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. 738-764
 Header Item Croke Park Agreement Implementation
 Header Item Gas Exploration Licences
 Header Item Energy Schemes
 Header Item Alternative Energy Projects
 Header Item Alternative Energy Projects
 Header Item Energy Schemes
 Header Item Postal Services
 Header Item Broadband Service Provision
 Header Item Greenhouse Gas Emissions
 Header Item Mortgage Applications Approvals
 Header Item Litter Pollution Legislation
 Header Item Motor Tax Collection
 Header Item Water Charges Introduction
 Header Item Local Authority Funding
 Header Item Water Meters Installation
 Header Item Rural Development Policy
 Header Item Housing Adaptation Grant Applications
 Header Item Property Taxation Exemptions

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 799 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 738-764

Croke Park Agreement Implementation

 738. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if the new public sector pay proposal Croke Park II, if adopted, will pertain to staff in RTE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16809/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The implementation and the provision of information on the extent of the application of the Croke Park II Agreement are matters for my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. It is my understanding, however, that, as in the case of the first Croke Park agreement, the proposed new public service agreement - Croke Park II – will not pertain to staff in RTÉ. RTÉ, as an independent organisation with a significant commercial remit continues to undertake a substantial restructuring and cost reduction programme of its own.

Gas Exploration Licences

 739. 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 number of oil and gas fields currently being explored in Irish waters; the persons undertaking these exploration works; the process in place for receiving permission for such exploration; the estimated value of these oil and gas fields; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16862/13]

 740. 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 measures in place to ensure that the Exchequer benefits financially from any oil or gas exploration projects within our country and its waters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16863/13]

 741. 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 if he will outline his response to the view that the Norwegian people benefit significantly in a financial sense for oil and gas exploration projects in their country but that the Irish people will not benefit similarly from such projects in our country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16864/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Fergus O'Dowd): Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd I propose to take Questions Nos. 739 to 741, inclusive, together.

  Details of all extant petroleum authorisations made under the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act 1960, e.g. petroleum exploration licences, petroleum licensing options and petroleum prospecting licences can be found in the half-yearly reports made to the Houses of the Oireachtas under the Act. An acreage report and a concession map showing the areas subject to authorisations, as at 31 December 2012, is published on my Department’s website at the following link:

http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/Natural/Petroleum+Affairs+Division/Acreage+and+Activity+Reports/ 

  The process for the award of authorisations is outlined in the Act and in a Departmental publication entitled “Licensing Terms for Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration, Development and Production 2007”. This document is published on my Department’s website at the following link:

http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/Natural/Petroleum+Affairs+Division/Licensing+Applications/ 

  Potential oil and gas bearing areas in Irish waters which are currently the subject of exploration activities are by their very nature, prospective, and as such not amenable to value estimation.

  There have been four commercial natural gas discoveries since exploration began offshore Ireland in the early 1970s, namely the Kinsale, Ballycotton and Seven Heads (Kinsale area) producing gas fields off the coast of Cork and the Corrib gas field off the coast of Mayo. There have been no commercial discoveries of oil to date.

  The Kinsale area gas fields are now nearing depletion and currently provide approximately 5% of Ireland’s annual gas requirements. The Corrib gas field is under development and first gas is not anticipated before late 2014. All four gas fields are held under petroleum leases issued by my Department.

  In terms of the direct financial contribution to the State, profits from the three Kinsale area gas fields are taxed at a rate of 25%. In addition, royalties from the Kinsale and Ballycotton gas fields are payable to the State at a rate of 12.5% of the fair market value of the gas at the well head. The combination of tax, royalties and rental fees currently provides for a State take of 40% of net income from these two fields.

  Royalties are not payable on production from the Seven Heads Gas field or from future production from the Corrib gas field as Ireland moved away from a royalty based payments system to a tax based system in 1987. Profits from the Corrib gas field will be taxed at 25% when the field goes into production. A comprehensive review of Ireland’s licensing terms was carried out in 2007 following which both the fiscal and non-fiscal licensing terms were revised.

  The revised Terms seek to strike a balance between attracting those willing to invest in high-risk exploration while at the same time ensuring the State receives a fair share of profits where a commercial discovery is made.

  The revised licensing terms provide for a new profit resource rent tax of up to 15% in addition to the 25% corporate tax rate previously applying. The revised terms ensure that the return to the State will increase to a maximum of 40% in the case of the most profitable fields. The revised terms apply to all exploration licences issued since the beginning of 2007.

  Countries that have petroleum production use a range of models to obtain a financial return from their natural resources. These models vary both in terms of the instruments used and in terms of the level of take which the State seeks to obtain. Some countries use a combination of instruments, such as: State participation in licences; production royalties; along with taxation, while other countries, including Ireland, take an approach that is principally based on taxing profits. Each country’s fiscal system tends to have its own individual characteristics.

  In determining the appropriate approach at a national level a range of factors must be considered, with the principal factor being the relative prospectivity of the area. Directly replicating the fiscal regime of another country is unlikely to provide the optimum outcome. Regard must also be had to the approach adopted by countries with whom we are directly competing for a share of international exploration investment.

  While there has been a modest but welcome upturn in the level of interest in exploration off our coast in recent years, the reality is that the only commercial discoveries of hydrocarbons made in the Irish offshore to date are the three producing gas fields in the Kinsale area and the Corrib gas field.

  Despite the low level of commercial discoveries to date, working petroleum systems are known to exist in many of Ireland’s offshore basins, as demonstrated by a number of non-commercial discoveries as well as other oil and gas indicators such as hydrocarbon shows in wells.

  Nevertheless, the oil and gas potential of the Irish offshore is largely unproven and is likely to remain so until there is a significant and sustained increase in the number of exploration wells being drilled from the current levels of 1 to 2 wells per year.

  To this end my Department encourages exploration investment through an active and targeted promotion campaign, regular licensing rounds and by supporting petroleum research projects that deepen knowledge of the petroleum potential of the Irish offshore. Maintaining an appropriate fiscal regime is also critical to attracting this much need exploration investment to Ireland.

  Ireland does not have proven resources equivalent to those of Norway, and as such Ireland’s tax terms for oil and gas production are deliberately aimed at attracting new investment and are set at a level comparable to countries such as France, Portugal and Spain, who, like Ireland, have limited petroleum production and proven resources and with whom we compete for exploration investment.

Energy Schemes

 742. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he will examine the predicament of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry, who was approved for attic insulation on 28 September 2012. [16935/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) administers the Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme under the Better Energy Programme. The Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures to households that are vulnerable to energy poverty. The scheme is delivered through a combination of SEAI appointed Community Based Organisations (CBOs), augmented by a panel of private contractors in order to ensure national coverage and via an area based approach. Measures available include draught proofing, attic insulation, lagging jackets for hot water tanks, low energy light bulbs and cavity wall insulation and are free of charge to the customer.

  The practice of insulating dormer roofs/sloped ceilings under the Warmer Homes scheme was reviewed late last year by the SEAI on foot of rapidly escalating costs. Sloping roofs present particular challenges, as insulation can only be installed in part of the roof space. Achieving sufficient ventilation, as required by the Building Regulations, to avoid condensation problems can be extremely costly. As a result, it has been decided that the significant additional costs cannot generally be justified by the marginal insulation gains. However, in a small number of instances alternative technical solutions may be possible. SEAI is in the process of reviewing all applications where sloping roofs are present and will contact relevant homeowners if an appropriate solution can be found.

  Queries in relation to individual applications are an operational matter for the SEAI and a dedicated hotline can be reached at 1800 250 204. In addition, the SEAI has established a specific email address for queries from Oireachtas members, which can be sent to oireachtas@seai.ie and will be dealt with promptly.

Alternative Energy Projects

 743. Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the amount Bord Gáis has invested or provided in grant aid to an ocean energy developer (details supplied); if it has investments in other wave energy developers; if so, if he will list those investments; the amount invested in same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17021/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Bord Gáis Éireann is a commercial State company and this is an operational matter for the Board and not one in which I have a function.

However, I have been advised by Bord Gáis Eireann (BGE) that in 2010 the company agreed to invest €2 million in Wavebob Limited, an Irish based wave energy technology development company. The investment was planned to be carried out in two tranches. The first tranche of €1.2 m was made on execution of the agreements: €950k was given to Wavebob as a loan and €250k was used to acquire a 20% shareholding from Wavebob in a Joint Venture company, Tonn Energy between Wavebob and Vattenfall. The objective of Tonn was to develop wave farms in Irish waters using any commercially viable wave power technology available. The second tranche of €0.8m was to be paid on completion of in-ocean trials of the Wavebob technology. The Bord Gáis investment in the two companies to date is therefore a total of €1.2m. I understand a creditors’ meeting was held on 12th April and that the Wavebob company is being placed into liquidation. Bord Gáis Éireann has no other investments in wave energy developers.

Alternative Energy Projects

 744. Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the amount the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland has invested or provided in grant aid to an ocean energy developer (details supplied); if he will also list other investments or grant aid provided by the SEAI to other ocean wave energy developers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17022/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The amount the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland has invested or provided in grant aid to ocean energy developers over the period 2005 to 2013 is set out in the table below. This comprises grants provided from the Renewable Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Fund (2005 – 2008) and its successor the Ocean Fund (2009 – 2013).

  Grants Paid to Ocean Energy Developers

Organisation
Paid 2005 - 2013
Openhydro Technology Ltd
€2,902,858
Ocean Energy
€575,198
Wavebob Ltd
€836,877
Sea Power Ltd
€218,450
Technology from Ideas Ltd
€317,300
Cyan Technologies Ltd
€132,594
Jospa Ltd
€102,776
Blue Power Energy
€37,764
Key Engineering Services
€25,310
Waveberg Ireland
€26,412
Martin Houston & Sons Ltd
€13,410
Wave Energy Ireland Ltd
€90,120
Tidal Energy Ltd
€30,473
CETO Wave Energy Ireland Ltd
€69,718
Limerick Wave Ltd
€6,300
Oceans of Clean Renewable Energy Ltd
€11,795
Benson Engineering Ltd
€45,307
Total
€5,442,661

Energy Schemes

 745. 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 if he will consider allowing tenants in local authority housing to avail of Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland grants to improve the energy efficency of their homes in cases in which the local authority has informed tenants that they are unable to provide funding to carry out such works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17197/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) administers the Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme on behalf of the Department. The scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures to those that are vulnerable to energy poverty and who live in privately-owned dwellings. The scheme is delivered through a combination of Community Based Organisations, augmented by a panel of private contractors in order to ensure national coverage. Measures available include draught proofing, attic insulation, lagging jackets for hot water tanks, low energy light bulbs and cavity wall insulation and are free of charge to the customer. There are a number of alternative retrofit programmes, funded by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, that are available to those living in social housing.

Despite the current economic challenges, the Government is committed to continuing to deliver energy efficiency measures to vulnerable households. The Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme has been allocated Exchequer funding of €17 million for 2013. It is anticipated that the scheme will deliver upgrades to approximately 10,000 homes this year.

The scheme is an important element of the Affordable Energy Strategy that was launched in November 2011. The Strategy aims to target people experiencing energy poverty regardless of tenancy, be it private or social housing. In this regard, the SEAI along with my Department are currently undertaking a pilot programme involving two Local Authorities. The pilot will test a number of delivery mechanisms in providing energy retrofits to a targeted group of low-income families living in Local Authority housing within the Longford County Council and South Dublin County Council districts. The outcome of the pilot will inform future policy in this regard.

Postal Services

 746. 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 when the roll out of post codes across the country will take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17198/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The Government is committed to introducing postcodes across the State. The implementation of a national postcode system is a complex and detailed process. Consequently the procurement process to select a postcode management licence holder to implement a National Postcode System is ongoing. It is expected that the matter will be put to tender in mid-May.   

The final decision to proceed with implementation of a national postcode will be one for Government and will be based on appropriate financial, technical and operational considerations.

Broadband Service Provision

 747. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding national broadcasting. [17720/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The matter in question relates to issues raised by a constituent of the Deputy in a letter which has separately been received in my Department. The letter in question touches on a wide range of areas regarding RTÉ. It is my view that this correspondence is more appropriately addressed within the system of representations received in my Department. This will provide for a full and comprehensive reply which will issue to the correspondent shortly, a copy of which I will provide to the Deputy.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

 748. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan his views on the fact that Ireland is ranked at the bottom of the list with regard to carbon dioxide emissions 118 by the World Economic Forum in its Travel and Competitiveness Report 2013; if he will outline his plans to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16034/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Taken in isolation, this single criterion does not reflect Ireland’s actual performance in the report. Overall, Ireland is ranked 19th out of the 140 countries featured, an improvement of two places on our ranking in the 2011 report. Looking at other criteria in the current report, Ireland is placed 16th on stringency and 21th on enforcement of environmental regulation; 21st on the sustainability of travel and tourism industry development; and 9th on addressing particulate matter concentration (PM10 ). Ireland is also listed as one of just 12 countries which share the highest rating for the ratification of environmental treaties. In the body of the report, Ireland is referenced as among the top ten countries which demonstrate a significant focus on protecting the environment.   

Given the size, location and population of the country, and the significance of the agriculture and food sectors within the overall economy, Ireland has a unique greenhouse gas emissions profile. It presents a major mitigation challenge which is being addressed in the context of the current Programme for the development of national climate policy and legislation.   

Mortgage Applications Approvals

 749. 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 if he will provide details of the eligibility criteria that apply to borrowers who wish to avail of the mortgage to rent scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16095/13]

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 Householders seeking to avail of the mortgage to rent scheme must:

- have been involved in the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP) with their lender and agree that they can no longer afford to pay their mortgage loan now or in the future;

- own the property they live in, with a current market value of less than €220,000 in the Dublin area or less than €180,000 in the rest of the country;

- have their property in good condition, in a suitable location and which must suit their current needs;

- not own any other property or have assets in excess of €20,000;

- have household income not exceeding €25,000, €30,000 or €35,000 a year, depending on what part of the country they live in (household income in this context is net of taxes and social insurance (PRSI)); and

- the borrower must have a long-term right to remain in Ireland.

Litter Pollution Legislation

 750. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan his plans to introduce new, tougher legislation to address the problem of littering and dog fouling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16892/13]

 808. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the initiatives being run by his Department to address the problem of littering and dog fouling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16893/13]

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. 750 and 808 together.

The Litter Pollution Acts 1997 to 2009 provide the statutory framework to combat the litter problem. Under the Acts, the primary management and enforcement response to littering is, in the first instance, a matter for local authorities.

It is a matter for each local authority to determine the most appropriate course of action to tackle litter pollution locally, within the legislation provided, including the most appropriate public awareness, enforcement and clean up actions in relation to litter, taking account of its own local circumstances and priorities.

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.

In 2010, over 18,000 litter fines were issued by local authorities, who also spent approximately €100 million nationally on litter control and prevention. The latest figures available from my Department’s National Litter Pollution Monitoring System demonstrate that the litter situation is continuing to improve across the country.

Notwithstanding the significant penalties currently in place, my Department is preparing legislative proposals that would provide for the introduction of on-the-spot fines 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.

As the Minister with responsibility for this area, I encourage a multi-facetted approach to tackling the litter problem, incorporating enforcement, public awareness and education. As such, my Department supports several anti-litter initiatives to combat litter in Ireland including:

- National Spring Clean;

- Green Schools Program;

- Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) – Litter League;

- Tidy Towns;

- Local Authority Anti-Litter & Anti-Graffiti Awareness Grant Scheme;

- Negotiated Agreement with the Banking and Chewing Gum industries.

Under the Anti-Litter & Anti-Graffiti Awareness Grant Scheme, which my Department has co-funded for local authorities since 1997, local authorities are responsible for selecting suitable projects for funding and deciding on individual grant allocations. The scheme requires that projects selected should promote greater public awareness and education in relation to litter, including the issue of dog fouling, and since 2008, graffiti. They should also, where possible, focus on voluntary initiatives by community and environmental groups and involve schools and young people in anti-litter and anti-graffiti action. Typically, eligible projects include local media campaigns, clean-ups, primary/secondary school competitions, exhibitions and the production of videos, posters and leaflets. The maximum grant for a project may be up to 70% of the cost, with the balance being met by local contributions. A total of €1,000,000 was made available to fund suitable projects under the scheme in 2012. A similar level of funding has been allocated to the scheme in 2013.

During the summer months of 2012, I also launched a national litter campaign by way of a negotiated agreement with the National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI), NNI Local & Regional, the Regional Newspapers and Printers Association of Ireland (RNPAI) and Magazines Ireland. The campaign was picked up by the majority of national and regional press as well as other local publications. Also in 2012, a €750,000 local authority litter enforcement grant scheme, specifically designed to allow local authorities put in place measures to tackle these issues was introduced.

I believe that raising awareness of the litter problem and educating our young people is key to effecting a long term change in society’s attitudes towards litter disposal but ultimately, it is the responsibility of each individual to ensure that they play their part in preserving the environment for others through the responsible disposal of their litter.

Motor Tax Collection

 751. 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 the way the figure for the extra administrative costs relating to the payment of motor tax in instalments is arrived at; and if he will provide a breakdown of the extra costs related to processing each different option for payment by instalment. [17309/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The rates of duty currently applicable to half-yearly and quarterly discs are 55.5% and 28.25% of the annual rate respectively and incorporate a surcharge element to cover the higher administrative costs involved in processing such applications. These relativities have remained generally constant since the 1960s .   

The number of annual, half-yearly and quarterly transactions in 2012 is set out in the table below.   

Vehicle Licence Number of transactions Percentage of transactions
Annual
1,455,061
31
Half Yearly
684,003
15
Quarterly
2,483,215
54
Total
4,622,279
100%


  Non-annual transactions make up over two-thirds of all motor transactions processed. As well as the increased direct costs related to the printing and issuing of non-annual vehicle licences, the issuing of renewal notices, and the attendant postage costs associated with the foregoing, the cost of staff time in processing and recording non-annual licences must also be factored in. The specific cost breakdown is not available.

Water Charges Introduction

 752. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if an allowance of water units will be given to clients as part of the up coming water charges particularly in areas that experience frequent breakages in water supply and require lengthy run off time to clear the water once reconnected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16032/13]

 763. Deputy Anthony Lawlor Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan further to Parliamentary Question No. 530 of 19 February 2013, if a list has been compiled by his Department outlining medical conditions which could be considered for allowances in terms of water charges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16268/13]

 828. 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 if and when water charges will be introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17101/13]

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. 752, 763 and 828 together.

The Programme for Government and the Memorandum of Understanding with the EU, the IMF and the ECB provide for the introduction of domestic water charges and the current position is that domestic water charges will not commence before 2014. The Government considers that charging based on usage is the fairest way to charge for water and it has decided that water meters should be installed in households connected to public water supplies. The Government has also decided that Irish Water, the new State-owned water company established as an independent subsidiary within the Bord Gáis Éireann Group and the Water Services Act 2013 assign s the necessary powers to allow Irish Water to undertake the metering programme. The Act also assigns to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) the power to advise the Government on the development of a regulatory framework for water services.

Affordability measures, including consideration of water customers with medical needs, will be addressed by my Department and the Department of Social Protection, in consultation with the Regulator, Irish Water and other stakeholders, in the context of developing a water pricing framework. The agreed approach will then be reflected in the charging structure established by the Regulator. No decision has yet been taken in relation to the issue of allowances.

Local Authority Funding

 753. Deputy Pat Breen Information on Pat Breen Zoom on Pat Breen asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan when funding will be allocated to local authority for housing aid for the elderly/housing adaptation/mobility aids grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16049/13]

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 On 22 February 2013, I announced details of the capital allocations to local authorities under the suite of Grants for Older People and People with a Disability amounting to €42.750 million.

Water Meters Installation

 754. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan when the main contractor for water metering will be appointed; if the tender process has commenced; and the criteria that are being used. [16078/13]

 755. 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 a timeframe has been established for the installation of water meters through Irish Water/Uisce Éireann; the number of water meters that have been installed to date; the targets he has set for future installations; when he envisages water meters will be in every household nationwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16066/13]

 756. 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 water calibration and verification of water meters will be part of the new body Irish Water/Uisce Éireann; if it will be done at household, residential, district and commercial levels; if the metering of potable water will be compliant with EU regulations and directives; if he is satisfied that calibration will meet international standards; if there is to be a customer charter for Irish Water/Uisce Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16067/13]

 836. 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 when the roll out of the installation of water meters will take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17239/13]

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. 754 to 756, inclusive, and 836 together.

The Programme for Government and the Memorandum of Understanding with the EU, the IMF and the ECB provide for the introduction of domestic water charges. The Government considers that charging based on usage is the fairest way to charge for water and it has decided that water meters should be installed in households connected to public water supplies. The Government has also decided that Irish Water, a new State-owned water company to be established as an independent subsidiary within the Bord Gáis Éireann Group, will be responsible for the metering programme. The Water Services Act 2013 assigns the necessary powers to allow Irish Water to undertake the metering programme.

The procurement process for the metering programme is underway. The criteria for the procurement process were developed by my Department, in consultation with Bord Gáis Éireann, to ensure that SMEs have an opportunity to compete for contracts. The tender criteria have been developed to ensure that sub-contractors have the capacity to carry out the scale of work involved to the necessary high standard. The approach being taken for the sub-contractor panel is consistent with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform guidelines on facilitating SME participation in public procurement (that Department’s Circular 10/10 refers). It is expected that the regional management contractors, who will be appointed in May 2013, will be utilising the resources of the pre-qualified sub-contractors for the purpose of delivering the meter installation works. It is expected that the installation of meter boxes and domestic water meters will commence in July 2013 and will be rolled out as quickly as possible thereafter.

The 2013 Act also assigns to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) the power to advise the Government on the development of a regulatory framework for water services. The Government intends assigning to CER a full range of regulatory powers before the commencement of domestic water charges. This will include powers to set tariffs as well as the establishment of customer protection measures. In this regard, Irish Water will be obliged to meet customer service standards set by CER.

Water meters used for domestic billing must comply with the EU Measuring Instrument Directive which sets standards of accuracy. This Directive is implemented in Ireland by the Legal Metrology (European Conformity Assessment of Measuring Instruments) Regulations 2007. The Legal Metrology Service of the National Standards Authority of Ireland is the statutory body responsible for regulating and supervising weights and measures, including meters, in Ireland.

Rural Development Policy

 757. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the proposals he has to re-energise the rural resettlement programme which was available for city tenants in the past. [16127/13]

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 an arrangement between Dublin City Council and Rural Resettlement Ireland (RRI), an approved housing body, tenants of the City Council who wished to vacate their social rented accommodation were assisted in relocating from Dublin to a rural location. The rural resettlement scheme was implemented by way of a local arrangement between the City Council and RRI and any decision to continue or accelerate the scheme is, in the first instance, a matter for the parties concerned.

Housing Adaptation Grant Applications

 758. 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 he will outline the current options available to older persons who seek financial assistance to adapt their homes; if he will acknowledge the importance of ensuring that older persons homes are adequately adapted to suit their needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16132/13]

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 the terms of the suite of Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability, grants are available to assist households to have necessary repairs or improvement works carried out in order to facilitate the continued independent occupancy of their homes. Three separate schemes are available; the Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability, the Mobility Aids Grant Scheme and the Housing Aid for Older People Scheme.

The Housing Aid for Older People Scheme provides grants of up to €10,500 to assist older people living in poor housing conditions to have necessary repairs or improvements carried out. Grant-eligible works include structural repairs or improvements, re-wiring, repairs to or replacement of windows and doors, provision of water supply and sanitary facilities, provision of heating, cleaning, painting etc.

The detailed administration of these schemes, including the assessment, approval and payment of grants to applicants under the various grant measures, is the responsibility of the relevant local authority.

Property Taxation Exemptions

 759. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will provide details of all the submissions received by his Department from the local authorities in relation to the process of categorisation of residential properties within their functional area for the purposes of identifying exemptions from the local property tax. [16182/13]

 760. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the reason the residents of a housing estate (details supplied) in County Offaly who were exempt from paying the household charge are now liable for the local property tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16222/13]

 761. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the reason housing estates that were categorised as unfinished and exempt from the household charge are now liable to pay the local property tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16225/13]

 762. 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 he will outline the rationale for deeming only part of an estate (details supplied) in County Westmeath eligible for a waiver from the local property tax; if the entire estate will be waived from the tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16226/13]

 764. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the reason unfinished estates (details supplied) were not granted a waiver for the local property tax when little or no work has been done to resolve the issues faced by residents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16274/13]

 770. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the agency that was responsible for drawing up the list of estates in County Mayo that are exempted from the local property tax; if the relevant authority visited each of the 57 estates which were previously exempt from the household charge but which are now eligible for the local property tax; if a written report on each of those 57 estates is available in order to allow residents and representatives view the reasons for their now been eligible to pay the tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [16329/13]

 783. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the reason an estate (details supplied) in Dublin 11 was exempt from the household charge in 2012 but is not now exempt from the local property tax despite the fact that no remedial works have been carried out to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16508/13]

 794. 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 the reason an estate (details supplied) in County Dublin was not included on the current or previous list of unfinished estates prepared by his Department; and if he will consider its inclusion. [16693/13]

 795. 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 the criteria used in the compilation of the list of unfinished estates by his Department; and the criteria used in drawing up the initial list under the previous Government. [16694/13]

 831. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the reason an estate (details supplied) in County Dublin is not included in the list of unfinished housing estates in Finance (Local Property Tax) Regulations 2013. [17163/13]

 835. Deputy Dominic Hannigan Information on Dominic Hannigan Zoom on Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the reasons an estate (details supplied) in County Meath was not exempted from the property tax as it was from the household charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17222/13]

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. 759 to 762, inclusive, 764, 770, 783, 794, 795, 831 and 835 together.

  An exemption from the local property tax applies to developments listed in the schedule to the Finance (Local Property Tax) Regulations 2013. The list of unfinished housing developments eligible for the exemption was compiled by local authorities utilising the categorisation employed for the purposes of the National Housing Survey 2012.

The survey was carried out over the course of summer 2012 by my Department in conjunction with local authorities and the Housing Agency.

The categorisation methodology for the survey was different to that which was used in 2011 and which provided the basis for the waiver from the household charge. That earlier categorisation related largely to the level of on-site activity at the time the 2011 survey was carried out and had less to do with the physical character of a development. The 2012 survey was based purely and objectively on the actual state of completion of a development. Only developments that were deemed by local authorities to be in a “seriously problematic condition”, regardless of whether a developer was on or off site, were included.

  In defining areas within developments that were deemed to be of a seriously problematic condition, local authorities gave consideration to those areas that were incomplete, with roads, public lighting infrastructure, open space or water services being so defective that the relevant development was in a seriously problematic condition from the point of view of living standards for residents.   

  For purposes of preparing the final list of developments to which the exemption from the local property tax would apply local authorities were asked by my Department to confirm or update the then existing list as appropriate. Decisions in relation to the inclusion or exclusion of particular estates were therefore a matter for individual local authorities according to criteria set by my Department. Using the returns provided by all local authorities, a list of housing developments was prepared, and prescribed under the Finance (Local Property Tax) Regulations 2013 for exemption.   

  Question No. 763 answered with Question No. 752.

  Question No. 764 answered with Question No. 759.


Last Updated: 29/04/2020 08:23:01 First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page