Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. Annual Report 2012

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1 Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government Annual Report 2012 An Irish version and an English version of the Annual Report (2012) is available on 1

2 Contents Page Foreword by the Minister for the Environment, 3 Community and Local Government Secretary General s Statement 4 Summary of Main Achievements Chapter 1: Housing 14 Chapter 2: Water 18 Chapter 3: Environment 21 Chapter 4: Local Government and Franchise 25 Chapter 5: Communities and Rural Development 33 Chapter 6: Planning 38 Chapter 7: Met Éireann 41 Chapter 8: Resourcing the Modern Department 47 Appendices Appendix 1 Legislative Activity Appendix 2 Publications Appendix 3 Annual Energy Efficiency Report: Overview of Energy Usage

3 Foreword by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Together with my colleagues, Ministers of State Jan O Sullivan, T.D., and Fergus O Dowd, T.D., I am pleased to accept delivery of the Department s Annual Report which provides a broad overview of the activities of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government during Significant progress has been made by the Department during 2012 towards achieving its objectives. The Statement of Strategy outlines the Department s high level objectives and key strategies across its Programme areas (Housing, Water Services, Environment and Waste Management, Local Government, Community and Rural Development, Planning and Met Éireann). The Strategy clearly illustrates the Department s broad remit and reflects the strategic priorities and considerable reform agenda of the Government for National Recovery Programme and the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support. The Department s performance is measured on an annual basis against the key outputs and performance indicators outlined in the Statement of Strategy. Performance can also be gauged from the information forming part of the 2013 Revised Estimates Volume, including details of the Department s output for 2012; output targets for 2013; and performance indicators for the past 3 years. Significant credit is due to staff in the Department and its Agencies for their sustained hard work and commitment during a very busy Substantial progress has been made, and milestones achieved, under the Programme for Government. Thanks to the thorough preparations for Ireland s hosting of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Department s ambitious and challenging Presidency programme is progressing very well. On behalf of my Ministerial colleagues and on my own behalf, I wish sincerely to thank staff for their individual contributions to attaining the Department s objectives. Achieving these objectives will aid our country s economic recovery and alleviate the challenges faced by the communities that we serve. Phil Hogan, T.D. Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government 3

4 Secretary General s Statement The Department continued, in 2012, to illustrate its sustained purpose in supporting the delivery of Ministerial and Government priority tasks to restore the country s economy and reputation. Progress was made during 2012 across our many programme areas and this Report provides a broad overview of the Department s contribution to improving the quality of life of citizens and communities, economic and social development, and environmental protection. The intensive preparations for the EU Presidency were also finalised, with a clear programme of priorities across the environment, climate, nuclear sector and planning and housing and a comprehensive programme of engagements with the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council Secretariat and the United Nations Environment Programme devised. The Department continued to play a significant role during 2012 in public service reform. Putting People First: Action Programme for Effective Local Government is an action blueprint for reform in local government and implementation is underway fundamentally to change the structure, functions, financing and oversight of local government. The future local and community development landscape has been clearly mapped, and milestones set, in a comprehensive implementation plan which will achieve better service delivery, better community involvement and a more central role for local government in this area. Operational change in the fire service, through implementation of Keeping Communities Safe, will continue to give top priority to fire safety and prevention while streamlining service provision. Other significant developments in the Local Government sector include: the Department s contribution to the management and implementation of moratorium and staffing reductions under the Croke Park Agreement resulting in a reduction of over 8,900 from 37,243 (June 2008) to 28,343 (December 2012) in the number of whole time equivalent staff employed in the local government sector. Local authority staff numbers were reduced by 1,400 Whole Time Equivalents during Local authorities made savings of 119.1m in the second reporting period under the Agreement up until to March 2012; the publication of the first report of the Local Government Efficiency Review Implementation Group and the local government enterprise and jobs strategy, Supporting Economic Recovery and Jobs Locally; the enactment of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2012 which reduced the number of agencies under the Department s remit from 21 to 10; and the Implementation of the Household Charge and wider preparations for the introduction of the Local Property Tax by the Office of the Revenue Commissioners. 4

5 Intensive work continued throughout the year on the organisational, financial, economic and environmental models for Irish Water and a detailed implementation strategy is now in place. Work progressed on the Water Services Act 2013 which established Irish Water and assigned an advisory function to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), in relation to the economic regulation of water services. Significant capital investment continued in 2012 with 308 million spent on water and waste water services, including 40 million on the Rural Water Programme. A total of 56 water services contracts/schemes were completed during the year with work continuing on a further 77 contracts at year end. In all, 222 km of public water supply piping were rehabilitated. A new registration and inspection system for domestic waste water systems was launched in June. In the housing area, over 100m was invested in the regeneration programmes. The on-going restructuring of the Social Housing Investment Programme delivered 1,259 units through leasing and 5,451 new Rental Accommodation Scheme transfers took place in 2012 at an overall net cost of just over 146 million. In addition, over 1,000 new social accommodation units were delivered through local authorities and approved housing bodies, including housing for those with a specific category of housing need. The National Implementation Framework to support the Housing Strategy for People with a Disability was published in July. During 2012, 10,004 households benefitted under the Housing Adaptation Grants Scheme for Older people and People with a Disability, with the total cost to the Exchequer of 55m. Significant work continued to deal with unfinished housing estates with progress recorded in the following 2012 publications - Resolving Unfinished Housing Developments: Progress Report on Actions to Address Unfinished Housing Developments, and the National Housing Development Survey, Summary Report. A number of measures also progressed to deal with the mortgage arrears situation, including: the introduction of the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process; and the launch of the revised mortgage arrears guide, the Mortgage-to-Rent scheme for private borrowers and a pilot Mortgage-to-Rent scheme for local authority borrowers. Progress continued in the Planning area with the publication of Retail Planning Guidelines and Spatial Planning and National Roads Guidelines. Work also advanced on drafting a number of other planning guidelines. The Planning Review Report was published and an independent planning expert was appointed to assess all actions contained in the Report and to propose any additional measures. Myplan.ie was launched to provide an overall monitoring 5

6 system for the 400+ local authority statutory development plans and local area plans across the country. The Department s environmental policies significantly advanced during 2012 with the publication of Our Sustainable Future - a Framework for Sustainable Development and A Resource Opportunity - Waste Management Policy in Ireland. In addition, a Green Public Procurement Action Plan, Green Tenders, was launched. A programme for the development of national climate policy and legislation was published in January and delivery was broadly on track by year end, with a public consultation process carried out, two significant pieces of analysis by the NESC Secretariat on future policy options completed, Heads of Climate legislation at an advanced stage and a National Climate Adaptation Framework published. Further progress was made in addressing our compliance obligations under EU and international law, with the number of live environmental infringement cases reduced from 15 to 12. A number of international Conventions and Protocols, including the Aarhus Convention, were also ratified during the year. Funding of 53m was provided under Axes 3 & 4 of the Rural Development Programme Ireland This funding resulted in 1,056 infrastructural enhancements in villages and communities across the country, the creation of 568 jobs and support for 662 new tourism actions. The Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) was established to examine and report on the economic potential of rural Ireland. The Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP) provided funding of some 54m to local development bodies for the delivery of the Programme in ,261 persons were supported to enter the labour market by the LCDP, with 7,054 people progressing into employment or self-employment. Projects in the cross-border region received grants totalling 15.85m under the EU co-funded PEACE III programme and 2.41m under the EU cofunded INTERREG IVA programme to help reconcile communities towards a shared society and support cross-border cooperation for a more prosperous and sustainable region. The Report of the Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising was launched in July, with recommendations to grow the philanthropic and fundraising sectors from 500m to 800m per annum by The Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012 regulates corporate political donations and includes a measure to reduce, by half, the State funding to political parties if they do not have at least 30% women and 30% men candidates at the next general election. The Electoral (Amendment) Act 2012, provides for the use of information in the electoral register for selecting citizen members of the Constitutional Convention. The Electoral (Amendment) 6

7 (Dáil Constituencies) Bill 2012 was published and proposes to give statutory effect to the recommendations in the Constituency Commission Report The Bill also provides for a reduction to 158 in the total number of members of Dáil Éireann (currently 166 members/tds) and for the revision of Dáil constituencies. A Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee was also established to review and make recommendations on local electoral area boundaries in the context of the results of Census 2011 and Putting People First: Action Programme for Effective Local Government. Two referenda were held in 2012 relating to the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union and to children s rights. Progress continued in Met Éireann with the installation of a new/improved roadice forecasting system (METRo) and the launch of the Met Éireann app m.met.ie. As a partner in the EC-Earth Consortium, and in support of the National Climate Change Strategy , Met Éireann produced global projections for the future climate up until the year At a time of real constraint, I appreciate the range of effort demanded by the Department s diverse business agendas. I wish to acknowledge the individual and team contributions made by my colleagues to sustain a very strong output during 2012 across the Department and its Agencies. I am confident that we will continue to drive forward our business agendas in 2013, to support national recovery, and build on the significant progress to date. Geraldine Tallon Secretary General 7

8 Summary of Main Achievements 2012 Housing Delivery of 1,259 housing units from leasing, 5,451 under RAS. In addition, over 1,000 new social accommodation units were delivered through local authorities and approved housing bodies. Investment of over 100m in regeneration programmes in Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Waterford, Tralee, Dundalk and Sligo. A number of measures also progressed to deal with the mortgage arrears situation, including: the introduction of the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process; the launch of the revised mortgage arrears guide; the Mortgage-to- Rent scheme for private borrowers; and a pilot Mortgage-to-Rent scheme for local authority borrowers. Publication of the National Implementation Framework to support the Housing Strategy for People with a Disability ,004 households benefitted under the Housing Adaptation Grants Scheme for Older people and People with a Disability, with the total cost to the Exchequer of 55m. Publication of Resolving Unfinished Housing Developments: Progress Report on Actions to Address Unfinished Housing Developments, and the National Housing Development Survey, Summary Report. In line with the National Implementation Plan for the Homelessness Strategy, a devolved homelessness funding protocol for the Dublin Region commenced in January, while the South East Region Protocol commenced in vember. Water Total Exchequer expenditure on water and sewerage services in 2012 amounted to 308 million of which 40 million was spent under the Rural Water Programme. 56 water services contracts/schemes completed during the year with work continuing on a further 77 contracts at the end of the year. Rehabilitation of 222 km of public water supply pipes. Following the establishment of the necessary legislative framework under the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012, the new registration system for domestic waste water systems was launched on 26 June. Almost 300,000 registrations were received in the first 6 months (and in excess of 430,000 8

9 registrations by end Q1 2013). A new grant scheme to support households whose systems are inspected and where remedial works are required was announced by the Minister. The Government decided in April that Irish Water would be established as an independent subsidiary within the Bórd Gáis Éireann Group. A comprehensive implementation strategy for the water reform programme was approved by Government and published by the Department in October and work advanced on the major workstreams under the strategy in collaboration with local authorities and Bord Gáis. Invitations to tender for elements of the water metering programme were issued by Bórd Gáis and by the Department in Q The Water Services Bill 2012 was progressed during 2012 to enactment in March 2013 to establish Irish Water and assign an advisory function to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), in relation to the economic regulation of water services. Environment A new overarching Sustainable Development Framework, Our Sustainable Future, was approved by the Government and published during In addition, a related Green Public Procurement Action Plan, Green Tenders, was launched. A further element in the rollout of the resource efficiency agenda was delivered with the publication of a new waste management policy, A Resource Opportunity, in July, as well as a further increase in the landfill levy to 65 per tonne and the commencement of a comprehensive review of the Producer Responsibility Initiatives (PRIs). A programme for the development of national climate policy and legislation was published in January and delivery was broadly on track by year end, with a public consultation process carried out, two significant pieces of analysis by the National Economic & Social Council (NESC) Secretariat on future policy options completed, Heads of Climate legislation at an advanced stage and a National Climate Adaptation Framework published. A basis for further improvements in air quality was put in place following a review of the smoky coal ban, on foot of which the boundaries of existing ban areas were extended, a decision was taken to extend the ban to 7 additional towns and a prohibition on the burning of smoky coal in ban areas was introduced, to complement the existing marketing, sale and distribution prohibition. Further progress was made in addressing our compliance obligations under EU and international law, with the number of live environmental infringement cases reduced from 15 to 12, transpositions arising during the 9

10 year being addressed largely in a timely manner, and a number of international Conventions and Protocols, including the Aarhus Convention, being ratified during the year. A substantial programme of work was completed over the course of the year in preparing for the Irish EU Presidency in the first half of At yearend, a clear programme of Presidency priorities in the Environment Sector was established and a comprehensive programme of engagements with the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council Secretariat and the United Nations Environment Programme had been completed. A project led by the Department under which an independent team of international experts, commissioned by Ireland and working under a Government to Government Information Exchange between Ireland and the UK, led to the completion of a comprehensive assessment of the probable risks to Ireland from incidents at the Sellafield nuclear site, concluding that no observable health effects would arise for Ireland from an incident involving the release of radioactive material. Local Government and Franchise Publication of Putting People First: Action Programme for Effective Local Government, an action blueprint for reform with implementation underway fundamentally to change the structure, functions, financing and oversight of local government. The future local and community development landscape has been clearly mapped, and milestones set, in a comprehensive implementation plan which will achieve better service delivery, better community involvement and a more central role for local government in this area. Operational change in the fire service, through implementation of Keeping Communities Safe, will continue to give top priority to fire safety and prevention while streamlining service provision. The Department s continued contribution to the management and implementation of moratorium and staffing reductions under the Croke Park Agreement has resulted in local authority staff numbers being reduced by 1,400 Whole Time Equivalents during Local authorities made savings of 119.1m in the second reporting period under the Agreement up until to March Publication of the first report of the Local Government Efficiency Review Implementation Group and the local government enterprise and jobs strategy, Supporting Economic Recovery and Jobs Locally. 10

11 Enactment of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2012 which reduced the number of agencies under the Department s remit from 21 to 10. Enactment of the Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012 which regulates corporate political donations and includes a measure to reduce, by half, the State funding to political parties if they do not have at least 30% women and 30% men candidates at the next general election. Enactment of Electoral (Amendment) Act 2012 which provides for the use of information in the electoral register for selecting citizen members of the Constitutional Convention. The publication of the Electoral (Amendment) (Dáil Constituencies) Bill 2012 which proposes to give statutory effect to the recommendations in the Constituency Commission Report The Bill also provides for a reduction to 158 in the total number of members of Dáil Éireann (currently 166 members/t.d.s) and for the revision of Dáil constituencies. A Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee was also established. Communities and Rural Development The Local Government/Local Development Alignment Steering Group made its recommendations to the Minister, which were approved by Government and published in October Funding of 53m was provided under Axes 3 & 4 of the Rural Development Programme Ireland This funding resulted in 1,056 infrastructural enhancements in villages and communities across the country, the creation of 568 jobs and support for 662 new tourism actions. The Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) was established to examine and report on the economic potential of rural Ireland. The Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP) provided funding of some 54m to local development bodies for the delivery of the Programme in In all 46,261 persons were supported to enter the labour market by the LCDP, with 7,054 people progressing into employment or self-employment. The Report of the Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising was launched in July 2012, with recommendations to grow the philanthropic and fundraising sectors from 500m to 800m per annum by

12 The Department's 50% provision of financial support to Local Authority Social Inclusion Units continued in Projects in the cross-border region received grants totalling 15.85m under the EU co-funded PEACE III programme and 2.41m under the EU co-funded INTERREG IVA programme marked the 54th year of the National Tidy Towns competition with 850 entries received, the highest number to date. Planning Publication of finalised: o Retail Planning Guidelines and non-statutory Retail Design Manual; and o Spatial Planning and National Roads Guidelines in association with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. Publication of Draft Guidelines for public consultation: o Development Contributions (finalised and published in January 2013); o Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Guidelines (finalised and published in March 2013); and o Local area plan guidelines and design manual (expected to be finalised and published in Q2, 2013). Publication of Planning Review Report and appointment of an independent planning expert to assess all actions contained in the planning review report and propose any additional measures deemed appropriate. Designation of the rth Lotts and Grand Canal Dock areas of the Dublin Docklands as a Strategic Development Zone (SDZ). Myplan.ie launched in early April; it provides an overall monitoring system for the 400+ local authority statutory development plans and local area plans across the country. Met Éireann Production of global climate simulations with EC-Earth consortium; delivery of data to the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) for consideration by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). Development of quality assurance indicators. 12

13 New Long-Term Averages covering the main climate parameters (rainfall, temperature and sunshine) compiled and published. Purchase of new Valentia Island monitoring site completed and infrastructure work initiated to support observational programmes. 1st phase of the new production and dissemination system for warnings became operational. New post-processed temperature forecasts provided. Launch of Met Éireann app, m.met.ie. Installation of new/improved road-ice forecasting system (METRo). Business case for automation of aviation reports submitted to, and accepted by, the Department. Resourcing the Modern Department Continued implementation of commitments under the Public Service Agreement (Croke Park Agreement) and the Organisational Review Programme in line with published Action Plans. Resourcing the Department s preparations for the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2013 involved: the redeployment of staff across the Department to supplement sections with a heavy EU Presidency workload; the deployment of Cross- Departmental/agency teams in a number of areas; and flexible cross-stream reporting arrangements between technical/administrative staff. 13

14 Chapter 1 Housing High Level Objective To enable all households access good quality housing appropriate to household circumstances and in their particular community of choice. Social Housing Investment Programme (SHIP) 2012 Achievements: The on-going restructuring of the SHIP with output from leasing of 1,259 units, while 5,451 new Rental Accommodation Scheme transfers took place at an overall net cost of just over 146 million. These models accounted for over three quarters of the total social housing delivery for 2012, in line with the objectives of the Housing Policy Statement, 2011; In addition, over 1,000 new social accommodation units were delivered through local authorities and approved housing bodies, including housing for those with a specific category of housing need. The continued expansion of the role of the voluntary and co-operative sector in addressing social housing needs, through the improvement of the voluntary regulatory framework for the sector and through the introduction of direct lending facilities via the Housing Finance Agency. Continued investment in Regeneration programmes with over 100 million spent on a range of projects aimed at the regeneration of key physical environments in Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Waterford, Tralee, Dundalk and Sligo. 10,004 households benefited under the Housing Adaptation Grants Scheme for Older people and People with a Disability, with the total cost to the Exchequer of 55 million. The ambitious programme of Retrofitting and Energy Improvement continued in 2012 with improvements to 2,115 local authority units with Department funding of over 19 million. Additional delivery of units sourced through the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) was achieved. 126 units were delivered in 2012, 102 of them for social housing purposes. These units were delivered using finance leasing, local authority and voluntary housing investment programmes. A special purpose vehicle (SPV), called the National Asset Residential Property Services Limited (NARPSL), was established by the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) to acquire properties from developers or receivers in NAMA s portfolio of loans and to make these available to local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) by way of a long-term 14

15 lease. NAMA, in consultation with the Department, has been developing a standard lease that will be used for all leasing arrangements by AHB s with the SPV. These measures will facilitate an acceleration in the delivery of NAMA units for social housing towards the target of 2,000. The main focus in terms of housing supports provided by the Department is on meeting the most acute needs of those unable to provide for accommodation from their own resources. The supports aim to deliver social housing in flexible and cost-effective ways, tailored to meet peoples needs at their particular stage in life. SHIP continues, in an efficient and effective manner, to deliver good quality accommodation for those in housing need. Funding is provided to Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) to deliver suitable social rental accommodation under the Capital Assistance Scheme to those with specific housing needs, such as persons with a disability, the elderly and homeless persons. A national improvement works programme in respect of the local authority housing stock and a programme of physical, social and economic regeneration for run down local authority estates and city flat complexes is also implemented under SHIP. In addition, a programme of private housing grants and supports continues to improve the living conditions of those living in their own homes, with a particular focus on older people and people with a disability. National Coordination Committee on Unfinished Housing Developments A National Coordination Committee on Unfinished Housing Developments (NCC) was established in June 2011, under the chairmanship of the Minister for Housing and Planning, to drive the implementation efforts to resolve problems associated with unfinished housing developments. The Committee comprises representatives of residents, the Department, local authorities, developers, bankers and the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). A Public Safety Initiative, introduced in 2011, continued to operate in 2012 in order to address the most serious health risks in the worst affected estates. Site Resolution Plans (SRP s) were identified by the NCC in 2012 as a key tool in resolving issues associated with unfinished housing developments. Such plans enable stakeholders, including developers, local authorities, financial institutions, NAMA and residents to collaborate in determining how best to pursue resolution of problematic sites. Resolving Unfinished Housing Developments: Progress Report on Actions to Address Unfinished Housing Developments, published in July 2012, outlined the progress made in tackling the issues faced by residents of unfinished housing developments through the Site Resolution Process and the Public Safety Initiative. This progress was further recognised in the National Housing Development Survey, Summary Report, published in vember Among 15

16 progress identified was a decrease of 37% in the number of unfinished developments since 2010 coupled with a 27% decrease in number of vacant units since Both documents are displayed on Focus in 2013 will shift to addressing those residual developments which are in a seriously problematic condition and are commercially unviable. Leasing and NAMA As a result of a review of the complexities involved in progressing properties for social housing purposes, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) was established by the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) in 2012 called National Asset Residential Property Services Limited (NARPSL). The purpose of this SPV is to acquire properties from developers or receivers in NAMA s portfolio of loans and to make these available to local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) by way of a long-term lease. In this way, a number of legal complexities around the securing of properties can be addressed and the process can move more quickly. NAMA, in consultation with the Department, has been developing a standard lease that will be used for all leasing arrangements by AHB s with the SPV. These measures will facilitate an acceleration in the delivery of NAMA units for social housing towards the target of 2,000. Mortgage arrears To reflect the content of the Central Bank s revised Code of Conduct, which replaced the previous code from 1 January 2011 and was informed by the deliberations of the Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt, this Department issued updated guidance to local authorities in June 2012, in consultation with the County and City Managers Association. This guidance has further enabled local authorities to provide a range of flexible repayment options for households in difficulty with local authority mortgages. In particular, the introduction of a Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP), which closely mirrors the range of options available in the commercial sector, will present borrowers in difficulty with a range of alternative payment agreements, which can be accessed to ease the particular circumstances of each case. This ensures the consistent and sympathetic treatment of all distressed local authority borrowers. Detailed guidance and training for local authorities for dealing with mortgage arrears was provided during On foot of the recommendations of the Keane Report on mortgage arrears, a mortgage-to-rent scheme was launched on a pilot basis in February This scheme was extended nationally in June 2012, targeting low-income families whose mortgage situation is unsustainable and where there is little or no prospect of a significant change in their circumstances in the foreseeable future. A pilot scheme for local authority borrowers was introduced in two local authorities during This will be extended nationally in

17 Tenancy Deposit Protection The Programme for Government 2011 commits to the establishment of a tenancy deposit protection scheme to protect tenants deposits in the private rented sector. A report on the feasibility of such a scheme was published by the Department in December 2012 which will inform finalisation of policy in this regard with resulting legislative provisions being given effect in the Residential Tenancies (Amendment)(. 2) Bill National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability The National Implementation Framework to support the Government s Housing Strategy for People with a Disability was published in July The Framework sets out a range of actions to support people with disabilities to live independently in their own homes, rather than having to move into residential care settings, by providing person-centred community-based housing solutions, mainstream assessment of housing need and frameworks and protocols for effective interagency cooperation and responses. Homelessness Progress continued on the implementation of The Way Home, the National Homeless Strategy In line with a commitment contained in the Programme for Government, a review of the Homeless Strategy was undertaken with a view to formulating a homelessness policy statement. In line with the National Implementation Plan for the Homelessness Strategy, a devolved homelessness funding protocol for the Dublin Region commenced in January, while the South East Region Protocol commenced in vember. Work continues on developing protocols for other regions. 17

18 Chapter 2 Water High Level Objective To protect and improve water resources, water-dependent ecosystems; to provide water services infrastructure to support sustainable growth and environmental protection, to introduce new governance and pricing arrangements for the delivery and management of water services; and to ensure the appropriate regulation of the water sector. Water Services Investment Programme State investment in water services infrastructure is channelled through the Water Services Investment Programme (WSIP) and the Rural Water Programme (RWP), which is largely devolved to local authorities. Total Exchequer expenditure on these programmes in 2012 amounted to 308 million, compared to 429 million in In all, 56 contracts/schemes were completed in 2012, with a further 55 commencing, and work continuing on a further 22 contracts. 16 of the completed contracts/schemes were in respect of wastewater and this led to an increase in wastewater treatment capacity to serve a population of 305,100 (population equivalent (pe)). A further 20 contracts were for water conservation works, and the remaining contracts were water related, primarily dealing with the Remedial Action list. This work continues to ensure that sewage discharges to our rivers, lakes and coastal waters, and drinking water quality meet the highest international standards, capacity is expanded to meet the requirements of industry and future population growth, and leakage in public water supply distribution networks is addressed. Local Government Fund support A special Local Government Fund allocation of almost 12 million was also made to local authorities in 2012 to fund: sampling costs to establish compliance with drinking water and wastewater effluent standards and licence applications to the Environmental Protection Agency for wastewater discharges ( 5.86m); operational expenditure on new water and wastewater treatment plants in the first two years following completion ( 5.24m) and; training costs of staff engaged in water services operations and infrastructure delivery ( 0.88m) Rural Water Exchequer expenditure under the Rural Water Programme in 2012 was 39.7 million. The 2012 Programme continued the focus on the improvement of small 18

19 public water and wastewater schemes and on measures to bring group water schemes into compliance with national drinking water quality standards with particular emphasis on implementation of priority measures to improve and ensure the quality of water in privately sourced group water schemes mainly by way of upgrading, or provision of new, water treatment plants or connection of group schemes to public supplies. Of the 39.7 million expenditure, 17.7 million related to small public schemes and almost 17 million to group water schemes. Water Conservation Water conservation is identified as a key priority under the Water Services Investment Programme (WSIP), with investment reflecting the priorities identified by local authorities for mains rehabilitation/replacement projects in their areas. The Programme will allow for some 640 km of mains rehabilitation. It is expected to be particularly targeted at areas where the rates of unaccounted for water are unacceptably high. The Department recouped in excess of 39million to local authorities on water conservation projects in The bulk of the local authority investment to date has been in water management systems and active leakage detection as necessary precursors to the intensive programme of mains rehabilitation being rolled out under the WSIP. A total of 222 km of public water supply pipes were rehabilitated in Water Sector Reform The Government decided that Irish Water, a new State-owned water company to be established as an independent subsidiary within the Bórd Gáis Éireann Group, will be the water services authority and will be responsible for both investing in and operating water services infrastructure in its role as a provider of public drinking water and waste water services to household, commercial and industrial customers in Ireland. It will be responsible for the domestic water metering programme which was provided for in the Programme For Government. A comprehensive implementation strategy for the water reform programme was approved by Government and published by the Department in October and work advanced on the major workstreams under the strategy in collaboration with local authorities and Bord Gáis. The Government approved the Water Services Bill 2012 to establish Irish Water on an interim basis and to assign an advisory function to the Commission for Energy Regulation in relation to the economic regulation of water services. Invitations to tender for elements of the metering programme were issued by Bórd Gáis and by the Department in Q The Water Services Bill was enacted in March Further comprehensive legislation in 2013 will deal with all aspects of the transfer of water services functions from local authorities to Irish Water. Water Quality A comprehensive scoping exercise was carried out on all Water Quality legislation as a first step towards updating the legislative framework in this area. 19

20 A project to implement the first stage of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive commenced in February This consists of an Initial Assessment, a determination of Good Environmental Status (GES) and the establishment of environmental targets and indicators. Significant progress was made in relation to agreeing revised governance arrangements with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and County and City Managers Association (CCMA). It is proposed to assign additional responsibilities to the EPA and to the Lead Local Authorities in each River Basin District to implement the Water Framework Directive. Septic Tanks The Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012, which introduced a new registration and inspection system for domestic waste water systems, was enacted on 2 February A number of regulations to give effect to the Act were subsequently made by the Minister. Registration of septic tanks and other systems commenced on 26 June 2012, with a reduced registration fee of 5 available up to 28 September The fee increased to 50 for applications made after that date. A number of publicity campaigns to inform householders of their obligations under the new legislation were rolled out during 2012 and almost 300,000 registrations were received by the end of that year (in excess of 430,000 registrations were received by end Q1 2013). Census 2011 indicates that there are 497,281 domestic waste water treatment systems in Ireland and owners had until 1 February 2013 to register their systems. In December 2012, a grant scheme was announced by the Minister for householders whose systems are found, on foot of an inspection under the new legislation, to require remediation or upgrading. Full details of the scheme will be set down in regulations to be made by the Minister in advance of inspections commencing in Marine Planning and Foreshore The performance of statutory functions under the Foreshore Acts continued during 2012, including the receipt of 32 new applications for consent and 33 decisions made in cases on hand. In addition, an Environmental Monitoring Group in respect of the foreshore aspect of the Corrib Gas Pipeline was established in March 2012, with 4 meetings held during the year. Work on the General Scheme of a Bill to modernise the foreshore consent process was progressed in

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