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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 696-714
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Land Issues
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Tenant Purchase Scheme Administration
 Header Item Wastewater Treatment
 Header Item Motor Tax Collection
 Header Item Regeneration Projects Expenditure
 Header Item Regeneration Projects Status
 Header Item Water and Sewerage Schemes Provision
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Non-Principal Private Residence Charge Exemptions
 Header Item Water Meters
 Header Item IBRC Bonds
 Header Item Fire Stations Provision
 Header Item Unfinished Housing Developments
 Header Item Regeneration Projects Status

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 118 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 696-714

Planning Issues

 696. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if quarries under section 261A of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended by the insertion of section 75 of the Planning Development (Amendment) Act 2010 and as further amended by the European Union (Environmental Impact Assessment and Habitats) Regulations 2012, which are either sub-threshold as defined by the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) – Guidance for Consent Authorities regarding sub-threshold development issued by his Department in August, 2003, or quarries that do not require appropriate assessments environmental impact assessment but do not have the benefit of a previous planning permission but were considered that the quarry works commenced operation before 1 October 1964 and that the requirements in relation to registration under section 261 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, were fulfilled will be required to submit a planning application for the said quarry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13593/14]

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 section 261A of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as inserted by the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010, each planning authority was required to examine all the quarries in its functional area to determine whether, having regard to the relevant EU Directives –

  An environmental impact assessment (EIA), or a screening as to whether environmental impact assessment was required, under the EIA Directive or an appropriate assessment under the Habitats Directive, should have been, but was not, carried out.

  Where the planning authority determined that an EIA, or screening for EIA and/or an appropriate assessment, were required in respect of the quarry but were not carried out, the planning authority was then required to decide whether or not the quarry –

either commenced before 1 October 1964 or subsequently obtained a planning permission, and  

registered in 2004-2005 if required to do so pursuant to section 261 of the Planning Act.

  Where these two conditions are satisfied, the quarry is permitted to apply for substitute consent. However where these conditions are not satisfied, the quarry will be required to cease operating.

  Determinations and decisions of planning authorities in this regard were referable to An Bord Pleanála for review.

Land Issues

 697. 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 he will indicate, in relation to lands and property assets held by development companies for liquidation, and where developments are not completed to the planning permission, do the assets transfer to protected creditors, his Department, the State Solicitor or another agency; if there are any proceeds made available to complete public services in incomplete housing developments, debts to the Revenue Commissioners, lenders or other creditors in such cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13604/14]

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 Issues relating to company law are primarily a matter for the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. However, my Department understands that where a lender decides to appoint a liquidator to dispose of the assets of a debtor, including in the case of unfinished housing developments, ownership and control of those assets passes to any new owner purchasing the assets from the liquidator. Any proceeds of such asset disposals will normally be used to repay outstanding debts, including creditors, who may include secured creditors firstly (e.g. the lender), the Revenue Commissioners and unsecured creditors, who can include local authorities in relation to matters such as unpaid development contributions.   

  The new owners of any assets disposed of by liquidators would then become responsible for the relevant sites and relevant matters arising in relation to compliance with legislative requirements under planning and related codes.     

Planning Issues

 698. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will legislate so that all planning applications for wind farms, including those already submitted, can be put on hold until such time as the new guidelines are agreed and in place.  [13609/14]

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 commenced a public consultation process on proposed revisions to the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines in December 2013. This is a targeted review of the Guidelines focusing on the specific issues of noise, setbacks and shadow flicker and it is not proposed to make changes to the remaining sections of the existing Guidelines.

My Department is currently considering the submissions received on the proposed draft revisions to the Guidelines from approximately 7,500 individuals and organisations. Until such time as the revisions to the Guidelines are finalised later this year, the current Guidelines will continue to apply to planning applications for wind energy developments.

Tenant Purchase Scheme Administration

 699. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan when a new scheme, which will be replacing the tenant purchase scheme be announced; if this scheme will take into consideration tenants whose sole income is social welfare and take into consideration the length time they are a tenant; if a discount will be afforded to those whose property value presently might be lower than the differential rate between mortgage and rent paid.  [13610/14]

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 Government, on 17 December 2013, approved priority drafting of a Housing (scellaneous Provisions) Bill that will, among other things, underpin a new tenant purchase scheme for existing local authority houses along incremental purchase lines.  I expect that the Bill will be enacted this year, following which I will prescribe in regulations the commencement date and the detailed terms of the scheme.

Tenants are not precluded from tenant purchase by virtue of being social welfare recipients and there is no intention to change this practice in the future. However, tenants seeking to fund the purchase through loan finance from the housing authority must meet the criteria that apply to such loans, which are set out in the Housing (Local Authority Loans) Regulations 2012 and associated credit policy. This policy provides that loans are not available to social welfare recipients, except where these constitute long-term Department of Social Protection payments in conjunction with a primary income of a permanent and salaried nature. The final decision on whether or not to approve a loan in a particular case lies with the relevant housing authority, which must satisfy itself as to the borrower’s capacity to service the loan over its full term.

The discounts available to tenants under the incremental purchase model are related to income rather than length of tenancy, thus enabling low-income households to move into home ownership earlier than would otherwise be the case. The discount-related charge that the housing authority applies to the dwelling under incremental purchase is structured to make it attractive for households to put down long-term roots in their localities, thereby fostering more sustainable and integrated communities.

Wastewater Treatment

 700. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the position regarding the works to provide Arklow, County Wicklow, with a wastewater treatment plant, and a full programme of work from now until completion, in view of the Environmental Protection Agency's report on urban waste water treatment which estimates the completion date for secondary treatment required by the 1991 European Union directive for Arklow is 2016; his views on whether the estimated date of 2016 is achievable; if steps can be taken to fast-track the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13656/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I refer to the reply to Question No. 388 of 11 February 2014 which sets out the position in this matter.   

  In addition, Irish Water has put in place specific arrangements to address the queries which public representatives may have in relation to matters pertaining to the operation of water services under the new utility. I understand that Irish Water has made contact with Oireachtas members to outline the arrangements for addressing such queries in a timely manner.   

Motor Tax Collection

 701. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the reason it is not possible to tax a vehicle such as a combine harvester or forage harvester for three months rather than a full year, as these machines have a very limited season.  [13666/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Motor tax legislation provides that owners of vehicles with an annual tax of €119 or less must pay that tax on an annual basis. The relatively low rate of tax applied to such vehicles , including agricultural tractors, island vehicles, motor caravans, hearses and vintage vehicles , among others, is a concessionary rate of tax to reflect their seasonal or limited use on the roads.

  Question No. 702 answered with Question No. 677.

  Question No. 703 answered with Question No. 690.

Regeneration Projects Expenditure

 704. Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will provide in tabular form the amount of funding his Department provided for each regeneration project in the State in 2012, 2013 and 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13735/14]

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 currently supports an ambitious programme of regeneration which seeks to address the causes of disadvantage in communities and large social housing estates and flat complexes through holistic programmes of physical, social and economic regeneration.

  The amounts of regeneration funding provided by my Department to the various regeneration projects for 2012 and 2013 are set out in the following table:

-2012

€ million
2013

€ million
Ballymun Regeneration30.00018.920
Dublin City Council18.00010.380
Limerick Regeneration34.89029.440
Cork City Council11.1606.680
Waterford City Council0.9800*
Sligo Borough Council1.9001.380
Tralee Town Council2.6902.410
Dundalk Town Council0.9700.210


  *Regeneration programme concluded in 2012

  This year some €70m is being provided to support regeneration programmes nationally. My Department is currently finalising the regeneration work programmes for 2014 with the authorities concerned and, pending the conclusion of this process, it is not possible to provide details of the individual allocations at this time.

Regeneration Projects Status

 705. Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he has received the detailed project appraisal which his Department sought from Sligo Borough Council in March 2013 for the proposed refurbishment of the Gate House at Doorly Park, Sligo,to allow it to be used as a resource house by the local community in the Doorly Park-Martin Savage Terrace area; if his Department will make funding available for the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13736/14]

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 This year some €70m is being provided to support regeneration programmes nationally. My Department is currently finalising the regeneration work programmes for 2014 with the authorities concerned and, pending the conclusion of this process, it is not possible to provide details of the individual allocations at this time .

A capital appraisal for emergency repair works to the Gate Lodge at Doorly Park was submitted to my Department in May 2013. The project was assessed and my Department concluded that the capital appraisal should be expanded to cover the full renovation cost for the property. Sligo Borough Council was subsequently asked to amend the capital appraisal to include details of viability, future uses, full renovation costs and updated drawings. The matter will be further considered when this information is to hand.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Provision

 706. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan when Irish Water will be assuming responsibility for the utilities ESB bills of group schemes that have been recently taken over by the local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13744/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Legislation was enacted in December 2013 (the Water Services (No.2) Act 2013) which established Irish Water as the national water services authority from 1 January 2014. The Act provides for the transfer of water services functions from the 34 local authorities to Irish Water. This includes responsibility for the infrastructure associated with Group Water Schemes that had been taken over by local authorities prior to 31 December 2013. All operating costs, including utility bills, associated with such infrastructure are a matter for Irish Water.

My Department has asked Irish Water to put in place specific arrangements to address the queries which public representatives may have in relation to matters pertaining to the operation of water services under the new utility. I understand that Irish Water has made contact with Oireachtas members to outline the arrangements for addressing such queries in a timely manner.

Planning Issues

 707. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if his attention has been drawn to the fact that planning permission was granted in 2009 for the construction of a new independently supported footbridge adjacent to Markievicz Bridge, Sligo; if it has been drawn to his attention that Sligo County Council submitted applications to his Department for funding for the project in 2013 and 2014; if it is the intention of his Department to provide financial assistance for the project in the current year; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13746/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I have not received an application from Sligo County Council in relation to the project referred to in the question.   

Non-Principal Private Residence Charge Exemptions

 708. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will clarify an issue in relation to non-principal private residence charge where a person lived in their house for some years with their life partner who then remained resident in the house when the home owner travelled to another jurisdiction in order to gain employment, if the property will be subject to NPPR; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13761/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009, as amended, provides the legislative basis for the Non Principal Private Residence Charge. The NPPR Charge, which has since been discontinued, applied in the years 2009 to 2013 to any residential property in which the owner did not reside as their normal place of residence. It is a matter for an owner, whether resident in Ireland or elsewhere, to determine if he or she has a liability and, if so, to declare that liability and pay the Charge and any late payment fees applicable. A residential property not in use by an owner as his or her sole or main residence is liable for the Charge. This may not necessarily be a second home; a person may have vacated a property and be living in rented accommodation elsewhere for work or other reasons and in such a case, the property that the owner is no longer living in is liable for the Charge, even if it is the only residential property that person owns. The 2009 Act places the Charge under the care and management of the local authorities, and application in particular circumstances is a matter for the relevant local authority.

Part 12 of the Local Government Reform Act 2014 deals with the collection of undischarged liabilities relating to the NPPR charge. The Act provides for a period, from on 2 March 2014 to 31 August 2014, during which time no new late penalties will be applied to existing liabilities. If payment is not made in full, or, if settlement terms are not agreed by the end of that period, an additional late payment fee of €120 per liability date is applied on 1 September 2014. In addition, the entire NPPR liability is increased by a factor of 50% and frozen. It is very much in the interest of non-compliant owners to come forward to regularise their affairs and to take advantage of this once-off opportunity. The NPPR charge is based on self-declaration and therefore the onus is on the property owner themselves to register their property and make the payment. Local authorities will be taking a proactive approach to ensure that any outstanding liabilities are discharged in the most equitable, efficient and economically beneficial manner. I am advising all non-compliant owners to log on to www.nppr.ie, or alternatively to contact their local authority and make arrangements to discharge their outstanding liabilities before 1 September 2014 to avoid incurring additional fees.

Water Meters

 709. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the way in which water meters will be managed and operated in private estates, whose maintenance are under the direction of a management company and not a local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13762/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Programme for Government sets out a commitment to the introduction of water charges based on usage above a free allowance. The Government considers that charging based on usage is the fairest way to charge for water and it has, therefore, decided that water meters should be installed in households connected to public water supplies.     

  The Water Services Act 2013 provided for the establishment of Irish Water as an independent subsidiary within the Bord Gáis Éireann Group and assigned the necessary powers to allow Irish Water to under take the metering programme. Local authorities are in the final stages of a pre-installation survey of households connected to public water supplies. The survey is providing information to Irish Water on the properties that can be metered. The intention is that a meter will be installed in any household connected to a public water supply where it is technically feasible to do so. In common with meters for other utility services, the water meters will remain the property of Irish Water which will also be responsible for the maintenance of the meters.

IBRC Bonds

 710. 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 if information on the bonds held by all local authorities with the former Anglo Irish Bank, now the liquidated Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, has been collated; if information on the value of bonds held by local authorities has been sent to the Special Liquidator of the IBRC and his Department.  [13770/14]

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 in question is currently being collated and quantified, and further information is being sought from some of the local authorities through the City and County Managers Association (CCMA), in order to assess the real exposure value of residential IBRC bonds.

  Meetings have been held with the special liquidator and there is good cooperation between the relevant parties.   

  Question No. 711 answered with Question No. 691.

Fire Stations Provision

 712. 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 when funding will be made available for the provision of a new fire station (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13775/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The provision of a fire service in its functional area, including the establishment and maintenance of a fire brigade, the assessment of fire cover needs and the provision of fire station premises, is a statutory function of individual fire authorities under section 10 of the Fire Services Act 1981. My Department supports the fire authorities through setting general policy, providing a central training programme, issuing guidance on operational and other related matters and providing capital funding for priority infrastructural projects.

Under the 2007 fire service capital programme a proposal by Offaly County Council to build a new fire station at Ferbane was received by my Department and approval in principle was granted to proceed to the planning stages. Offaly County Council submitted these cost and design plans on 28 February 2014 for consideration by my Department.

Given the constraints on public finances further support from my Department's fire services capital programme to proceed with a new fire station at Ferbane will have regard to national priorities, the totality of requests from fire authorities countrywide, Offaly County Council’s priorities, the extent of previous investment in Offaly fire service, the value for money offered by proposals and the status of existing facilities having regard to risk categorisation.

Unfinished Housing Developments

 713. Deputy Noel Coonan Information on Noel Coonan Zoom on Noel Coonan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan when an announcement will be made outlining the unfinished housing developments that have been successful under the special resolution fund for unfinished housing developments; the stage the applications are currently at; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13782/14]

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 current position is that applications by local authorities for funding from the Special Resolution Fund (SRF) are being assessed. A number of queries have been raised by the Department with local authorities in relation to certain of the applications. I am conscious of the limited time available to complete SRF projects within the current year and I am hopeful that my Department will be in a position to finalise matters in the coming weeks.

Regeneration Projects Status

 714. 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 if it was a requirement to have a new road built through existing dwellings on Eugene Street, Dublin 8, as part of Dublin City Council's application for capital funding for the regeneration project for the St Teresa's Gardens flat complex; and if so the reason behind such a requirement.  [13787/14]

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 Draft schematic regeneration proposals for St. Teresa’s Gardens were developed by Dublin City Council and submitted to my Department in 2012. Since then, my Department has been liaising with the City Council to finalise the planning process and commence the demolition and refurbishment programme. In 2013, my Department approved the City Council's proposals for the retrofitting of apartments to facilitate the de-tenanting of those apartment blocks which are scheduled for demolition. This will facilitate the demolition of vacant blocks and the start of preparatory work for the construction of some 50 new apartments on the cleared site.

The planning and design of the individual components of the overall regeneration programme is a matter for the City Council in consultation with the local community. I understand the City Council is proposing a new access road via Eugene Street, designed to address the previous perceived isolation of the St. Teresa's Gardens site and to provide for the fuller integration of this area into the wider community. I also understand that this is an initial step in providing the desired network of streets to promote sustainable permeability, a key principle of the City Council's Development Plan.


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