Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 403-423
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Heritage Council Funding
 Header Item Turbary Rights
 Header Item European Council Meetings
 Header Item Arts Funding
 Header Item Turbary Rights
 Header Item Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Payments
 Header Item Semi-State Bodies Dividends
 Header Item European Council Meetings
 Header Item Television Reception
 Header Item Energy Resources
 Header Item Television Reception
 Header Item Broadband Services Provision
 Header Item Television Reception
 Header Item Tribunals of Inquiry Reports
 Header Item Local Authority Charges Application
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Local Authority Housing Provision
 Header Item Climate Change Policy
 Header Item Pyrite Issues
 Header Item Household Charge Exemptions

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 96 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 403-423

Carer's Allowance Applications

 403. Deputy John Perry Information on John Perry Zoom on John Perry asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if carer's allowance will be granted to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57050/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I confirm that the department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on the 14 August 2012. The application is with a deciding officer for a decision. Once processed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Heritage Council Funding

 404. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan his views on the reduction in the number of thatched houses and premises in existence here in view of the fact that their numbers are decreasing each year due to the high maintenance cost and high insurance costs that many of them are not being lived in or worked in; if he will bring forward some proposals to ensure this traditional part of Irish heritage is maintained; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56995/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan Part IV of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2011 provides for the protection of architectural heritage. The Act gives primary responsibility to planning authorities to identify and protect architectural heritage, including thatched buildings, by including them on the Record of Protected Structures. Inclusion on the Record of Protected Structures places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers to deal with development proposals affecting them and to seek to safeguard their future. While the overall number of thatch roofs declined in the second half of the 20th century, legislative protection and heightened awareness of this part of our national heritage has ensured that this decline has stabilised.

  There are a number of State financial supports currently available to owners/occupiers of thatched structures. In 2012, my Department provided €500,000 in grant-aid assistance through a Structures at Risk Fund administered by local authorities to assist with works to safeguard structures protected under the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2012, including the conservation of two thatched structures. It is hoped that the Structures at Risk Fund will be continued in 2013.

  The Heritage Council, which is funded by my Department, administers a grants scheme to REPS 4 participants on the conservation and repair of traditional farm buildings, known as the Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme. Grants are available under this scheme to carry out approved conservation works to the exterior of farm outbuildings including roofs. I understand that, subject to continued availability of funding, a call for applications for the 2013/14 scheme will be issued next year.

  I further understand that the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government administers a grant scheme for the renewal or repair of thatched roofs of owner occupied houses.

  The level of funding available in 2013 and future years for these schemes will be subject to the normal Budgetary and Estimates processes. As the Deputy can appreciate, the scope for additional funding for the conservation of the built heritage is constrained by the significant reduction in the public finances.

  In relation to policy and guidance matters, my Department, with the assistance of an Expert Advisory Committee representing key stakeholders, is currently finalising a review of the operation of Part IV of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2012. The review will consider the need, in the light of current economic circumstances, to develop alternative ways of supporting the conservation of protected structures, including thatched structures.

In addition, as part of an Architectural Advice Series, my Department plans to publish an advice book on thatching in 2013, which will include further practical advice and guidance on aspects of conserving and restoring thatched structures. The nine previously published booklets in the Architectural Advice Series cover areas such as roof and energy efficiency for traditionally built buildings. The full series is available on my Department’s website at www.ahg.gov.ie  .

  The issue of insurance for historic buildings, including thatched structures, has been raised by my Department with both the Financial Services Regulator and the Irish Insurance Federation. My Department will continue to keep this issue under review.

Turbary Rights

 405. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan further to Parliamentary Question No. 416 of 19 July 2012, the number of applications received on a county basis; the numbers on hand, rejected or approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56505/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan 25 such applications (Roscommon - 10, Offaly – 14, Kildare - 1) were received in my Department. No applications were approved. All applicants were advised in writing that the activity for which consent was sought would be likely, both individually and in combination with other plans and projects, to have a significant effect on the European Site concerned and, therefore, likely to require an Appropriate Assessment. The applications in question fall within the scope of Regulation 31 of the European Communities (Birds and Habitats) Regulations 2011, which sets out a procedure to determine whether such applications require consent under the Planning and Development Acts.

My Department offered to have individual cases referred to An Bord Pleanála for a determination as to whether planning permission is required. To date, this offer has not been taken up by any of the applicants.

European Council Meetings

 406. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the formations of the EU Councils of Ministers on which he sits; the number of meetings of that Council held from 9 March 2011 to date in 2012; the number of those meetings he attended; the number attended by a Minister of State; the number attended by an Irish official; and if he will provide the names of those who attended in tabular form. [56541/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan As Irish Minister with responsibility for the culture elements of the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council (EYCS), I attend meetings of that Council grouping, as required. There have been five meetings of the EYCS grouping since 9 March 2011 to date. As the EYCS Council meeting in February 2012 dealt only with Education matters, there was no requirement for attendance from the culture perspective.

  In relation to the Environmental Council, I also attend meetings where matters relating to my Ministerial responsibilities arise. I attended this Council in December 2011 and June 2012 as items for discussion were relevant to my Department.

Relevant details are set out in the following tables.

Education, Youth, Culture & Sport Council (Culture elements) Ministerial attendance Deputy Permanent Representative attendance Attendance by other officials
May 2011 No Yes Yes – Attaché and PO Cultural Institutions Division
November 2011 Yes -Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht,

Dinny McGinley
Yes Yes – Attaché and PO Arts Division
May 2012 Yes - Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan Yes Yes – Attaché and PO Arts Division
November 2012 Yes - Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan Yes Yes – Attaché and PO Arts Division
Environment Council

(Biodiversity element)
Ministerial Attendance Deputy Permanent Representative attendance Attendance by other officials
December 2011 Yes - Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan Yes Yes - Assistant Secretary, Heritage area
June 2012 Yes - Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan Yes Yes - Assistant Secretary, Heritage area and Attaché

Arts Funding

 407. Deputy Jack Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan when all the funding will be released for the completion of the Picture Palace Theatre in Galway city; if there is a completion date for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56815/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan I welcome the recent progress made on the project and look forward to continued progress in 2013.

  In line with the general practice in relation to capital projects grant aided by my Department, the release of funding depends on certain requirements being met by the project promoters. The Solas Picture Palace project is no different in this regard and the release of grant aid will be considered in line with those requirements.

  The completion date is a matter for the project promoters to determine.

Turbary Rights

 408. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan when a person (details supplied) in County Cavan will obtain compensation in respect of the cessation of turf cutting at Cloughbally/Killacunny Bog, County Cavan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56919/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan The qualifying criteria for the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme, administered by my Department, are that the claimant must have a legal interest in one of the 53 raised bog special areas of conservation – ownership or turbary right; the claimant must have been the owner or entitled to exercise turbary rights on the land in question on 25 May 2010; the turbary on the site must not be exhausted; the claimant must have been cutting turf on the land in question during the relevant five year period; and no turf cutting or associated activity is ongoing on the property.

An application for compensation under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme has been received by my Department from the individual referred to in the Deputy’s Question. I understand that he does not appear to have a legal interest in the site through ownership or a turbary right and he had not been extracting turf from the site in the relevant five year period.

My Department is considering the position of those who have applied for compensation but do not appear to fulfil the qualifying criteria of the scheme for a variety of reasons and will be writing to all such applicants in relation to their position in due course.

Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Payments

 409. Deputy Jack Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan further to Parliamentary Question No. 383 of 17 July 2012, if there has been any further progress in regard to this land folio (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56942/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan The qualifying criteria for the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme, administered by my Department, are that the claimant must have a legal interest in one of the 53 raised bog special areas of conservation – ownership or turbary right; the claimant must have been the owner or entitled to exercise turbary rights on the land in question on 25 May 2010; the turbary on the site must not be exhausted; the claimant must have been cutting turf on the land in question during the relevant five year period; and no turf cutting or associated activity is ongoing on the property.

An application for compensation under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme has been received by my Department from the individual referred to in the Deputy’s Question. I understand that he had not been extracting turf from the site in the relevant five year period.

My Department is considering the position of those who have applied for compensation but do not appear to fulfil the qualifying criteria of the scheme for a variety of reasons and will be writing to all such applicants in relation to their position in due course.

Semi-State Bodies Dividends

 410. Deputy Ann Phelan Information on Ann Phelan Zoom on Ann Phelan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the dividends paid to the Exchequer last year by the ESB and Bord Gáis respectively. [56220/12]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The dividend paid by ESB to the Exchequer for 2010 (which was received in 2011) was €73 million. The dividend paid by ESB to the Exchequer for 2011 (which was received in 2012) was €68.9 million. The dividend paid by BGE to the Exchequer in 2011 was €33.091m and is based on 2010 profits. The dividend paid to the Exchequer in 2012 was €23.814m and is based on 2011 profits.

European Council Meetings

 411. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the formations of the EU Councils of Ministers on which he sits; the number of meetings of that Council held from 9 March 2011 to date in 2012; the number of those meetings he attended; the number attended by a Minister of State; the number attended by an Irish official; and if he will provide the names of those who attended in tabular form. [56543/12]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The policies of Transport, Telecommunications and Energy are dealt with, under one Council formation – Transport, Telecommunications and Energy   Council (TTE). Councils are normally held in spring (February/March), June, October and December. There are usually four meetings of Transport Ministers (March, June, October and December), three meetings of Energy Ministers (spring, June and December), and two meetings of Telecommunications Ministers (June and December), although there may occasionally be additional meetings held. In my role as Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, I sit on the Energy Council and the Telecommunications Council.

Details of the number of meetings of each Council held in 2011 and to date in 2012 and the attendees are detailed in the following tables.

Energy Council

Year
Number of Meetings held
Person who Attended
2011 4 Two were attended by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr Pat Rabbitte TD

Two were attended by Deputy Permanent Representative Ms Geraldine Byrne-Nason
2012 3 Two were attended by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr Pat Rabbitte TD

One meeting was attended by Minister of State, Mr Fergus O’Dowd TD
Telecommunications Council
Year
Number of Meetings held
Person who Attended
2011 2 One meeting was attended by Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr Pat Rabbitte TD and one meeting was attended by Minister of State, Mr Fergus O’Dowd TD
2012
1

1 Due in Dec 2012
One meeting which was attended by Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr Pat Rabbitte TD.



Minister Rabbitte is due to attend the final telecommunications council in December.

Television Reception

 412. Deputy Dominic Hannigan Information on Dominic Hannigan Zoom on Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if a person cannot obtain a Saorview signal to their analogue television do they still have to pay the television licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56559/12]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The requirement for a TV licence is set out in the Broadcasting Act 2009. This Act requires everyone who possesses a TV capable of receiving TV signals to have a TV licence.

  In this regard those who possess a TV in Ireland must have a TV licence regardless of whether they are using the TV to receive SAORVIEW, or not.

It is worth noting that TV licence holders in Ireland are not required to use SAORVIEW and indeed about 80% of TV households use a pay TV service or access the Free to air UK satellite channels.

Energy Resources

 413. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte with regard to the proposed gas supply from Nenagh to Limerick, the process and timeline involved; if any trial holes been carried out to date along the old N7 roadway Nenagh to Limerick; if the energy regulator will make the final decision on such projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56820/12]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The development and expansion of the natural gas network is in the first instance a commercial matter for Gaslink, which is mandated under Section 8 of the Gas Act 1976, as amended, to develop and maintain a system for the supply of natural gas that is both economical and efficient.

The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), which is a statutory, independent body, has, since 2002, been charged with all aspects of the assessment and licensing of prospective operators who wish to develop and/or operate a gas distribution system within the State under the Gas (Interim) (Regulation) Act 2002. I have no direct statutory function in relation to the connection of towns to the gas network.

The CER, in 2006, approved a new network connections policy, which created the opportunity to reassess the feasibility of connecting certain towns to the gas network. In order for any town to be connected to the gas network, certain economic criteria need to be satisfied as a prerequisite. This policy ensures that, over a certain period, the costs of connecting the town to the network are recouped through the actual consumption of gas and the associated tariffs. Otherwise uneconomic projects will increase costs for all energy consumers. The policy allows for the appraisal of a town either on its own or as part of a regional group of towns.

Having regard to CER’s new network connections policy, Bord Gáis Networks, and more recently Gaslink, carried out a comprehensive assessment of 39 towns (including Nenagh) not already connected to the national gas network, with detailed economic analysis based on criteria outlined in the policy. The study was published in April 2010 following approval by the CER. The Gaslink report found that 35 towns, including Nenagh, did not qualify for connection on economic grounds.

Nevertheless, Gaslink continues to review the towns which did not qualify for connection under the study, and other towns, on an ongoing basis. I understand that Gaslink is currently reviewing the case for the connection of Nenagh to the national gas network and has very recently made a revised submission to the CER to assess the feasibility of the connection of the town. Following assessment by the CER, a decision will be made by the Regulator. Engineering works on the project can only commence on receipt of the relevant approval from the CER and any approval will be subject to Gaslink securing sufficient gas loads in the area. No trial holes have been carried out to date along the proposed pipeline route. Such works would be subject to receipt of the relevant approval from the CER.

Television Reception

 414. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the action he will take to help persons who have had difficulty using small buttoned remote controls for their Saorview box sets; his plans to commission or source large buttoned remote controls which are compatible with Saorview boxes, as this is a major difficulty for many elderly and disabled citizens. [56823/12]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte RTE has developed the SAORVIEW specification and this is now the national Irish TV specification. It is the responsibility of manufacturers to ensure that the equipment they sell in Ireland works to this specification.

It is my understanding that there is widespread availability of large button remote controls in Ireland which meet the specifications for a large number of TV sets on the market and, therefore, I see no need for the type of action being proposed by the Deputy.

Broadband Services Provision

 415. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he will outline the steps a citizen can take when attempting to remedy a problem with broadband internet access which has been provided by the telecommunications company awarded the national broadband scheme contract when efforts to resolve the issue with the company have not progressed. [56948/12]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte In December 2008, my Department entered into a contract with Hutchison 3G Ireland Ltd (“3”) for the delivery of the National Broadband Scheme (NBS), following the conclusion of a competitive dialogue procurement process. The objective of the NBS is to deliver broadband to certain target areas in Ireland in which broadband services were deemed to be insufficient. Since October 2010, “3” has made broadband services available in all of the 1,028 Electoral Divisions (ED) designated to be covered under the Scheme.

  Following the recent contractual upgrade to the NBS mobile broadband product specifications, the minimum download speed increased from 1.6Mbps to 2.3Mbps while the minimum upload speeds increased from 1.2Mbps to 1.4Mbps, subject to a maximum contention ratio of 18:1. The combined data allowance increased from 25GB to 40GB. As foreseen in the NBS contract, “3” may, for technical reasons associated with the location of the premises, deploy a satellite solution in a limited number of cases.

  My Department has well-established monitoring arrangements in place to ensure that the NBS delivers the minimum specified service or better to all users. Under the NBS contract, specific service level agreement (SLA) standards are in place, which define the service and support levels to be provided by “3” to NBS subscribers. The NBS contract imposes a service credit regime on “3”, with financial consequences in the event that minimum specification service levels are not met. It also provides that where NBS customers do not receive the minimum guaranteed service as set out in the terms and conditions of their contract, they are entitled to service rebates.

Any NBS customer experiencing problems with the NBS service can contact 3’s customer care centre 24 hours a day 7 days a week by phone at 1913 (free of charge) or via email to nbssupport@three.ie  . A team of field engineers has been established to address NBS specific maintenance issues at customers’ premises.

My Department has a role where customers have fully utilised the established complaints process and consider that their complaint has not been resolved. My officials operate a dedicated NBS mailbox, which NBS customers can contact by email at nationalbroadbandscheme@dcenr.gov.ie, with any comments or complaints they may have about their NBS service. Where a customer has unresolved problems with their NBS service, they can contact my Department who will then liaise with personnel employed by 3 at its Head Office in Dublin to remedy their service performance issues.

Television Reception

 416. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding TV reception; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56958/12]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte TV3 is a commercial broadcaster and is regulated by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). I have no role in the regulation of TV3 and decisions regarding which platform TV3 is carried on are, in the first instance, commercial decisions for the company itself.

Prior to SAORVIEW, TV3 chose to broadcast from just 11 transmission sites on the RTÉ terrestrial network. This provided approximately 85% population coverage and was adequate to meet its BAI contractual obligations. With SAORVIEW, TV3 is now available to 98% of the population, which is the same level of coverage from the SAORVIEW network as RTÉ and TG4 and is a vast improvement on its analogue coverage.

To date, TV3 has decided not to be carried on SAORSAT, RTÉ’s free-to-air satellite offering. Any decision to be carried on that platform in the future would be a commercial matter for the company and not one in which I, as Minister, have a role.

Tribunals of Inquiry Reports

 417. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the progress that has been made in relation to the implementation of recommendations arising from the Moriarty Tribunal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56535/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Moriarty Tribunal made two recommendations for changes to company law, as follows: that a provision similar to section 172 of the UK Companies Act, 2006 be adopted, together with the adoption of additional implementation or enforcement measures.; that consideration be given by the Oireachtas, and/or by the Company Law Review Group, to enacting provisions similar to those contained in Part 14 of the UK Companies Act, 2006, governing the control of political donations and expenditure.

The Government considered that provisions in the forthcoming Companies Bill, which will consolidate and give a statutory footing to the duties of directors, meet the objectives of the first recommendation above. The first, and main, part of the Companies Bill, including the provisions on directors’ duties, was published in “soft copy” in May 2011.

With regard to the second recommendation above, provisions restricting corporate donations are contained in the Electoral Amendment (Political Funding) Act 2012, which comes within the remit of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.

Local Authority Charges Application

 418. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will consider a rebate to small businesses who go out of business but are still liable for rates for the full year if they are in business the day the rate was struck. [57092/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Local authorities are under a statutory obligation to levy rates on any property used for commercial purposes in accordance with the details entered in the valuation lists prepared by the independent Commissioner of Valuation under the Valuation Act 2001.  The levying and collection of rates are matters for each individual local authority.

Under the legislation the person liable for payment of rates is the person in occupation of a rateable property on the date of the making of the rate by the relevant local authority. The owner, rather than the occupier, may be liable for commercial rates if the property in question is unoccupied on the date of the making of the rate. Should a person’s occupancy commence after the date of the making of the rate, then that person is not primarily liable for rates for that year.  However, as a subsequent occupier, that person can be held liable for up to two years arrears of rates if they cannot be recovered from the person with whom the primary liability lies.

Commercial rates income makes a significant contribution to the current funding requirements of local authorities. Rates provide the means by which local authorities can support the services essential to communities, and therefore business, across the full range of local activities including roads, water and waste services, fire and emergency, libraries and a range of community, amenity and social activities.

I recognise that these are difficult economic times for many businesses and I am continuing to keep all matters relating to commercial rates under regular review.  However, I have no immediate plans to amend the legislation governing commercial rates.

Departmental Expenditure

 419. Deputy Paudie Coffey Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the total cost to the Exchequer for Ministerial attendance of the UN Climate Change Annual Conference for the year 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [56206/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan My Department is compiling the information requested and will forward it to the Deputy shortly.

Local Authority Housing Provision

 420. 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 in view of the fact that the tender prices which Cork County Council received are far less than the funding that he announced this summer for the rural cottages scheme, and further in view of the council's position that a four bed house best meets the accommodation needs of family (details supplied) in County Cork, when he will approve construction to start; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56275/12]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan My Department recently approved funding of €178,000 for the provision, by Cork County Council, of a house for the family in question. The Department recommended construction of a 3 bedroomed dwelling, in line with current housing specifications and standards, as the supporting documentation provided by the Council did not provide a justification for a larger dwelling. On the basis that the anticipated cost would approximate with the amount approved, the Council has been advised that there will be no further increase in funding for this project.

Climate Change Policy

 421. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan noting that the Kyoto extension negotiated in Doha will only cover 15% of the world's greenhouse emissions, the current expected compensation costs from 2020 that Ireland has signed up to.  [56284/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan At the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Parties agreed to adopt a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol from 2013 to 2020 as part of an overall balanced package of measures to progress negotiations towards a single, global, legally binding climate agreement for all Parties by 2015. Apart from EU Member States, the other Parties who have indicated that they will join the second commitment period (CP2) are Australia, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Monaco. Altogether, these CP2 participants accounted for approximately 13% of global CO2 emissions in 2011.   

The Doha outcomes also include significant progress on the negotiation track under the Durban Platform preparing for the 2015 agreement. At the same time, work on enhancing Parties’ climate mitigation ambition in advance of the coming into force of the new agreement in 2020 will continue during 2013. A process to review binding commitments under the Kyoto Protocol was also agreed at Doha, to be undertaken during 2014.   

In Doha, Parties also agreed to a major work programme on “Loss and Damage”. This refers to the harm caused by climate impacts when mitigation and adaptation efforts have failed, and it was a key objective of least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS), many of whom are already feeling the damaging impacts of climate change. The new work programme will address, inter alia  , filling knowledge gaps, promoting systematic observation, improving climate risk management as well as elaborating on appropriate institutional arrangements.

  Developed country Parties have been asked to continue to provide resources and assistance to developing countries in respect of climate finance, capacity building and technology transfer, in accordance with previous relevant decisions of the Conference of the Parties. These issues will be further progressed and clarified in future UNFCCC discussions, including at COP 19 in Warsaw which takes place in November 2013.

Pyrite Issues

 422. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will clarify the person liable if a member of the general public that is a person not the owner of the house and not present in the house were injured in an accident caused by pyritic heave in a house for instance, a shattering window pane or gas explosion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56287/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan My Department has no function in regard to the matter outlined in the question. The issue of liability in particular circumstances would be a matter for determination by the parties themselves and/or their legal representatives.

Household Charge Exemptions

 423. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the criteria that was used for determining the list of unfinished estates for the purposes of an exemption from the household charge; the reason an estate (details supplied) in County Dublin was not included on the list; if these criteria will be reconsidered for the local property tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56319/12]

 445. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if an estate (details supplied) in County Westmeath will be reclassified as a category three or four unfinished estate; if officials from his Department have examined the possibility of reclassifying the estate; if he will outline the criteria for determining each category; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56728/12]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I propose to take Questions Nos. 423 and 445 together.

  As part of the process of preparing the National Housing Development Survey 2011, published by my Department in October 2011, local authorities provided details of all unfinished housing developments in their areas. Unfinished housing developments were divided into four categories as follows: category one, where the development is still being actively completed by the developer, or where no serious public safety issues exist; category two, where   a receiver has been appointed; category three, where a receiver has not been appointed and the developer is still in place but effectively inactive; and category four, where the development has been effectively abandoned and is posing serious problems for residents.

  Other relevant factors for the purposes of the categorisation process included, inter alia  :the state of completion of roads, footpaths, public lighting, piped water and sewerage facilities and open spaces or similar amenities within the development; the extent to which the development complies with the terms of applicable planning permission; the extent to which it complies with the provisions of the Building Control Acts 1990 and 2007; the provisions of the Local Government (Sanitary Services) Act 1964 as they pertain to dangerous places and dangerous structures within the meaning of the Act; the extent to which facilities within the development have been taken in charge by the local authority concerned; and where there is an agreement regarding the maintenance of such facilities, the extent to which this agreement has been complied with.

  This categorisation formed the basis for the list of those unfinished developments eligible for a waiver on the annual household charge. Only households in developments in categories three and four are eligible for the waiver from payment of the household charge. The list of developments in which households are eligible for the waiver in 2012 is set out under the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012. In the context of Budget 2013, the Government announced the introduction of a local property tax which will replace the annual household charge. It was also decided that certain exemptions will apply; a prescribed list of unfinished estates,subject to certain criteria and identified as part of the National Housing Development Survey 2012, which will be exempted from the property tax for 2013 in accordance with the Finance(Local Property Tax) Bill 2012,will be prepared.


Last Updated: 06/05/2020 12:01:26 First Page Previous Page Page of 96 Next Page Last Page