Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Energy Conservation.

Tuesday, 15 May 1979

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 314 No. 4

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8.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  asked the Minister for the Environment if it is proposed to make special energy conservation grants to house owners in order that they can reduce the level of heat loss in their homes and, if so, if he will make a statement on the matter.

Mr. Barrett: Information on Sylvester Barrett  Zoom on Sylvester Barrett  I do not propose to introduce a special scheme or grants to assist in energy conservation measures in private housing. However, as I have already announced, the cost of work consisting of attic insulation, cylinder lagging and draught-stripping of doors and windows, undertaken as part of a general improvement project on a private house, may be reckoned in calculating the appropriate amount of the grant in such a case under the existing house improvements grants scheme.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  May I ask the Minister whether in his energy conservation efforts he has, in conjunction with the Department of Industry, Commerce and Energy, given any consideration to providing the means whereby we could produce more energy from our own resources? I have in mind the question of bog roads, which have been totally neglected here.

[538]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  That is a separate question.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Since this question was put on the Order Paper the energy picture has changed. Was the Minister aware of the indication I gathered from the RTE “Frontline” programme last Friday that the Minister's colleague, Deputy O'Malley, indicated that some action would be taken by the Government along these lines? Is it right to assume that, other than attic insulation and the other measures listed as qualifying for grants, the Minister is not proposing to make any other kind of energy conservation grant at the moment?

Mr. Barrett: Information on Sylvester Barrett  Zoom on Sylvester Barrett  What I said in my reply was that I did not propose to introduce a special scheme of grants. Discussions are also going on at present between our two Departments on this whole subject.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  The Minister's reply is not quite clear to me. I should like to have it clarified as soon as Deputy Quinn has finished.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I think it would serve a useful purpose if the minister would clarify this. Is the Minister's Department involved in discussions with the ESB, who are now proposing a 10 per cent discount for insulation? What I am trying to find out is: is there co-ordination on energy conservation between the Minister's Department and the Department directly responsible for energy?

Mr. Barrett: Information on Sylvester Barrett  Zoom on Sylvester Barrett  Yes, we are involved in discussions.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Can we expect in the near future some proposals for energy conservation?

Mr. Barrett: Information on Sylvester Barrett  Zoom on Sylvester Barrett  We must await the outcome of those discussions.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The Ayatollah may not give us that much time.

Mr. Barrett: Information on Sylvester Barrett  Zoom on Sylvester Barrett  The Ayatollah may not last that long.

[539]Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Is it correct that where insulation is done as part of a general scheme of improvement it is grant-aided?

Mr. Barrett: Information on Sylvester Barrett  Zoom on Sylvester Barrett  It comes under the ordinary home improvement grant.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Why not do it separately?

Mr. Barrett: Information on Sylvester Barrett  Zoom on Sylvester Barrett  The cost of insulation, cylinder lagging and draught stripping which I have already mentioned is taken into consideration and may be reckoned in calculating the appropriate amount of the improvement grant.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Only if they are part of a general improvement?

Mr. Barrett: Information on Sylvester Barrett  Zoom on Sylvester Barrett  They may be reckoned in calculating the appropriate amount of the grant under the existing house improvement grant scheme.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  That is worth nothing. If the Minister can estimate how much it is going to cost why not do it as a separate scheme?

Mr. Barrett: Information on Sylvester Barrett  Zoom on Sylvester Barrett  It is being taken into consideration under the house improvement grant scheme.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Must I renovate my whole house to get a grant for this?

9.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  asked the Minister for the Environment if his Department are now in a position to assess the energy consumption and/or conservation implications of the development plans and draft revisions of development plans for local authorities throughout the country and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Mr. Barrett: Information on Sylvester Barrett  Zoom on Sylvester Barrett  My Department are at present having discussions with the Department of Industry, Commerce and Energy with a view to issuing suitable advice to planning authorities on energy implications to be considered when preparing or varying their development plans. Under existing procedures the various bodies directly involved with [540] energy matters have an opportunity to make their views known when development plans or reviews of them are in draft form.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Have the Minister's Department—the Department directly responsible for vetting these development plans—now got, as distinct from the position two years ago when I asked this question, any system or energy module which will measure the likely energy consumption of a proposed development in any town implemented over a five-or ten-year period?

Mr. Barrett: Information on Sylvester Barrett  Zoom on Sylvester Barrett  In conjunction with the Department of Industry, Commerce and Energy it should be possible to get plans.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Perhaps I am not making myself clear.

Mr. Barrett: Information on Sylvester Barrett  Zoom on Sylvester Barrett  It is the other Department who are responsible for energy.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I appreciate that there is a division between the two Departments. I asked the Minister in November 1977 and I am repeating the question now, have his Department any way of looking at a development plan, or is there any energy module that would enable the Department to look at a development plan for Navan or Dungloe and be able to say that if this development plan is implemented it would be expensive in terms of energy consumption simply to make it function?

Mr. Barrett: Information on Sylvester Barrett  Zoom on Sylvester Barrett  Yes, because the development plans for each local authority area are submitted to my Department when they are completed and with the assistance of the Department of Industry, Commerce and Energy they could be assessed.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Would it be possible for me or any other Opposition Deputy to get a copy of the energy model the Minister is applying to those development plans?

Mr. Barrett: Information on Sylvester Barrett  Zoom on Sylvester Barrett  I will see if a copy is available for a particular scheme

[541]Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I will put my request in writing.

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  The Minister knows they are not there.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Has the Minister issued instructions to local authorities to change the criteria they use in drawing up development plans to take account of the greatly increased cost of energy and the prospective increased cost?

Mr. Barrett: Information on Sylvester Barrett  Zoom on Sylvester Barrett  As far as I am aware they have received circular letters about this.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Why does the Minister not know definitely if they have received them?

Mr. Barrett: Information on Sylvester Barrett  Zoom on Sylvester Barrett  If the Deputy puts down a question he will be given the exact information.

(Interruptions.)


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