Written Answers Nos. 221 - 230
Dáil Éireann Debate
Written Answers Nos. 221 - 230
Water Services Provision
221. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if consideration may be provided to a simplified water charge system which could be affordable, would reflect the consumer's ability to pay, be less costly administratively and at the same time cost-effectively address the urgent need for investment in a vital part of infrastructure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42608/14]
229. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will consider developing a more effective local authority water service (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42623/14]
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): I propose to take Questions Nos. 221 and 229 together.
222. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his proposals to facilitate the registration of grandfather architects in the new buildings regulations and architects registrations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42489/14]
232. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will facilitate the registration of persons with long experience as architects under a grandfather provision even if their qualifications do not fulfil the full requirements for newly qualified architects, in view of their proven track record and experience; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42638/14]
Part 3 of the Building Control Act 2007 sets out the statutory arrangements for the registration of architects. A variety of routes to registration are provided for in the Act, including specific provision (under section 22) for the registration of persons who had been performing duties commensurate with those of an architect for a period of 10 or more years in the State prior to the commencement of the Act. A review of the arrangements in place for the registration of architects was undertaken last year by Mr Garret Fennell, Solicitor, who is currently serving as the Chairperson of the Admissions Board relevant to the register of Architects. Mr Fennell’s report on the matter, which was published last year, identified a number of recommendations which would improve the registration process for applicants. My Department, in conjunction with the RIAI as registration body, has liaised with interested parties such as the Architects Alliance of Ireland in relation to the implementation of these recommendations. A number of helpful revisions to the registration arrangements, including the technical assessment process, have already been made. My Department will continue to work with all concerned in relation to the on-going development of registration arrangements in line with the recommendations made by Mr Fennell or in any other reasonable and appropriate way.
Local Authority Charges Application
223. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will review downwards the fees and contributions charged by local authorities for planning permissions and change of use application for businesses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42494/14]
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): The Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended, prescribe the current planning application fees. Any proposed changes to the fees, which were last increased in 1998, would require the endorsement of the Oireachtas pursuant to section 262 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. While planning application fees are kept under regular review in my Department, I have no plans to reduce the fees at this time. With regard to development contributions, my role as Minister is to provide the necessary statutory and policy framework within which individual development contribution schemes are adopted by each local authority. The adoption of these schemes is a reserved function of the locally elected members of each planning authority. It is a matter for the members to determine the level of contribution and the types of development to which they will apply.
Irish Water Administration
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Domestic water charges commenced with effect from 1 October 2014 and Irish Water will issue the first bills to domestic customers from January 2015. The approach to charging was outlined by Irish Water in a Water Charges Plan (WCP) submitted to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) in line with the provisions of the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013. The CER announced its decision on water charges on 30 September. The amount billed to domestic customers for the year 2015 based on the charging structure announced by the CER will be in the order of €300 million per annum and the amount billed to non-domestic customers will be some €230 million.
Irish Water Administration
225. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if Irish Water has refused requests from local authorities to attend their meetings to brief county councillors on the processes and procedures being adopted by the company in their pursuit of the collection of charges for domestic water; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42529/14]
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): With effect from 1 January 2014, Irish Water is responsible for public water services. At the request of my Department, Irish Water 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. Irish Water has acknowledged that the level of service it has provided to public representatives needs to be improved and has apologised for any shortcomings that have arisen to date in terms of the timelines and quality of responses. Irish Water is currently reviewing its communications procedures with regard to engagement with local representatives and will advise on additional measures shortly.
226. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 548 of 30 September 2014, the number of times the Dublin housing supply task force has met since its establishment; and if he will report on the work completed by the task force to date in progressing the Construction 2020 Strategy. [42594/14]
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Action 2 of the Government’s Construction 2020 Strategy commits to the establishment of a Housing Supply Coordination Taskforce for Dublin with an immediate focus on addressing supply-related issues. The Task Force has been tasked to work closely with industry and other parties, including those responsible for key infrastructure such as schools, to identity and address any obstacles to viable and appropriate development. The Task Force has met on six occasions since its establishment.
227. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he or his Department has been provided with any reports or databases from Irish Water or formerly from the local authorities, including Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council on the extent and location of lead pipes in the water network. [42595/14]
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Since 1 January 2014 Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of water services planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local levels. I have no responsibility for, or role in relation to, the management, operation or maintenance of water services infrastructure. My Department has not been provided with any reports or databases from Irish Water or the local authorities referred to above on the extent and location of lead pipes in the water network. However, Irish Water has informed my Department that of its estimated 58,000 kilometres of distribution system, there is a very small proportion of lead piping, consisting of approximately 190 short lengths across 14 local authorities. Irish Water is working to achieve the replacement of these pipes as quickly as possible.
There are a significant number of lead public service pipes between the water mains and the customer stopcock or water meter. Irish Water is identifying the location of such lead service connections during the meter installation programme. The numbers currently being identified represent about 5% of houses, but this is expected to be higher in town centre areas. Irish Water also estimates that there may be a further 30,000 to 40,000 houses with shared backyard lead service connections. Irish Water has informed my Department that it intends to invest in public lead pipe replacement schemes, primarily communications pipes, with a view to eliminating lead mains, including shared backyard service connections over the next ten years. Irish Water is also reviewing its water treatment processes to ensure that they can mitigate the risk in the short term.
Motor Tax Rates
228. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the amount he expects to raise from road tax on vintage vehicles in 2014; his views on reducing or abolishing the tax on vintage vehicles to be used only in community or charity fund raising events. [42596/14]
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): I expect that receipts from motor tax on vintage vehicles for 2014 will be of the order of €2.1m, though final figures will not be available until after the year end. I have no plans to reduce or abolish the current favourable motor tax rates applied to vintage vehicles. Concessionary rates of motor tax for vintage vehicles have been in place since 1991. The low rate of tax reflects the fact that vintage vehicles may be in limited use on the roads. The rates were initially set at £10 (€13) for motorcycles and £25 (€32) per annum for all other vintage vehicles. The current rates are €26 per annum for motor cycles and €56 for all other vehicles.
National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan
230. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will request all local authorities to comply with the Disability Act 2005 regarding making buildings an environment that is friendly for persons with a mobility impairment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42624/14]
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Local authorities work on an ongoing basis toward making public spaces, public buildings and services owned and operated by them accessible. In accordance with my Department’s commitments under the National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan, under the Disability Act 2005, local authorities must include accessibility as an objective throughout all new Local Authority corporate plans and development plans. Local Authority Implementation Plans must also commit to bring public areas of local authority buildings up to Buildings Regulations Part M (2000) standard by 2015 and up to Part M (2010) standard by 2022, or as soon as resources allow.
|Last Updated: 22/09/2016 12:18:10||Page of 77|