Public Sector Staff Redundancies

Questions (141)

Seán Fleming

Question:

141. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reduction in public sector numbers that will be achieved in 2013 and 2014 from targeted redundancy and early retirement in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43029/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

There are currently no proposals for targeted redundancies in my Department. As the Deputy will appreciate, the decision as to whether to opt for early retirement under the terms of the grace period as set down in the Haddington Road Agreement is a matter for eligible individual members of staff. I understand that, while a number of staff have been in contact with the personnel section of my Department in that regard, it is, as yet, too early to project a specific number for such retirements over the period in question.

Wind Energy Generation

Questions (142)

Dara Calleary

Question:

142. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide details of grant aid and or subsidies which have been paid to wind farm developments each year since 2000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42547/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The primary support mechanisms for renewables, including wind farms, are the Alternative Energy Requirement schemes and the Renewable Energy Feed-In-Tariff (REFIT) schemes. These schemes were introduced to incentivise the development of renewable electricity generation capacity necessary to allow Ireland to meet its target of meeting 40% of electricity demand from renewable generation by 2020. This target must be achieved in order for Ireland to meet its binding obligation of 16% of total energy demand to be met from renewable sources by 2020. All of the renewable energy support schemes provide subsidies to eligible projects as opposed to grant aid.

The Alternative Energy Requirement (AER) was a series of 6 competitive tender schemes to support new renewable generation that were run to the mid 2000s. AER was subsequently replaced by the feed-in tariff scheme known as REFIT. The AER schemes were all introduced prior to full electricity market liberalisation.

REFIT is based around 15 year Power Purchase Agreements between generators and suppliers which provide developers with the necessary certainty required to finance their projects. Both AER and REFIT are funded from the Public Service Obligation (PSO) levy.

The estimates for how much subsidy is funded by way of the PSO levy for each year since 2003 are published in the annual PSO decision by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER). While the bulk of subsidies for renewable electricity generation paid under these schemes have been for wind, the CER has initiated a project to generate a report on the annual and cumulative costs to date in relation to AER and REFIT support schemes for each technology supported. The following table presents the costs for both AER and REFIT since 2003 (the 2003 figure for AER is cumulative from the year 2000):

Year

AER

REFIT

€m

€m

2013/14

-8.0

51.1

2012/13

7.1

47.5

2011/12

0.7

35.8

2010/11

13.5

29.7

2009/10

24.3

39.8

2008/9

-58.4

24.4

2008

0.4

2007

-29.9

2006

0.2

2005

12.3

2004

16.1

2003

6.6

Broadband Services Provision

Questions (143)

Noel Harrington

Question:

143. Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when the poor broadband service experienced by residents and businesses in Skibbereen, County Cork, over the past few weeks will be resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42556/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Ireland’s telecommunications market has been fully liberalised since 1999 in accordance with the requirements of binding EU Directives. The provision of electronic communications services, including broadband services and the restoration of full services when faults occur are, in the first instance, matters for the service providers operating in Ireland’s fully liberalised telecommunications market, regulated by the independent regulator, the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg).

Where customers are experiencing difficulties in relation to any aspect of their telecommunications/broadband service they should raise the matter with their service provider. Where this fails to resolve matters, they should refer it to ComReg who will investigate the issue.

The State can only intervene to ensure access to broadband services in areas where the competitive market fails to deliver such services. 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, including those in living in County Cork. 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 in both fixed line and wireless high speed broadband services. 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 to identify where the market is expected to deliver high speed broadband services over the coming years. The results of this mapping exercise will inform the precise 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. 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 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 a digitally enabled society

Telecommunications Services Provision

Questions (144)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

144. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will intervene to ensure a mobile service provider (details supplied) will provide an adequate service to paying customers in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42688/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The provision of mobile telecommunications services networks within Ireland's competitive market is subject to a requirement to secure a wireless telegraphy licence to access the required radio spectrum. The award of such licenses, the imposition of terms and conditions to access that spectrum and the associated monitoring of compliance by licensed providers with those terms and conditions are matters for the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), which is independent in the exercise of its functions. Accordingly, I have no statutory function in this matter. I note however that the matter has been raised previously with ComReg and I have referred the matter again to ComReg and asked them to correspond directly with the Deputy on this matter.

I expect that with the continued significant capital investments being made by mobile operators, the quality of mobile services will continue to improve across the country. I note in this regard that Vodafone announced earlier this year, a phased programme to upgrade its network.

Island Communities

Questions (145)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

145. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding island infrastructure deficit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42777/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Ireland’s telecommunications market has been fully liberalised since 1999 in accordance with the requirements of binding EU Directives. The market has since developed into a well-regulated market, supporting a multiplicity of commercial operators, providing services over a diverse range of technology platforms. Details of broadband services available in each County, including the islands, can be found on ComReg’s website at www.callcosts.ie.

The State can only intervene to ensure access to broadband services in areas where the competitive market fails to deliver such services, as in the case of the National Broadband Scheme (NBS). Broadband services under the NBS are available since October 2010 from the NBS service provider, “3”, to persons with a fixed residence or fixed business in the designated NBS Electoral Divisions. The areas covered by the NBS include many of the islands around Ireland. The combination of private investment and State interventions means that Ireland has met the EU Commission’s Digital Agenda for Europe target of having a basic broadband service available to all areas by 2013.

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, including those in living on the islands. 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 in both fixed line and wireless high speed broadband services. 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 to identify where the market is expected to deliver high speed broadband services over the coming years. The results of this mapping exercise will inform the precise 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. 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 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 a digitally enabled society.

Public Sector Staff Redundancies

Questions (146)

Seán Fleming

Question:

146. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the reduction in public expenditure numbers that will be achieved in 2013 and 2014 from targeted redundancy and early retirement in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43031/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

There is no scheme for targeted redundancies in my Department.

Application under the Cost Neutral Early Retirement Scheme is a matter for individual staff members. My Department currently has no applications under this scheme and it is not possible to predict the extent of any future applications.