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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 24-30
 Header Item Waste Management Regulations
 Header Item Rural Recreation Promotion
 Header Item Regeneration Projects Status
 Header Item Water Services Provision

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 806 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 24-30

Waste Management Regulations

 24. Deputy Michael Colreavy Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if there is legislation preventing local authorities from negotiating contracts, similar to those in the Six Counties, whereby waste collection companies would pay local authorities for the recyclable waste collected. [28066/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan A Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) published by my Department in July 2012 considered the introduction of franchise bidding by local authorities for household waste collection. This approach has been adopted in other EU Member States, whereby a local authority or group of authorities invite tenders from private operators to bid for the exclusive right to collect waste or certain streams of waste within their functional area. The RIA identified a number of risks associated with such an approach and ultimately made the recommendations to preserve the current market structure of side by side competition and to strengthen the regulation of household waste collection.

  The RIA and an extensive consultation process informed Government policy on this issue and I published A Resource Opportunity - Waste Management Policy in Ireland in July 2012. The publication of the policy confirmed   the retention of side by side competition in the waste collection market and also brought much needed policy certainty to the waste sector, particularly in terms of facilitating planning and investment decisions. The policy further sets out a range of proposals to significantly revise the existing regulatory regime to ensure, inter alia, that waste collected is managed in accordance with the waste hierarchy, that mandated service levels are delivered and that Customer Charters are put in place by all waste collection providers.

  The work of developing new regulatory structures to give effect to these proposals is underway and my Department is engaging with a range of key stakeholders in relation to the detailed design of the new system.   It is my intention that the revised regulatory regime will deliver both enhanced environmental performance and a quality service for consumers. With regard to the transfer of household waste collection services by a local authority to a private sector waste collector, these are matters for the relevant local authority and the waste collector concerned. Questions in relation to specific contractual issues, such as remuneration for recyclable waste collected, should be addressed to the particular local authority in question.

  Question No. 25 answered with Question No. 10.

Rural Recreation Promotion

 26. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he intends to introduce legislation in relation to countryside access; his view on the recent legislation introduced in the House by Deputy Dowds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28053/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan An expert group established by the then Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to examine and make recommendations on “the Legal Issues of Land Access for Recreational Use” and issues around legislating for countryside access, submitted its report in May 2007. It did not set out specific recommendations but examined existing legislation, such as the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1995, and explored the implications of introducing legislation, such as granting a right of access to recreational users. The report is available on my Department’s website. The Minister at the time formed the view that the best way forward was to develop permissive access with the agreement of landholders through various initiatives such as the Walks Scheme and Pilot Mountain Access Projects. The consensus approach adopted is underpinned by the principle of mutual respect between landowners and recreational users, with acceptance of the rights of landowners regarding access to their land and the need for recreational users to have reasonable access to the countryside.

My Department continues to work with stakeholders through Comhairle na Tuaithe and is currently negotiating the implementation of a National Indemnity Scheme which will indemnify private landowners against claims from recreational users for injury or damage to property. The Occupiers Liability Act, 1995 already provides significant protection to landowners, but the upfront costs of successfully defending a claim can be significant. My Department is currently reviewing a number of options in relation to countryside access and I will give careful consideration to all options put forward.

  Question No. 27 answered with Question No. 9.

Regeneration Projects Status

 28. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the plans he has developed for the revitalisation of town centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28000/13]

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 remains committed to working with local government and other community development and enterprise stakeholders to ensure that a recovering economy will result in an even distribution of opportunity. In this regard there is a need to target, in an integrated way, urban areas which face particular problems resulting from both the economic downturn and investments in the past which did not facilitate the development of sustainable communities capable of benefiting from the period of high prosperity or coping with the subsequent downturn. Major regeneration programmes in Ballymun and Limerick together with a range of other remedial works schemes across the country are being prioritised to assist in addressing this deficit. In addition, I am also seeking to ensure that the forward planning process plays a part in supporting urban development. My Department recently published statutory guidelines for planning authorities on Development Contributions. These contain a strong focus on supporting vibrant town centres by directing planning authorities to put in place reduced rates of development contributions or waivers to support town centre development and to incentivise activity through lower development contributions in the areas prioritised for development in the relevant core strategy.

Water Services Provision

 29. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the level of funding provided by his Department to local authorities to maintain water services, including the National Drinking Water Monitoring Programme; and if he will outline the cost of the water assets and liabilities being transferred by Dublin City Council and other local authorities to Irish Water. [27068/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The overall strategy of investment in water services is to ensure that the timing and scale of investment facilitates economic and other development, achieves compliance with statutory requirements and promotes environmental sustainability objectives. The main vehicles for achieving these objectives have been the multi-annual Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2013   (WSIP) and the Rural Water Programme (RWP).

  Since the current WSIP was introduced in 2010 my Department has provided just over €1 billion to local authorities for capital projects up to the end of 2012, and has also recouped €207 million to local authorities under the RWP over the same period. A further €326 million is being made available under the WSIP and RWP in 2013. The contracts funded include contracts to address deficiencies in the quality of supply, to improve the overall capacity of the system and an accelerated programme of mains rehabilitation, and they were strongly influenced by inter alia reports by the Environmental Protection Agency on drinking water quality. The series of reforms currently being advanced in the water sector by the Government is designed to support additional investment in the sector. As part of this strategy, a specific work-stream is considering the matters arising in the proposed transfer of the responsibility for capital programme delivery from the 34 local authorities to Irish Water.   

  The transfer of assets from the existing water services authorities to Irish Water supports the overall objective of delivering efficiencies within the sector by allowing Irish Water to control assets, revenues and costs, thereby supporting better economies of scale in terms of both capital investment and operating costs, and optimise borrowing capacity. The identification and valuation of the relevant asset base and the development of policy and legislation for the transfer of these assets is being progressed.

  Question No. 30 answered with Question No. 6.

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