Kildare fire disaster shows madness of Kelly’s self-certification proposals | Green party

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18 May 2014

In a recent press release the Green Party have come out strongly against proposals by Ministers Kelly and Coffey to relax building regulations for once-off housing. The ongoing annual review of Building Control Regulations (BC(A)R SI.9) introduced last March is narrowly focused on the unintended consequences for once-off housing. Widely believed to be responsible for a 60% drop in once-off commissioned and self-built housing, SI.9 has added between €30,000 and €60,000 to the cost of a typical house. In the midst of a housing crisis over 2,000 once-off houses have been abandoned or postponed in the 12 months since implementation of the regulations.

The current annual review is focused on reduction of one of the cost elements, that of professional certifier fees. One of the options being examined is a relaxation of Building Control requirements for once-off housing. Green Party Environment Spokesperson, Cllr Malcolm Noonan has been very critical of the Ministers’ proposal and also refers to the significant lobbying by builders and developers. Minister Coffey has been quoted recently in the Dáil as supportive of developers’ “one-stop-shop” low cost Building Control self-certification.  Quote:

The Minister must not oversee the emergence of a two-tier standard of housing, where homeowners are saddled with mortgages for unsafe properties and the taxpayer is possibly left to foot the bill. I imagine the owners of both Priory Hall and Millfield Manor wish that their housing had been built to the correct standard in the first place, even if it had cost slightly more…

The Minister has clearly not learnt the lessons of the past, where wealthy developers exerted pressure on political decisions. It is worth noting that the builders who constructed the homes in Kildare donated a large amount of money to Fianna Fáil in 2007. Seven years on from the crash, I still do not believe the link between politics and developers has been sufficiently broken, as evidenced by both this latest plan and the abolition of the windfall tax on zoned land in Budget 2015….

If people are living in unsafe properties they need to know immediately, so that they can take the necessary preventative action, and any builders who have failed in their duty to meet basic safety standards need to be held to account for what they may have done.”

A recent invitation only SI.9 review meeting, hosted by Minister Coffey in April, was criticised as being heavily weighted with vested commercial interests and only one consumer group. Full press release below:

Friday 15 May 2015, Kilkenny

Green Party Environment Spokesperson, Cllr Malcolm Noonan has said today that the report by agents working on behalf of Kildare County Council on the recent fire disaster in Newbridge shows the complete madness of proposals by Minister Alan Kelly to compromise on new building regulations. The report is littered with deficiencies in building standards which contributed to a hugely dangerous fire, and serious remedial works are now required to fix the problems. Cllr Noonan also warned of a potential return to the worst excesses of Fianna Fáil style building regulation, given that the builders of the homes in Newbridge were contributors to that party in the past.

Speaking today, Cllr Noonan said: “We are lucky that what happened in Newbridge didn’t result in loss of life. Millfield Manor now stands with Priory Hall as a stark reminder of the deficient planning policy which put both life and property at risk, and as a warning for why we should never again compromise on building standards. The Green Party are committed to upholding planning regulations and ensuring that families have affordable, secure and comfortable homes to live in.

“Alan Kelly may reply that his proposed relaxation of these rules applies only to extensions and one-off homes, but all of these homes will likely come on to the open market again at one point. The Minister must not oversee the emergence of a two-tier standard of housing, where homeowners are saddled with mortgages for unsafe properties and the taxpayer is possibly left to foot the bill. I imagine the owners of both Priory Hall and Millfield Manor wish that their housing had been built to the correct standard in the first place, even if it had cost slightly more.

“The Minister has clearly not learnt the lessons of the past, where wealthy developers exerted pressure on political decisions. It is worth noting that the builders who constructed the homes in Kildare donated a large amount of money to Fianna Fáil in 2007. Seven years on from the crash, I still do not believe the link between politics and developers has been sufficiently broken, as evidenced by both this latest plan and the abolition of the windfall tax on zoned land in Budget 2015.

“In my own constituency, Fianna Fáil TDs John McGuinness and Bobby Aylward received in excess of €20,000 from various developers in 2007 alone. I do not believe that we can have housing development that meets either the needs, or the ethical expectations, of the Irish people until we elect politicians who are determined to work solely for the public interest.

“In order to ascertain whether any such similar fire risks exist in my own area it is my intention to submit the following question at the next meeting of Kilkenny County Council:

“To ask the Chief Executive to provide me with all reports prepared by the Council relating to significant breaches of fire safety standards (in housing) in County Kilkenny, and to outline clearly any identified risks that have come to the Chief Executive or the County Fire Officer’s attention over the last five years.”

“If people are living in unsafe properties they need to know immediately, so that they can take the necessary preventative action, and any builders who have failed in their duty to meet basic safety standards need to be held to account for what they may have done.”

ENDS

Chris Green, Press Officer

1 thought on “Kildare fire disaster shows madness of Kelly’s self-certification proposals | Green party

  1. Michael O'Neill

    This is funny to read, on so many levels.

    Which party went into coalition with Fianna Fail last?

    Which party’s leader held the post of Minister for the Environment in the previous non-Fine Gael coalition government?

    Which problem of compliance can occur in terraced housing but by definition cannot occur in a once-off detached house in the middle of a field?

    Who writes this stuff?

    Reply

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