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Written Answers - Water Services

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 433.  Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan  his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the Water Services Bill. [16835/12]

 436.  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 Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan  his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding building regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16940/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan I propose to take Questions Nos. 433 and 436 together.

The Building Regulations in general provide for the safety, health and well-being of persons in and around buildings. The regulations are reviewed on an ongoing basis and any proposed amendments are subject to a full regulatory impact analysis and detailed public consultation prior to their being signed into law.

A number of the concerns expressed in the correspondence supplied extend beyond the scope of the Building Regulations and into matters such as the regulation of trade, consumer protection and environmental protection, which are addressed elsewhere under either national and/or EU law.

Having specific regard to the issues raised in relation to the recent Water Services Act, the European Court of Justice issued a ruling against Ireland in October 2009 regarding domestic waste water from septic tanks and Ireland’s obligations under the EU Waste Directive. The Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 is the key measure to achieve compliance with the Court ruling and to avoid the imposition of financial penalties by the Court. The Court is due to consider an application for the imposition of fines and penalties on this matter later this year. It should be noted that the 2012 Act augments the existing duty of care responsibility for householders that was established under section 70 of the Water Services Act 2007.

In the context of proposals to reform the building control system, in July 2011, I announced a number of measures to be advanced by my Department and local authorities with a view to improving compliance with, and oversight of, the requirements of the Building Regulations.

In broad terms the measures will involve: the introduction of mandatory certificates of compliance by builders and the designers of buildings confirming that the statutory requirements of the Building Regulations have been met; the lodgement of drawings at both commencement and completion of construction, demonstrating how buildings have been designed and built to comply with all parts of the Building Regulations; more efficient pooling of building control staff and resources across the local authority sector to ensure more effective and meaningful oversight of building activity; standardised approaches and common protocols to ensure nationwide consistency in the administration of building control functions; and better support and further development of the building control function nationwide.

It is my view that the introduction of the measures proposed will have the capacity to improve the quality of buildings and will lead to a further strengthening of the building control system. The proposed Building Control (Amendment) Regulations providing for mandatory certification and the submission of drawings will be the subject of a public consultation to be announced in mid-April 2012.


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