Sinn Féin Local Government and Environment spokesperson Brian Stanley TD has this morning published the Derelict Sites (Amendment) Bill 2014 to help make to make it easier for local authorities to deal with the growing problem of derelict sites.
Deputy Stanley said the 1990 Derelict Sites Act is not fit for purpose.
Speaking today he said;
“Local Authorities are currently constrained in dealing with the growing problem of derelict sites. This problem has mushroomed with the recession and the slump in the property market. Hundreds of vacant buildings and sites are vacant across the country, blighting villages, towns and cities.
“They are an unsightly nuisance in neighbourhoods and are often the site of illegal drinking and attract anti-social activity. Local authorities are hampered in responding to this growing problem due to the weak legislation available to them. The Derelict Sites Act 1990 is not fit for purpose or anywhere near adequate to address the problem.
“The timespan for the process that local authorities must go through and indeed the often open ended nature of the process is a serious flaw. The legislation is ineffective as it stands. This bill would reduce the period to 90 days in total if a local authority wanted to do so.
“The penalties provided for in the 1990 Act are also inadequate, as the maximum penalty is only 3% of the value of the site. With property prices at an all-time low 3% can amount to very little. We are proposing a 5% penalty. Local authorities must also have the power to enter and carry out work to deal with issues of health and safety, or nuisances, and be able to recover any costs they incur.
“The current maximum fine that can be levied on an owner is €1,000. We are proposing that this be increased to €10,000. That is no deterrent against wealthy developers sitting on vacant derelict sites and buildings for years. They can ignore local authorities and communities and wait until the value of the property increases, which could take years.
“Having to wait for anything up to two or three years to enter a site which is on a derelict sites register is not acceptable. Owners of these properties which are sometimes banks have a responsibility to have them maintained in reasonable condition. This bill would give local authorities extra powers to ensure that happens.
“I urge the government to consider this bill positively and to allow time for it to move through the legislative process in the Houses of the Oireachtas.”