Postcode Implementation

Questions (158)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

158. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he is satisfied with the seemingly random nature of the proposed new Capita Ireland postcode, where the first three characters will be related to a postal district but the remaining four characters will be numbers and letters randomly allocated to letter boxes; and the proportion of the Capita Ireland €26 million postcode that is allocated to designing a code that is 60% random in nature. [18282/14]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Government has approved a national postcode system that will use a 7 character code in an alpha numeric format A65 B2CD. The first three characters will relate to the postal district in which the address is located. The design phase of the project is currently being finalised. The cost to the Exchequer of the national postcode system over the 10 year cycle of the contract is expected to be €26m (ex VAT) with costs covering design, database upgrades, media and postcode distribution, and access to Geodirectory.

Postal Services

Questions (159)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

159. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources where postal stamps are being printed, the amount that has been paid to companies to print stamps in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18300/14]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Matters relating to the printing of stamps, including costs, are an operational matter for the Board and management of An Post and one in which I have no statutory function. However, I have referred the matter to the company for direct reply to the Deputy.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (160, 162, 163)

Robert Troy

Question:

160. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the broadband-Internet services available for the residents of the Rahugh area in County Westmeath. [18322/14]

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Tom Fleming

Question:

162. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will investigate and examine the very poor level of broadband service in the Boulerdagh-Kells area of County Kerry; if he will take into consideration the impact this is having on businesses in the area, a number of which operate from home, and the fact that it is inhibiting growth in them; if he will accept that this is an appalling level of service in 2014, is causing significant inconvenience to all users and needs to be addressed immediately; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18351/14]

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Tom Fleming

Question:

163. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will investigate and examine the very poor level of broadband service in the Glencar area of County Kerry; if he will take into consideration the impact this is having on businesses in the area, a number of which operate from home, and the fact that it is inhibiting growth in them; if he will accept that this is an appalling level of service in 2014, is causing significant inconvenience to all users and needs to be addressed immediately; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18355/14]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 160, 162 and 163 together.

Since market liberalisation in 1999, the provision of telecommunications services, including broadband services are delivered in the first instance through private sector operators who operate in a fully liberalised market, regulated by the independent regulator, the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). The market has 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 Counties Kerry and Westmeath can be found on a number of websites, including the websites of individual commercial operators.

I am aware of at least one service provider announcing that it will be providing advanced broadband services in 33 locations in County Kerry, and in 19 locations in County Westmeath, before July 2016 and my Department will be happy to discuss this further with the Deputies. I would point out that the Local Authority has a strong role to play in facilitating the roll-out of the necessary infrastructure to help enable service availability throughout the Country. In the case of County Kerry, I note that the County Development Plan recommends against siting a mast within 1km of dwellings. I understand that this is contributing to difficulties in providing broadband and telecommunications services generally in the county.

During the preparation of the Next Generation Broadband Task force report, which concluded its deliberations in 2012, service providers noted the importance of planning and consent processes in facilitating the roll out of infrastructure to support the provision of telecommunications services. The Government's National Broadband Plan which I subsequently published, commits to addressing barriers to deployment in order to maximise investment by the commercial sector and assist in enhancing the quality of services. Local Authorities have an important role to play in this regard, particularly in facilitating the provision of infrastructure that supports wireless and fixed line services.

The National Broadband Plan 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.

In tandem with these developments, intensive work, including a comprehensive mapping exercise, continues in my Department in relation to the 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.

Under the national mapping exercise, information has been sought from all undertakings authorised by ComReg in relation to current and planned broadband services, both basic and next generation access (NGA). 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. 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. I expect that this process will be completed later this year, after which it is my intention to publish a map showing existing and planned NGA broadband coverage, along with the Government’s proposals for a State-led intervention to roll out high speed broadband across the country. This map will outline exactly the type of broadband available in Counties Kerry and Westmeath.

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.

Single Electricity Market

Questions Nos. 162 and 163 answered with Question No. 160.

Questions (161)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

161. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the reasons for the delay regarding decisions on the single energy market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18342/14]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Single Electricity Market (SEM) is the wholesale electricity market for the island of Ireland, regulated jointly by the Commission for Energy Regulation (the CER) and its counterpart in Belfast, the Utility Regulator. By combining what were two separate jurisdictional electricity markets, the SEM became one of the first of its kind in Europe when it went live on 1st November 2007. The SEM is designed to provide for the least cost source of electricity generation to meet customer demand at any one time across the island, while also maximising long-term sustainability and reliability.

The decision-making body which governs the market is the SEM Committee, consisting of the CER, the Utility Regulator as well as an independent member (who also has a deputy), with each entity having one vote. The Electricity Regulation (Amendment) (Single Electricity Market) Act 2007 provides the legal framework for the establishment and operation of a single wholesale electricity market on the island of Ireland. The detailed rules of the SEM are set out in the Trading and Settlement Code, which is overseen by the SEM Committee. I have no function in the decision-making of this statutorily independent, cross-jurisdictional committee body nor am I aware of any egregious delays in the SEM Committee decision-making process.

Questions Nos. 162 and 163 answered with Question No. 160.

Wind Energy Generation

Questions (164)

Billy Timmins

Question:

164. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding wind parks (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18524/14]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

It should be noted that statutory responsibility for development consents lies with my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government. Also, as is the case with all energy developments currently, each offshore renewable energy project must complete an Environmental Impact Assessment.

As Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, I am charged with developing an energy policy that allows Ireland to realise the potential of our abundant, indigenous, clean energy resources and ensures that Ireland reaps the economic benefits of any such development. I am also very aware of the overarching importance of protecting our marine environment. Realising the economic potential of offshore renewable energy can only be achieved if offshore developments do not adversely impact on our rich marine environment. The Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP), which I published in February, provides the mechanism through which action across Government Departments and Agencies to support the development of offshore renewable electricity generation can be fully coordinated in areas such as environmental monitoring and protection, research and development, consenting procedures, infrastructure requirements and enterprise development.

The OREDP identifies export as the route to market for offshore wind. I recently stated, with regret, that it has not been possible at this time to conclude an Inter-Governmental Agreement as envisaged in the Memorandum of Understanding I signed with the the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in January 2013. Economic analysis undertaken by my officials clearly indicates that under agreed policy and regulatory conditions, renewable energy trading would deliver significant economic benefits to Ireland and the UK, and would also be attractive to developers. However, renewable energy trading has to be designed to work. Based on further discussions between my officials and the Department of Energy and Climate Change in the UK since the Summit in early March, I am confirmed in the view that given the complexities involved, and key decisions yet to be taken by the UK, delivery by 2020 is not now a realistic proposition. However I believe that in the context of a European Internal Market and greater integration, greater trade in energy between Britain and Ireland is inevitable in the post 2020 scenario.

Local Authority Staff Data

Questions (165)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

165. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on the fact that only four local authorities nationwide employ archaeologists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18293/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Under section 159 of the Local Government Act 2001, each City and County Manager is responsible for staffing and organisational arrangements necessary for carrying out the functions of the local authorities for which he or she is res ponsible. Therefore, the matter raised in relation to the employment of archaeologists nationwide is a matter for each City and County Manager.

Mortgage to Rent Scheme Application Numbers

Questions (166)

Michael McGrath

Question:

166. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of mortgage to rent transactions that have been fully completed to date; the number currently at an advanced stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18484/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I refer to the reply to Question No. 393 of Tuesday, 15 April 2014 which sets out the position in this matter. Further information in relation to Mortgage to Rent Schemes generally is available on the Housing Agency’s website, www.housing.ie.