Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff Scheme

Questions (1202)

Carol Nolan

Question:

1202. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the establishment of a feed-in-tariffs scheme will be investigated similar to that in operation in the UK by which cash can be guaranteed to farmers on each unit of electricity produced by solar energy and generated for the national grid. [18863/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department is developing the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS), the primary objective of which will be to incentivise sufficient renewable electricity production to enable Ireland deliver its 2030 renewable electricity contribution to EU wide targets. The economic appraisal undertaken for RESS involved comparing the cost of supporting a range of commercial renewable technologies, including solar PV and offshore wind, to ensure that the new scheme delivers value for money for energy users whilst also delivering on the energy pillars of sustainability and security of supply.

The Scheme, which was approved by Government in 2018, will be subject to an EU State Aid approval process in line with the 2014 EU State Aid Guidelines. The RESS will be characterised by a series of renewable electricity auctions, aligned with the ambition set out in Ireland's All of Government Climate Action Plan and final National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP). It is expected that the first RESS auction will open for applications by the end of 2019.

In July 2018 my Department launched a new micro-generation scheme to support domestic customers who install solar photovoltaic panels in their homes. The pilot scheme, which is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, will be subject to a review in the coming months at which time the costs of installation will be assessed and further opportunities to broaden this scheme to other groups and other technologies will be explored. Potential future phases of support for micro-generation in Ireland may include a tariff, as we align with the ambition of the recast Renewable Energy Directive which recognises the rights, entitlements and obligations of renewable self-consumers.

In addition, solar PV is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, under the Pig and Poultry Investment Scheme as part of the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes. In fact the Minister for Agriculture last month announced an expansion of the Scheme which will include for the first time supports for on-farm renewable energy measures. Full details are available at:

https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/farmerschemespayments/tams/

Electric Vehicles

Questions (1203, 1211)

Jack Chambers

Question:

1203. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the roll-out of electric vehicle charge points in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19106/19]

View answer

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1211. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the locations of the high power charging hubs for electric cars (details supplied) in counties Cavan and Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18509/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1203 and 1211 together.

Providing adequate charging infrastructure is critical to ensure continued growth in electric vehicles.

Home charging is the most cost-effective way to charge an electric vehicle and is the primary method of charging for the majority of electric vehicles both internationally and in Ireland. A Government grant of up to €600 is available, via the SEAI, to the purchasers of new and second-hand electric vehicles to support the installation of home chargers.

There are currently over 650 standard public charge points and 78 fast chargers as a part of the ESB eCars network. A map showing these charge points, including their status and availability, is available on the ESB's website at www.esb.ie/ecars . In addition there are public chargers provided by local authorities, retail outlets and private companies.

Under the first call for applications from the Climate Action Fund, I approved funding of up to €10 million to support ESB eCars to develop a nationwide, state-of-the-art electric vehicle fast charging network. This project successfully completed the assessment stage and the validation stage is now underway. The project includes the installation of 90 high-power chargers each of which will be capable of charging two vehicles simultaneously, upgrading 50 existing standard chargers to fast chargers and replacing over 250 existing standard chargers with next generation high reliability models. This is a multi-annual project and is expected to be fully completed by 2022.

The locations of the chargers has not been finalised. However, a provisional map of the planned network, showing indicative locations, was developed by ESB eCars and has been published on my Department’s website. ESB eCars is currently identifying the most appropriate locations for the chargers to be sited. The sites will be identified using the latest software mapping techniques, taking account of information on current charge point usage, traffic volume, accessibility, amenities and grid capacity at the sites.

My Department, in conjunction with the SEAI, is also working on how best to support the provision of greater levels of on-street public charging.

Mining Licences

Questions (1204)

Seán Fleming

Question:

1204. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a mining licence will be granted to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19567/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department has not received any application for a Mining Licence for the area referred to by the Deputy.

National Broadband Plan Implementation

Questions (1205, 1206)

Gerry Adams

Question:

1205. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the timeframe for the completion of the roll-out of the national broadband plan for County Louth in view of recent media comments that the plan has been further delayed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18395/19]

View answer

Gerry Adams

Question:

1206. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason for the latest delay regarding the National Broadband Plan, despite the previous commitment that a decision on proceeding with the plan would be made by Easter 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18396/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1205 and 1206 together.

The National Broadband Plan aims to ensure that every home, school and business in Ireland has access to high speed broadband. This is being achieved through a combination of commercial investment across the country, and a State intervention in those areas where commercial operators acting alone are unlikely to invest.

In April 2017 my Department published an updated High Speed Broadband Map, which is available at www.broadband.gov.ie . This map shows the areas targeted by commercial operators to provide high speed broadband services and the areas that will be included in the State Intervention Area under the National Broadband Plan. The Map is colour coded and searchable by address or Eircode.

Since December 2015, the number of premises with access to high-speed broadband in Louth has increased by 6,885 a 10% increase. In total, the number of premises in Louth with access to high speed broadband is 51,993, 85% of total premises in the County. Another 381 will be served by eir under that company’s ongoing rural deployment.

The remaining 8,660 homes, schools and businesses in Louth will be connected under the Government’s National Broadband Plan.

The National Broadband intervention is the subject of the procurement process to engage a company to build, operate and maintain the NBP State intervention network. Following rigorous evaluation by my Department, I recently brought a recommendation to Government to confer Preferred Bidder status on Granahan McCourt, the remaining bidder in the NBP procurement process and Government agreed to at its meeting on 7 May.

The Government Decision means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to Granahan McCourt, subject to the completion of the final contract arrangements. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network will commence shortly after contract signature.

In the first year of roll out, the Bidder will deploy approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) across all counties. It is anticipated that between 7 and 23 BCPs will be deployed in each county. BCPs will provide a community based high speed broadband service, enhancing online participation and allowing for the establishment of digital work hubs in these locations. By end of the second year or rollout over 123,000 properties will be passed, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until rollout is completed.

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 Local Authority Broadband Officers is continuing. 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.

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission Reports

Questions (1207)

Dara Calleary

Question:

1207. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will adopt the key recommendations of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission report published 28 September 2018 to establish an economic regulator for household waste collection; if he will consider its functions to include economic licensing, data collection and analysis, market design and consumer protection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18440/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

A review of "A Resource Opportunity - Waste Management Policy in Ireland" will be initiated this year. This review process will take account of a number of initiatives, such as the European Circular Economy waste and plastics legislation framework and the reports from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and the Price Monitoring Group. This process will inform the development of future national waste management policy, including our environmental goals, regulatory and market structures, and relevant policy instruments and tools.

National Broadband Plan Implementation

Questions (1208)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

1208. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has met with representatives of commercial operators that have announced plans to roll out fibre infrastructure within the intervention area of the national broadband plan; if the roll-out of the national broadband plan will be possible in cases in which a commercial operator is in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18452/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department monitors deployment of high speed broadband on an ongoing basis as part of the NBP and this monitoring continues in parallel with the NBP procurement process. The NBP High Speed Broadband Map can be updated to reflect new commercial plans, or to update areas where previous plans have failed to fully materialise. Officials from my Department have met with certain telecommunications operators and have received high level presentations from them with regard to their recently announced commercial deployment plans. Both operators have indicated that they do not propose to submit plans to the Department to seek inclusion of the National Broadband map.

Therefore, the State Intervention area for the NBP procurement process, containing approximately 540,000 premises, remains as set out on my Department’s High Speed Broadband Map, available at www.broadband.gov.ie.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (1209)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

1209. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the way in which the national broadband plan is a different type of proposal to another project also named the national broadband plan in view of his comments of 2 April 2019; when these changes took place; when they were announced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18453/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location. This is being achieved through a combination of commercial investment and a State led intervention. The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. In 2012, less than 700,000, or 30% of all 2.4 million Irish premises had access to high speed broadband. Today, 74% of premises can access high speed broadband.

In 2014 a solution which would have involved the provision of fibre backhaul to 1,100 villages around Ireland was initiated. This proposal would not bring connections to any premises, or build the local network from which premises would later be connected. This solution was of a very different scope from that which ultimately evolved to deliver the National Broadband Plan. I believe the Deputy is referring to this proposal.

An updated National Broadband Plan strategy document was published in December 2015 and a procurement process was launched with the aim of bringing High speed broadband to every premises in the Intervention Area.

Broadband Service Provision

Question No. 1211 answered with Question No. 1203.

Questions (1210)

Robert Troy

Question:

1210. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason a number of properties (details supplied) have not been included in the fibre roll-out of a company due to the location of these properties within a large town setting; and his plans to ensure this anomaly is corrected by the company as soon as possible. [18488/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The premises referred to by the Deputy are in the AMBER area on the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map, which is available on my Department's website at www.broadband.gov.ie. The AMBER areas represent the target areas for the proposed State led Intervention under the NBP. The Deputy makes reference to the premises' proximity to a commercial deployment of high speed broadband. This deployment is part of eir's commercial roll out of high speed broadband to 300,000 predominantly rural premises, in line with a Commitment Agreement signed with my Department in April 2017.

eir’s rural investment in high speed broadband is an entirely commercial undertaking, and not part of the planned State Intervention network. Although the deployment is monitored under the terms of the Commitment Agreement, it is not funded by the State and it is not planned, designed or directed by my Department in any capacity.

Decisions made by private telecommunication operators relating to the roll out and siting of infrastructure to provide high speed broadband services throughout Ireland are undertaken on a commercial basis. I have no statutory role or function in such commercial decisions of private operators, and therefore cannot direct operators regarding infrastructure installation or delivery of services.

The National Broadband Plan intervention is the subject of the procurement process to engage a company to build, operate and maintain the NBP State intervention network. Following rigorous evaluation by my Department, I recently brought a recommendation to Government to confer Preferred Bidder status on the remaining bidder in the NBP procurement process and Government agreed to this at its meeting on 7 May.

The Government Decision means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to NBI, subject to the completion of the final contract arrangements. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network will commence shortly after contract signature.

In the first year of this roll out, the Bidder will deploy approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) across all counties. It is anticipated that between 7 and 23 BCPs will be deployed in each county. BCPs will provide a community based high speed broadband service, enhancing online participation and allowing for the establishment of digital work hubs in these locations. A deployment plan will be made available by the bidder once the contract is signed. The Bidder is aiming to pass 133,000 premises by end of the second year of the overall deployment, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until roll out is completed.

Question No. 1211 answered with Question No. 1203.

Waste Disposal Charges

Questions (1212)

John McGuinness

Question:

1212. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the annual support of €75 has been introduced to help with the costs of bin charges for those that need it; and when this will be implemented. [18534/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department continues to engage with a number of relevant stakeholders and agencies including the HSE and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in an effort to develop a mechanism to provide a 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 this element 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.

Renewable Heat Incentive

Questions (1213, 1243, 1244)

Catherine Martin

Question:

1213. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the timeline for the opening of the support scheme for renewable heat to all elements including biogas and biomass; the strategic environmental assessment that has or will be carried out on the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18585/19]

View answer

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

1243. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the second phase of the renewable heat support scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19152/19]

View answer

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

1244. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the provision of woodchip boilers under the second phase of the renewable heat support scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19153/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1213, 1243 and 1244 together.

The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat has been developed to financially support the adoption of renewable heating systems by commercial, industrial, agricultural, district heating and other non-domestic heat users not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System. Under Project Ireland 2040, the National Development Plan sets out an allocation of €300 million for the rollout of the scheme for the period up to 2027.

The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH), which was previously known as the Renewable Heat Incentive, was included in the Strategic Environmental Assessment carried out in respect of the National Mitigation Plan. The mitigation measures identified during this assessment have been incorporated into the design of the SSRH.

The first phase of the scheme, an installation grant for heat pumps, opened for applications in September 2018. This phase of the scheme will support ground, air and water source electric heat pump installations providing grant-aid of up to 30% of the installation cost. This phase of the scheme was implemented under the State aid General Block Exemption Regulation and did not require prior approval from the European Commission.

The second phase of the scheme, an operational support for biomass boilers and anaerobic digestion heating systems followed the full State aid notification process. On 15 April, the European Commission published a notification that it had approved the scheme under State aid rules. The Terms & Conditions of the scheme are in the process of being finalised and will ensure full compliance with the requirements set out in the State aid approval.

While no date has been set, the completion of the State aid approval process is a key step and I expect to be in a position to announce the opening of the second phase of the scheme in the near future.

Further details of the scheme are available on my Department's website at the following link.

Departmental Records

Questions (1214)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

1214. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if files have been stolen from his Department in the past six years; and if so, if the matter has been reported to An Garda Síochána. [18604/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

No files have been stolen from my Department in the past six years.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (1215)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

1215. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when high-speed fibre broadband will be available to areas in the vicinity of Tullyallen, County Louth (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18637/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location. This is being achieved through a combination of commercial investment and a State led intervention. The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. In 2012, less than 700,000, or 30% of all 2.4 million Irish premises had access to high speed broadband. Today, 74% of premises can access high speed broadband.

In April 2017 my Department published an updated version of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map. This is available at www.broadband.gov.ie . The map shows the areas targeted by commercial operators to provide high speed broadband services and the areas that will be included in the State Intervention Area under the National Broadband Plan. The Map is colour coded and searchable by address/Eircode:

- The AMBER area represents the parts of the country where commercial operators have no plans to build high speed broadband networks. Premises in the AMBER area will be provided with high Speed Broadband through a State Intervention.

- The BLUE area represents those areas where commercial providers are either currently delivering or have plans to deliver high speed broadband services.

- The LIGHT BLUE area represents eir's commercial rural deployment plans to rollout high speed broadband to 300,000 premises as part of a Commitment Agreement signed with my Department in April 2017.

The table below details the percentage of premises to be covered by the State Intervention and through commercial investment in the areas identified by the Deputy.

Townland

Premises within the NBP Intervention Area

Premises within Commercial Operator’s Area

Premises within eir planned rural deployment

Tullyallen (Gleann Alainn estate)

38% (167)

62% (273)

0% (2)

Balgatheran

36% (32)

63% (55)

1% (1)

Hill Of Rath

79% (128)

21% (35)

0% (0)

Under a Commitment Agreement signed with my Department in April 2017, eir is in the process of passing 300,000 predominantly rural homes with high speed broadband. According to data for Q4 2018 submitted by eir to my Department the company has passed almost 225,000 premises nationwide as part of its ongoing deployment.

Information on eir's rural deployment is available on that company’s website, http://fibrerollout.ie/Eircode-lookup/. A copy of the Commitment Agreement is available on my Department’s website, www.dccae.gov.ie .

The National Broadband intervention is the subject of the procurement process to engage a company to build, operate and maintain the NBP State intervention network. Following rigorous evaluation by my Department, I recently brought a recommendation to Government to confer Preferred Bidder status on Granahan McCourt, the remaining bidder in the NBP procurement process and Government has agreed to this.

The Government Decision means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to Granahan McCourt, subject to the completion of the final stage of the procurement process, including finalisation of financial and legal documents. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network will commence shortly after contract signature.

In the first year of this roll out, the Bidder will deploy approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) across all counties. It is anticipated that between 7 and 23 BCPs will be deployed in each county. BCPs will provide a community based high speed broadband service, enhancing online participation and allowing for the establishment of digital work hubs in these locations. A deployment plan will be made available by the bidder once the contract is signed. The Bidder is aiming to pass 133,000 premises by end of the second year of the overall deployment, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until roll out is completed.

National Broadband Plan Expenditure

Questions (1216)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

1216. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the figure of €3 billion cited as a cost for the national broadband plan represents the total cost or the amount needed as an additional subsidy as part of the gap funding model. [18644/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location. This is being achieved through a combination of commercial investment and a State led intervention. The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. In 2012, less than 700,000, or 30% of all 2.4 million Irish premises had access to high speed broadband. Today, 74% of premises can access high speed broadband.

This intervention is the subject of the procurement process to engage a company to build, operate and maintain the NBP State intervention network. Following rigorous evaluation by my Department, I recently brought a recommendation to Government to confer Preferred Bidder status on Granahan McCourt, the remaining bidder in the NBP procurement process and Government has agreed to this.

The Government Decision of 7 May 2019 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to the Bidder. This award is subject to the finalisation of financial and legal documents. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network will commence immediately after contract signature.

The total State subsidy is capped at under €3 billion including VAT and contingencies and is spread over the 25 years of the contract.

Telecommunications Infrastructure

Questions (1217, 1238)

John Brassil

Question:

1217. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on the safety of 5G technology. [18684/19]

View answer

Robert Troy

Question:

1238. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if extensive research has been carried out into the possible health and environmental implications of 5G; and if his Department commissioned research in jurisdictions in which 5G technology is already widely available. [19056/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1217 and 1238 together.

The roll-out of 5G in Ireland is a matter for private mobile network operators, operating on a commercial basis. Mobile network operators function in a liberalised market in Ireland, regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). The regulation of these service providers, to the extent permitted by law, is a statutory function of ComReg in accordance with the Communications Regulation Act 2002. This role includes the monitoring of compliance by licensed operators with terms and conditions with respect to non-ionising radiation levels. ComReg is statutorily independent in the exercise of its functions.

Irish policy on the public health effects of non-ionising radiation is informed by a substantial volume of internationally recognised scientific research and evidence. This includes the guidelines set down by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

These guidelines provide scientifically-based exposure limits that are applicable to both public and occupational exposure from electromagnetic fields (EMF), including 5G. ICNIRP guidelines apply up to a frequency of 300 gigahertz (GHz), well above the maximum frequencies being considered for 5G . ICNIRP guidelines are based on evidence gathered from all peer-reviewed scientific literature and not on the conclusions of any single scientific paper, event, or other source.

In 2015, the Irish Government commissioned a report by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment of the Netherlands (RIVM). This was published in 2016 and is entitled “Electromagnetic Fields in the Irish Context”. It examined and synthesised existing peer-reviewed research into clear findings, with particular focus on the potential health effects of electric and magnetic fields arising from high voltage power lines, and electromagnetic fields from base stations for mobile communication. This report reaffirms the overall conclusion of an earlier 2007 report, “Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields” , that there is insufficient evidence to establish a causal relationship between exposure to low-frequency electromagnetic fields and adverse health effects.

This Department continues to monitor scientific developments in this area.

EU Programmes

Questions (1218)

Carol Nolan

Question:

1218. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of his recent application to the European Commission coal regions in transition platform; if he has requested that the midland regions be included for support; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18703/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

My department has met with the European Commission in relation to this issue and I have recently written to the Commission requesting the inclusion of the Midlands Region on the Coal Regions in Transition Platform in the context of a commitment to an accelerated transition out of producing milled peat for power generation in the Midlands Region. The main objectives of the Platform are to enable multi-stakeholder dialogue on policy frameworks for successful transformation of carbon-intensive regions, and to facilitate the development of strategies and projects in areas such as investment for structural transformation, growth and jobs.

The inclusion of the Midlands Region on the Platform would mean that a team of European Commission and external experts would be assigned to assist the relevant State bodies with refining project ideas and implementation strategies, including feedback on relevant EU policies, programmes, funds and financing instruments.

While I have yet to receive a response from the European Commission I would expect the response to my request to be positive.

Energy Schemes Data

Questions (1219)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1219. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of homes upgraded as part of smart technology energy saving scheme since its launch in 2016; the number of local authorities that have taken part in the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18788/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Smart Technology Energy Saving Scheme is an initiative of Electric Ireland. As such, my Department does not compile data on the number of local authorities or the number of homes that have taken part in the scheme.

Energy Schemes Data

Questions (1220)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1220. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of homes upgraded as part of all energy efficiency upgrades in each of the past five years; the amount provided to each local authority area in each of the past five years; if he is satisfied that targets in the National Development Plan will be achieved to upgrade up to one million homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18789/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Better Energy Programme is funded by my Department and operated by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The Programme consists of three main schemes: Homes, Warmer Homes and Communities. - Better Energy Homes provides a financial incentive to private homeowners who wish to improve the energy performance of their homes.

- Better Energy Warmer Homes delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households who meet the defined eligibility criteria and who are vulnerable to energy poverty.

- Better Energy Communities supports energy efficiency upgrades to mixed projects of homes, community facilities and businesses in a local community.

These schemes are supplemented by two pilot schemes exploring the multiple benefits of energy efficiency and the challenges of moving to deeper retrofit.

- The Warmth and Wellbeing Scheme aims to demonstrate the positive effects that making homes warmer and more energy efficient can have on the health and well-being of people in energy poverty who are living with a chronic respiratory condition.

- The Deep Retrofit Pilot Scheme is investigating how to create a scalable offering for the deep retrofit of Ireland’s housing stock to an A3 Building Energy Rating (BER).

The National Development Plan has set a target of 45,000 homes upgraded per annum from 2021. Work is underway to develop the supports and market capacity necessary to deliver this level of retrofit. I am also currently preparing an All of Government Climate Plan that will build on the ambition set out in the NDP, develop new initiatives and set out the actions which must be taken to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change.

The information requested in relation to the number and value of grants provided from 2014-2018 is set out in the link below.

Schemes

Energy Schemes Data

Questions (1221)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1221. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of homes that have had their heating controls upgraded as part of all energy efficiency upgrades in each of the past five years; the amount provided across each local authority area in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18790/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The installation of heating controls is one of the energy efficiency measures supported under the SEAI administered grant schemes. The Department and SEAI do not compile data on the number of homes that received support for the installation of heating controls broken down by local authority. However, available data on the overall number of homes that received a grant for the installation of heating controls or received heating controls under SEAI schemes since 2014 is set out below.

Year

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Better Energy Homes heating control grant

4,450

5,495

7,192

7,326

9,044

Better Energy Warmer Homes*

n/a

n/a

160

295

510

Warmth and Wellbeing Pilot Scheme**

n/a

n/a

64

294

340

Deep Retrofit Pilot Scheme**

n/a

n/a

n/a

3

211

*Heating controls were not included under this Scheme until 2016.

**The Warmth and Wellbeing Scheme became operational in 2016 and the Deep Retrofit Pilot Scheme became operational in 2017.

Medical Waste Disposal

Questions (1222, 1223)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1222. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the legislative and regulatory framework governing medical waste here; the legislation or regulation governing the collection and disposal of medical waste; the number of companies that operate under these rules; the percentage of medical waste disposed of correctly; the sanctions for breaches of the rules in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18791/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1223. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the measures at European level that address the handling of medical waste; if new legislation or regulation is required in this area; if he is satisfied with the level of disposal in this area; if he has engaged in consultation on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18792/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1222 and 1223 together.

The primary responsibility for the management of any waste, including costs for removal or disposal, lies with the holder of the waste, i.e. the natural or legal person in possession of the waste, or the producer of the waste.

The Waste Management Act imposes a general duty of care on holders of waste, under which a person may not hold, transport, recover or dispose of waste in a manner that causes, or is likely to cause, environmental pollution.

Persons who are found to be responsible for, or involved in, the unauthorised disposal of waste are liable to a maximum fine of €5,000 on summary conviction and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months, and to a maximum fine of €15 million on conviction on indictment and/or imprisonment for up to 10 years.

The management of healthcare risk waste is guided by the Healthcare Risk Waste Management Segregation, Packaging & Storage Guidelines. Because healthcare risk waste may have a range of hazardous properties, it is subject to the strict handling and disposal requirements as set out in these guidelines.

In line with the European Union Waste Directive harmonising the categorisation and control of waste, hazardous waste is defined by reference to specific generic types provided the contents display specific hazardous properties. Items on the list of hazardous properties of most relevance to healthcare include: flammable (H3), toxic (H6), carcinogenic (H7), corrosive (H8), infectious (H9), mutagenic (H11) and eco-toxic (H14).

The transportation of healthcare waste is governed by several sets of regulations dealing with different concerns relating to the materials transported. All waste carriers require waste collection permits as per the requirements of the Waste Management(Collection Permit) Regulations, the movement of hazardous waste must be accompanied by Waste Transfer Forms as per the Shipments of Hazardous Waste Regulations and Transfrontier Shipment documentation is required for the export of hazardous healthcare risk waste as per the Waste Management (Shipments of Waste) Regulations.

Hazardous waste statistics for Ireland are collated by the Environmental Protection Agency and can be accessed at the following link: https://www.epa.ie/nationalwastestatistics/hazardous/ .

Ministerial Invitations

Questions (1224)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1224. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he, his officials or political staff were recipients of tickets and or hospitality from an organisation (details supplied) during the term of office of a person; the details of each occasion tickets and or hospitality was provided by the organisation during this period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18793/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Neither I nor the staff of my Department have been recipients of matters referred to in the question.

Inland Fisheries

Questions (1225, 1226, 1227, 1228)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

1225. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason there was no national angling forum from April 2018 to January 2019 in view of the availability of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18817/19]

View answer

Thomas Byrne

Question:

1226. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 472 of 16 April 2019, the type of review and the timescale for the review to take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18818/19]

View answer

Thomas Byrne

Question:

1227. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on whether the failure of an organisation (details supplied) to accept input from the forum floor is contributing to the decrease in attendance at forum meetings; his further views on whether there is a lack of faith in the forum rather than a lack of interest from the stakeholders and is another symptom of the low level of engagement with stakeholders of the organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18819/19]

View answer

Thomas Byrne

Question:

1228. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will chair a forum meeting of an organisation (details supplied) in the interest of reconciliation. [18820/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1225 to 1228, inclusive, together.

The National Inland Fisheries Forum is concerned with all inland fisheries matters and is not exclusive to angling.

As referred to in question no. 229 of 27 March 2019, there has been continued pattern of very poor attendance since the Forum was reconstituted in October 2017 when 16 of the 44 members attended the first meeting. Twenty three members and 1 non-member attended the January 2018 meeting. The April 2018 meeting was again very poorly attended with only 14 of the 44 members in attendance. The average attendance was 40%. Before the revised Forum met, not all of the nominations available were taken up by the angling organisations, nor were the remaining positions open to other sectors taken up despite a thorough appointment process by the Public Appointments Service.

The pattern of low attendance has been an ongoing concern since the original Forum was established in late 2011. There were 9 meetings during the first period of the Forum’s operation and the average attendance rate was 39%, with only one of those meetings reaching a quorum. This has too often led to sub-optimal delivery on the Forum’s business due to a consistent failure to achieve a quorum to underpin its deliberations. The review of the Forum’s operation sought to address this issue but the low attendance pattern persisted following the reconstitution of the Forum in 2017. In that context, the value of meetings has been severely undermined and the effectiveness of the Forum itself, in its current construction, is open to question.

All meetings of the Forum have been independently chaired and Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) attended Forum meetings to provide technical and administrative support to the Chair. IFI has no function in relation to the acceptance or otherwise of inputs which is exclusively a matter for the Chair and the Forum members. I am advised that all views and observations from Forum members have been considered at all meetings under the direction and leadership of the independent Chair who also reported the outcome of Forum meetings directly and impartially to the Board of IFI.

As I have confirmed, there has been a consistently poor attendance level since the Forum was first inaugurated and not a decrease in attendance. Assertions that failure to accept inputs to the Forum contributed to a decrease in attendance are misinformed. They are also not borne out by the recorded attendance records, the established independence of the Chair, the sequence of events around the establishment and review of the Forum or its modus operandi within its terms of reference. In addition, they are not reflected in the discussions I have had with the former independent Chair.

IFI engages with stakeholders at all levels of the organisation from local and regional fisheries staff, project co-ordinators for the National Strategy for Angling Development, researchers and scientific staff up to senior managers. This is indicative of a very high level of engagement with stakeholders. Claims of a lack of consultation appear incompatible with the very poor stakeholder attendance at the statutorily established consultation Forum, the deliberations of which are reported directly to and considered by the Board of IFI.

I am conscious, however, that there is a need for productive engagement based on mutually considerate participation to support harmony, cooperation and unity across all the component disciplines within angling. In that regard, I am taking a lead role in relation to high level strategic engagement with angling stakeholders and intend to meet all established angling federations in the coming weeks together with senior officials of my Department and IFI. I have already met with two of the Federations and intend to meet with the others shortly. I am keen to draw together all strands of the representative angling stakeholder base for positive, inclusive and consensual discussions for the benefit of the entire sector acting in a cohesive manner for the good of angling.

This is the level of engagement which I intend to lead. The establishment of a consultative mechanism or Forum is a matter for IFI under section 7 of the Inland Fisheries Act 2010. My role under the Act relates to the appointment of the independent Chair and it would not be appropriate for me to chair the Forum. While that process is under consideration, the appointment of a new Chair will not address the fundamental operational challenges caused by an absence of adequate stakeholder attendance and there is, therefore, merit in re-examining in parallel the construction and functioning of the Forum.

In that context, the profile and potential timetable for a review of the Forum can be discussed, and an effort made to establish a concentrated and focussed consultative mechanism to which I would expect stakeholders to give a constructive and supportive commitment and full and regular participation for the benefit of the entire sector.