Basin Management Plans, and the need to support economic and regional development. Irish Water is engaged with my Department, and the Water Services Transition Office established by the County and City Managers’ Association, in planning the transition of the current water services capital programme, as well as looking at longer-term strategic planning for the sector and developing an appropriate asset management plan. Irish Water will continue to prepare over the coming months to assume statutory responsibility for the delivery of the public water services capital programme from 1 January 2014.


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