Written Questions Nos. 466 to 489.

Better Energy Homes Scheme Administration

Michael Creed

Question:

466. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if there are circumstances whereby a house constructed after 2006 may be included for consideration for funding under the better energy warmer homes scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3850/14]

The Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland under the Better Energy Programme. The energy efficiency upgrades provided by this scheme are delivered free of charge to the customer and the scheme is in very high demand, supported by a limited Exchequer budget that must be allocated where the need is greatest. Homes constructed after 2006 are excluded from the scheme as newer-built homes already benefit from improved building standards that in turn provide for improved thermal efficiency standards.

Last autumn the SEAI and my Department reviewed the eligibility criteria for participation in the scheme. After this review the eligibility criteria were amended to include homes built before 2006. Prior to this the cut-off date for eligibility was 2002. I have no plans to undertake another review of the eligibility criteria to include homes built after 2006 in the scheme.

National Broadband Plan Implementation

Brendan Griffin

Question:

467. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to the serious number of complaints regarding the lack of proper broadband provision under the national broadband scheme in the area west of Dingle, County Kerry; if he will intervene with a view to having the service improved, as per the obligation of the provider; if he will state whether a company (details supplied) is doing its job in monitoring the implementation of the national broadband scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3944/14]

The broadband service under the National Broadband Scheme, NBS, is a basic, affordable, scalable product in keeping with EU State aid clearance for the scheme in September 2007. Under the terms of the contract with Hutchison 3G Ireland Ltd (trading as “3”), which is overseen by my Department, the NBS mobile wireless service currently offers minimum download and upload speeds of 2.3Mbps and 1.4Mbps respectively, subject to a maximum contention ratio of 18:1.

My Department has well-established monitoring arrangements in place to ensure that the NBS delivers the minimum specified service or better to all users. The NBS contract guarantees service levels and imposes a service credit regime on “3”, with significant financial consequences in the event that minimum specification service levels are not met. The NBS contract also provides that where NBS customers do not receive the minimum guaranteed service, as set out in the terms and conditions of their contract, they are entitled to service rebates.

As part of 3’s network operations oversight, traffic and utilisation performance data, including site availability across the entire NBS network, is reviewed by "3" on a continuous basis. Remedial action can be taken remotely or 3’s field engineering staff will resolve performance issues at individual sites, depending on the nature of the incident. Annual site maintenance inspections are carried out by "3" on each of its sites.

I understand from "3" that the sites serving the area west of Dingle have experienced planned and unplanned outages on intermittent occasions. Most recently, the adverse weather conditions and electricity outages over the period 18 December to 6 January last caused intermittent service availability difficulties. "3" have advised my Department that these sites have performed as expected since then.

In addition, some of the NBS customers in the Ballydavid area experienced intermittent service disruption late last year as a result of an external interference disrupting signals from the serving site. “3” received assistance from ComReg and deployed additional external engineers to help identify the source of the interference. I understand that the problem was fully resolved on 02 December last.

Should any NBS customer experience problems with the NBS service, they are advised to contact 3's customer care centre, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by phone at 1913 (free of charge), via email to nbssupport@three.ie or by post to 3 Customer Services, Hutchison 3G Ireland Limited, PO Box 333, Dublin 2.

My Department has a role where customers have fully utilised the established complaints process and consider that their complaint has not been resolved. My officials operate a dedicated NBS mailbox, which NBS customers can contact by email at nationalbroadbandscheme@dcenr.gov.ie , with any comments or complaints they may have about their NBS service. My Department will then liaise with “3” personnel at its Head Office in Dublin to ensure that any service performance issues, which are brought to its attention, are addressed as quickly as possible.

Research and Development Funding

Denis Naughten

Question:

468. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding Irish research into tidal energy generation; the State funding in this sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3970/14]

Tidal and wave energy technologies are commonly referred to under the term ocean energy. Through its Ocean Energy Programme the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has conducted wave and tidal resource studies to examine the energy yield from these technologies at their current stage of development. The largest accessible tidal resource occurs around the Antrim coast while the largest accessible wave energy resource lies around the western and southern coasts of Ireland. Some small isolated locations of good tidal flows occur around the west coast of Ireland. However, it is considered that when combined they would yield smaller amounts of energy compared to the offshore wave and wind resources. It should also be noted that high waves approaching the western coast can limit the use of tidal turbines which are more suited to shallower depths. Given the fact that the wholesale electricity markets of Ireland and Northern Ireland are operated as Single Electricity Market (SEM), there may be scope for regional cooperation on the development of tidal technologies. Regional collaboration on the development of the offshore renewable energy will be an action area in the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP), which I will be publishing shortly.

Since 2005, the SEAI has provided almost €3m in grant support for tidal energy research and development projects. The majority of this funding has gone to Open Hydro, which has since established itself as one of the leading tidal energy technologies worldwide. The company has built a manufacturing facility at Greenore in County Louth to supply tidal turbines.

Electricity Transmission Network

Denis Naughten

Question:

469. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to review the practice of purchasing gate access to the electricity network; his plans to review the way renewable energy generators access the grid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3971/14]

The Gate process has been designed by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) specifically to meet Ireland’s national renewable target of 40% of electricity supplied from renewable sources by 2020. The Gate 3 offer and acceptance process concluded late last year, except for a small number of offers which remain live. The CER is currently commencing the process of reviewing the connection and access policy for renewable and non-renewable generators to the grid, post Gate 3.

The CER aims to publish a public consultation paper on the new connection policy for renewable and non-renewable generators in Quarter 2, 2014. Consideration will be given to Ireland’s renewable targets and Ireland’s system operators requirements in the development of this policy as well as likely build out of Gate 3 connections. This consultation will also take account of learnings from the Gate 3 process which was a large Gate, aimed specifically at ensuring sufficient renewable connections were in place by 2020 to meet Ireland’s targets. CER has not taken any decisions on the nature, scale or criteria for connection and access policy post Gate 3.

Renewable Energy Generation

Denis Naughten

Question:

470. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the aspects of the ESRI 2011 review of the effect of REFIT on Irish wholesale electricity prices 2011 which have been taken on board in full or in part by his Department; the future plans in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3972/14]

The work of the ESRI in 2011 informed the design of REFIT 2, which was launched in 2012. REFIT 2 is designed to accommodate new renewable generation built from the start of 2010 to the end of 2017 and its aim is to ensure sufficient new renewable electricity is built to make a significant contribution to our legally binding EU renewable target for 2020. The maximum capacity that can be accepted into the scheme in the period to end 2017 is 4,000 MW.

To date onshore wind has been the largest driver of growth in renewable energy electricity, contributing most towards the achievement of the 2020 target. In 2012, 15.3% of Ireland's electricity demand was met by wind generation. At the end of 2013, 2,300 MW of renewable generation was connected to the grid. It is estimated that a total of between 3,500 and 4,000 MW of onshore renewable generation capacity will be required to allow Ireland to meet its 40% renewable electricity target. Currently, around 3,000 MW of renewable generation has taken up connection offers under the Gate 3 grid connection programme.

Television Licence Fee Collection

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

471. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will review a case where a person is being held liable for a TV licence but is not the owner of the television (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4049/14]

The sale of TV licences and the associated inspection process is an operational matter for An Post as the Minister's statutorily-appointed agent under the Broadcasting Act 2009. There is no provision for the type of review suggested by the Deputy and, as such, I do not consider it appropriate for me to intervene in this matter.

That said, however, I have asked my officials to bring the circumstances of the case as presented by the Deputy to the attention of An Post.

Semi-State Bodies Remuneration

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

472. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of semi-State companies under the remit of his Department that have paid bonuses to their employees in 2011, 2012 and 2013; if he will identify these semi-State companies; the number of employees and the level of bonuses paid; his views on the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4161/14]

The information sought by the Deputy regarding payments to staff by commercial semi-State companies is an operational matter for each company.

My Department works within the guidelines set out by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to remuneration levels of Chief Executive Officers in the State Bodies under the aegis of my Department.

However, the structure of remuneration for staff of different commercial state companies is a matter for the respective boards and CEOs of these companies.

Departmental Bodies

Michael McGrath

Question:

473. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will, in respect of his Department's audit committee, provide details of its current membership; the date of appointment of each member; the fees paid to each member; whether members of the committee are required to hold certain professional qualifications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4213/14]

The information sought on the Department's audit committee is set out in the following table.

Name

Date of Appointment

Fees paid in 2013

Walter Johnston

24th August 2011

Nil

Ciaran O hObain

17th August 2011

Nil

Shauna Greely

26th November 2012

€1,697

Brian Carroll

12th December 2012

Nil

While members are not required to hold professional qualifications, they are appointed based on their experience relevant to the responsibilities of the committee. There are currently two external vacancies on the committee and arrangements are being finalised to fill these positions.

EU Regulations

Robert Troy

Question:

474. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he has defined any public interest objectives under Regulation 17(6) of the European Communities (Electronic Communications Networks and Services) (Framework) Regulations 2011, what they are; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4255/14]

In its role as manager of the national radio frequency spectrum, the Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg, has not to date requested the invocation of regulation 17 (6) of the European Communities (Electronic Communications Networks and Services) (Framework) Regulations 2011 nor have I had cause myself to define general interest objectives as specified in the provision.

Rural Broadband Scheme

Robert Troy

Question:

475. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources further to Parliamentary Question No 146 of 29 November 2012, in relation to the rural broadband scheme, the actions taken to secure broadband services for the then remaining six applicants to the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4257/14]

The Rural Broadband Scheme, RBS, was launched in recognition of the fact that despite the widespread availability of broadband throughout Ireland, there still remained individual premises that were unable to receive broadband provision. This Scheme was aimed at making a basic broadband service available to un-served premises in rural areas, not already covered by the National Broadband Scheme.

The Application Phase of the RBS closed in July 2011 and my Department received 5,000 applications. Of these, approximately 3,700 applications qualified under the terms of the Scheme. The details of these applicants were passed to participating Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who responded to my Department indicating those applicants to whom they were able to offer services.

A total of 29 companies participated in the Scheme and a total of 2011 applicants gave their consent to receive written offers of service from these ISPs. The participating ISPs wrote to these 2011 applicants in April 2012 with offers of service and the outcome was that 509 applicants took up a service.

My Department was advised by the participating service providers that they had been unable to provide service to a total of 6 applicants. In one of these cases, the applicant obtained a service from another provider, leaving 5 applicants un-served subsequent to the RBS process.

Engineering officials from my Department visited those 5 households in May 2013 and provided advice, having assessed the local topography, on possible terrestrial and satellite providers who could provide a solution. Further information was provided to 2 of those households in September last and my Department has had no further requests for information or advice.

National Broadband Plan Implementation

Robert Troy

Question:

476. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources further to Parliamentary Question No. 152 of 7 March 2013, if he considers the acceptance by his Department of minimum marketed speeds, of a contractor or contractors under the National Broadband Plan; if he will provide sufficient certainty of service performance to the target consumer group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4259/14]

The Government’s National Broadband Plan, which I published in August 2012, aims to radically change the broadband landscape in Ireland by ensuring that high speed broadband is available to all citizens and businesses. This will be achieved by providing:

- a policy and regulatory framework that assists in accelerating and incentivising commercial investment, and

- a State-led investment for areas where it is not commercial for the market to invest.

Since the publication of the Plan, investments by the commercial sector are underway and in some instances have been accelerated in both fixed line and wireless high speed broadband services. These developments have been facilitated through the implementation of measures in the National Broadband Plan, including the conclusion of ComReg's multiband spectrum auction, and the new regulatory regime for fixed line Next Generation Access and service bundles. Both of these measures are designed to incentivise the rollout of services by operators.

In tandem with these developments, intensive work is underway in my Department to progress a State-led investment to secure the countrywide introduction of next generation broadband access. In order to progress the State-led investment for areas where it is not commercial for the market to invest, a full procurement process must be designed and EU State Aids approval must be obtained. My Department is engaged in a comprehensive mapping exercise of the current and anticipated investment by the commercial sector over the coming years, the results of which will inform the areas that need to be targeted in the State-led investment as envisaged in the National Broadband Plan.

Intensive technical, financial and legal preparations, including stakeholder engagement, are on-going. Issues regarding obligations which might be placed on any potential contractor to be engaged as a result of the procurement process will be considered as part of the detailed design of the intervention. It is my intention to publish the map showing existing and planned next generation broadband coverage, along with the Government's proposals for the intervention, later this year.

The procurement process for the approved intervention will be carried out in accordance with EU and Irish procurement rules and it is expected that it will be launched later in 2014.

Through the implementation of the National Broadband Plan, I am committed to ensuring that all parts of Ireland have access to high speed broadband, with a view to ensuring that all citizens and businesses can participate fully in, and maximise the benefits of, a digitally enabled economy and society.

Broadband Service Provision

Robert Troy

Question:

477. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will publish maps of the existing basic broadband coverage and separately the existing NGA broadband coverage based on the information available at the close of the submission deadline of 27 September 2013 including any extension for the national mapping exercise, in order that the public may participate in the process as early as possible. [4260/14]

The objective of the national mapping exercise under the National Broadband Plan is to identify and map current and planned broadband services, both basic and next generation access (NGA). The process for participating in the mapping exercise has been published on my Department’s website (www.dcenr.ie/nbpmapping) and notified to all undertakings authorised by ComReg. Information has been sought from participating operators in respect of current coverage as well as investments planned up to July 2016 and beyond, where appropriate.

Mapping data has been submitted to my Department by a total of 23 operators and the process of analysing the data and supporting information is continuing. In many cases, this includes follow-up queries and requests for further information. The mapping data is being assessed on a case-by-case basis, having regard to the EU State Aid Guidelines. When all of the information has been analysed, a clear picture should emerge of coverage throughout all of the country.

It is my intention to publish a map showing existing and planned NGA broadband coverage later this year, along with the Government’s proposals for a State-led intervention to roll out high speed broadband across the country.

Intensive technical, financial and legal preparations, including stakeholder engagement, are ongoing. The procurement process for the approved intervention will be carried out in accordance with EU and Irish procurement rules and it is expected that it will be launched later this year.

Through the implementation of the National Broadband Plan, I am committed to ensuring that all parts of Ireland have access to high speed broadband, with a view to ensuring that all citizens and businesses can participate fully in, and maximise the benefits of, a digitally enabled economy and society.

Energy Policy Review

Martin Heydon

Question:

478. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the reviews of Irish energy policy that have taken place following the publication of the White Paper on an energy policy framework for 2007-2020; when a further review is expected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4265/14]

The energy policy landscape has undergone considerable change since the Energy Policy White Paper was published in 2007. Having regard to this, my Department is currently preparing an Energy Green Paper identifying issues that need to be considered in the development of Ireland’s energy policy to meet current and future challenges. Competitiveness, security of supply, and sustainability, as well as energy policy’s potential to support economic growth and job creation, will be the key objectives of the Green Paper which I expect to publish by the middle of this year.

The purpose of the Green Paper will be to stimulate debate on these key energy policy objectives and how they may be achieved. There will be a full public consultation process during which interested parties will be invited to submit their views, observations and suggestions on the shape of Ireland’s future energy policy. On completion of the public consultation process, all submissions received will be considered and policy options developed with a view to the publication of a new Energy Policy Framework in the form of a White Paper. The public consultation process, along with the relevant stakeholder engagement, will contribute significantly to the development of the White Paper which I expect to publish by the end of 2014.

Climate Change Policy

Martin Heydon

Question:

479. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources following publication of the EU Framework on Climate and Energy for 2030 presented by the European Commission, the impact this will have on Irish climate and energy policy; if this will lead to a review of our present policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4266/14]

Primary responsibility for Climate Change policy rests with my colleague the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government. However, the achievement of climate change objectives requires contributions from a range of sectors, including energy. The period between 2020 and 2030 is the next critical phase for the EU in its transition to a low carbon economy. The EU Commission’s proposals for a 2030 Climate and Energy policy framework are an important milestone in a complex policy development process that spans these two major EU policy areas.

As far as Ireland's energy policy is concerned, the overriding objective is to ensure competitive, secure and sustainable energy for the economy and for society. Renewable energy has a critical role to play in regard to each element of this objective. Prior to the publication of the Commission's 2030 proposals, I supported, along with seven other European Energy Ministers, a renewable energy target for 2030. Given the long lead in time for energy developments, clear investment signals are critical for the renewable energy sector if it is to be in a position to make a contribution to achieving 2030 goals. Not only is the renewable energy sector of key importance in the context of 2030, it also provides a real, and sustainable, economic opportunity for Ireland, both in terms of providing a secure, indigenous source of energy, and as a clean export.

We will now proceed to work closely with our European partners to establish the scale of the contribution Ireland can make to the acheivement of the EU-wide binding target for renewable energy of at least 27% in 2030. Considerable analysis of the Commission’s proposals will be required to ensure that the framework allows for action that is cost effective and does not place a disproportionate burden on EU energy consumers.

Broadband Service Provision

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

480. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the plans and consents issued to develop the proposed Emerald Express transatlantic fibre-optic cable from the United States to make landfall in Killala, County Mayo; the plans intended and being pursued by his Department in conjunction with all stakeholders, including private broadband service providers, towards ensuring and maximising connectivity for towns like Killala, Ballina and Crossmolina in the immediate vicinity and throughout County Mayo, including the town of Belmullet where it was initially suggested the cable could make landfall; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4267/14]

Any consents and permissions required for the landing of this cable are a matter for the Company, the Department of Environment Community and Local Government and the Local Authority. I have no function in that regard.

The choice of landing point and terrestrial route of the cable is a matter for the Company and I understand that these matters are currently under consideration. I am therefore not in a position to say which towns or which route will be selected at this time.

My Department has also secured State Aid approval to bring the telecommunications ducts laid alongside the Galway-Mayo gas pipeline into use. A project has commenced to test these ducts with a view to bringing them into use as soon as possible. It is envisaged that fibre in these ducts will be available to commercial service providers in areas where next generation access is not currently available. It is intended that a number of interconnection points will be provided which will allow network operators to bring connectivity from neighbouring towns to this fibre.

The Government’s National Broadband Plan, which I published in August 2012, aims to radically change the broadband landscape in Ireland by ensuring that high speed broadband is available to all citizens and businesses. This will be achieved by providing:

- a policy and regulatory framework that assists in accelerating and incentivising commercial investment, and

- a State-led investment for areas where it is not commercial for the market to invest.

Since the publication of the Plan, investments by the commercial sector are underway and in some instances have been accelerated in both fixed line and wireless high speed broadband services. These developments have been facilitated through the implementation of measures in the National Broadband Plan, including the conclusion of ComReg's multiband spectrum auction, and the new regulatory regime for fixed line Next Generation Access and service bundles. Both of these measures are designed to incentivise the rollout of services by operators.

In tandem with these developments, intensive work is underway in my Department to progress a State-led investment to secure the countrywide introduction of next generation broadband access. In order to progress the State-led investment for areas where it is not commercial for the market to invest, a full procurement process must be designed and EU State Aids approval must be obtained. My Department is engaged in a comprehensive mapping exercise of the current and anticipated investment by the commercial sector over the coming years, the results of which will inform the areas that need to be targeted in the State-led investment as envisaged in the National Broadband Plan.

Intensive technical, financial and legal preparations, including stakeholder engagement, are ongoing. Issues regarding obligations which might be placed on any potential contractor to be engaged as a result of the procurement process will be considered as part of the detailed design of the intervention. It is my intention to publish the map showing existing and planned next generation broadband coverage, along with the Government's proposals for the intervention, later this year.

The procurement process for the approved intervention will be carried out in accordance with EU and Irish procurement rules and it is expected that it will be launched later in 2014.

I am aware that at least one commercial operator has launched next generation broadband services in Mayo, and announced plans to bring these services to additional towns over the next two years. Through the combination of commercial investment, the State led investment envisaged in the National Broadband Plan and the initiative to bring the Galway-Mayo ducting into use I am confident that the towns of Kilalla, Ballina, Crossmolina and Belmullet, and all areas across Mayo, will have access to high speed broadband. The ultimate goal is to ensure that all citizens and businesses to participate fully in a digitally enabled economy and society.

Energy Conservation

Mick Wallace

Question:

481. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in view of recent climate change research by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showing that nations are not reducing their emissions enough, if he will introduce a national energy conservation awareness campaign; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51933/13]

My Department ran a national energy efficiency promotion and behavioural change programme called the “Power of One” from 2006 to 2008. The core objective of this programme was to effect behavioural change among consumers with respect to the energy they use in their daily lives, particularly in their homes and as they drive. In January 2009 responsibility for the programme was transferred to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). This was done so that SEAI could better coordinate the programme with other home energy activities, such as Better Energy Homes grant schemes and Building Energy Ratings. SEAI still maintains and updates the Power of One website and operates a consumer energy helpline providing a wealth of electronic and printed advices resources for consumers. The website had over 200,000 visits in 2013.

Consultancy Contracts Data

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

482. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the level of pro bono work provided by legal, accountancy and consulting firms in the past 24 months to his Department; which of those firms have also been awarded State contracts by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4603/14]

There has been no pro bono work provided by any such firms in the period under review.

The information sought by the Deputy relating to the bodies under the aegis of my Department is an operational matter for each body. I will, therefore, request the relevant body to reply directly to the Deputy with the information requested in respect of their organisation.

Consultancy Contracts Data

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

483. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide a list of the top 20 consulting firms engaged by his Department, including public bodies, in order of fee generation or cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4616/14]

The table following outlines details of the top twenty consulting firms engaged by my Department during the period January 2012 – December 2013.

Given the technical complexity of the sectors which my Department oversees and, in some instances regulates, there is a requirement to procure services to address specific issues as they arise. In procuring these services my Departments always seeks to ensure value for money and the keeping of expenditure to the minimum necessary. In the case of the three consultancy projects related to the Corrib gas project, the cost is recouped to the State from the Developers.

The information sought by the Deputy relating to the Bodies under the aegis of my Department is an operational matter for each Body.

Number

Name of Firm

Amount (€)

Project

1

Latinollo Limited

1,033,624

National Digital Switchover Campaign

2

Programme of Research in Communications

Economic and Social Research Institute

535,000

Energy Research Programme

3

Tobin Consulting Engineers

461,404

National Groundwater Vulnerability Mapping, Geoscience Initiatives

4

Environ UK ltd

403,983

Environmental Monitoring -Corrib

5

PA Consulting Group

401,872

Implementation of National Postcodes System

6

David Fox Associates

373,059

Petroleum Engineering Advice

7

PRISA Technologies Ltd T/A Prisa Consulting

323,491

Technical advice in relation to planning the National Broadband Plan State led Intervention

8

Financial Advisor to DCENR

PRICEWATERHOUSE COOPERS

293,232

National Seabed Survey

9

Keane Offshore Integrity Ltd

240,694

Technical Verification Audits - Corrib

10

O’Connell Agri Environmental Consultants

206,359

Geochemical Data Acquisition, TELLUS Border Project,

11

Morgan Geophysics

196,438

Petroleum Geophysics Advice

12

Economic assessment off Exploration and Mining

Economic Analysis of the Advertising Market in Ireland

Assessment of the micro economic value of digital to the economy

Indecon

190,023

Next Generation Broadband

13

CDM Smith Ireland Ltd T/A CDM

170,013

Environmental Monitoring of Silvermines & Avoca

14

Ronan Tierney & Associates

137,572*

Head of Internal Audit Unit

15

Natural Environment Research Council

123,000

Carbon Capture and Storage

16

National Broadband Plan

On-going technical network monitoring of 3 service under the NBS

Mason Communications (Irl) Ltd

114,527

Project KELVIN International connectivity for NI - On-going network monitoring of Kelvin Network

17

Aurum Exploration Ltd

112,960

Geological data compilation

18

Dr. Robert Meehan

80,061

National Quaternary Map, Geoscience Initiative

19

Mouchel Parkman Ireland Ltd

73,445

Landslide Susceptibility Mapping, Geoscience Initiatives

20

SLR Consulting ( Ireland Ltd)

61,500

Geological Services, Shallow Geothermal Resources Project

* Cost of consultancy shared with the Department of Health and Children.

Irish Water Establishment

Terence Flanagan

Question:

484. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the role the Commission for Energy Regulation has in examining the set-up costs of Irish Water; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3553/14]

The Water Services Acts 2013 provides that the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) will be responsible for the independent economic regulation of Irish Water.  The primary role of the Regulator will be to protect the interests of customers and to ensure a consistent and appropriate level of service is provided to them.  In particular, the CER will be responsible for approving the water charges plans prepared by Irish Water and examining the costs underlying these charges.

The proposed establishment costs of Irish Water were examined by the CER which gave preliminary advice that most of the proposed establishment costs appeared reasonable and can be expected to result in value for money from a customer perspective. The CER will be conducting a more in-depth review of the costs and my Department has put arrangements in place to ensure that commitments made in 2014 will meet the test of cost reasonableness and value for money for customers. 

Environmental Protection Enforcement

Terence Flanagan

Question:

485. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will ensure that jobs are protected in a company (details supplied) by helping to ensure the company gets halal certification; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3686/14]

Finian McGrath

Question:

546. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding a threat to jobs at a premises (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [3986/14]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 485 and 546 together.

Under section 60(3) of the Waste Management Act 1996, I am precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to the performance by the Environmental Protection Agency or a local authority, in particular circumstances, of a statutory function vested in it, including enforcement functions.

Issues concerning the enforcement of waste management legislation are a matter for the appropriate regulatory authority and should therefore be pursued with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the relevant local authority, as appropriate.

Severe Weather Events Response

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

486. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will consider a small grants scheme for those communities adversely affected by the recent storms, that is, those communities that will not qualify for the larger grants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3804/14]

During the period from 13 December 2014 to 6 January 2014 Ireland was subjected to a series of severe storms, affecting the country roughly once every three days. In addition to the very strong winds, there were periods of extremely heavy rain and a lot of thunderstorm activity. These storms coincided with high spring tides and created severe and damaging conditions in a number of coastal areas.

On 14 January I brought an Interim Report to Government on the storms, compiled by my Department in its capacity as Lead Government Department for the response to severe weather.

At the request of Government, my Department is seeking more detailed reports from local authorities, to be provided over the coming 2 weeks, on the anticipated repair and recovery works, including related costings. This will enable Government, through the specific areas of responsibility of relevant Departments and Agencies, to support the local authorities on recovery measures, including repairs to community infrastructure and amenities.

Planning Issues

Patrick Nulty

Question:

487. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if it is lawful for a local authority to sanction a development without constructed drawings being provided by the developer prior to commencement; the remedy householders have if constructed drawings were not provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3890/14]

The requirements in relation to the plans, drawings and maps required to accompany an application for permission under section 34 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 are set out in Articles 22 and 23 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001. Detailed structural specifications for the proposed development are not required to be submitted as part of the planning application. Where a planning application does not comply with the specified requirements, the application is invalid and will not be considered by the planning authority until all necessary documentation is submitted.

Coastal Protection

Brendan Griffin

Question:

488. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will confirm that its position within a SAC will not prevent, delay or cause any obstacles to the carrying out of coastal protection works required at a location (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4228/14]

Coastal protection works above the high water line are considered to be “development” for the purposes of the Planning and Development Act 2000 and therefore generally require planning permission. In the event that the works are to be carried out by a local authority, they will not require planning permission, but will require the approval of the elected members of the local authority, or, if the works require the undertaking of an environmental impact assessment or appropriate assessment, the approval of the An Bord Pleanála under section 175 or 177AE of the Planning Act, as appropriate. In addition, where the works would be likely to impact on a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is required to be consulted and have his or her views considered before the relevant permission or approval is given.

Irish Water Establishment

Brendan Griffin

Question:

489. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason local property tax revenue was used in the establishment of Irish Water; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4268/14]

Michael McCarthy

Question:

494. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the total amount retained from property tax receipts for the express purpose of funding the establishment and operation of Irish Water; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3510/14]

I propose to take Question Nos. 489 and 494 together.

The local government funding model is changing considerably in 2014. Under the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012, commencing this year, the Minister for Finance will pay into the Local Government Fund an amount equivalent to the Local Property Tax paid into the Central Fund during that year; this revenue will be allocated to local authorities from the Fund, as General Purpose Grants. In addition, the establishment of Irish Water and its financial relationship with the local government sector has a considerable impact on local authority financing.

The Revised Estimates Volume for Public Services 2014 estimates total income to the Local Government Fund of €1.710 billion in 2014, including estimated Local Property Tax income of €550m. An amount of €490m is provided for Irish Water from the Fund in 2014. I expect the final outturn figure for 2014 will be slightly less than this amount at €486.5m. This amount will fund water related expenditures incurred heretofore by local authorities; these expenditures were previously met by local authorities from their own resources and general purpose grants.