Planning Issues

Questions (1229)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

1229. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if an organisation (details supplied) can avail of a class 35 planning exemption. [18821/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I assume the Deputy is referring to Class 35 exemptions under the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 (Statutory Instrument 600 of 2001). These regulations are a matter for the relevant local authority, and my Department has no function in that regard or in the making of determinations under same.

Solar Energy Guidelines

Questions (1230)

Robert Troy

Question:

1230. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the grants available to support the construction of solar energy farms; his plans to introduce further grants in the future; and the terms and conditions that apply for a solar energy farm to supply energy to the national grid. [18841/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Current financial supports for large scale renewable electricity projects in Ireland are provided via the Renewable Electricity Feed-In-Tariff (REFIT) schemes, which support renewable electricity generated and exported into the national grid. Solar energy farms (Solar Photovoltaic (PV)) are not supported under any of these REFIT schemes and there is no tariff or grants for solar PV farm scale electricity generation at present. This reflects the historic higher costs associated with Solar PV in comparison to other renewable electricity technologies.

The new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) will deliver Ireland’s contribution towards our ambition to achieve 70% renewable electricity by 2030, contributing to the EU-wide renewable energy target of 32% out to 2030, within a competitive auction based, cost effective framework. The RESS will deliver a broader range of policy objectives including: the provision of pathways and supports for communities to participate in renewable energy projects and broadening the renewable electricity technology mix. The RESS will provide opportunities for cost effective solar energy projects, at scale, to participate in the diversification of our renewable portfolio.

The design of the new scheme has been shaped by the 2014-2020 EU State Aid Guidelines, which promote a move away from guaranteed fixed prices for renewable generators (as per existing REFIT feed in tariffs) to a more market oriented mechanism (renewable auctions) where the cost of support will be determined primarily by competitive bidding between renewable generators. The terms and conditions of RESS are currently being finalised and it is expected the first RESS auction will commence by the end of 2019, subject to state aid approval from the European Commission.

My Department already supports solar PV through the SEAI-led Better Energy Communities and pilot Deep Retrofit schemes and last year the SEAI launched a pilot support scheme for micro generation, targeting domestic customers and solar PV, with an emphasis on self-consumption and battery storage.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (1231)

Robert Troy

Question:

1231. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the provision of broadband to a property (details supplied); and the coverage provided through phase 1 of the national broadband scheme to an area. [18915/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The premises referred to by the Deputy is 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.

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 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to Granahan McCourt, subject to contract close, 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.

Environmental Protection Enforcement

Questions (1232)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

1232. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his attention has been drawn to the persistent breaches of environmental legislation by a number of companies; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that penalties are light due to the fact the EPA prosecutes through the District Court; the reason the EPA does not prosecute companies through higher courts in order to ensure greater penalties are issued; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18938/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Sections 8 to 12 of the Environmental Protection Act, 1992, as amended, set out the provisions relating to offences, penalties, and prosecution of offences by the Agency. In particular, Section 11 of the 1992 Act provides that an offence under that Act may be prosecuted summarily by the Environmental Protection Agency. The matters raised therefore relate to functions of the Agency.

Environmental Protection Agency Governance

Questions (1233)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

1233. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will amend the legislation to remove the immunity from civil action provided to the EPA in section 15 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 as was recommended by the Ombudsman in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18940/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I have no plans to amend section 15 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 either in response to the 2011 recommendation from the Environmental Protection Agency Review Group or otherwise. Any proposal in this regard would need to consider the potential implications for the effective discharge by the Agency of its statutory functions and the potential impact of such a precedent on the effective operation of other State bodies.

Postal Codes

Questions (1234)

John McGuinness

Question:

1234. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if an Eircode postcode will be issued to a person (details supplied); and the reason for the delay in the process. [18956/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Eircode postcodes are assigned to new property addresses using a valid postal address and verified geo-locations. An Post collects information on new and existing buildings, as well as changes to existing addresses and Ordnance Survey Ireland provides the geo-locations for these buildings. An Post GeoDirectory, issue a new release of the GeoDirectory database file on a quarterly basis to Capita Business Support Services Ireland, trading as Eircode, in accordance with their licence agreement.

Eircode have advised my officials that the individual in question's address has been assigned an Eircode and is now published on the Eircode Finder website. Also, a notification letter will be issued to the individual in question containing the Eircode of their address and a member of Eircode’s customer service team will make contact with the individual directly to confirm the Eircode and answer any subsequent questions.

Eircode have informed my Department that 78,400 addresses have been assigned an Eircode since the launch in 2015.

My officials are working with An Post, Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi), An Post GeoDirectory and Capita to improve and expedite the process of assigning Eircodes for new build properties.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (1235)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1235. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when an announcement will be made for the State-led intervention. particularly in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18969/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The premises referred to by the Deputy is 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.

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 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to Granahan McCourt, subject to contract close, 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.

Exploration Licences

Questions (1236)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

1236. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of all exploration and drilling licences issued to a company (details supplied) or pending following applications. [18989/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

A report on the status of all petroleum authorisations, including exploration licences, is published on a quarterly basis on my Department's website. The most recent such report was published on 31 March 2019.

Section 57 of the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act, 1960 also requires the Minister to lay before the Houses of the Oireachtas every six months a report detailing all exploration activities including petroleum authorisations granted during the period of the report. The last such report laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas was in respect of the six-month period ending 31 December 2018. ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Ireland (Offshore South) Limited are the operator of two Frontier Exploration Licences and have a participating interest in a further five Frontier Exploration Licences.

The details of these Licences are as follows:

ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Ireland (Offshore South) Limited

Licence

Duration

Operator

Participating interests in the Licence

FEL 3/18

1 March 2018 – 28 February 2033

CNOOC Petroleum Europe Limited

CNOOC Petroleum Europe Limited 50%

ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Ireland (Offshore South) Ltd 50%

FEL 5/18

1 March 2018 – 28 February 2033

ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Ireland (Offshore South) Ltd

ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Ireland (Offshore South) Ltd 25%

Equinor Energy Ireland Limited 50% CNOOC Petroleum Europe Limited 25%

FEL 6/18

1 March 2018 – 28 February 2033

ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Ireland (Offshore South) Ltd

ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Ireland (Offshore South) Ltd 25%

Equinor Energy Ireland Limited 50% CNOOC Petroleum Europe Limited 25%

FEL 7/18

1 March 2018 – 28 February 2033

Equinor Energy Ireland Limited

Equinor Energy Ireland Limited 50% ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Ireland (Offshore South) Ltd 50%

FEL 8/18

1 March 2018 – 28 February 2033

Equinor Energy Ireland Limited

Equinor Energy Ireland Limited 50% ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Ireland (Offshore South) Ltd 50%

FEL 9/18

1 March 2018 – 28 February 2033

Equinor Energy Ireland Limited

Equinor Energy Ireland Limited 50% ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Ireland (Offshore South) Ltd 50%

FEL10/18

1 March 2018 – 28 February 2033

Equinor Energy Ireland Limited

Equinor Energy Ireland Limited 50% ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Ireland (Offshore South) Ltd 50%

The holder of a Frontier Exploration Licence must apply to the Minister if they wish to under exploratory drilling activities on the Licence. An application by CNOOC Petroleum Europe Limited to undertake exploratory drilling on Frontier Exploration Licence 3/18 is currently under consideration.

Energy Efficiency

Question No. 1238 answered with Question No. 1217.

Questions (1237)

Robert Troy

Question:

1237. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the updated SEAI grant measures will be announced; and if these measures will include the replacement of windows to a higher energy efficiency model. [19053/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) administers a number of grant schemes that support the installation of more energy efficient windows.

Whole house retrofits, which can include windows and doors, are eligible for funding under the Deep Retrofit and Better Energy Communities Programmes. Energy efficient windows and doors can also be installed in eligible homes under the Warmer Homes Scheme and Warmth and Wellbeing Scheme when deemed necessary by a SEAI surveyor.

While the energy efficiency schemes funded by my Department are kept under constant review, a further expansion of the eligible measures is not planned at this time.

Question No. 1238 answered with Question No. 1217.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (1239)

Robert Troy

Question:

1239. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a property will receive a broadband connection as part of phase 1 of the national broadband plan (details supplied). [19065/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The premises referred to by the Deputy is 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.

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 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to the Bidder. This award is subject to contract close, including finalisation of financial and legal documents. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network will commence immediately 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.

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.

National Broadband Plan Administration

Questions (1240)

Robert Troy

Question:

1240. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the rationale for the awarding of the main State broadband contract to a company (details supplied) in such a way that allows it to cherry-pick the service it consequently provides and services stop in the middle of a road, leaving some properties inexplicably with no service. [19066/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Under EU State Aid Guidelines, it is a requirement that Member States thoroughly evaluate commercial plans so as to ensure that State Aid is confined to those areas of well-defined market failure, where investment is unlikely to occur in the near future.

The infrastructure deployment the Deputy refers to is a commercial deployment by eir, a private company. It is not part of the planned State Intervention network. This deployment is part of eir's commercial roll out of high speed broadband to over 300,000 predominantly rural premises, in line with a Commitment Agreement signed with my Department in April 2017. 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.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions Nos. 1243 and 1244 answered with Question No. 1213.

Questions (1241, 1242, 1262)

Robert Troy

Question:

1241. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of efibre broadband roll-out in an area (details supplied). [19089/19]

View answer

Robert Troy

Question:

1242. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of efibre broadband roll-out in an area (details supplied). [19101/19]

View answer

Robert Troy

Question:

1262. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the roll out of efibre broadband with regard to a property (details supplied). [19936/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1241, 1242 and 1262 together.

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 roll out high speed broadband to 300,000 premises as part of a Commitment Agreement signed with my Department in April 2017.

All 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 NBP State 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 contract close 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.

Questions Nos. 1243 and 1244 answered with Question No. 1213.

Waste Management Regulations

Questions (1245)

Bobby Aylward

Question:

1245. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to update or amend the Waste Management Act 1996 during the current legislative programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19162/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Ireland will be amending relevant national waste legislation in order to implement the EU Circular Economy legislative package, which is a suite of EU Directives. These EU Directives contain amendments to existing EU Directives on waste which Ireland has already fully transposed and is compliant with. The Circular Economy legislative package will build on existing waste legislation in setting new, higher targets around waste collection and recycling for a number of waste streams including packaging, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), Batteries and accumulators, End-of-Life vehicles (ELVs) and the landfilling of waste. The transposition date for these amendments to be passed into national law is July 2020 and work is underway on this.

In addition, I am also awaiting the publication of a Directive from the EU Commission shortly, which will address the ten most identified single-use plastic products and fishing gear, that together account for 70% of the marine litter in Europe. Once published, I look forward to transposing this Directive which will enable me, inter alia, to:

- Ban certain plastic products

- Establish targets for reducing the use of certain plastics and

- Place obligations on producers to cover the costs of waste management and clean up for these items

The Circular Economy legislative package, in addition to the imminent single-use plastics Directive set out the legal framework for Ireland to continue moving towards a more Circular Economy.

National Broadband Plan Implementation

Questions (1246)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

1246. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when an estate (details supplied) is due to be included in the roll-out of the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19224/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The estate referred to by the Deputy is in the BLUE 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 BLUE areas are where commercial providers are either currently delivering or have plans to deliver high speed broadband services.

Where a citizen living in a Blue area is unable to obtain a high speed broadband service, I would encourage them to email my Department at broadband@dccae.gov.ie with their Eircode and details of the service providers they have contacted and the issues encountered in respect of accessing high speed broadband.

National Broadband Plan Implementation

Questions (1247)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

1247. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the national broadband plan; the efforts taken to date to ensure a timely implementation of the plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19225/19]

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 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to Granahan McCourt, subject to contract close, 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.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (1248)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

1248. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to extend high-speed fibre broadband to a household (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19239/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The premises referred to by the Deputy is 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.

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 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to Granahan McCourt, subject to contract close, 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.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (1249)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

1249. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to extend high-speed fibre broadband to a household (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19240/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The premises referred to by the Deputy is in the BLUE 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 BLUE areas are where commercial providers are either currently delivering or have plans to deliver high speed broadband services.

Where a citizen living in a Blue area is unable to obtain a high speed broadband service, I would encourage them to email my Department at broadband@dccae.gov.ie with their Eircode and details of the service providers they have contacted and the issues encountered in respect of accessing high speed broadband.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (1250)

Clare Daly

Question:

1250. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his attention has been drawn to the gap in fibre broadband coverage at a location (details supplied); and the steps he is taking to address this and other similar anomalies in the roll-out of broadband infrastructure. [19273/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The estate referred to by the Deputy is in the BLUE 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 BLUE areas are where commercial providers are either currently delivering or have plans to deliver high speed broadband services.

The installation of telecommunications infrastructure and delivery of services via same is undertaken by private companies operating on a commercial basis in a liberalised market. I have no statutory authority to direct commercial operators in this regard, and cannot intervene in such day to day operations.

That notwithstanding my Department monitors the deployment of broadband infrastructure by commercial operators across the country and will continue to do so. Should commercial operators’ plans for premises in BLUE areas not materialise it may become necessary for my Department to intervene.

The NBP High Speed Broadband Map is dynamic. This means that either during the procurement, or following award of an NBP contract, the intervention area can be updated to reflect new commercial plans, or previous plans that have failed to materialise. This flexibility allows for an increase or decrease in the number of premises included in the State Intervention area.

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 Task Force to address obstacles and improve connectivity in respect of existing and future mobile phone and broadband services.

Under this task force, 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.

Communications Market Regulation

Questions (1251)

Mary Butler

Question:

1251. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of a national risk assessment of technologies and equipment used in the roll-out of 5G networks; the status of research carried out on 5G safety standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19274/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

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 authorised operators with relevant terms and conditions, including 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. The 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.

Separately, my Department, including the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), and ComReg had been working on a review of the full spectrum of cybersecurity risks affecting 5G systems since late 2018. This review was being undertaken with a view to the interconnected and transnational nature of the infrastructures underpinning 5G networks, and the rapidly evolving nature of the technology.

On the 26 of March 2019 the EU Commission published C(2019) Recommendation 2335 which sets out concrete actions to assess cybersecurity risk to 5G networks. The NCSC is fully engaged in the process, working in close collaboration with EU Member States & institutions, ComReg and the telecommunications industry in order to ensure the review conducted is comprehensive and evidence-based.

The review of the risks affecting 5G networks will inform and contribute towards the upcoming National Cyber Security Strategy and the Connectivity Strategy.