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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 261-270
 Header Item Water and Sewerage Schemes Provision
 Header Item Water Services Provision
 Header Item Property Taxation Application
 Header Item Rural Development Programme Funding
 Header Item Non-Principal Private Residence Charge Collection
 Header Item Departmental Properties
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Leader Programmes Administration
 Header Item Leader Programmes Administration
 Header Item Water Services Funding

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 802 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 89 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 261-270

Water and Sewerage Schemes Provision

 261. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if his Department has given consideration to the approval to proceed towards the provision of improved sewerage infrastructure in nine towns and villages (details supplied) in County Leitrim. [21165/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Water Services Investment Programme 2010 – 2013 provides for the development of a comprehensive range of new water services infrastructure in County Leitrim. The Programme includes contracts under construction and to commence to the value of some €29 million in County Leitrim during the period of the Programme.

The Programme aims to prioritise projects that target environmental compliance issues and support economic and employment growth. A key input to the development of the Programme was the assessment of needs prepared by local authorities, including Leitrim County Council, in response to my Department’s request to the authorities in 2009 to review and prioritise their proposals for new capital works in their areas. These were subsequently appraised in my Department in the context of the funds available and key criteria that complemented those used by the authorities. Inevitably, through this process, certain projects that had been proposed had to give way to others that were more strategically important at that time.

The Leitrim Towns and Villages Sewerage Scheme – Bundle No. 2 (9 Villages – Drumshanbo, Ballinamore, Carrigallen, Dromod, Glenfarne, Leitrim Village, Mohill, Rossinver and Manorhamilton) was not amongst the priority contracts and schemes selected for inclusion in the current Programme.

Progress under the Water Services Investment Programme was reviewed in mid-2011 and through this process, consideration was given to any newly emerging priority contracts and schemes submitted by local authorities for addition to the Programme. Leitrim County Council applied to have the scheme (7 Villages – Drumshanbo, Ballinamore, Carrigallen, Dromod, Leitrim Village, Mohill and Manorhamilton) included in the Programme but again the scheme was not determined as being appropriate by my Department for inclusion in the Programme at that time. The Council’s submission did not request the inclusion of Glenfarne or Rossinver Villages.

A revised submission, again not including the villages of Glenfarne or Rossinver, for the inclusion of the scheme into the Water Services Investment Programme was submitted by the Council and a letter issued to them from my Department on 5 April 2013 requesting that the Council undertake a focused review of the Preliminary Report. In particular the Council was asked to take account of recent small scheme funding provided by my Department under the Rural Water Programme (RWP).

Under this programme an allocation of almost €1.25 million towards Wastewater Compliance Works to address Environmental Protection Agency wastewater discharge authorisation requirements was notified by my Department to Leitrim County Council in March 2013 .

Responsibility for the administration of the RWP has been devolved to local authorities since 1997. The selection and approval of individual scheme proposals for advancement and funding under the programme, within the overall priorities set by my Department and subject to the block grant allocations provided, is therefore a matter for the water services authorities. Accordingly, the letter of 5 April requested that the outcomes of this investment should be taken into account in any new submission by the Council.

Water Services Provision

 262. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will confirm that County Leitrim has the most group water schemes supplied by the local authority's public mains per capita in this country; if his Department has alongside Irish Water adopted any strategy towards the advancement of a policy by local authorities of taking in charge these schemes coupled with consideration of a particular policy for same.  [21166/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Responsibility for the administration of the Rural Water Programme, under which funding may be provided towards the connection of group water schemes to local authority public mains and towards the takeover of group water schemes by local authorities, has been devolved to local authorities since 1997.

The selection and approval of individual scheme proposals for advancement and funding under the programme, within the overall priorities set by my Department and subject to the block grant allocations provided, is therefore a matter for the water services authorities. The provision of Information on the number of group water schemes supplied from local authority public mains would, accordingly, be a matter for individual local authorities.

Under the Water Sector Reform Programme the primary focus of Irish Water will be on the delivery of services to customers on the public water and wastewater networks. My Department will remain responsible for the overall policy and funding of the non-public sector, including the group water sector.

In order to facilitate the establishment of a new public water utility to take over responsibility for the delivery of water services, a number of work-streams have been set up under the Water Sector Reform Programme to assist with the transition of services to Irish Water. One such work-stream is dealing specifically with issues relating to the Group Water Sector. The objectives of this work-stream are to ensure that there is clarity of roles and responsibility for the group water sector and other components of the Rural Water Programme and to develop a medium term strategy for the sector.

Property Taxation Application

 263. Deputy Joe McHugh Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the purpose of the local property tax; if he will itemise its envisaged usage in public expenditure, with particular reference to rural counties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21210/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Under section 157 of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012, commencing in 2014, the Minister for Finance will pay into the Local Government Fund an amount equivalent to the Local Property Tax paid into the Central Fund during that year. Questions concerning the use of Local Property Tax revenue raised in 2013 should be directed to my colleague, the Minister for Finance.

The Government has indicated an intention to move, from 2014, to 80% retention of all Local Property Tax receipts within the local authority area where the Tax is raised. The remaining 20% of the Tax collected nationally will be re-distributed on an equalised basis to local authorities within the context of the annual allocations of General Purpose Grants. It will be a matter for the relevant local authority, whether rural or urban, to determine the precise allocation of revenues from the Local Property Tax.

I expect the Local Property Tax to have multiple benefits, including a more sustainable and resilient system of funding for local authorities and therefore a sounder financial footing for the provision of essential local services; greater local scope for financial decision making concerning service provision - in particular, the inclusion of the local variation mechanism from 2015 will further increase the autonomy of local authorities; and, a strengthening of democracy at local level with a more active relationship between local authorities and local electorates. A stronger democratic relationship and clearer lines of accountability can only have a beneficial impact on service provision from the perspective of the service user.

Rural Development Programme Funding

 264. Deputy Michael McCarthy Information on Michael McCarthy Zoom on Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if there is a grant available for the reconstruction of damaged outbuildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21221/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Axes 3 & 4 (LEADER) of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2007-2013 will continue to provide financial resources for allocation to qualifying projects up to the end of 2013. Two of the objectives of the RDP are to identify and provide appropriate amenity and leisure facilities to local communities not otherwise available to them and to support the renewal of rural villages and towns. Accordingly, it may be possible to obtain funding to reconstruct damaged outbuildings however this will depend on the proposed use of such buildings post reconstruction. Outside of any potential application of the reconstructed buildings in an enterprise context the subsequent use of such structures would have to be open to all members of the community in order to be eligible for RDP funding.

  There are 35 Local Development Companies contracted, on my Department’s behalf, to deliver Axes 3 & 4 (LEADER) of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) throughout the country and these groups are the principal decision-makers in relation to the allocation of project funding. Such decisions are made in the context of the local development strategy of the individual groups and in line with Departmental operating rules and EU regulations. In order to determine the specific eligibility of any project under the LEADER elements of the RDP it is advisable to contact the Local Development Company in the area concerned. Contact details for all LDCs can be found on my Department’s website at www.environ.ie.

Non-Principal Private Residence Charge Collection

 265. 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. 784 of 16 April 2013, the reason the full rate of non-principal private residence charge is being charged for 2013 when those properties are also liable for the local property tax in view of the fact that this constitutes double taxation of the one property; the reason the NPPR was not at least reduced to 50% to correspond with the introduction of 50% of the local property tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21229/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Local Property Tax is being introduced on a half year basis this year, and accordingly, 50% of the Tax is payable in 2013. This year will also be the final year of the operation of the Non Principal Private Residence Charge.

The Non Principal Private Residence Charge and the Local Property Tax operate under different mechanisms: the Charge is incurred on the basis of a flat rate of €20 0 per liable property per annum; the amount of Local Property Tax incurred in respect of a liable property is based on that property’s value. Therefore, it is not appropriate to assume equivalence between the Charge and the Tax.

Departmental Properties

 266. 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 if his Department and agencies under its aegis, who own or rent property in commercial developments are in compliance with their responsibilities under the Multi-Unit Development Act 2011; if he will outline those agencies who have representation on the boards of owners management companies; if he will provide a list of the agency, the relevant management company and its associated property but not the name of the individual representing the said agency; and his views on the implementation process of the Multi-Unit Development Act within his Department.  [21244/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The information is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Planning Issues

 267. 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 if he will provide, on a county-by-county basis, the number of times An Bord Pleanala overturned a refusal of planning permission by a local authority since 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21265/13]

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 information sought in respect of decisions made in 2011 is set out in the annual report of An Bord Pleanála for that year. This is available on the Board’s website at www.pleanala.ie. The Board’s Annual Report for 2012 is not yet available.

Leader Programmes Administration

 268. 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 if he will outline the proposed new arrangements for the delivery of the Leader programme in the Mayo north east area; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21270/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan  I have informed Mayo North East Leader Partnership (MNELP) of my decision in principle to allow a limited resumption of its activities under the Rural Development Programme once contracts and administrative procedures have been agreed with my Department and put in place. Under the new arrangements, MNELP will continue to be the deciding authority for the approval of projects and my Department will carry out the administrative checks required under the European Commission Regulations. My Department is currently working with Mayo North East LEADER Partnership to outline the operational details of the systems to be put in place to facilitate the implementation of the RDP going forward.

Leader Programmes Administration

 269. 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 if he will outline the current situation in respect of the delivery of the Leader programme in the north Mayo Gaeltacht area which was previously administered by MFG; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21271/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Axes 3 & 4 (LEADER) of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2007-2013 is managed by my Department and provides funding to support the development of sustainable rural communities all over Ireland. This support is currently available to almost all Gaeltacht areas through Local Development Companies contracted to deliver the RDP.

These companies continue to facilitate access to significant financial resources for both enterprise support and community type interventions and will continue to take applications for funding until the end of 2013.

With regard to the North Mayo Gaeltacht area, which is not currently covered by the RDP, my Department is working to determine a delivery mechanism to ensure full coverage for all the Gaeltacht areas, including North Mayo, that is practical and complies with both national and EU regulations. I am confident that this process is nearing completion.

Water Services Funding

 270. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if his Department has received an application from Kildare County Council for funding to provide for a water softening programme at the River Barrow abstraction plant; if his Department will approve such a funding request; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21278/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Kildare County Council sought approval to procure water conditioning equipment as part of the Barrow Abstraction Scheme which is being funded under my Department’s Water Services Investment Programme 2010 – 2013 . This application was approved in late April 2013 .


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