I propose to take Questions Nos. 42 and 44 together.
The programme for the development of a national climate policy and legislation, which I announced last January, is progressing on schedule.
In terms of key milestones, the public consultation has been completed. It attracted a very strong response, with in excess of 600 submissions being received. Details of the consultation response are available on the Department’s website, together with summary information on the overall outcome.
On the policy analysis element of the programme, the secretariat to the National Economic and Social Council has submitted its interim report to me. As indicated in the programme, I will release the report shortly and will then invite views from the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht.
Looking ahead to the next stage of the programme, I will make the heads of a climate Bill available before the end of the year for consideration by both the Oireachtas committee and stakeholders.
As I stated previously, and clearly signalled, in the policy development programme, I foresee a central role for the joint committee in regard to the policy development process. I attach particular importance to input from the committee on the critical issue of coming to a clear national understanding on how to meet our binding EU and wider international emission reduction commitments as well as pursuing national objectives in a low carbon global economy. I look forward to receiving the committee's report on national climate policy development and appropriate legislation in June 2013.
As the climate policy development programme matures, I also look forward to sharing our experience and achievements with my counterparts in Northern Ireland in the context of ongoing bilateral engagement and exchanges on environment policy matters.