Waste Management

Questions (245)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

245. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a means can be found to incentivise a reduction in the use of non-biodegradable plastic wrappings and containers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14523/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

This Government is committed to leading the way in reducing single use plastics and is working both at a national and European level to tackle the problem. The government has:

- Agreed that Government Departments and bodies will not purchase single-use plastic cups, cutlery and straws

- Strongly supported new EU legislation on Single Use Plastics (SUP), which will ban straws, cotton bud sticks made from plastic, plastic plates and cutlery, plastic coffee stirrers and plastic balloon holders

- Committed to a 90% plastic bottle collection target and a 55% plastic recycling target

- Commenced a clean oceans initiative to collect, reduce and reuse marine litter and clean up our marine environment

- Commissioned a review to establish the best way to reach a 90% collection target for beverage containers, after which the Minister will announce the necessary actions.

Ireland uses the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) model for dealing with waste packaging. Repak, the national producer responsibility scheme for packaging, is a not for profit organisation which charges fees to members based on both the amount and type of packaging they place on the Irish market, thus incentivising them to reduce the amount of packaging they generate. The fees are then used to subsidise the collection and recovery of waste packaging through registered recovery operators across Ireland.

The Waste Framework Directive was amended in 2018 and introduced a new requirement for EPR schemes to modulate the financial contributions paid by producers by 2023. The objective of this new provision is to provide an incentive to producers to design products that contribute to waste prevention and facilitate recycling by taking into account their durability, reparability, re-usability, recyclability and the presence of hazardous substances. EU guidance on modulated fees is expected later this year.

Repak is considering how to address this obligation as part of their Plastic Packaging Recycling Strategy 2018-2030 and is working with my Department to ensure modulated fees are brought in as quickly as practicable, to drive changes to ensure packaging is easily recyclable.

At EU level, the first-ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics has been adopted. The strategy envisages that all plastic packaging on the EU market will be recyclable by 2030 and the consumption of single-use plastics will be reduced. The strategy is underpinned by a proposed directive for the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. This Directive, due to be finalised shortly, will enable me to introduce concrete measures to reduce, and in some cases, ban the use of single-use plastics.

Waste Disposal

Questions (246)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

246. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the extent to which reliance on landfill waste disposal facilities continues to be monitored, with particular reference to the utilisation of best practice in terms of reduce, reuse and recycle; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14524/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

European, national and regional waste management policy is predicated on the waste hierarchy as set out in Article 4 of the 2008 Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC), whereby the prevention, preparing for reuse, recycling and other recovery of waste are preferred options to the disposal or landfilling of waste.

Statistics compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency show that we have come a long way in a relatively short period of time in terms of improving our recycling and recovery rates and reducing our reliance on landfill. In this regard, National Waste Statistics are available to download at https://www.epa.ie/nationalwastestatistics/ including the State's progress in meeting targets under EU waste legislation including the Waste Framework Directive; the Landfill Directive; and the Producer Responsibility Directives (Packaging, End-of-Life Vehicles, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment, Batteries and Accumulators).

Of particular note is the reduction in the disposal (landfill) rate of managed Municipal Solid Waste. 26% of managed municipal waste (by weight) was sent to landfill in 2016 compared to 41% in 2012 and 92% in 1995. Furthermore, 74% of managed municipal waste was recovered in 2016 (compared to 59% in 2012). Significantly more residual waste is now used as a fuel (energy recovery) than disposed to landfill. Further information is available at http://www.epa.ie/nationalwastestatistics/municipal/.

New waste management targets agreed by the European Council include a provision that Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that by 2035 the amount of municipal waste landfilled is reduced to 10% or less of the total amount of municipal waste generated (by weight).

The continued implementation of national and regional waste management policy to manage waste in line with the waste hierarchy will help ensure that Ireland is well placed to meet this new target.

Energy Resources

Question No. 248 answered with Question No. 241.

Questions (247)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

247. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the extent to which natural energy resources continue to be developed and made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14525/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Decarbonising our electricity supply is a crucial part of reducing our overall emissions. We are stepping up our ambition on renewable energy - by 2030, I have committed to 70% of our electricity being generated from renewable sources.

The renewable energy sector has undergone a considerable transformation over the last 10 years, with the share of renewable electricity generation more than doubling to 30.1% in 2017. However, we must step up the scale of our ambition even further in order to meet our climate ambitions.

In order to meet the 70% RES-E target, major capital investment will be needed in new generation capacity, system service infrastructure and electricity transmission and distribution networks. A review will also be needed to the policy and regulatory framework to incentivise electricity storage, which will be critical to absorbing high levels of renewable generation on to the system. In addition, increased interconnection will be required to facilitate the large upscaling in onshore and offshore wind required so that we can balance the grid and ensure supply security.

In renewable transport, the 2018 policy statement on the Biofuel Obligation Scheme set out an increase in the obligation to 10% from 1 January 2019; this will increase further to 11% from 1 January 2020.

I am currently developing an all of government Climate Action Plan, to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change, with actions across all areas such as heat, electricity, transport and agriculture according to strict timelines. The intention is to finalise and publish the all of government climate plan within the next few weeks and this in turn will feed into the National Energy and Climate Plan process, which is due to be finalised and submitted to the Commission in December. The all of government climate plan will provide the basis for amending the draft NECP for submission before year end.

Question No. 248 answered with Question No. 241.

Electricity Transmission Network

Questions (249)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

249. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the degree to which interconnector facilities North-South or east-west are in place and capable of facilitating the importation or export of electricity of a non-fossil origin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14527/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

In July 2018, my Department published a National Policy Statement on Electricity Interconnection. This sets out the official policy position on electricity interconnection and outlines the many drivers and benefits of interconnection.

The East-West Interconnector connects Ireland and Great Britain and has a transfer capacity of 500MW. It has been in operation since 2012 and allows the trading of electricity between the island of Ireland and British wholesale electricity markets. From a north-south perspective, there is currently one interconnector with a practical capacity of 300MW.

There are currently a number of other proposed interconnectors, all of which are recognised as Projects of Common Interest (PCI) by the European Commission. PCIs are key infrastructure projects that link the energy systems of EU countries and are intended to help the EU achieve its energy policy and climate objectives.

The Celtic Interconnector is a 700MW electricity interconnector proposed to run from the east coast of Cork while Greenlink is a 500MW interconnector that is proposed to run from Wexford to Wales. In addition, there is a proposed second North South Interconnector which has full planning permission in Ireland following the conclusion of a number of legal proceedings. In Northern Ireland, following legal challenges there, the project has yet to conclude the planning process for the section of the project that lies in Armagh and Tyrone.

Interconnection is a key enabler in delivering on Ireland’s decarbonisation ambitions. Recent scenario planning by EirGrid (EirGrid’s Tomorrow’s Energy Scenarios 2017) estimates that Ireland requires between 500 and 1950 MW of interconnection by 2030 in order to deliver on its renewable energy ambitions.

Road Projects Status

Questions (250)

Michael McGrath

Question:

250. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when he expects the main construction work to commence at the Dunkettle interchange in Cork; the expected duration of the works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14367/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design and construction of individual national roads, including the M8/N40/N25 Dunkettle Interchange, is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Noting the above position, I have referred your question to TII for a direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Rail Network

Questions (251)

Michael McGrath

Question:

251. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the steps that have been taken in line with the national development plan in support of a high-speed rail link between Cork and Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14368/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Project Ireland 2040 states that the priority funding objective in relation to the mainline rail network is the maintenance and renewal of the existing network. This objective is in line with the recommendation of the International Monetary Fund’s Public Investment Management Assessment (PIMA) – Ireland report as published in September 2017.

The increased levels of funding I secured as part of Project Ireland 2040 mean that we are now in a position to fund the rail network at the ‘steady state’ level and also provide a level of certainty as regards that funding for the next multi-annual contractual period.

This is a significant and recurring contribution from the taxpayer – around €200 million every year – and is a significant improvement on recent years.

The work-programme planned over the period 2019 to 2023, as funded by this significantly improved level of funding, will allow for increased ballast cleaning, rail milling and track renewal, with the Dublin – Cork line a priority area of activity over the period. Completion of the planned work-programme will result in improved journey times and a better passenger experience on this key intercity route in the years ahead.

In addition to the above, Project Ireland 2040 also commits toward an evaluation of the economic benefits of high-speed rail, as compared to improvements to existing line speeds on the Dublin-Cork line. That evaluation will be carried out against relevant appraisal processes and value for money tests as required under the Public Spending Code. It is planned to commence that process during 2020 as committed to in Project Ireland 2040.

Driver Licences

Questions (252)

Seán Fleming

Question:

252. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the arrangements in cases in which a person with a valid Irish driver licence loses it while abroad; the arrangements to have it renewed while still abroad; if arrangements will be put in place for same similar to procedures with other documents issued by the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14401/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

Road Projects Status

Questions (253)

Michael McGrath

Question:

253. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the planned M20 motorway between Cork and Limerick; the stage of the project; the next steps and associated times; when he envisages the project moving to planning, detailed design, tender and construction; when he expects the motorway to be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14412/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design and construction of individual national roads (including the M20 motorway from Cork to Limerick) is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Noting the above position, I have referred your question to TII for a direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Bus Services

Questions (254)

Niall Collins

Question:

254. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to re-examine the ban on bus drivers over 70 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14433/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The issue raised is a matter for the relevant public transport provider as the upper age of bus drivers depends on the criteria laid down by the policy of each company. I have no plans to examine the policy approach of individual operators at this time.

Road Safety Authority Data

Questions (255)

Robert Troy

Question:

255. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of full-time equivalent driver test instructors that have retired in each quarter of the past two years in tabular form. [14440/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

Road Safety Authority Data

Questions (256)

Robert Troy

Question:

256. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of full-time equivalent driver test instructors that have resigned in each quarter of the past two years in tabular form. [14441/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

Road Safety Authority Data

Questions (257)

Robert Troy

Question:

257. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of full-time equivalent driver test instructors that have been on maternity leave in each quarter of the past two years in tabular form. [14442/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

Road Projects Status

Questions (258)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

258. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport further to Parliamentary Question No. 259 of 24 January 2019, the status of the road project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14451/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As indicated in the previous reply, projects proposed by local authorities for consideration under the Specific and Strategic Grant Programmes are assessed by the Department on a case-by-case basis with reference to the Public Spending Code and the Capital Appraisal Framework and taking account of available budgets.

As regards the Letterkenny Southern Relief Road, the Preliminary Appraisal received from Donegal County Council has been reviewed by the Department's Strategic Research and Analysis Division and the Department has been liaising with the Council in relation to that review with a view to the Council submitting a revised Preliminary Appraisal.

Child and Family Agency Data

Questions (259)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

259. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of referrals made to Tusla across all abuse categories in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the procedures followed further to a referral to Tusla; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14301/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I wish to advise the Deputy that, prior to the establishment of Tusla in 2014, the statutory function of child welfare and protection services rested with the Health Services Executive.

The table below refers to the number of referrals received across the four categories of abuse, for each of the years 2011-2018. The Deputy may wish to note that data for 2018 refers to Q1 and Q2 only as Q3 and Q4 data has not yet been validated. A breakdown by abuse category is not available for 2012.

Year

Physical Abuse

Emotional Abuse

Sexual Abuse

Neglect

Total

2011

3,033

4,001

3,326

5,458

15,818

2012

-

-

-

-

19,044

2013

4,330

5,271

3,385

6,421

19,407

2014

4,066

6,233

3,114

5,263

18,676

2015

3,991

6,535

2,940

4,769

18,235

2016

4,450

6,871

3,042

4,724

19,087

2017

4,942

7,615

3,170

4,810

20,537

2018 (Q1+Q2)

3,312

4,491

1,649

2,567

12,019

All referrals are screened at the point of receipt. Referrals that meet the threshold undergo a preliminary enquiry, with children who may have experienced abuse receiving an initial assessment. Referrals concerning welfare issues are dealt with by Tusla or other family support services, as appropriate. Where there is an ongoing risk of harm then the child's situation will be assessed by a social worker, and if necessary, a safety plan put in place. Children found to be at risk of significant harm may, following a Child Protection Case Conference, be listed as active on the Child Protection Notification System. Access to this system is provided by Tusla to AGS and medical professionals.