Renewable Energy Generation

Question No. 564 answered with Question No. 549.

Questions (562, 563)

John Curran

Question:

562. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will direct ESBN and EirGrid to deploy additional resources to connect renewable generators to the grid faster in view of the fact that a climate emergency has been declared; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22120/19]

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John Curran

Question:

563. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will direct all parties involved to speed up the allocation of grid capacity for renewable generators in view of the fact that a climate emergency has been declared; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22121/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 562 and 563 together.

The declaration of a climate and biodiversity emergency by the Dáil on 9 May underlines the importance of the work currently under way to develop a new All of Government Climate Action Plan.

The challenge is such that a significant step-up in policy ambition and delivery is required by all sectors, to ensure that we at least meet our 2030 targets and get on a clear pathway to meeting our 2050 objectives. In the electricity sector, this will require a major upscaling of capacity in terms of connecting renewable generation to the grid and a range of actions will be included in the forthcoming Plan. The Plan will set out how this Government intends to make Ireland climate resilient across our entire society. This will involve setting climate goals in all key sectors, including electricity, agriculture, transport and industry. It will have a strong focus on implementation, including clear timelines and steps needed to achieve each action.

Furthermore, the new Framework will set out clear actions required to achieve the ambition of meeting 70% of energy demand from renewable sources by 2030. The management of connections to the electricity grid, including processes and connection charging rules, is a matter for EirGrid and ESB Networks under rules determined by the Commission for Regulation Utilities (CRU), which is an independent statutory body. It will be critical that the regulatory framework including network development, operation and delivery plans for connecting renewable energy sources are adequate to deliver on the 2030 70% RES-E ambition.

Question No. 564 answered with Question No. 549.

Penalty Points System

Questions (565, 568)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

565. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the regularity with which communication is received by Garda headquarters from the Road Safety Authority informing it of drivers that have reached disqualification level due to the accumulation of penalty points; the way in which An Garda Síochána is informed; the follow-up that takes place with drivers who do not surrender their licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21457/19]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

568. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will report on the process of the Road Safety Authority of informing drivers when they have reached the disqualification levels due to the accumulation of penalty points; when An Garda Síochána is informed of the disqualification; the way in which An Garda Síochána is informed; the follow-up that takes place with drivers that do not surrender their licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21456/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 565 and 568 together.

Any driver accumulating 12 penalty points within any given three-year period will be automatically disqualified from driving for six months. A lower threshold of 7 penalty points leading to disqualification applies to learner drivers and for the first two years after a driver obtains a full driving licence. Where a driver has a foreign licence a record will be created and the penalty points recorded on that record.

The Driver and Vehicle Computer Services Division (DVCSD) of my Department manages the computer records of all vehicles and drivers in the State, referred to collectively as the National Vehicle and Driver File (NVDF). This data is the definitive record in the context of motor tax collection and the issuance of driving licences, as well as enforcement initiatives and legal outcomes associated with these functions including the application of penalty points.

Having reached the penalty point threshold, the driver is notified of the disqualification by mail by the DVCSD. The driver is required to surrender his/her Irish or foreign driving licence to the National Driver Licence Service within 10 days of the disqualification commencing.

An Garda Síochána is notified weekly via a file share facility by the DVCSD of any persons who have been disqualified from driving having exceeded the specified number of penalty points relevant to their licence. The notification will also advise of the specific dates for the period of disqualification.

The requirement for a disqualified driver to surrender his or her licence is set out in the Road Traffic (Licensing of Drivers) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 537 of 2006). Failure to comply with the requirement to surrender the licence is an offence in itself and enforcement of the law is a matter for An Garda Síochána.

I am aware that Garda authorities are working to improve communication so that details of specific drivers who are disqualified are readily available to the Garda on the ground and I understand that an initiative to that effect will be rolled out under the Garda Modernisation and Renewal Programme 2016-2021. That Programme sets out a pathway so that each Garda has the technical tools that will give them direct access to all the information they need as they interact with the public on the ground.

Road Improvement Schemes

Questions (566)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

566. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if funding will be made available to Meath County Council to progress the initial stages of identifying a preferred option for the proposed Julianstown bypass; if support will be provided for the project; if funding will be fast-tracked for the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21368/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant County or City Council, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the Council.

Prior to the financial crisis, applications for funding for road improvement projects would have been considered as part of the Specific Improvement, and Strategic Regional and Local Road Grant Schemes. However, the extent of the cutbacks in grant funding during the crisis meant these grant schemes had to be curtailed after 2013 because expenditure on maintenance/renewal was falling well short of what was required to adequately maintain the regional and local road network.

The NDP does provide for the gradual build up in funding for the road network but it will take some years yet to reach the level required for the adequate maintenance and renewal of the network. For this reason there is limited scope at present for funding projects under the Specific and Strategic Grant Programmes. 

Any 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. All projects put forward by local authorities for consideration must comply with the requirements of the Public Spending Code and my Department's Capital Appraisal Framework and it is important for local authorities to prioritise projects within their overall area of responsibility with these requirements in mind. 

Under the capital project appraisal process a Preliminary Appraisal has to be submitted in relation to each proposed project.  Once an appraisal is received it is assessed taking into account other competing projects and the overall roads budget. A draft Preliminary Appraisal has been received from Meath County Council and Department officials will be in touch with officials from the Council regarding any matters which need to be clarified following a review of that document.   At this stage of the appraisal process it is too early to say if the Department will be in a position to provide funding to advance this project.

Greenways Development

Question No. 568 answered with Question No. 565.

Questions (567)

Michael Harty

Question:

567. Deputy Michael Harty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the proposed west Clare greenway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21446/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Deputy may be aware, my Department held a funding call for Greenways last year which closed on 30th November. During this funding call, twenty two applications were submitted by fifteen Local Authorities and one State Agency. Among these applications was one from Clare County Council for the West Clare Greenway.

Over the last few months, my Department officials have been assessing each of the 22 detailed applications received during the funding call based on the criteria laid out in the 'Strategy for the Future Development of National and Regional Greenways launched by my Department last year. For this particular round of funding we are focusing on projects which have planning permission in place and are ready to begin construction in the very near future.

I expect to announce the successful projects shortly.

Question No. 568 answered with Question No. 565.

Tourism Industry

Questions (569)

Michael McGrath

Question:

569. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the decision of Dublin Port to restrict the number of cruise ships visiting from 2021; his views on whether implementing this policy will have a negative impact on the tourism offering, not just in Dublin but also elsewhere due to a reduction in the number of cruise ships visiting ports such as Cork; the steps he plans to take to address the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21460/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I am keen to help mitigate any adverse impacts on the tourism industry, including cruise tourism. With these concerns in mind, I first met with Dublin Port Company on this issue in March, when the Company outlined its capital development plans and rationale for prioritisation in the context of Brexit, as well as the specifics with regard to cruise berths.  

I have since held further, positive meetings with key stakeholders - including Dublin Port Company again and representatives of other ports, the tourism agencies and other industry stakeholders.  These meetings have assisted the relevant bodies to consider the options available that could help mitigate any potential negative impacts on the cruise industry and Irish tourism more generally following Dublin Port’s strategic decision.

In my engagements with Dublin Port Company, I have always emphasised the need for it to take account of the broader impact of its commercial decisions. This includes the effect on sectors supporting the cruise tourism industry or serving cruise visitors, not just in Dublin but in other ports and associated regions around Ireland.

Through my wider stakeholder engagements, I have encouraged port and cruise industry stakeholders to take maximum advantage of other options available during the period of construction at Dublin port, when a reduced number of berths will be available for cruise calls.  While Dublin Port is important in attracting cruise liners to Ireland through Dublin, other benefits can accrue to other ports around our coast.

In the meantime, Cobh continues as a dedicated cruise berth and will remain so post-Brexit.  I also welcome the fact that the Port of Cork, Dun Laoghaire Harbour and Belfast Harbour are considering how they can take some of the additional business that may be lost as a result of Dublin Port's infrastructural works. In addition, Fáilte Ireland continues to support the development and promotion of the cruise tourism sector.

Services for People with Disabilities

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Questions (570)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

570. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the level of wheelchair access and related supports available on public transport; if he is satisfied that they meet the needs of service users; his plans to introduce more supports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21503/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

Under the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for promoting the development of an integrated, accessible public transport network.

In light of the NTA's responsibilities in this matter, I have forwarded your question to the NTA for direct reply to you.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Penalty Points System Data

Questions (571)

Robert Troy

Question:

571. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of penalty points issued in each county in respect of each offence in the past year in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21521/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Penalty Points issued broken down by type and county are available on the Road Safety Authority's website: http://rsa.ie/ga-IE/RSA/Sabhailteacht-ar-Bhoithre/Staitistici/Penalty-Points-Issued/2018/?month=1.

This information is updated monthly.

Rural Transport Services Provision

Questions (572)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

572. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a review will be conducted into the provision of the Local Link service in north County Leitrim to seek to improve the levels of service provision to villages such as Kiltyclogher, Rossinver and Dromahair; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21530/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public passenger transport services nationally. It also has national responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including management of the Rural Transport Programme which now operates under the Local Link brand.

In light of the NTA's responsibilities in this matter, I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Road Projects

Questions (573)

Seán Crowe

Question:

573. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if funding is being provided to allow for the completion of the Athy southern distributor road; and if the funding will be affected by the high cost overruns of the national broadband plan. [21556/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Firstly I would like to explain that the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads (RLR) is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities' own resources supplemented as appropriate by State road grants.  The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.

The Department is not aware of any plans to cut funding to roads in order to pay for the cost of implementing the National Broadband Plan.  Accordingly the Department has no plans at present to postpone or delay projects which are due to be completed under the National Development Plan. On foot of that plan a programme timeframe was drawn up for various capital projects on regional/local roads. Athy Southern Distributor Road is currently at land acquisition stage. Under the programme for regional/local road projects it is envisaged that the main construction contract on Athy Southern Distributor Road will take place in the period from 2021 to 2023.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (574)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

574. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount spent in fees to companies (details supplied) by his Department in each of the years 2011 to 2018. [21588/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The table sets out the amount spent by my Department in professional services fees to PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, EY (formally called Ernst & Young) and Deloitte between 2011 and 2018.

Suppliers - 2011/2018

Year

PwC

KPMG

Ernst and Young (EY)

Deloitte

Total by Year

2011

€10,876

€0

€0

€54,638

€65,514

2012

€0

€152,305

€0

€67,650

€219,955

2013

€0

€0

€40,840

€30,750

€71,590

2014

€0

€0

€0

€0

€0

2015

€0

€0

€0

€0

€0

2016

€0

€0

€0

€15,683

€15,683

2017

€0

€0

€0

€40,590

€40,590

2018

€0

€0

€135,091

€14,760

€149,851

Total by Supplier

€10,876

€152,305

€175,931

€224,071

€563,183

Rail Services Provision

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Questions (575)

Robert Troy

Question:

575. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will address the ongoing issue that passengers travelling from counties Westmeath and Longford are experiencing with overloaded train carriages on certain services. [21599/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. 

Issues such as that raised by the Deputy are an operational matter for the individual public transport operator, in this instance Iarnród Éireann. 

In view of Iarnród Éireann's responsibility in these matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply.  Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Sports Capital Programme Applications

Questions (576)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

576. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if any of the documents submitted with an application for a sports capital grant for an applicant (details supplied) invalidate the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21673/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The 2018 round of the Sports Capital Programme closed for applications on Friday 19th October last.  By that deadline, a record 2,337 applications were submitted seeking a total of €162m in funding.

186 of these applications were for projects that were deemed invalid under the 2017 round of the programme that subsequently submitted corrected documents.  These applications were assessed first and approximately €7m in allocations to 170 projects were announced on the 17th January. 

Six hundred and nineteen equipment-only applications were assessed next and 466 allocations with a value of €9.8m were announced to these organisations earlier this week.

Work is now underway in assessing the remaining applications for capital works. 

For the first time, applicants who have submitted incorrect documentation under this round are being given the opportunity to correct their application during the assessment period. While there will be no undue delay in completing the assessment process, in view of the opportunity to correct documentation, the record number of applications received and the detailed information contained in each application, it is likely to take a number of months to have all applications assessed. Accordingly, I expect that it may be the third quarter of this year before the full set of allocations under this current round of the programme are announced.

Driver Test

Questions (577)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

577. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of times driver instructors have to sit their test; the reason for the frequency of tests; the cost of the test; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21683/19]

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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.

Bus Éireann Services

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Questions (578)

James Lawless

Question:

578. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to planned changes to the 126 bus route in order to address the issues with unreliability on the route. [21751/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The issue raised is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Bus Services

Questions (579)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

579. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of applications made to the NTA by an organisation (details supplied) for new bus routes which are awaiting a decision; the proposed new routes; and when the NTA plans to make decisions on the applications. [21753/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public passenger transport services nationally. It also has national responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including management of the Rural Transport Programme which now operates under the Local Link brand.

In light of the NTA's responsibilities in this matter, I have referred your question to the NTA for direct reply to you. Please advise my private office if you do not received a reply within ten working days.

Driver Licences

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Questions (580)

Clare Daly

Question:

580. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason drivers who hold a manual driving licence in the B category and an automatic licence in a bus or truck category cannot have their licence upgraded to allow them to drive manual buses and trucks, as is the case in other European countries such as the UK; if such a move is being considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21802/19]

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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.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme

Questions (581)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

581. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the substantial cuts imposed on members of a scheme (details supplied) in advance of the sale of the stake of the State in a company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21838/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Irish Airlines (General Employees) Superannuation Scheme (IASS) is currently the subject of on-going legal proceedings. As this matter is sub judice it would not be appropriate for me to comment any further on the issue.