Minister O’Brien introduces twin changes to Planning regulations to boost hospitality sector and to help increase bottle recycling through ‘reverse’ vending machines
Continued waiving of street furniture licence fees for tables and chairs outside a hotel, restaurant, public house or other establishments
Amendments to ease the way for Reverse Vending Machines, vital for new Deposit Return Scheme
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD today announced that he was seeking the approval of the Oireachtas to amend Planning and Development Regulations to continue the waiving of licence fees for outdoor dining meaning restaurants, cafés, hotels and pubs across Ireland will save hundreds of euro this year, in 2023. The Minister is also seeking approval for planning exemptions to allow retailers to deliver on the Government’s new ‘Deposit and Return’ scheme for bottles.
The waiving of the street furniture licence fee for tables and chairs outside a hotel, restaurant, public house or other establishment where food is sold for consumption on the premises, was first introduced in 2021 with the fee of €125 per table reduced to €0 per table.
This extension into 2023 will assist the hospitality sector this year by reducing the cost for maintaining outdoor dining in public spaces. Similar to previous years there will also be no fee for awnings, canopies and heaters etc. used in conjunction with the tables and chairs.
With regards to the Government’s new ‘Deposit and Return’ scheme for bottles, the Programme for Government and Ireland’s national waste policy (Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy) set out the government’s commitment to introduce a Deposit and Return Scheme (DRS) for plastic bottles and aluminium cans and last November a new scheme was launched with a planned go-live date for consumers in February 2024.
The scheme encourages people to recycle drink containers and works by charging anyone who buys a drink a small deposit for the plastic bottle or can that it comes in. Customers get this money back when they return the container to a retailer or other collection point to be recycled.
To assist retail outlets to be modified to cater for ‘reverse vending machines’ (RVMs) and to facilitate the smooth rollout of the required infrastructure for the Deposit Return Scheme, Minister O’Brien today sought amendments to the existing Planning and Development Regulations 2001 to provide an exemption for the installation, alteration, repair or replacement of RVMs and to insert a new definition of “reverse vending machine” into the principal regulations.
Minister O’Brien emphasised:
“This year Government are further supporting businesses across the country with another waiver of the street furniture licence fee. The outdoor dining experience has been incredibly popular with the public. For a small café or restaurant this fee can represent another financial burden and hospitality businesses still need our help, so I am delighted to extend the provisions of these regulations for another year. When it comes to reverse vending machines, these planning amendments will help us ensure that we smooth the way to have the necessary infrastructure available for when the scheme begins in February 2024. Ultimately, they will make it easier for people to recycle, and result in changes in consumer behaviour.”
Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan TD said:
“We all have our part to play in tackling climate change and improving our environment. Recycling is one of those activities where everyone has a chance to play a role and I’m looking forward to the start of the new Deposit and Return Scheme introduced by my colleague, the Minister of State for the Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth, TD. Reverse vending machines will make it easier for all to take part and today’s amendments to planning regulations will smooth their roll-out.”
Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell TD added:
“Small businesses are the backbone of local economies and I’m delighted that we are extending this important support for hospitality businesses. I hope that even more businesses can avail of the opportunity to offer outdoor dining – benefitting their operations in the forthcoming summer season and enlivening our towns and cities.”