Tuesday, 15 May 1979
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. 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: 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: 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.
Mr. 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. 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: 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. 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: 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  energy matters have an opportunity to make their views known when development plans or reviews of them are in draft form.
Mr. 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. 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: 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. 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?
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