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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 177-191
 Header Item Local Authority Charges Application
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Provision
 Header Item Water Charges Administration
 Header Item Foreshore Licence Conditions
 Header Item Economic Data
 Header Item Broadband Service Provision
 Header Item National Roads Authority Projects
 Header Item Aviation Policy
 Header Item Cycling Facilities Provision
 Header Item Driver Licences
 Header Item Road Traffic Accidents Data
 Header Item Local Authority Services
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Departmental Schemes

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 867 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 75 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 177-191

Local Authority Charges Application

 177. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly when he or his Department was informed of changes to the developmental charges at local authority level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6212/15]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Paudie Coffey): Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey The charging of development contributions is intended to allow local authorities to recoup some of the costs to public funds of servicing land for private development. Without such contributions, this servicing would not proceed or the full cost would have to be borne by the taxpayer. Under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, income from development levies must be ring-fenced to pay for facilities servicing new development, for example, for roads, footpaths, public lighting and open spaces.

Development contributions are levied by planning authorities on the basis of a development contribution scheme approved by the elected members which sets out how contributions are to be applied in their respective functional areas. The level of contribution, and the types of development to which development contributions should apply, is therefore determined at local authority level in accordance with the powers vested in elected members in this connection.

My Department issued statutory guidelines on development contributions to all planning authorities in January 2013. These guidelines emphasise the importance of promoting development through the application, where feasible, of reduced development contributions to facilitate development and promote economic activity and job creation in local areas. Further to the 2013 guidelines, 18 of the 31 local authorities have responded positively by adopting revised development contribution schemes - encompassing reduced charges – which have been notified to my Department subsequent to their adoption.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

 178. Deputy Joanna Tuffy Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly if he will provide an update on funding for social housing (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6250/15]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly Social housing is a key priority for the Government, evidenced by the additional €2.2 billion in funding announced for social housing in Budget 2015 and the publication of the Social Housing Strategy 2020 in November, 2014. The total targeted provision of over 110,000 social housing units, through the delivery of 35,000 new social housing units and meeting the housing needs of some 75,000 households through the Housing Assistance Payment and Rental Accommodation Scheme, will address the needs of the 90,000 households on the housing waiting list in full, with flexibility to meet potential future demand. In committing to provide these 35,000 new social housing units, at a projected cost of €3.8 billion, the strategy marks a fresh start for social housing in Ireland.

The process of setting delivery targets on a local authority by local authority basis has commenced and the allocation of funding to local authorities, in the context of the increased funding now available, will be based on the targets that are set and the plans of individual authorities to deliver on those targets.

While I have no proposals to introduce schemes along the lines referred to by the Deputy, it is open to housing authorities, in the context of implementing the Social Housing Strategy 2020, to explore the potential of such schemes to meet differing housing needs, having regard to local circumstances.

Water Charges Administration

 179. Deputy Derek Nolan Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly if he will provide an update on the way he envisages landlords are going to collect Irish Water payments from tenants; the rights and responsibilities of the tenants in this regard; his views that it is fair for some landlords to increase tenants deposits in order to cover expected charges; the way he plans to dissuade landlords from doing same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6258/15]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly I refer to the reply to Question No. 589 of 10 February 2015 which sets out the current position in the matter.

Foreshore Licence Conditions

 180. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly the reason a foreshore licence was not issued to complete the main drainage scheme in Youghal, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6318/15]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Paudie Coffey): Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey Under the provisions of Section 13A(1) of the Foreshore Act 1933 a request for supplementary information issued to Irish Water on 18 December 2014. My Department expects the supplementary information to be submitted shortly.  Depending on the specific additional information provided, the consultation period of this application may need to be extended.  Following completion of the consultation phase, the Marine Licence Vetting Committee (MLVC) who advise on foreshore consent applications will then finalise its report and recommendations prior to the application being submitted for my determination.

I wish to assure the Deputy that my Department is treating this application as a priority case.

Economic Data

 181. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White further to Parliamentary Question No. 1060 of 29 January 2015, if the information referred to as being available on the SEAI website and the European Commission Oil Bulletin is also retained by the economic sector in his Department; if so, the extent to which he will make this available, through reply, to the relevant parliamentary question; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [6260/15]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White My Department has an Economic Unit which is responsible for the provision of economic analysis across the Department. It retains and has access to all relevant data, including energy data, required for that purpose. Where information requests are made by way of Parliamentary Question or otherwise and where the information sought is publically available, the policy and practiCe of Departments is to refer to the source of information in reply.

Broadband Service Provision

 182. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White when the tender for the contract to provide fibre broadband to 700,000 rural homes and businesses, with a minimum speed of 30 megabits per second, irrespective of the location of the premises will be awarded; the number of companies that have tendered for this contract, together with their names; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6316/15]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The National Broadband Plan aims to ensure that every citizen and business, regardless of location, has access to a high quality, high speed broadband service. This will be achieved through a combination of commercial investments and a State led intervention in areas where commercial services will not be provided.   The commercial telecommunications sector is currently investing approximately €2.5 billion in network upgrades. Approximately 1.6 million of the 2.3 million premises in Ireland are expected to have access to commercial high speed broadband services over the next two years. These very significant investments represent a step-change in the quality of broadband services available.

  On the 24 November last, a public consultation on a national high speed coverage map 2016 was launched. The map can be accessed at www.broadband.gov.ie. The areas on the map marked Blue will all have access to high speed broadband services of at least 30mbps from the commercial sector by end of 2016. The areas marked Amber will require the intervention of the State. It is anticipated that speeds of at least 30Mbps will also be delivered through the Government’s intervention.

  The map allows all members of the public, be they business or residential, to see whether their premises / home will have access to commercial high speed broadband services by end 2016 or whether they will be included in the Government's proposed intervention. It also provides detailed information on over 50,000 townlands in every county in Ireland.

  In tandem with the mapping consultation, intensive design and planning work is underway in my Department to produce a detailed intervention strategy. The strategy will address a range of issues in relation to the intervention including the optimum procurement model, ownership model for the infrastructure, intervention cost and likely market impact.

  My Department has engaged external advisors to provide legal, economic, technical and financial advice on the various aspects of the Plan over the next two years. The next steps in this process will see a further public consultation on a detailed intervention strategy in mid-2015. The Intervention Strategy will be notified to the European Commission for State Aid clearance.

  Following the public consultation, a detailed procurement process will be undertaken towards the end of this year in order to select a preferred bidder or bidders. The Department will design a tender in a way that maximises efficiencies and keeps the cost of the network build as low as possible. It is expected that the physical build of this network will commence from 2016. It will then be incrementally rolled out over a period of three to five years.

  This complex and ambitious project is a key priority for Government. It aims to conclusively address current connectivity challenges in Ireland.

National Roads Authority Projects

 183. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if he expects to be in a position to approve the capital project in respect of the M7 Naas to Newbridge bypass upgrade scheme incorporating Newhall interchange-Sallins bypass-M7 Osberstown interchange within the confines of expenditure guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [6220/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As I outlined to the Deputy in my response to PQ 4347/15 of 3 February 2015, as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding regarding the national roads programme. The construction, improvement and maintenance of individual national roads, such as the Naas Bypass widening, is a matter for the National Roads Authority under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007, in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. The assessment and prioritisation of individual national road projects is a matter for the NRA within its capital budget and in accordance with section 19 of the Roads Act.  

With regard to the Osberstown interchange and the Sallins bypass the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities' own resources, supplemented by State road grants. The selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is, therefore, a matter for the local authority.

Owing to the national financial position, there have been very large reductions in roads expenditure in recent years. The reality is that the available funds do not match the amount of work that needs to be done to maintain existing road infrastructure or address demands for new road improvement projects. Funding in 2008 was €2.3 billion while funding this year is around €730 million for the national, regional and local road network.  Unfortunately, the current financial realities are such that the budgets proposed for my Department for 2016 and 2017 indicate that capital funding will continue to be very tight, and my ability to progress new projects and PPPs is limited.

I acknowledge it is important to restore over time capital funding for the transport sector to ensure that infrastructure is maintained but, as of now, I am not in a position to give a commitment in regard to funding of the projects in question, although I acknowledge their national and local importance.

Aviation Policy

 184. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the position regarding the draft National Aviation Policy in view of the anticipated International Airlines Group bid for Aer Lingus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6185/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am currently in the process of finalising a National Aviation Policy and I intend to publish it in the near future.  The National Aviation Policy will address all aspects of aviation policy from safety, security and economic regulation of the industry to airlines and airports policy. Regarding Aer Lingus, no formal offer has yet been made by IAG and both companies have indicated that there can be no certainty that a formal offer will be made.  Discussions are ongoing.

Cycling Facilities Provision

 185. Deputy Michael Conaghan Information on Michael Conaghan Zoom on Michael Conaghan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the amount of money his Department has allocated for the development of cycle ways in 2015; the amount of funding that will be allocated to the Dublin area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6191/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe My Department awarded €6.3m under the National Cycle Network Funding Programme 2014-2016 for the delivery of 3 Greenway projects in Kerry, Galway and Waterford.  €1,392,868 is currently profiled across the 3 projects for expenditure in 2015, though this figure may change during the year.

  A further 11 cycleway/greenway projects shared in funding from the €200m Government Stimulus Package 2014 for infrastructural development, €10m of which was earmarked for the development of greenways.  Projects funded under this package are due for completion in 2015. €1.3m was expended in 2014 with the remainder (€8.7m) to be drawn down in 2015.

  Details of the above projects can be viewed on www.smartertravel.ie.

  The National Transport Authority (NTA), in conjunction with Dublin City Council is responsible for the delivery of cycling infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area.  I have forwarded your request to the NTA for direct response to you regarding this element of your question.  If you have not received a response within 10 working days please contact my private office.

Driver Licences

 186. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the position regarding eyesight tests for driving licences (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6192/15]

 187. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if employers have any legal requirement to ensure that their employees are not driving with significantly impaired vision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6193/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 186 and 187 together.

  The operation of the driver licensing service, including the application of fitness to drive criteria, is the statutory responsibility of the Road Safety Authority.  I have therefore forwarded this question to the Authority for direct reply.  I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response has not been received within ten days.

Road Traffic Accidents Data

 188. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if he will disclose reports that his Department may have on whether deficient eyesight is a contributing factor in road accidents here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6194/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The function of investigating road traffic collisions rests with An Garda Síochána.  The Road Safety Authority (RSA), which receives data from An Garda Síochána, publishes reports on statistics relating to collisions, which may be consulted on the RSA website. I have forwarded the Deputy's Question to the RSA for direct reply and would ask him to contact my office if he has not received a response within 10 working days.

Local Authority Services

 189. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans for a further community involvement scheme in 2015 for public roads around the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6207/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The pilot Community Involvement Scheme has been completed and it has been decided that there will be no separate allocation under this grant category in 2015. Instead the scheme will revert back to allowing local authorities to set aside 7.5% of their Restoration Improvement (RI) and Restoration Maintenance (RM) grants for CIS schemes if they so wish.  Local authorities were notified of the above in Circular RW 2/2015 which issued to local authorities on 3 February 2015. 

Departmental Funding

 190. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the specific purpose of the funding he has allocated towards a road project (details supplied) in County Cork in 2015; if he will confirm the funding his Department has thus far paid out in respect of the project; the estimated cost of constructing the road; when the construction of the road will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6281/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe My Department gave a commitment in 2010 to contribute a maximum of €3.7 million of the estimated land acquisition costs of €7.4 million related to the proposed Carrigaline Western Relief Road or 50% of the cost, whichever is the lesser, and this commitment is being honoured.    

  To date €2.05 million has been paid to Cork County Council in respect of the Carrigaline Western Relief Road.  An allocation of €1.65 million is being given this year which represents the balance of the outstanding commitment.

  Due to the constrained budget available to my Department for roads, it has been necessary to curtail the Strategic Roads Grants Scheme for the moment. There is, therefore, no commitment in place to provide grant funding towards the cost of construction for this project.

  It is important to reiterate that the role of Exchequer grants for regional and local roads is to supplement the resources of Councils. It is, therefore, open to Cork County Council to fund this project from its own resources.

Departmental Schemes

 191. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the overall and county take-up of the new rural hackney scheme; if more will be done to encourage and easily facilitate greater take-up of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6283/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The regulation of the small public service vehicle industry, including the licensing of local area hackneys, is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the provisions of the Taxi Regulation Act 2013.    

  I have referred your question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days.


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