-Residential construction to reopen from April 12th-
-Local Authorities continue with vital supports-
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien TD has welcomed the announcement of the phased reopening of construction set to begin on April 12th.
From April 12th all residential construction projects can recommence and the construction of Early Learning Childcare and School Aged Childcare facilities will be added to the list of essential services for construction activity. This aligns with the current exemption to primary and secondary schools and to allow important fire safety works to progress. A full reopening of construction will be considered from May 4th, subject to public health guidance.
Minister O’Brien said, “I am very glad Government have agreed a phased reopening of the construction sector from April 12th. The impact of a 13 week shutdown on homebuilding will be immense this year and my Department will do all we can to make up for lost ground.
“It’s clear from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) advice that we remain in a precarious situation in terms of the transmission of the virus and the priority is to continue to supress it as much as possible while the vaccination rollout is ramped up substantially.
“The shutdown in construction sector activity from January 8th was a direct response to the need to curtail the movement of people. The industry itself has shown great agility in adapting swiftly to public health measures, putting in place strict health and safety protocols on sites. These measures have proven successful with no evidence the construction sector has been a driver of infections. Now as we begin to reopen it’s more important than ever that the measures adopted by the sector are adhered to rigidly.
“My Department are currently making regulatory arrangements to facilitate new housing projects or new phases of housing projects, where commencement notices were submitted during the shutdown so that they can commence on site as promptly as possible.
“The Residential Tenancies Bill 2021was passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas this week and will be signed into law shortly. This Bill extends for a further 3 months (from 13 April 2021 to 12 July 2021) the application of separate and targeted protections for the most vulnerable tenants who are economically impacted by Covid-19, are in rent arrears and are at risk of losing their tenancies. Significant and enhanced State income supports, including Rent Supplement, are available from the Department of Social Protection to assist tenants to pay their rent.
“Local Authorities are supporting the HSE on the coordination of the 38 mass vaccination centres across the country while also assisting them in establishing pop-up testing centres. Importantly, the Community Call Fora, run by each of the 31 Local Authorities, will continue in their vital work providing practical supports, such as the collection and delivery of essential food and medicines to those cocooning, as well as support for those experiencing isolation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In terms of other practical supports for businesses, my Department is examining ways in which we can work with Local Authorities to support businesses in adapting new approaches to facilitate economic recovery and increased commercial activity in urban areas, including in relation to supporting outdoor dining at hotels, restaurants, pubs and other establishments as well as allowing restaurants to operate as takeaways for the current year without having to apply for change of use planning permission,” he concluded.
Notes to Editor
From April 12th all residential construction projects can recommence. Early Learning Childcare and School Aged Childcare services will be added to list of essential services for construction activity during these restrictions to align with the current exemption to primary and secondary schools (where school building projects are progressing) and to allow important fire safety works to progress. Subject to prevailing disease situation, areas for consideration in the next phase - post May 4th includes the full re-opening of construction activity.
-Preferred tenderer announced-
- Affordable Housing Funding support from Department of Housing -
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage and Dublin Fingal TD, Darragh O’Brien has welcomed the announcement of a preferred tenderer at Ballymastone in Donabate.
Minister O’Brien commended Fingal County Council for the progress made on the site and their vision in delivering a sustainable community. He also acknowledged the support already provided by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage through the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) scheme and confirmed that active consideration will be given to further Serviced Sites Funding support.
Commenting he said, “This is a really significant day in Fingal and marks a very important step in providing much needed homes in North County Dublin.
“Glenveagh Living Ltd has been announced as the preferred tenderer and, subject to formal approval of the Elected Members for the disposal of land and the statutory planning process, will get to work delivering approximately 1,200 homes.
“From the outset, the vision for this project included the provision of high quality homes, with and appropriate mix of house sizes, types and tenure to meet a range of household needs and to promote balanced communities with accessible community and recreation facilities.
“The tenure mix will see 60% private, 20% affordable and 20% social housing provided and each home will carry a minimum A energy rating.
“It is intended that the affordable homes will be priced between €250,000 and €270,000 and this has been made possible through the funding provided by my Department.
“The Department of Housing provided significant €10.6 million funding through the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) for the construction of the Donabate Distributor Road. The aim of LIHAF is to fund the provision of essential infrastructure to enable residentially zoned lands to be developed and this funding, and the resulting road, unlocked the lands in Donabate so that they could be used for this significant housing development.
“In addition to this LIHAF funding, the Department is also in discussions with the Council regarding the provision of Serviced Site Funding to support the Council in achieving its objectives in delivering the affordable homes in this development.
“I really welcome today’s news, it is a massive step forward and I hope to see it progress as quickly as possible,” he concluded.
Today (March 26th 2021), the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2021-2025 is being launched by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien T.D., together with Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan T.D. and Minister of State for Forestry, Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett.
The new All-Ireland Pollinator Plan (AIPP) represents the second phase of this very successful project. It presents a five-year roadmap that aims to help bees, other pollinating insects and our wider biodiversity by engaging communities, local authorities, farmers, schools and businesses, among others, to take action for nature. There are 186 actions to help biodiversity that:
Welcoming the publication, Minister Darragh O’Brien said:
“I’m delighted to be launching the second phase of this important initiative, which builds on the considerable success of the first All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. One third of our 98 wild bee species are threatened with extinction. Ireland was one of the first countries in Europe to address these declines and the ambition outlined in this new Plan will help to establish us as a global leader in pollinator conservation. I would like to encourage everyone to read the Plan and do what they can to take action for pollinators.”
Reflecting on the value of bottom-up action for nature, Minister Malcolm Noonan said:
“The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is an inspiring example of what can be achieved by empowering all sectors of society to get involved in science-based action for nature. Whether by planting native trees, providing nesting habitat, letting the grass grow or reducing pesticide use, the Plan makes it easy for everyone – rural or urban, young or old, expert or novice – to get involved in biodiversity conservation. Not only is this important for wildlife, it’s also important for people: connecting communities, encouraging outdoor activity and supporting hands-on practical action. I welcome my Department’s funding of a Project Officer to support the implementation of the Plan and implore everyone to get behind what is now very much a national effort to protect our pollinators.”
Commenting on the importance of supporting farmers to take action for wild pollinators, Minister Pippa Hackett said:
“Farmers and farmland do a vital job in managing land for our wild pollinators. Their role needs to be both recognised and celebrated, and I believe this new All-Ireland Pollinator Plan will work to do that, by encouraging farmer engagement, and improving awareness and uptake of pollinator actions. This will then bring about landscape level change for wild pollinators and for wider biodiversity. I am therefore delighted to support the plan. My Department’s funding of a Farmland Project Officer to support the implementation of the farmland actions is also a welcome addition to it and I look forward to seeing great success for the plan as it moves into the next phase.”
In addition to launching the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, Ministers O’Brien, Noonan and Burke at the Department of Housing jointly issued a letter to all Local Authorities and Councillors, requesting them to consider what they can to support pollinators on their own lands, particularly in the important early Spring season.
Commenting on the importance of local authority engagement in pollinator action, Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke, said:
“Local Authorities have proven to be valuable partners in the success of the last All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. Many are making changes in how they manage public areas, encouraging communities to participate, and in raising awareness. As Minister for Local Government, I want to encourage our Councils to play an equally active role in this new Plan and support enhanced ambition for heritage and biodiversity in the coming years.”
For more information, see www.pollinators.ie.
Notes for editors:
Local Minister Darragh O’Brien TD has met with the Minister for Education, Norma Foley, to discuss the need for new school buildings, the lack of spaces for children in certain areas and the issues surrounding feeder schools in North County Dublin.
Minister O’Brien welcomed the opportunity to speak with his Cabinet colleague about the issues which constituents have raised with him.
Commenting he said, “The need for new school buildings, the lack of spaces for children in certain areas and the issues surrounding feeder schools are just some of the matters we discussed.
“I impressed upon the Minister the fact that we do have very unique educational needs here in North County Dublin. We have the youngest and fastest growing population here and securing the future education for our children is vitally important.
“I absolutely acknowledge that the impact of COVID-19 on the entire education system and the upheaval it has caused is the Minister’s priority. I also recognise the strides have been made since the Minister took office last June but it is important to keep the needs of our school children here in Fingal on the agenda and that is something I will continue to pursue,” he concluded.
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and Dublin Fingal TD Darragh O’Brien, has backed proposals which would see a pathway to reopening the aviation sector established in the coming weeks.
Minister O’Brien said it was a Government priority that the sector be in a position to quickly rebound once travel restrictions were lifted.
Commenting he said, “I strongly supported a memo by my Cabinet colleagues Minister Eamon Ryan and Minister Hildegarde Naughton which set out how over the coming weeks the Government will work with the aviation industry, through the National Civil Aviation Development Forum (NCADF), to develop a practical pathway that enables the quick restart of the aviation sector in Ireland.
“The advice remains that non-essential overseas travel to and from Ireland must be avoided. This week the Government will introduce new measures in terms of mandatory hotel quarantine which will of course act as a deterrent for overseas travellers. I know these measures are not compatible with a prosperous aviation industry but they are short-term measures which we need to take to keep people safe as we accelerate the vaccination rollout.
“When the time comes for these restrictive measures to be relaxed we need to have an aviation sector which is ready to mobilise straight away.
“While the supports provided by the Government to date, including a wage subsidy scheme, grants, low-cost loans, a commercial rates waiver, deferred tax liabilities and sectoral specific supports, have gone some way to assisting the industry, there is no substitute for a thriving aviation sector.
“I am in regular contact with Minister Ryan and Minister Naughton and I understand a special meeting of the Steering Committee of the NCADF was convened earlier this month to provide an opportunity for members of the Committee, together with leaders from Irish aviation, to discuss the recovery of the sector. There is a broad consensus on the need to develop plans for the reopening of international travel as soon as circumstances allow – something which I, and this Government is very supportive of.
“I have always and continue to be a strong and ardent supporter of our aviation sector and Dublin airport in particular. Dublin airport is a major economic driver for this region and our country as a whole. It is directly responsible for approximately 20,000 jobs with a further 115,000 indirectly. I recognise that thousands of cabin crew, ground crew, pilots and many others have been on reduced salaries since this pandemic began. Like many other people they want a plan and the Government will work with the NCADF to provide one. As an island nation, connectivity to Europe and the World is imperative. Having our airport and airlines back fully operational when safe to do so will be an important driver for economic recovery,” he concluded.
Ministers pledge further action to deliver energy efficient homes, offshore renewable energy and nature-based solutions for the climate
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, and his departmental colleagues Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke TD, and Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan TD, have welcomed the recent publication of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021 and pledged to deliver the Interim Climate Actions 2021 relating to their department.
The Minister’s also welcomed the approval given at Cabinet for the National Marine Planning Framework, a step identified in the Interim Climate Actions 2021 for facilitating the development of offshore wind energy. The framework will be the key decision-making tool for Government departments, State agencies, regulatory authorities and policy makers for decisions on marine activities.
Speaking this morning, Minister O’Brien said: “The Government’s publications represent a new departure in Government ambition for climate action. My Department will be to the fore in meeting the challenge of getting to net zero emissions by 2050 across a range of actions on housing, planning, marine and natural heritage protection and analysis of Ireland’s climate.
”Cabinet have now approved the National Marine Planning Framework, which will go to the Oireachtas for approval by way of resolution. The National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) is a plan which will set out, over a 20 year horizon, how we want to use, protect and enjoy our seas. The NMPF will sit at the top of the hierarchy of plans and sectoral policies for the marine area and will be critical to the deployment of offshore wind energy. This document sets out the proposed forward planning framework within which our renewable energy targets can be met.
“Delivery of energy efficient housing stock is another tool in our armoury when it comes to climate action. This year, I have allocated €65 million for retrofitting about 2,400 social homes to a B2 or equivalent Building Energy Rating. That work will make homes warmer, more comfortable and more efficient to heat, and will help protect householders’ health through better air quality. Recent Nearly Zero Energy Building Regulations for new builds are making all new residential dwellings 70% more energy efficient than performance requirements in 2005. The requirements for buildings undergoing major renovation - where more than 25% of the surface area is renovated - to achieve a B2 BER or equivalent, will also significantly improve the energy performance of existing dwellings.”
Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, spoke about the role of protecting the natural heritage and marine in taking action against climate change. “The sustainable management and conservation of Ireland’s natural and built heritage has a critical role to play in our response to the climate and biodiversity emergency. My Department is working with Bord na Móna and other State agencies, landowners, farmers and a range of partners - as well as community groups and other stakeholders - on a number of peatlands restoration and management projects that will help lock carbon in by the restoration of raised bog and blanket bog habitats, and also through the rehabilitation of previously exploited industrial peatlands. We are also supporting research projects to assess the condition of Irish peatlands, their role in carbon cycling and the impact on national greenhouse gas emissions. Continued implementation of the National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2021 is another climate-related priority of mine.
“In addition to conserving marine species and habitats, Marine Protected Areas can reduce the effects of climate change and ocean acidification. Our current work aimed at creating a network of Marine Protected Areas constituting 30% of Ireland’s maritime area will also play a part in national action on climate.”
Minister of State for Planning and Local Government, Peter Burke TD, spoke of the Department’s role in reforming the planning system as part of decarbonisation. “The planning system is central to enabling decarbonisation. A central reform will be the enactment of legislation to give a legal underpinning to the new marine planning system. The Government intends publishing the Maritime Area Planning Bill in April and this Bill, when enacted, will be critical to facilitating offshore wind energy. The new marine planning system will balance our huge offshore wind energy potential with the need to protect our marine environment. I recently signed into law regulations increasing the exemptions for specified electric vehicle charging infrastructure for on-street and off-street parking locations from the requirement to obtain planning permission. I also intend to publish revised planning guidelines on wind energy developments and further exempted development regulations on solar panels as soon as practicable.”
Minister O’Brien also highlighted the role of Met Éireann, a division of the department, in national work related to climate change. “Met Éireann’s scientists continue to help us improve our understanding of Ireland’s changing climate and to co-create and deliver climate services. They will provide tools that enhance our knowledge and understanding of the impacts of climate on our decisions and actions. A changing climate will indeed affect all of us in Ireland. In that context, Met Éireann and its partners’ work in providing and analysing the latest climate information and projections to help Irish society develop plans to adapt to climate change and future extreme weather.”
Note to editors