Monday, 15 February 2021
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
I thank the Senator for raising this matter on behalf of her constituents and I fully understand how stressful this can be for families caught up in it.
Budget 2021 provides funding of €40 million for the operation of the pyrite remediation scheme and the defective concrete blocks grant scheme. As set out in the Programme for Government: Our Shared Future, the remediation of dwellings affected by reactive pyrite in hardcore and defective concrete blocks is a priority to ensure people can remain living in their homes. The Pyrite Resolution Act 2013 provides the statutory framework for the establishment of the pyrite resolution board and for the making of a pyrite remediation scheme to be implemented by the board with support from the Housing Agency. The provisions of the Act apply only to dwellings affected by significant damage attributable to pyritic heave consequent on the presence of reactive pyrite in the subfloor hardcore material and not to damage arising in any other circumstance, such as pyrite in concrete blocks.
The pyrite remediation scheme is a scheme of "last resort" for affected homeowners who have no other practical option to obtain redress and is limited in its application and scope. The full conditions for eligibility under the scheme are set out in the scheme, which is available on the board's website,www.pyriteboard.ie. The scheme is applicable to dwellings that are subject to significant damage attributable to pyritic heave, established in accordance with SI 398-1:2017 reactive pyrite in subfloor hardcore material, part 1: testing and categorisation protocol. In this regard, it is a condition of eligibility under the scheme that an application to the board must be accompanied by a building condition assessment with a damage condition rating of 2. Dwellings which do not have a damage condition rating of 2 are not eligible to apply under the scheme. This ensures that, having regard to the available resources, the focus of the scheme is on dwellings most severely damaged by pyritic heave.
As matters currently stand, the owners of dwellings located within the counties of Kildare, Meath or Offaly or the administrative areas of Fingal County Council, Dublin City Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, South Dublin County Council or Limerick City and County Council are eligible to apply for remediation works under the scheme. The scheme is primarily based on the information that was available to the board at the time of its adoption in February 2014 and having regard to the detail set out in the report of the pyrite panel from July 2012. The panel undertook a desktop study in conjunction with a stakeholder consultation to establish certain facts relating to the potential exposure of pyrite in dwellings. The information was gathered from a number of sources, including local authorities, structural guarantee providers, representatives of homeowners, private builders, construction professionals and public representatives and was cross-referenced to verify, as far as practicable, its validity.
There is no time limit on when cases must present but the scheme stipulates that the dwelling must have been constructed and completed between 1 January 1997 and 12 December 2013. This is consistent with the pyrite panel's findings in regard to the years of dwelling registration for which pyrite-related claims were made. It is important to note that any proposal to amend the scheme is, in the first instance, a matter for the pyrite resolution board and any such proposal would require detailed consideration of the evidence.
In addition, the board may also make such further inquiries as it considers necessary in order to assist it in considering the matter. The board may be contacted directly by telephone or email about this, including through the Oireachtas information line. The Minister will consider any amendments or extensions which the pyrite resolution board considers are required to the scheme once submitted in accordance with the requirements of the Act. The Minister fully intends to engage with all eligible homeowners of dwellings affected by significant damage attributable to pyritic heave who can have their homes remediated under the scheme. The Senator has articulated the points very well and it is a matter the Minister is prepared to look at.