Wednesday, 4 October 2006
Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Question 195: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of investigations carried out by local authorities into developments to ensure that all new buildings, public and private, must be accessible to people with disabilities in view of Building Regulations 2000; the actions which were taken as a result of same; the measures his Department will take to ensure compliance in future. [31012/06]
Under the Building Control Act 1990, the enforcement of the Building Regulations is primarily the responsibility of each local building control authority.
According to enforcement statistics furnished by local building control authorities to my Department, the authorities carried out more than 22,000 inspections of 18,000 buildings in 2005 in order to check compliance with various Parts of the Building Regulations, including Part M (Access for People with Disabilities). The authorities served 17 Enforcement Notices and instituted 44 summary prosecutions. 24 out of 37 authorities also sought the cooperation of builders to bring about compliance through the issue of warning or advisory letters.
A breakdown of enforcement action for each Part of the Regulations is not available in my Department. In some cases, building works may have failed to comply with several parts of the building code.
I consider that the priority should be to ensure that compliance with Part M is properly addressed at design rather than seeking to address disabled access problems at the construction stage — when practical and financial problems may inhibit achieving full compliance. Accordingly, the Building Control Bill 2005 provides for the introduction of a Disability Access Certificate (DAC) system, whereby the design of new non-domestic buildings and the common areas of new apartment blocks must be certified as complying with Part M by the local building control authority. The introduction of the proposed DAC system will implement a core recommendation of the Report of the Commission on the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities.