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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 301-315
 Header Item Ministerial Meetings
 Header Item Ministerial Meetings
 Header Item Irish Water
 Header Item Register of Electors
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Data
 Header Item Local Authority Staff Data
 Header Item Development Contributions
 Header Item Property Tax Administration
 Header Item Animal Breeding Regulations
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Data
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Water Quality
 Header Item Water Services

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 946 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 301-315

Ministerial Meetings

 301. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of times and dates he has met with or spoken by phone to the chair or any members of the Expert Commission on Domestic Public Water Services. [17748/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Expert Commission on Domestic Water Services was established as an independent body to make recommendations on the optimal funding method for water services in Ireland. I met with the chair of the Commission, Mr. Kevin Duffy, on 7 July 2016 to invite him to chair the Commission. I had no further engagements with the chair or any members of the Expert Commission.

Ministerial Meetings

 302. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of times and dates he has met with or spoken by phone to the chief executive of Irish Water. [17749/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The information requested is set out in the following table:

No. of phone callsDatesNo. of MeetingsDates
101/09/2016512/05/2016
   02/11/2016
   29/03/2017
   30/03/2017
   31/03/2017 
 

Irish Water

 303. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the way he intends to honour the commitments given in Irish Water's capital plan out until 2021; the areas from which the funding for this will come from; and if it will have an impact on other capital programmes across Government. [17752/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Programme for a Partnership Government reflects the overall commitment to Irish Water's capital investment of €5.5 billion to end 2021, as set out in Irish Water’s Business Plan 2014-2021. The Irish Water Business Plan is based on the domestic charging regime as provided for in the Water Services Act 2014. The Plan was considered by Government in October 2015, and was approved subject to normal regulatory and budgetary review. Some €1.7 billion has been expended to the end of 2016, leaving €3.8 billion to be spent in the period 2017-2021.

Irish Water’s capital programme is currently funded by a mix of debt, equity and funding from operations (i.e. customer revenue including that provided by the State operational subvention which is equivalent to the purchase of water on behalf of domestic customers relating to a product subsidy, capped charges and child allowance).

In December 2016, the CER made a decision on the second regulatory period 2017-2018 setting allowed revenue for this period, including proposals on operational and capital budgets. A copy of the CER's decision is available on its website, www.cer.ie.  

The future funding of Irish Water is currently under review by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services in its consideration of the Report of the Expert Commission on Domestic Public Water Services for the sustainable long term-funding model for the delivery of domestic water and waste water services by Irish Water. Any decisions on the State’s contribution and an assessment of the impacts any changes in funding for Irish Water will have on other capital programmes across Government can only be made once the Oireachtas Committee has published its report and its recommendations have been considered by the Oireachtas.

  Question No. 304 withdrawn.

Register of Electors

 305. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans to review the electoral register (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17904/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The preparation of the register of electors is a matter for each local registration authority. It is their duty, as far as possible and with the co-operation and engagement of the public, to ensure the accuracy and comprehensiveness of that register.

  Local authorities strive to ensure there is a balance between having everyone entitled to be on the register of electors present on that register and having appropriate measures in place to ensure that the register is kept up to date and accurate. 

  However, it is generally acknowledged that there is room for improvement in the register of electors and the voter registration process. The Government has recently agreed that work should commence on the modernisation of the voter registration process. This provides an opportunity to undertake significant work on improving the register of electors. While that decision was made in the context of facilitating the registration of voters that are resident outside the State, in the event of an extension of the franchise at Presidential elections being approved by the people in a referendum, it will provide benefits for the registration of all voters in an efficient and user-friendly manner and, vitally, protect the accuracy, comprehensiveness and integrity of the register of electors.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

 306. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of social housing units that have been built in County Offaly over each of the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17905/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Details on the number of properties constructed, purchased and leased by all local authorities, to include Offaly County Council, for letting to those on their social housing waiting lists are available on my Department’s website at the following link: http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision. Information on quarter four of 2016 is currently being finalised and will be published shortly.

Local Authority Staff Data

 307. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of engineers employed in the roads department of Galway County Council; if they are allocated by geographic area or by project; and if they have the resources necessary to deliver their current work plan. [17989/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department gathers quarterly data on staff numbers in local authorities. The data gathered does not provide detail in respect of the number of engineers employed in the roads department of Galway County Council, the geographic area of their location or by project and accordingly the information requested is not available in my Department.

My Department works closely with Galway County Council in relation to the Council's overall staffing requirements. However, under section 159 of the Local Government Act 2001, each Chief Executive is responsible for the staffing and organisational arrangements necessary for carrying out the functions of the local authorities for which he or she is responsible.

Development Contributions

 308. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the amounts of development contributions which have been collected and unspent by local authorities; if arrangements remain in place that only permit local authorities to spend the equivalent of the amount they take in in the current year; if not, when and the way the position was relaxed; if there are further planned changes; if so, the details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18027/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The charging of development contributions allows local authorities to recoup some of the costs to public funds of servicing land for private development, without which the development could not proceed. Development contributions can only be levied as capital funding for public infrastructure and facilities and as such, cannot be used to pay current costs. Income from development contributions must be ring-fenced to pay for facilities servicing new development, for example, for roads, footpaths, public lighting and open spaces and it is a matter for each local authority to determine the allocation of those incomes, having regard to the provisions of sections 48 and 49 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended.

It should be noted that local authorities operate on an accrual accounting basis and therefore recognise income and expenditure as incurred relating to the period, regardless of the cash transactions. The Annual Financial Statements (AFSs), therefore, do not show cash movements or cash on hand in relation to development contributions but show the invoiced income and the amount of development contributions due to local authorities. Information on the monetary value of development contributions collected and unspent by local authorities at year end is not available in my Department. My Department is currently reviewing management information being collected from the local government sector, including in respect of development contributions, and may make some changes to requirements in the coming year, following consultation with local authority Directors of Finance.

My Department is responsible for monitoring the local government sector’s compliance with fiscal rules set out as part of the management of the Stability and Growth Pact. These include the contribution of the local government sector to the General Government Balance (GGB) and also controls to be exercised under the Expenditure Benchmark requirements. Arising from the Government’s effort to meet commitments in relation to the General Government Deficit limit, local authorities have been directed that, similar to the revenue account activity, capital expenditure should not exceed capital income within the reporting year. The precise manner in which capital and current accounts are managed in order to achieve the overall balance necessary is a matter for individual local authorities themselves. However, within these overall limits, there is additional capacity for the expenditure of built-up capital balances and own resources funded by development contributions on hand by local authorities, which must be sanctioned by my Department. In reviewing requests for sanction, consideration is given to ensuring that priority infrastructural investment can proceed, that contractual commitments and on-going projects can proceed and that development contributions already collected and aligned to specific capital projects can be utilised efficiently.

Property Tax Administration

 309. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the year in which the assessment of needs were done that now inform the distribution of local property tax; his plans to repeat the exercise; if so, when that will be done; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18028/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Local retention of Local Property Tax (LPT) began in 2015 and is now established as an alternative and essential  source of funding for the local government sector, which reduces reliance on central funding. The Government decided that 80% of the estimated LPT liability in each local authority area for a given year is retained in that area to fund public services, notwithstanding any local variation decisions. The remaining 20% of LPT is re-distributed to provide equalisation funding to those local authorities that have lower property tax bases, due to the variance in property values and density across the State. This reflects the fact that local authorities vary significantly from one another in terms of size, population, public service demands, infrastructure and income sources.

In accordance with decisions taken by Government regarding the distribution of LPT funding, every local authority has a minimum level of funding available to it known as the LPT baseline. There are variances across the country in terms of LPT levels but it is important that all local authorities in the State receive at least this minimum funding level to ensure they can deliver services. The LPT funding baseline in 2017 is linked to previous General Purpose Grant amounts and Pension Related Deductions retained by authorities in 2014.

The needs of local authorities vary significantly across the State, depending on a complex range of factors. My Department keeps the allocation mechanism under review to ensure equitable treatment of all local authorities. Matters relating to equalisation and allocation methods for future years will be reviewed as necessary and appropriate.

Animal Breeding Regulations

 310. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when the final dog breeding establishment guidelines will be published following the closure of the public consultation on 28 February 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18042/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney In late 2015, the then Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government agreed to begin a process of review of the current Dog Breeding Establishment Guidelines, under the auspices of the County and City Management Association (CCMA) Dogs Working Group. The work undertaken to date has been to produce a first draft revision of the Guidelines.

I considered it essential to broaden the review of the Guidelines to a more formal public consultation, both for quality assurance and to address the need for openness and inclusiveness. A wide-scale formal public consultative process commenced on 1 December 2016 and closed on 28 February 2017. My Department is currently reviewing the feedback received through the process before submitting the findings to me. I would expect to be in a position to conclude the consideration of this matter later in Q2 2017.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

 311. Deputy Seán Haughey Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the status of the development and delivery of housing in locations (details supplied); the amount of funding and number of units which will be provided on each site; when these units will be made available to be occupied; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18054/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Stage 1 (approval in principle) to the provision of 56 social housing units in Phase 1A of the first project referred to was granted in December 2016 with a budget of €17,859,976. This is the first phase of a mixed tenure re-development of the entire site to deliver approximately 600 dwellings in total with a mix of 30% social, 20% affordable and 50% private housing. At present, the application by Dublin city Council to proceed to Stage 2 (pre-planning design) is being considered. The process of de-tenanting the remaining residents is also under consideration. It is expected that the project will be completed by 2020, with phased handover of units to allow speedy tenanting as the project progresses.

  Stage 1 approval (approval in principle) was issued on 29 June, 2016 for the delivery of 72 residential units in the second project referred to, with a budget of €21,615,125. The proposed units will allow for the re-housing of some 50 households from the existing west side blocks at the location and create 22 new units for households from the Council’s housing lists. The Council will then be in a position to consider options for the west side blocks. Both the Council and my Department are in the process of progressing the scheme to Stage 2. It is hoped that the scheme will go to tender in 2017 and it is expected that the scheme will be completed in 2019.

Planning Issues

 312. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the options available for persons in estates that cannot be taken over by county councils in view of the fact that the developer is not in a position to apply for takeover; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18104/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Section 180 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, provides that, as soon as possible following a request by the developer or by the majority of the house-owners, a planning authority must initiate procedures to take in charge a residential housing estate, completed to its satisfaction in accordance with the planning permission.

Section 180 also provides that, following a request by the majority of the house-owners, a planning authority must initiate procedures to take an unfinished estate in charge, where the authority has not commenced enforcement proceedings in respect of the estate within seven years of the expiry of the planning permission concerned.

In the case of an unfinished estate, where the planning authority has commenced enforcement proceedings within seven years of the expiry of the planning permission or considers that enforcement proceedings will not result in the satisfactory completion of the estate, section 180 provides that, following a request by the majority of the house-owners, the authority may at its absolute discretion initiate procedures to take in charge the roads and some or all of the other services in the estate. A planning authority may, for the purposes of section 180, hold a plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of the house-owners.

My Department, by way of circular letter PD 1/2008 dated 26 February 2008, issued updated policy guidance to planning authorities on Taking in Charge of Residential Developments/Management Arrangements. This advised each planning authority to develop or update, as appropriate, its policy on taking-in-charge by the end of June 2008, based on the following principles (among others):

- Certain core facilities/infrastructure to be taken in charge on request - public roads and footpaths, unallocated surface parking areas, public lighting, public water supply, foul and storm water drainage and public open spaces;

- The procedures for taking in charge to begin promptly on foot of a request by the majority of the residents in the development or by the developer, as appropriate. Protocols, including time frames, must be set out by planning authorities to respond to requests for taking in charge.

Each planning authority’s policy on taking in charge is required to be made available to the public and published on its website, and the policy is reported on to the elected members on a regular basis, and at least once annually.

Under the provisions of Section 30 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended), I am specifically precluded from intervening in individual cases.

Water Quality

 313. Deputy Josepha Madigan Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the regulations in place with regard to car washes and disposal of related toxins. [18115/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Primary responsibility for the monitoring, management, protection and improvement of water quality is assigned to local authorities under the Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts and related legislation. While there is no specific mention of car wash facilities in water pollution legislation, the Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts do provide that nobody should discharge or cause or permit the discharge of any trade effluent or sewage effluent to any waters except where licensed by a local authority. Local authorities have a general responsibility for the monitoring, management, protection and improvement of water quality. Irish Water is responsible for the issuing of licences for the discharge of trade effluent to their sewers. The Environmental Protection Agency, through its Office of Environmental Enforcement, exercises general supervision in relation to the performance of these functions by local authorities.

Under Section 16 of the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act 1977 (as amended), an individual or business may not discharge a trade effluent to a sewer except in accordance with a licence issued under the associated regulations. Therefore, a Trade Effluent Discharge to Sewer Licence issued by Irish Water must be in place where the discharge from a car wash is to a sewer.

Trade Effluent Discharge to Sewer Licences set out conditions that must be complied with. These may include the nature, composition and volume of the trade effluent discharge; the method of treatment, the location of discharge and the periods during which discharge may be made; sampling requirements and applicable charges for the discharging of the trade effluent, as approved by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER).

Water Services

 314. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on whether, under the Water Services Strategic Plan 2015- 2040, the increased compliance with the drinking water microbiological standards from the baseline of 99.82% to 99.99% by the end of 2021 will be achieved. [18123/17]

 315. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on whether, under the Water Services Strategic Plan 2015-2040, the removal of all boil water notices by 2021 will be achieved. [18124/17]

 316. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on whether, under the Water Services Strategic Plan 2015-2040, the increase in the compliance rate for trihalomethanes in drinking water from the baseline of 90.31% to 93% by 2021 and to 99% by 2027 will be achieved. [18125/17]

 317. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on whether, under the Water Services Strategic Plan 2015-2040, the plan to reduce the current leakage rate of approximately 49% of treated drinking water to less than 38% by 2021, to less than 30% by 2027 and to achieve a sustainable economic level of leakage by 2040 will be achieved. [18126/17]

 318. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on whether, under the Water Services Strategic Plan 2015-2040, the increase in the compliance rate for lead in drinking water which is estimated at between 85% to 95% will achieve 98% compliance by the end of 2021 and 99.90% compliance by 2027. [18127/17]

 319. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on whether, under the Water Services Strategic Plan 2015-2040, the plan to improve the standard of urban waste water treatment to meet the requirements of the urban waste water treatment directive from the current low baseline of 39% compliance to 90% compliance by 2021, 99% compliance by 2027 and to 100% compliance by 2040 will be achieved. [18128/17]

 320. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if, under the Water Services Strategic Plan 2015-2040, he will provide an appropriate level of sewage treatment for the 44 urban agglomerations currently discharging raw sewage to waters by 2021. [18129/17]

 321. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on whether, under the Water Services Strategic Plan 2015-2040, 100% of the operational and capital efficiency targets identified by the Commission for Energy Regulation by 2021 will be met. [18130/17]

 322. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on whether, under the Water Services Strategic Plan 2015-2040, 33% energy efficiency improvement over baseline will be achieved by 2020. [18131/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I propose to take Questions Nos. 314 to 322, inclusive, together.

   The Water Services Strategic Plan is a statutory requirement under section 33 of the Water Services (No 2) Act 2013. The plan sets out the strategic objectives for the delivery of water services by Irish Water over the 25 year period up to 2040. It details current and future challenges which affect the provision of water services and identifies the priorities to be tackled by Irish Water in both the short and medium term.

  The plan includes a number of key targets and indicators so that implementation of the plan can be monitored. These include targets for achieving compliance with drinking water quality standards, targets for addressing legacy failings in relation to urban waste water treatment, targets for reduced leakage rates and lead management as well as targets for improving operational and capital efficiencies identified by the Commission for Energy Regulation.

  The Water Services Strategic Plan was approved by the then Minister in October 2015. It provides the first real opportunity to take a long-term view of water services investment at a national level, to ensure that investment is strategically targeted towards priority needs and to put in place an asset management approach towards investment in water services that gives the optimum balance between capital and operational spend to ensure the required service delivery to the people of Ireland over time, and at least cost. The Irish Water Business Plan Transforming Water Services in Ireland to 2021 was also published in 2015. It outlines Irish Water’s planned investment and financial targets for the 7-year period to 2021 and provides the basis by which Irish Water will implement the first phase of the Water Services Strategic Plan.

  The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has produced a framework to monitor Irish Water's performance over time. Performance metrics cover the areas of customer service, environmental performance, quality of service for water supply security of supply and sewerage service. In addition, Ervia's Annual Report and Accounts and Irish Water's Financial statements are submitted to me each year and are laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. These publications enable further assessment of the progress made by Irish Water towards delivering the Water Services Strategic Plan and Business Plan targets.

  Delivering the targets set out in the Water Services Strategic Plan will however be dependent upon ensuring the required levels of funding identified in the Irish Water Business Plan to 2021 and ongoing commitment to the required funding levels beyond then.


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