Minister O’Brien announces capital funding under the Multi-Annual Developer Provided Water Services Infrastructure Resolution Programme
The programme is focused on housing estates which are not taken-in-charge by local authorities and do not have their water services connected to the public water services network but rely instead on infrastructure, often temporary in nature, which was provided by developers.
Much of this infrastructure, generally consisting of small standalone wastewater treatment “package” plants were put in place in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Following consideration by an Expert Panel, the Minister today approved funding allocations amounting to just under €3.36 million to 10 local authorities to resolve 26 housing estates providing water services to almost 950 homes.
The focus of this first multi annual programme is on estates in towns and villages where the resolution is to connect their water services to the public networks. The programme will also support a number of pilot projects where connection is not feasible in the immediate future. These pilot projects, together with a major study to be under taken by Irish Water, will inform future policy on resolving sub-standard developer provided infrastructure in such areas.
Speaking on the allocations Minister O’Brien said: “I am glad that this new multi-annual programme is up and running and that we are starting the process of helping the many families who are living in residential estates that are dependent on sub-standard developer provided wastewater or drinking water treatment plants for their water services. Many residents in these estates made a major financial commitment in buying their homes.
“This first allocation under the multi-annual programme marks the first step in the taking-in-charge of these estates. The fact that the programme needed to be introduced demonstrates the importance of ensuring that public elements of housing developments such as the roads, open spaces, car parks, and service connections in their estate are completed to the satisfactory standard and maintained thereafter by the appropriate authority.
“I have also asked my Department to re-engage with local authorities to see if there are additional estates which could be connected to the public network, and which could be included within the programme at an early date. I have also emphasised the need to speedily deliver the necessary works so estates can be taken-in-charge as soon as possible,” he concluded
Notes to Editors: Table of allocations below.
Residential developments consisting of two or more dwellings that have been granted planning permission under the Planning and Development Act, 2000, as amended, are normally eligible for taking-in-charge.
The taking-in-charge of residential estates by planning/local authorities i.e. the City and County Councils is provided for under section 180 of the Act.
The planning authority is obliged to initiate taking-in-charge procedures where requested by either the developer of the estate or by the majority of owners of the dwellings in the estate. However, this is subject to the development being completed to the satisfaction of the authority and in accordance with the planning permission(s) and any attached conditions.
Residential estates normally receive their water services – drinking water supply and disposal of wastewater – from the public (Irish Water) network.
However, a subset of estates, that are not taken-in-charge, do not have their water services networks connected to the public (Irish Water) network. Instead these estates rely on ‘developer provided water services infrastructure’ for their water services. This infrastructure, provided by the developer of the estate, is more commonly called DPI.
A survey, in Q4 2019, by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government indicated that there were nationally just under 570 estates depending on DPI for their water services. There are just over 10,000 homes that are dependent on DPI for their water services.
DPI estates are predominantly small estates. Just over 50% of the DPI estates are in estates of 10 or less homes. Nearly 75% of homes is reached before the estates size exceed 20 houses.
Nearly 95% are located in smaller rural settlements or rural townlands relying on small scale DPI treatment systems including septic tanks.
A new multi-annual funding programme was introduced in 2019 to facilitate the progressive resolution in a sustainable manner of the DPI element of water services in estates to support the taking-in-charge of the estate.
The focus of the new multi-annual programme is on the DPI component of the small subset of estates that are dependent on this form of water services infrastructure for the provision of the water services. Funding associated with the taking-in-charge of non DPI estates remains fully a matter for the planning/local authorities.
The DPI infrastructure consists mostly of wastewater treatment facilities but a small number consist of drinking water services for the estate. They are privately owned facilities.
The majority of DPI estates were constructed in the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s. They are a legacy issue from the two antagonistic economic upturn and downturn features of the Irish economy of the past three decades. By mid-2010 there was a significant backlog of estates awaiting taking-in-charge.
The Department of Housing Planning and Local Government sought to stimulate the taking-in-charge process in 2016 through an initiative called the National Taking-in-charge Initiative (NTICI).
In December 2018 the Department published a report – the National Taking in charge Initiative Report - with findings and recommendations from the stimulation process. The report is available at this link https://www.housing.gov.ie/planning/other/taking-charge-housing-estates/national-taking-charge-initiative-report-2018
The NTICI report included a recommendation to introduce a multi-annual funding programme to progressively resolve DPI estates in a sustainable way.
In July 2019 the Minister of Housing Planning and Local Government announced the commencement of a new investment programme – the Multi-Annual Developer Provided Water Services Infrastructure Resolution Programme 2019-2021.
The purpose of the multi-annual programme is to progressively facilitate the resolution of DPI estates, in a sustainable manner, to support the taking-in-charge of these estates. Bids were also invited from local authorities at this time.
The announcement today is the first wave, a small number, of projects for investment under the multi-annual programme. It will take a number of funding programmes to fully resolve DPI.