Recycling Policy

Questions (415)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

415. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if Kildare County Council has applied for a grant to provide a bring centre in north County Kildare; if so, the outcome of same; the fund applied to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51532/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I understand that Kildare County Council has prepared proposals for a civic amenity site in north County Kildare and has sought funding from my Department to support its development. There is currently no grant scheme in operation in respect of capital investment in civic amenity sites.

Noise Pollution

Questions (416)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

416. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to introduce legislation governing the use of crop bangers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51972/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Current legislation in the area of noise does not specifically address the use of bird scarers (also referred to as crow bangers). There are no plans at present to introduce such legislation.  There is provision, however, under sections 107 or 108 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992 to deal with the issue of nuisance noise from a range of sources, including agricultural sources.  My Department has produced an information leaflet, A Guide to the Noise Regulations, on the legal remedies open to a person experiencing nuisance noise.  The guide can be downloaded from the following link:

http://www.dccae.ie/en-ie/environment/topics/noise-pollution/appropriate-action/Pages/default.aspx

The legislation also provides that a Local Authority can take action against a person causing nuisance noise.  A National Protocol for Dealing with Noise Complaints for Local Authorities was developed as a cooperative project between my Department, Local Authorities and the Environmental Protection Agency.  The Protocol provides guidance to Local Authorities, given existing legislation, as to what is considered best practice for dealing with noise complaints. The protocol can be accessed through the following link:

http://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/environment/topics/noise-pollution/typical-noise-pollution/Pages/default.aspx

Broadband Service Speeds

Questions (417)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

417. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of broadband coverage at a location (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51525/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The premises referred to by the Deputy is in the LIGHT BLUE area on the High Speed Broadband Map, which is available on my Department's website at www.broadband.gov.ie. In April 2017, my Department signed a Commitment Agreement with eir in relation to its plans to provide high speed broadband to 300,000 premises in rural areas on a commercial basis.  The LIGHT BLUE areas are where eir is in the process of this deployment. According to the latest Q3 update on the High Speed Broadband Map the premises in question has yet to be passed by eir as part of this deployment. Information on eir's planned rural deployment is available at http://fibrerollout.ie/Eircode-lookup/. This website also confirms the premises in question is within the deployment zone of eir’s deployment.

According to data for Q3 2018 submitted by eir to my Department the company has passed almost 210,000 premises nationwide as part of its ongoing deployment.

For those premises currently awaiting access to high speed broadband, practical initiatives will continue to be addressed through the work of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce to address obstacles and improve connectivity in respect of existing and future mobile phone and broadband services.

Under this Taskforce, engagement between telecommunications operators and local authorities through the Broadband Officers is continuing to strengthen.  These Broadband Officers are acting as single points of contact in local authorities for their communities.  The appointment of these officers is already reaping rewards in terms of ensuring a much greater degree of consistency in engagements.

Climate Change Policy

Questions (418)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

418. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the way in which the national energy and climate plan will be informed by the principles of climate justice and just transition, climate science and the goals of the Paris Agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51544/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) is to be completed in accordance with a template contained in the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action Regulation. In accordance with the template,  various impacts, including just transition aspects of the planned policies and measures, are to be set out. Investment in the low carbon economy has the potential to create decent work and quality jobs to support local communities and workers in regions most impacted by the on-going transformation to a decarbonised society. The Government’s National Mitigation Plan recognises that fully realising the economic opportunities in the low carbon economy are key to ensuring a just transition.

To inform this process, the National Mitigation Plan contains a commitment to prepare a report on the economic and employment implications of the transition to a low carbon economy. The exact terms of reference for this work are still to be finalised but will be cognisant of the need to take on board a range of factors. This may include but not be limited to the following areas:

- Employment impacts

- Social and regional dimension

- Need for stakeholder dialogue

- Skills and training aspects

The EU’s Greenhouse Gas emissions targets have been set to align with the EU’s commitments under the Paris Agreement and the NECP will set out how it is intended to reach Ireland's target.

Energy Policy

Questions (419)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

419. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the way in which a 2015 energy White Paper that sets out a roadmap for the State to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 95% by 2050 will be achieved in the context of the permissions given to a company (details supplied) to import fracked gas; the rationale for allowing the importation of gas that is derived from a method that is banned here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51576/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The National Mitigation Plan, published in July 2017, restates the Government’s commitment to move from a fossil fuel-based electricity system to a low-carbon power system. Investment in further renewable generation will be incentivised. The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme, approved by government in July 2018, will provide for a renewable electricity ambition of 55% by 2030, subject to determining the cost effective level which will be set out in the National Energy and Climate Plan. Currently, 30% of our electricity is generated from renewable.

I have secured Government approval to develop an all of Government plan which will set out the actions which must be taken  to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change. This Plan will include the steps which we must take in order to reach this target. I will work with colleagues across Government to develop new initiatives across electricity, transport and heat, as well as a range of other sectors.

In all projected transitions to a low carbon economy by 2050, gas will continue to play a role. It plays an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the power generation, industrial and commercial, residential and transport sectors by replacing more Co2-intensive fossil fuels. In Ireland gas powered generation also provides an important back-up for intermittent renewable wind generation.

So while gas usage will reduce significantly in the years ahead, Ireland will still need secure sources of gas. At present this is provided by both gas piped on shore from Irish gas fields and imports through gas pipelines from the UK.

The development of an LNG facility could further enhance Ireland’s gas security of supply by increasing import route diversity and would be compatible with the State’s commitments to tackle climate change. 

Ireland’s energy policy is fully aligned with the EU’s climate and energy objectives on the transition to decarbonisation, which includes continuous and on-going review of policies to reduce harmful emissions, improve energy efficiency, incentivise efficient and sustainable infrastructure investment, integrate markets, and promote research and innovation while ensuring our energy security of supply is maintained and enhanced.

The project to which the Deputy refers is a private commercial project. Final investment decisions for the project and compliance with any legal and regulatory requirements in relation to consents or permits are the responsibility of the project promoter. 

In relation to the production, sourcing, buying and selling of natural gas produced outside this jurisdiction, this is an operational matter for the undertakings involved.  Any undertaking would be required to comply with EU law in this area.

Medical Aids and Appliances Provision

Questions (420, 426)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

420. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the medical incontinence allowance; when it will be finalised; if it will be backdated in view of the fact that the additional charges are a burden to carers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51661/18]

View answer

Michael Moynihan

Question:

426. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the medical incontinence allowance; when it will be finalised; if it will be backdated in view of the fact that the additional charges are already burdening carers but the relief for same has not yet been implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51973/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 420 and 426 together.

My Department is continuing the work of developing a mechanism to provide a €75 support for vulnerable persons with a condition such as lifelong or long-term medical incontinence to help meet the average annual cost of disposing of their domestic waste. I am informed that this process has taken longer than envisaged, due to a number of issues, including data protection issues that have arisen since the introduction of GDPR.  However, I can assure the Deputy that I am committed to introducing an annual support as soon as practically possible in conjunction with relevant agencies and stakeholders.

Postal Codes

Questions (421)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

421. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his attention has been drawn to delays in the provision of Eircodes to new or existing addresses; if this is preventing the roll out of FTTH or FTTC connections; the length of the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51693/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Eircodes are assigned to new property addresses using a valid postal address and verified geo-locations.  Each quarter, An Post GeoDirectory issue a new release of the GeoDirectory database file with these new Eircodes to Capita Business Support Services Ireland, trading as Eircode, in accordance with their licence agreement. Each new address assigned an Eircode is published on the free to use Eircode Finder website and a notification letter is also issued to the occupant containing the Eircode of that address.   The timeframe for the updated Eircodes to be made accessible to telecommunications companies is dependent on each company's own Eircode data provider's contracted agreement. All such Eircode data providers are sourced and contracted by individual telecommunications companies.

Operational matters and commercial decisions of private commercial operators, including the updating of databases and deployment of telecommunications infrastructure to specific premises, are a matter for these commercial operators and one in which I have no direct function.

Air Pollution

Questions (422, 423, 424)

Clare Daly

Question:

422. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the role his Department plays in the monitoring of pollution emanating from the Ringsend incinerator. [51762/18]

View answer

Clare Daly

Question:

423. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has received concerns or reports regarding high levels of air pollution in Dublin Bay emanating from the incinerator at Ringsend during the months of October and November 2018. [51763/18]

View answer

Clare Daly

Question:

424. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has received concerns or reports regarding high levels of air pollution in Dublin Bay emanating from the incinerator at Ringsend on 4 December 2018. [51764/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 422 to 424, inclusive, together.

My role as Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment in relation to waste management is to provide a comprehensive legislative and policy framework through which the relevant regulatory bodies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, operate.

I have no role in relation to the operation of the plant. The licensing of the plant is a matter for the Environmental Protection Agency. As Minister, I am constrained by the provisions of Sections 79(3) and 86(5) of the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992 (as amended) from exercising any power or control in relation to the performance in particular circumstances by the Agency of a function assigned to the Agency under that Act. The Agency has made information on the plant available on their website https://www.epa.ie/enforcement/licenseeinfo/ The plant itself also provides information available at

https://www.dublinwastetoenergy.ie/

The EPA noted in its opening address to the Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment on 6 December, 2018 that "The EPA is aware of the public concerns regarding emissions from the Poolbeg facility in particular.  While compliance with the licence conditions will ensure that air quality standards are not exceeded, the EPA installed an ambient air quality monitoring station in Ringsend in July 2017 to provide additional assurance and information to the public.  Real time monitoring results are available on the EPA website.  Results to date show that the air quality recorded in Ringsend is compliant with national air quality standards and is consistent with air quality elsewhere in Dublin ." 

Brexit Issues

Question No. 426 answered with Question No. 420.

Questions (425)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

425. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has formally met with his UK counterpart to discuss Brexit and its impact on east-west trade reciprocal arrangements and all other Brexit related matters that fall within the remit of his Department; the number of times they have formally met to discuss Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51882/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The negotiations on both the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement and political declaration on the framework for the EU-UK future relationship, both of which we were endorsed by the European Council on 25 November, were conducted on behalf of the EU27 by the European Commission and its Article 50 Taskforce.  Brexit is a priority issue for the Government and Ministers and officials have taken every opportunity to engage with EU partners and the UK to advance Ireland’s priorities. I was appointed as Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment on 16 October this year and have not, as yet, had an opportunity to meet my UK counterparts.

The Government has already taken a number of key decisions on measures to support East – West Trade. These include staffing, ICT and infrastructure measures to implement necessary checks and controls at our ports and airports.  To support businesses, the Government provided dedicated Brexit support measures in Budgets 2017, 2018 and 2019. Ireland is working closely with the EU and fellow Member States to discuss and to facilitate the use of the UK as a landbridge post Brexit.

Question No. 426 answered with Question No. 420.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (427, 428, 429)

John Lahart

Question:

427. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of women and men, respectively employed in his Department and the agencies under the remit of his Department in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52050/18]

View answer

John Lahart

Question:

428. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the various grades in which males and females are employed in his Department and the agencies under the remit of his Department in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52067/18]

View answer

John Lahart

Question:

429. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the ratio of males to females employed in his Department and the agencies under the remit of his Department in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52084/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 427 to 432, inclusive, together.

The information sought in relation to my Department is set out in the following table.  Figures are represented in full time equivalents.

Grade

Total staff

Males

Females

Ratio M:F

Administrative Officer

20.0

14.0

6.0

1 : 0.4

Assistant Principal

71.7

35.8

35.9

1 : 1

Assistant Secretary

5.0

4.0

1.0

1 : 0.25 

Assistant Superintendent GSI

1.0

1.0

0.0

1 : 0

Cartographer GSI

1.0

1.0

0.0

1 : 0

Chief Superintendent

1.0

1.0

0.0

1 : 0 

Chief Telecom Adviser

1.0

1.0

0.0

1 : 0

Civilian Driver

2.0

2.0

0.0

1 : 0

Clerical Officer

50.6

20.0

30.6

1 : 1.5

Climate Analyst

1.0

0.0

1.0

0 : 1

Cyber Security Responder

7.0

7.0

0.0

1 : 0 

Cyber Security Specialist

6.0

6.0

0.0

1 : 0 

Director of Communications

1.0

1.0

0.0

1 : 0 

Director of G.S.I

1.0

1.0

0.0

1 : 0 

Driller

1.0

1.0

0.0

1 : 0 

Executive Engineer

1.0

1.0

0.0

1 : 0

Executive Officer

64.3

27.5

36.8

1 : 1.35 

Geologist

13.6

4.6

9.0

1 : 2

GIS Manager

1.0

0.0

1.0

0 : 1

GIS Officer

1.0

1.0

0.0

1 : 0

Head of Exploration & Mining

1.0

0.0

1.0

0 : 1

Head of PAD Technical

1.0

0.0

1.0

0 : 1

Head Services Officer

1.0

1.0

0.0

1 : 0 

Higher Executive Officer

71.9

33.4

38.5

1 : 1.15

Inspector

2.0

2.0

0.0

1 : 0 

Petroleum Exploration Specialist

2.0

1.0

1.0

1 : 1 

Principal Adviser

1.0

1.0

0.0

1 : 0

Principal Geologist

2.8

2.0

0.8

1 : 0.4

Principal Officer

26.8

18.0

8.8

1 : 0.5 

Principal Solicitor

1.0

1.0

0.0

1 : 0 

Secretary General

1.0

1.0

0.0

1 : 0

Senior Adviser

2.0

1.0

1.0

1 : 1

Senior Geologist

13.0

7.0

6.0

1 : 0.85

Senior Telecoms Engineer

3.0

3.0

0.0

1 : 0

Services Officer

5.8

4.8

1.0

1 : 0.2

Special Adviser to the Minister

2.0

1.0

1.0

1 : 1 

Staff Engineer

3.0

2.0

1.0

1 : 0.5 

Superintendent of Cartography

1.5

0.0

1.5

0 : 1.5 

Telecoms Engineer

1.0

1.0

0.0

1 : 0 

Temporary Clerical Officer

2.0

1.0

1.0

1 : 1 

Totals

395.9

211.1

184.8

1 : 0.9

Females

Ratio M:F

6.0

1 : 0.4

35.9

1 : 1

1.0

1 : 0.25 

0.0

1 : 0

0.0

1 : 0

0.0

1 : 0 

0.0

1 : 0

0.0

1 : 0

30.6

1 : 1.5

1.0

0 : 1

0.0

1 : 0 

0.0

1 : 0 

0.0

1 : 0 

0.0

1 : 0 

0.0

1 : 0 

0.0

1 : 0

36.8

1 : 1.35 

9.0

1 : 2

1.0

0 : 1

0.0

1 : 0

1.0

0 : 1

1.0

0 : 1

0.0

1 : 0 

38.5

1 : 1.15

0.0

1 : 0 

1.0

1 : 1 

0.0

1 : 0

0.8

1 : 0.4

8.8

1 : 0.5 

0.0

1 : 0 

0.0

1 : 0

1.0

1 : 1

6.0

1 : 0.85

0.0

1 : 0

1.0

1 : 0.2

1.0

1 : 1 

1.0

1 : 0.5 

1.5

0 : 1.5 

0.0

1 : 0 

1.0

1 : 1 

184.8

1 : 0.9

The information requested in relation to the agencies under the aegis of my Department is an operational matter for each agency.  My Department will request the relevant bodies to reply directly to the Deputy with the information requested in respect of their organisations.

Climate Change Policy

Questions (430)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

430. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the mechanism he plans to put in place to ensure cross-departmental implementation of climate mitigation measures; if a report on same will be made available to Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52106/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Addressing climate change and our targets to 2030 and beyond is one of the key policy priorities for this Government. Since my appointment as Minister I have secured Government approval to prepare an All of Government Plan which will set out the actions which must be taken to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change. I will work with colleagues across Government to develop new initiatives across electricity, transport, heat, agriculture and other relevant sectors. The new plan will have a strong focus on implementation, including actions with clear timelines and steps needed to achieve each action, assigning clear lines of responsibility for delivery. The new plan will also be informed by successful approaches in other countries, where such approaches could be adapted for implementation in Ireland. 

This Plan will build on the previous actions taken by Government, including in the National Mitigation Plan and the National Development Plan, and is to be completed by early new year.

Building on the National Mitigation Plan, the publication in February of the National Development Plan reaffirms the Government’s commitment to transitioning Ireland to a low carbon, climate resilient economy and society. Reflecting the strong commitment of Government on this issue, almost €22 billion will be directed, between Exchequer and non-Exchequer resources, to addressing the transition to a low-carbon and climate resilient society. This means that well over €1 in €5 spent under the National Development Plan will be on climate action and this capital investment will enable us to deliver a significant reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions over the period to 2030.  

The Climate Action High Level Steering Group, which I chair and which includes representation from all relevant Government Departments and Agencies, meets at least quarterly to drive progress by sectors and agencies on the implementation of the National Mitigation Plan as well as the National Adaptation Framework. This group, in turn, reports to the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure, Environment and Climate Action, chaired by An Taoiseach.  

In accordance with the framework provided by the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, the Government must prepare and submit to the Oireachtas an Annual Transition Statement. In support of this written Statement I, along with other relevant Ministers, provided oral reports to both Houses last week. This process ensures that responsible Ministers are directly accountable to the Oireachtas to ensure real progress is made in reducing emissions in their respective sectors.

The 2018 Annual Transition Statement and accompanying update reports on the implementation of the National Mitigation Plan and National Adaptation Framework are available to download on my Department’s website at www.dccae.gov.ie.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Questions (431)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

431. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the breakdown of tangible emission reductions for each action funded under the national development plan and or Project Ireland 2040, by item; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52107/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The National Development Plan (NDP), published in February 2018, commits to a significant step change in funding available for climate action over the next decade. Reflecting the strong commitment of Government on this issue, almost €22 billion will be directed, between Exchequer and non-Exchequer resources, to addressing the transition to a low-carbon and climate resilient society. A further €8.6bn will be made available for investments in sustainable transport measures. This capital investment will enable us to deliver a significant reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions over the period to 2030. Initial estimates of the potential emissions reduction contribution from full delivery of the relevant commitments in the NDP are set out in the 2018 Annual Transition Statement, published by my Department and laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas on 3 December last. These estimates suggest a cumulative total savings in greenhouse gas emissions of approximately 22 million tonnes of CO2 over the period 2021 to 2030, when compared to the most recent emissions projections published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in May 2018. Work to further refine this initial estimate is continuing in the context of the draft National Energy and Climate Plan and the EPA's 2019 emissions projections.

Where the proposed commitment in the NDP is directly relevant to the achievement of Ireland’s climate targets and specific policy assumptions can be made about the delivery of a given commitment, the cumulative effect of such commitments will be incorporated into projections included the draft National Energy and Climate Plan and in the annual emissions projections report prepared by the EPA.

Exploration Licences

Questions (432)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

432. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on recent studies showing that the likelihood of offshore oil and gas deposits is low despite existing and potential environmental damage being high; his plans to end all future oil and gas exploration in Irish waters and place a full moratorium on exploration activity until fish stock, wildlife and climate scenarios recover is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52184/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

There are no plans to change Government policy in respect of offshore oil and gas exploration. In the context of Ireland's transition to a low carbon energy future, it is accepted that Ireland will continue to need oil and particularly gas for quite some time, though their use must significantly reduce. Ending all future oil and gas exploration in Irish waters and placing a full moratorium on exploration activity would not impact the amount of emissions Ireland creates by burning fossil fuels; rather it will commit Ireland to source all of its oil and gas from abroad.

The Government's approach to tackle emissions from fossil fuels is to focus efforts on energy efficiency and renewable energy which make essential contributions to all of the major objectives of climate and energy policies, including improved competitiveness, security of supply, sustainability, and the transition to a low carbon economy.

Minister Bruton has secured Government approval to develop an all of Government plan which will set out the actions which must be taken to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change.  

Notwithstanding occasional speculative comment as to the potential of the Irish offshore in terms of oil and gas, it is only through active exploration that such potential will be proven. Ireland’s offshore remains underexplored with only a fraction of the exploration experience of Norway and the UK.

Early exploration efforts viewed the petroleum geology of the Irish offshore as being comparable to that of the North Sea. However, lack of success from drilling efforts in the 1970s and 1980s led to a decline in interest. However, industry perspectives have been transformed in recent years. While the North Sea comparison retains potential, two new possibilities have also emerged. Successful exploration off the Atlantic coasts of Africa and South America has stimulated new interest in the prospectivity of the Atlantic margins, with new data, analysis and targets. Research on the Newfoundland-Ireland conjugate margins has demonstrated the potential for Ireland to replicate the oil and gas success of Newfoundland-Labrador exploration.

Marine industrial activities, such as oil and gas exploration and production, require careful assessment, management and regulation in order to protect the marine environment.

In advance of the 2015 Atlantic Margin Licencing Round, my Department undertook the Irish Offshore Strategic Environmental Assessment (IOSEA) 5 Environmental Report in respect of oil and gas exploration activities in the Irish offshore. Policy in respect of exploration activities carried out under a petroleum authorisation is informed by IOSEA5.

Proposals to carry out exploration or production activities on a petroleum authorisation in the Irish offshore, for example the acquisition of seismic or the drilling of a well, are subject to assessment of compliance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive. In addition, the observations of the National Parks and Wildlife Service regarding potential impacts on Annex IV Protected Species and sites protected under the Birds and Habitats legislation are sought.

The recent completion of the ObSERVE Programme led by my Department has highlighted the rich diversity of cetaceans and seabirds in the Irish offshore. The findings of the Programme are already informing the environmental aspects of decision making in respect of applications for exploration activities.

Scientific research regarding the potential for exploration activities to have an adverse impact on plankton and fish with trophic links to cetaceans is limited and not settled. My Department is mindful of the need to keep abreast of current international research projects in this regard.

Carbon Budget

Questions (433)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

433. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on whether the absence of carbon budgets explains the failure of the national mitigation plan to present concrete actions across sectors capable of reducing or closing the gap to Ireland’s EU targets and of reducing the fines for non-compliance; if he will adopt the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly by amending the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 to include five year carbon budgets that are consistent with Ireland’s obligations under EU and international climate law as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52185/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The first recommendation of the Citizens’ Assembly report on the topic of “How the State can make Ireland a Leader in Tackling Climate Change” included a proposal that a new or existing independent body, resourced appropriately and given a broad range of new functions and powers, be mandated to propose five year national and sectorial targets for emissions reductions. The regulation of greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland is currently determined through two different mechanisms.

Emissions from power generation and large industrial installations are regulated by the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), which imposes an overall emissions target at EU level rather than Member State level.

Emissions from other sectors of the economy, including agriculture, transport, buildings, waste, and other industrial sectors are subject to targets at Member State level. The 2009 Effort Sharing Decision (ESD) 406/2009/EC established binding annual greenhouse gas emissions targets for EU Member States for the period 2013 to 2020 for these non-ETS sectors. For the year 2020 itself, the target set for Ireland is that emissions should be 20% below their levels in 2005.

For the period to 2030, the recently agreed EU Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) sets out binding annual emission targets for each Member State for the period 2021 to 2030. Ireland’s target under this Regulation will require a 30% reduction in 2005 levels of emissions by 2030. In addition to the specific target for 2030, the ESR also imposes annual emissions ceilings for each Member State over the period 2021-2030. These annual ceilings therefore determine the Member State's carbon budget for the period.

I have recently received a mandate from Government to begin the preparation of a new All of Government Plan to bring about a step change in our climate ambition over the next decade, and beyond. My vision is that this new Plan will set out the actions which must be taken to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change. It will have a strong focus on implementation, including actions with timelines and steps needed to achieve each action, assigning clear lines of responsibility for delivery.

I am currently working with my officials to develop proposals for the new plan, and I will shortly be engaging with my colleagues across Government in this regard. These actions will cover:

- Regulatory framework

- Adoption of known technologies

- Addressing market failure

- Driving change in business models

- The public sector leading by example, and

- Engaging with citizens and communities

In developing this Plan, each of the recommendations of the Citizens Assembly and the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, will be considered.