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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 185-193
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Building Regulations Application
 Header Item Departmental Contracts
 Header Item Regeneration Projects Funding
 Header Item Water and Sewerage Schemes Provision
 Header Item Commercial Rates Write-Offs
 Header Item Litter Pollution Fines

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 800 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 92 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 185-193

Departmental Expenditure

 185. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if any of his Department’s 2012 capital expenditure allocation was used for current expenditure purposes last year, the amount used for this purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19214/13]

 186. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will provide the month by month profile for his Department's 2013 capital expendiuture; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19230/13]

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. 185 and 186 together.

  In 2012, no provision in my Department’s voted capital allocation was used for current expenditure purposes. The Revised Estimates for Public Services 2013, published recently by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, provide for capital expenditure of €718m in respect of my Department during the year, comprising €675m in net expenditure and €43m in unspent capital provisions carried over from 2012. The monthly profile for this capital expenditure is set out in the following table.

  Environment, Community and Local Government

  Monthly profile of capital expenditure (2013)

-
Net
Capital
Total
Month Expenditure
Carryover
 
€000
€000
€000
Jan
10,346
0
10,346
Feb
14,317
0
14,317
Mar
10,223
0
10,223
Apr
24,327
11,940
36,267
May
40,887
11,260
52,147
Jun
36,999
9,746
46,745
Jul
47,353
2,604
49,957
Aug
36,244
500
36,744
Sep
70,006
1,000
71,006
Oct
86,771
2,000
88,771
Nov
98,328
3,000
101,328
Dec
199,211
950
200,161
TOTAL
675,012
43,000
718,012

Building Regulations Application

 187. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the reasons for not including members of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists in the list of competent designers and certifiers when this profession was previously recognised and established in the State to carry out this task. [19312/13]

 188. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan further to Parliamentary Question No. 838 of 16 April 2013 stating that members of CIAT must change their profession to continue practising in the State despite the fact that no public statement was made and if he will make a statement on this matter to inform members of CIAT on the reasons for justifying the actual discrimination that they suffer [19313/13]

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. 187 and 188 together.

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

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

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

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

Departmental Contracts

 189. Deputy Áine Collins Information on Áine Collins Zoom on Áine Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan when final payment will be paid to a company (details supplied) by his Department. [19322/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The final account is currently being examined and a payment will issue shortly.

Regeneration Projects Funding

 190. 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 proposals for the future funding of an organisation (details supplied). in Dublin 11. [19359/13]

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 My Department has provided over €700 million to support the Ballymun regeneration programme to date. This has facilitated the demolition of all but one of the towers and nearly all the flat blocks as well as the construction of over 2,900 social, voluntary, private and affordable residential units, new local parks and playgrounds, neighbourhood centres and a new traditional style main street. The programme has also provided state of the art community facilities, such as the Axis theatre, the Leisure Centre and Civic Centre. This project has now moved into its completion phase and my Department’s priority is to ensure that the remaining housing need is met while the investment to date is fully protected.

As part of its commitment to Ballymun regeneration, my Department has supported an on-going social regeneration programme, which includes the provision of funding for the Ballymun Community Law Centre. Notwithstanding the constraints on capital expenditure across the public sector, my Department will continue to support the completion strategy for Ballymun, including in respect of social regeneration measures.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Provision

 191. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan further to parliamentary question No. 186 on 18 April 2013, if he will provide the information sought in the second part of the question, specifically, if the residents of this area who are subjected to using bottled water due to the condition of their water will be exempt from water chargeswhen they are introduced;; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19361/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan 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 current position is that domestic water charges will not commence before 2014. The Government will be reviewing the timeline for charges with programme partners at the next review of the Programme of Assistance which commences this week.

  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 Government will assign responsibility for the economic regulation of the water sector, including the setting of charges, to the Commission for Energy Regulation. The primary role of the regulator will be to protect the interests of customers and to ensure a consistent and appropriate level of service is provided to them.   The approach to charges for properties connected to public water supplies will be included in a public consultation that will take place as part of the regulatory process.

Commercial Rates Write-Offs

 192. 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 under existing provisions local authorities have the authority to waive/reduce outstanding commercial rate liabilities that are owed on vacant properties as a means of encouraging businesses to occupy commercial spaces; if he will consider introducing measures that would offer incentivies to local authorities to reduce the burden of commercial rates in a targeted fashion in order to assist in addressing the issue of dereliction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19429/13]

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 rating legislation, the person liable for payment of rates is generally the person in occupation of a rateable property on the date of the making of the rate by the relevant local authority. The Local Government Act 1946 provides that where a rateable property is unoccupied on the date of the making of the rate, the owner becomes liable for payment of rates. However, the owner is entitled to a refund if the property is vacant for specified purposes, namely, where the premises are unoccupied for the purpose of the execution of additions, alterations or repairs; where the owner is bona fide unable to obtain a suitable tenant at a reasonable rent; and where the premises are vacant pending redevelopment. In most rating authorities, 100% of the amount paid is refundable to the owner.

Should an occupier commence his or her occupation of rateable premises after the date of the making of the rate in any given year, that person would not normally be primarily liable for rates for that year. 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.

Litter Pollution Fines

 193. 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 his plans to introduce legislation to assist local authorities with issuing fines in relation to dumping on private property, most notably in developments run by a property management company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19452/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Existing penalties available under the Litter Pollution Acts for litter offences range from an on-the-spot fine of €150, to a maximum fine of €3,000 on summary conviction, and a maximum fine of €130,000 on conviction on indictment. The fines for continuing offences are €600 per day for summary offences and €10,000 per day for indictable offences. A person convicted of a litter offence may also be required by the court to pay the local authority’s costs and expenses in investigating the offence and bringing the prosecution.

Penalties for more serious dumping offences provided for under the Waste Management Acts are also substantial. Persons who are found to be responsible for, or involved in, the unauthorised disposal of waste are liable to a maximum fine of €3,000 on summary conviction and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months, and to a maximum fine of €15 million on conviction on indictment and/or imprisonment for up to 10 years.

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

Minimum standards for rental accommodation are prescribed in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008 and provide that each house must have access to suitable and adequate pest and vermin-proof refuse storage facilities. These Regulations were further amended by the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses)(Amendment) Regulations 2009 which expanded the definition of ‘a proper state of structural repair’ to allow for all aspects of the internal and external appearance of a dwelling to be taken into account for the purposes of the Regulations. A comprehensive new sanctions regime for the enforcement of these standards is also available to local authorities following the enactment of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. Fines for non-compliance with the Regulations have been significantly increased; the maximum fine has increased from €3,000 to €5,000 and the fine for each day of a continuing offence has increased from €250 to €400.


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