Dáil Éireann - Volume 342 - 17 May, 1983

Written Answers. - Building Industry.

657. Mr. Molloy asked the Minister for the Environment when he will remove the obstacles and constraints affecting the building industry by streamlining control procedures, promoting efficiency and cost effectiveness and maximising the spin-off effects on construction activity as stated in the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 29 on 27 January 1983; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

658. Mr. Molloy asked the Minister for the Environment if he has established the broadly based council for ventilating issues affecting the building industry as stated in reply to Parliamentary Question No. 29 on 27 January 1983; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

659. Mr. Molloy asked the Minister for the Environment if he will give details of the steps he has taken to give effect to the matters discussed by him with the representatives of the building industry on 17 January 1983; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

[1290] Minister for the Environment (Mr. Spring): I propose to take Questions Nos. 657, 658 and 659 together.

The undertakings which I gave to representatives of the building industry on the occasion of my meeting with them in January last and to which I referred in my reply to a parliamentary question of 27 January are being processed as quickly as possible. They include initiatives to remove or lessen the effects of existing obstacles and constraints affecting the industry. This is a matter that will require attention on an on-going basis but in the short term I am taking measures to speed up decision-making in the planning appeals area with a view to expediting the release of building projects. Additional staff are being made available to An Bord Pleanála and the board itself is implementing new administrative procedures aimed at eliminating delays. Also I will shortly be introducing a new Planning Bill designed, inter alia, to bring about desirable changes in the structure of An Bord Pleanála and in the procedures for processing planning appeals. [1291] Regarding planning law generally I am having a special review carried out in my Department to identify any changes that would make the system more efficient and enable it to contribute to economic and social development in a more positive way.

With regard to the establishment of a broadly based council, I had proposed to set up such a council following the receipt of a major report on the building industry which was to have been completed early this year. However, I understand now that this report may not be available for some months yet. I have recently met both the Construction Industry Federation and a group representing the construction unions of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and have agreed with them the desirability of establishing a system of regular liaison to discuss matters affecting the industry generally. Initially, I have proposed a further meeting with each group in about two months' time in order to review developments in the meantime in regard to the matters discussed. Other matters discussed at the meeting of 17 January last included the need for greater private investment in construction and the continuation of section 23 of the Finance Act, 1981. On the question of private sector investment, the Government are giving urgent consideration to the organisation of arrangements that would enable institutional funds to be channelled into infrastructural works, particularly into roads projects. This is something on which I hope to be in a position soon to make an announcement. With regard to section 23 of the Finance Act, 1981 the Deputy will be aware that this year's Finance Bill proposes to continue this measure for a further three-year period up to 31 March 1987. According to information made available to me, the continuation of the section 23 concession is likely to result in the early release of a substantial volume of construction work on new apartments.