Thursday, 12 May 2022
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
193. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if he has been contacted by the owners of thatched buildings many of which have a particular heritage value who are unable to secure insurance for their buildings; his views on whether this poses a threat to the future conditions of these buildings; his plan to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23935/22]
I am aware of the challenges facing owners of thatched buildings in respect of securing insurance for their homes. Both Heritage Ireland 2030, the new national heritage plan, and A Living Tradition, the new vernacular architectural heritage strategy, contain actions to address the issue of insurance of protected structures, including thatched buildings. Officials in my Department are currently establishing a thatch steering group to address this question, amongst others.
Action 6 of A Living Tradition is to ‘enhance the protection and conservation of historic thatched roofs’. Work is currently underway to establish the facts of the situation: which companies are prepared to provide insurance; the affordability of such premiums; and, the terms and conditions of such policies for owners. Through dialogue with the insurance sector, this study will seek to understand what providers perceive as the issues in insuring such buildings. It will also gather statistical evidence on the perceived risks associated with thatched buildings, as well examining models in other jurisdictions, so as to engage constructively with the sector in an informed way. The views of owners will also be sought, as well as those of the Central Bank, which is responsible for the prudential supervision of such undertakings authorised in Ireland, and other relevant bodies.
My Department is committed to investing in the preservation and continued use of thatched homes so that they remain a living part of our heritage and community life into the future. To this end, my Department oversees a number of schemes to assist in the conservation of protected structures such as thatched cottages. These include the dedicated Renewal or Repair of Thatched Roof Grant Scheme as well as the Built Heritage Investment Scheme and the Historic Structures Fund. Guidance for owners of thatched properties can also be found in my Department’s Advice Series.