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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 45-51
 Header Item Local Government Reform Expenditure
 Header Item Rent Supplement Scheme Administration
 Header Item Rural Development Policy
 Header Item Rural Recreation Promotion
 Header Item RAPID Programme
 Header Item RAPID Programme
 Header Item Building Regulations Amendments

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 806 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 45-51

Local Government Reform Expenditure

 45. Deputy John Browne Information on John Browne Zoom on John Browne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the estimated total cost of new councillor numbers in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27986/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The total cost of allowances for additional councillors in the Dublin local authorities is currently estimated to be around €1.5 million per annum. This additional cost will arise from reducing the degree of representational imbalance currently in the Dublin authorities and should also be viewed in the context of overall savings in allowances, which are currently estimated at €3.68 million per annum, which will arise from the reduction of 1,627 local authority members nationally to 949.

Rent Supplement Scheme Administration

 46. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if, in advance of the transfer of the administration of the rental supplement scheme to local authorities, he has consulted with the Department of Social Protection on the issue of allowing local authorities leeway in determining differential rental caps within their respective cities/counties; his plans to follow this model to cater for substantial differences in market rental rates within counties such as Wicklow, Meath and Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27979/13]

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 Until the transfer of responsibility for long-term rent supplement recipients to local authorities takes place the setting of rent limits under the rent supplement scheme remains the responsibility of the Department of Social Protection. The details of the proposed Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Scheme are currently being developed by my Department in conjunction with the Department of Social Protection, the County and City Managers Association and other relevant stakeholders.

It is envisaged under the proposed HAP Scheme that local authorities would set appropriate rent limits for their functional areas. The process of how such limits will be set and any consultation required in determining them will be developed in due course, and agreed by Government.

Rural Development Policy

 47. 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 his Department is the lead Department responsible for rural development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28052/13]

 58. 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 when it is intended that CEDRA will report to him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28060/13]

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. 47 and 58 together.

  Responsibility for various aspects of rural development rests with a number of Departments. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) primarily deals with rural development issues ‘inside the farm gate’, whereas my Department deals with rural development issues ‘outside the farm gate’. DAFM also has overall responsibility for Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2007-2013, which is co-funded by the EU and the Exchequer, and forms a key part of Rural Development Policy.

  My Department also has responsibility for the implementation of :

  I. The 1999 White Paper on Rural Development Ensuring the Future - A Strategy for Rural Development in Ireland

  II. The LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013, and

  III. The National Countryside Recreation Strategy including the Walks Scheme and Comhairle na Tuaithe.

  In addition, the Western Development Commission operates under the aegis of my Department. A number of other Departments administer schemes directed at rural communities e.g. the Department of Social Protection administers the Rural Social Scheme and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport administers the Rural Transport Programme.

  Minister Coveney and I established the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) in September 2012 and tasked it to investigate the opportunities and challenges facing rural populations in the current economic climate. Since then the Commission has been working towards the publication of a report that will inform policies and strategies to support the economic development of rural Ireland into the future. The Commission, led by its Chair, Mr Pat Spillane, has been engaging in an extensive schedule of meetings with stakeholder groups and the public over recent months looking at the many issues that affect life in rural Ireland at present. The Commission is also conducting a parallel research process and has invited interested parties to make submissions directly to it via its website at www.ruralireland.ie. There is also an option to complete an online questionnaire. To date 60 questionnaires have been completed. In addition, 108 submissions have been received. In total between the consultation and research exercises 850 contributions have been received to date for consideration in the CEDRA research process. The Commission presented its preliminary findings at a conference in NUI Maynooth earlier this week with the final report due in October 2013.

  I believe there is clear evidence that rural communities all over Ireland have embraced the CEDRA research process. I am confident that the information that emerges from this process will provide invaluable insights into the potential for the economic development of rural areas and will assist policy making into the future. I look forward to receiving the final report, and I and my colleagues in Government will give due consideration to its findings and make decisions regarding the appropriate actions to be taken.

Rural Recreation Promotion

 48. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if Comhairle na Tuaithe has made any recommendation in relation to legislating for countryside access; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28058/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Comhairle Na Tuaithe, was established in January 2004 to address the three priority issues of:

- Access to the countryside

- Developing a countryside code

- Developing the National Countryside Recreation Strategy (published in 2006).

Through Comhairle Na Tuaithe (CNaT), a set of agreed parameters to facilitate access to the countryside for recreational users were set out. The then Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs formed the view that the best way forward was to develop permissive access with the agreement of landholders via such initiatives as the Walks Scheme and Pilot Mountain Access Projects. These initiatives developed through CNaT continue to be implemented by a team of Rural Recreation Officers, employed by Local Development Companies, who also assist in resolving access issues on the ground. The consensus approach adopted is underpinned by the principle of mutual respect between landowners and recreational users, with the acceptance of the rights of landowners in regard to access to their land and the need for recreational users to have reasonable access to the countryside. To date, Comhairle na Tuaithe has made no recommendation in relation to legislating for countryside access.

RAPID Programme

 49. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the number of RAPID AITs that have full time co-ordinators; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28054/13]

 57. Deputy Seamus Kirk Information on Seamus Kirk Zoom on Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the names of the chairs of the RAPID area implementation teams; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28049/13]

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. 49 and 57 together.

  The information requested in the question is being up-to-dated by my Department. I will arrange for the compiled data to be provided to the Deputy as soon as possible.

RAPID Programme

 50. 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 he intends winding up the RAPID programme; if not, the actions he will take to ensure this programme delivers on its aims; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28048/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The RAPID programme aims to ensure that priority attention is given to tackling the spatial concentration of poverty and social exclusion in RAPID areas nationally. The programme has made substantial progress in identifying the needs of disadvantaged communities and in bringing forward appropriate local projects in response to those needs.

  I have provided funding of €2 million for RAPID in 2013, which will be used to meet the Department’s existing contractual commitments on RAPID projects throughout the country, mainly Sports Capital top-ups and CCTV systems, jointly funded with the Departments of Transport, Tourism and Sport and Justice and Equality respectively.

  The RAPID programme like other community development programmes will be considered in the context of the alignment of local government and local development under the Local Government Reform Programme, Putting People First. In implementing local government reform decisions, my Department will continue to consult as necessary with the relevant stakeholders, including local authorities, Local Development Companies, RAPID Area Implementation Teams and others. My Department will seek to ensure that RAPID areas are prioritised for purposes of social inclusion measures in 2013 and beyond.

Building Regulations Amendments

 51. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan his plans to revise building regulations to regulate the retrofitting of septic tanks; the plans, if any, he has to introduce a grant for upgrading of septic tanks; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [27973/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Building Regulations normally apply to new dwellings and to existing dwellings where a material change is being carried out. Where a service is being replaced then the requirements of the building regulations specific to the replacement apply. Part H of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations, 1997 to 2010, provides for the disposal of foul and surface water. A copy of the Building Regulations (Part H Amendment) Regulations 2010 is available in the Oireachtas library. The related Technical Guidance Document TGDH, Drainage and Waste Water Disposal, provides guidance on how to achieve compliance with this Building Regulation.

  Given that the current regulations and related guidance already set out requirements in respect of septic tanks, there is no requirement to further amend Part H of the Building Regulations. In December 2012, I announced my intention to introduce a grant scheme to provide financial assistance to households whose septic tanks and other domestic wastewater treatment systems are deemed to require remediation following an inspection under the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012. The grants scheme will only apply to works arising from an inspection and subsequent issue of an advisory notice under the Water Services (Amendment) Act, 2012 and only householders who have complied with the obligation to register their systems by 1st February, 2013 will be eligible to apply for grant aid. Full details of the scheme will be set out in regulations which I will make shortly.


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