Television Licence Fee

Questions (364, 366)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

364. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when he will receive the interdepartmental working group report on television licence fee reform; when he will publish same; when he will act on the recommendations of the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22490/19]

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Timmy Dooley

Question:

366. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when he expects to receive the interdepartmental working group report on the television licence fee reform; when he expects to publish it; when he expects to act on the recommendations of the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22499/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 364 and 366 together.

In light of the recommendations in the Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action & Environment on the Future Funding of Public Service Broadcasting, a Working Group was set up by Government decision in July 2018 to examine options for the reform of TV licence collection.

I secured additional funding for public service broadcasting in Budget 2019. TG4 will receive €36.2m Exchequer funding in 2019, comprising a combination of €34.2m current and €2m capital, which is an increase of €443,000 compared to 2018. Additional funding of €9.245m is being provided to RTÉ and the Broadcasting Fund, of which RTÉ will receive approximately €8.6m in 2019. The Broadcasting Fund, administered by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and financed from 7% of net licence fee receipts, supports the Sound and Vision and Archiving Schemes and benefits the broadcasting sector as a whole.

I will bring a report to government once it has been finalised.

Broadband Service Provision

Question No. 366 answered with Question No. 364.

Questions (365)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

365. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if broadband will be reviewed for a location (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22497/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

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.

The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. In 2012, less than 700,000, or 30% of Irish premises had access to high speed broadband. Today, 74% of the 2.4 million premises in Ireland can access high speed broadband.

The premises referenced 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 agreed to this at its meeting on 7 May.

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 shortly after that. The Bidder has indicated that the NBP State intervention will take an estimated 7 years from the beginning of deployment.

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 at the end of the second year, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until roll-out is completed.

Question No. 366 answered with Question No. 364.

Energy Efficiency

Questions (367)

Dara Calleary

Question:

367. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if there is grant assistance available to dairying farms and other small enterprises to install three-phase electricity; if not, if he will consider reintroducing such grant support; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22601/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department supports a number of schemes including the Dairy Farm Grant and the Lighting Support Grant which assist businesses, including farms, to improve their energy efficiency. However, my Department does not provide grants for the installation of three phase electricity and there are no plans to introduce such a scheme. More information on the schemes, grant supports, guidance and advice that can help businesses improve their energy efficiency, cut energy spend, improve their resilience, competitiveness and green credentials is available from the SEAI on their website at https://www.seai.ie/energy-in-businesss/ or by phone at 01-8082100.

Waste Management

Questions (368)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

368. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the steps he can take to encourage and-or force the providers of electrical equipment to remove and recycle old appliances from the purchasers of new appliances in a like for like manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22623/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The amount of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) in Ireland has grown at a significant pace with consumers using more and more electronics in their day-to-day lives. When not disposed of properly, WEEE can be very harmful to human health.

EU and national legislation on WEEE aims to promote the recycling of WEEE by setting targets for the collection, treatment, recycling and disposal of WEEE in an environmentally sound manner. Environmental Protection Agency statistics, published for the latest reference year 2016, show that Ireland surpassed the EU targets for collection of household WEEE, and for recovery of WEEE of all ten categories. The 2016 EU WEEE collection target is set at 45% of electrical and electronic equipment placed on the market. In 2016, Ireland achieved a collection percentage of 52%.

The Regulations impose obligations on persons who supply Electrical and Electronic Equipment to the Irish market, whether as retailers, importers or manufacturers. Under the legislation, final users are entitled to leave their electrical and electronic waste back free of charge in electrical retail stores on a one-for-one, like-for-like basis. Each local authority also accepts household WEEE free of charge at its recycling facilities.

Further information on what to do with household WEEE is available on Ireland’s official guide to managing your waste www.mywaste.ie .

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (369)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

369. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when fibre broadband will be rolled out at a location (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22625/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

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.

The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. In 2012, less than 700,000, or 30% of Irish premises had access to high speed broadband. Today, 74% of the 2.4 million premises in Ireland can access high speed broadband.

The premises referenced 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 agreed to this at its meeting on 7 May.

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 shortly after that. The Bidder has indicated that the NBP State intervention will take an estimated 7 years from the beginning of deployment.

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 at the end of the second year, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until roll-out is completed.

National Broadband Plan Administration

Questions (370)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

370. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if companies (details supplied) are members of a consortium; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22635/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Bidder is Granahan McCourt (Dublin) Ireland Limited.

The Bidder relied upon Tetrad Corporation and McCourt Global LLC, as “Bidder Members”, to demonstrate its capacity to meet the economic and financial pre-qualification criteria in the manner provided for in the Project Information Memorandum. As a result, both of these entities are “Bidder Members”.

“Bidder Members” is defined in the Project Information Memorandum to include:

a) the Bidder;

b) where the Bidder is a consortium, the members of the consortium and the Shareholders of the consortium (if different); and

c) where the Bidder or a Bidder Member has relied on the resources of another entity (e.g. its parent company or a key subcontractor) in its PQQ response, that other entity (or entities) whose resources the Bidder or Bidder Member has relied upon (whether that be for the purposes of demonstrating its economic and financial standing or its technical and professional capability).

Ministerial Meetings

Questions (371)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

371. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the meetings he has held with Eir to discuss issues related to broadband in rural Ireland since January 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22636/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I have not held any meetings with eir to discuss issues related to broadband in rural Ireland since January 2019. In accordance with the Commitment Agreement signed between eir and my Department in April 2017, my officials engage regularly with eir in relation its ongoing rural fibre deployment.

Ministerial Meetings

Questions (372)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

372. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the meetings he has held with the ESB to discuss issues related to broadband in rural Ireland since January 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22637/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Following my appointment as Minister, I looked at a number of alternatives in detail before deciding to recommend to Government the appointment of preferred bidder. Those options are available to be looked at online at www.gov.ie/nbp. Any alternative that aims to deliver high speed broadband across the country, would delay the process by at least another two to three years, would not be any more cost effective, would not deliver the objectives of the NBP and could involve the State taking on greater risk.

The possibility of allocating the National Broadband State intervention to the ESB was considered as part of the alternative options analysis conducted by my Department. The Attorney General has advised that there are significant legal risks in relation to both procurement law and state aid law, if the State was to mandate and fund directly outside a procurement process any economic undertaking, including a commercial semi-state body such as the ESB, to carry out the National Broadband Plan.

Furthermore, engagement between officials of my Department and DG Competition, which is the Directorate General of the European Commission with responsibility for State Aid matters, has clearly established that it is the view of DG Competition that it would not be possible to provide a State subsidy to an economic undertaking, such as the ESB, to roll out the National Broadband Plan without undertaking a new public procurement process.

However, the ESB pole network may still be used by National Broadband Ireland where this represents the most effective use of existing infrastructure at a local deployment level.

While I have not met with the ESB directly in relation to high speed broadband, my officials have engaged extensively with ESB in relation to this matter.

National Broadband Plan Expenditure

Questions (373)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

373. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the additional costs developed for the national broadband plan in the period commencing in February 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22638/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Following the evaluation of the two draft bids received in September 2017, the cost estimates for the NBP were revised to encompass learnings from the competitive dialogue, a greater understanding of project risk from the draft bids received and the reduction in the intervention area.

Based on the Department’s more highly-developed knowledge of project risk, along with updated cost assumptions developed with our advisers at this time, a new cost modelling exercise was carried out leading to the development of an updated cost estimate of €1.8 billion (ex VAT and contingency) in March 2018. Since then, the procurement process has determined that the maximum possible cost to the state will be €2.1 billion (ex VAT and contingency) or €3 billion (including VAT and contingency), to be incurred and spread over a 25 year period. There is also a requirement on National Broadband Ireland to continue to operate the network for a further 10 years to 2054 with no further cost to the State.

National Broadband Plan Administration

Questions (374)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

374. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a person (details supplied) interviewed, received a statement from or had any other contact with another person that was present at a meeting with his predecessor in New York as part of a review conducted of the tendering process for the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22646/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

A minute of this meeting was published last year amongst the documentation made available to the Process Auditor, Mr. Peter Smyth.

It was a matter for Mr. Smyth, under his terms of reference, to interview or receive statements from any relevant parties as part of his review of the NBP procurement process, prior to finalising his report. The Government noted and accepted the findings of this report on 27th November 2018, and it was discussed in detail in the Dáil on 4th December 2018, where I outlined the background to the report and responded to questions.

National Broadband Plan Administration

Questions (375, 376)

Barry Cowen

Question:

375. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 239 of 15 May 2019, if a company (details supplied) is 100% owned by the holding company referred to in the response; if the State has shareholdings in same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22651/19]

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Barry Cowen

Question:

376. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 239 of 15 May 2019, if the holding company referred to in the response is 100% owned by a company (details supplied); if the State has shareholdings of the holding company; if another company has a shareholding of the holding company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22652/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 375 and 376 together.

National Broadband Ireland will be wholly owned by a holding company which is in turn wholly owned by Granahan McCourt Dublin (Ireland) Limited.

The Minister will hold one special share in National Broadband Ireland. The special share will not carry any economic rights, including a right to share in profits or to vote at shareholder meetings. The special share does not count as equity share capital.

National Broadband Plan Administration

Questions (377)

Barry Cowen

Question:

377. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the contract in question in relation to the national broadband plan is between the State and a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22653/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

NBI Infrastructure Limited, trading as National Broadband Ireland (NBI) is a new entity established by Granahan McCourt for the purposes of delivering the NBP. It is this company that will be the signatory to the NBP Contract with the State.

National Broadband Plan Administration

Questions (378, 379, 380)

Barry Cowen

Question:

378. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 239 of 15 May 2019, the agreement to be put in place between the holding company and a company (details supplied); if it will provide a legal guarantee that the company will provide extra equity as a contingency in order to fulfil the national broadband plan; if it fails to be implemented as expected, the person or body responsible for negotiating the agreement; if the State is involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22654/19]

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Barry Cowen

Question:

379. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 239 of 15 May 2019, the agreement to be put in place between the holding company and a company (details supplied); if it will provide a legal guarantee that the company will provide extra equity as a contingency in order to fulfil the national broadband plan; if it fails to be implemented as expected, the person or body responsible for negotiating the agreement; if the State is involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22655/19]

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Barry Cowen

Question:

380. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 239 of 15 May 2019, the agreement to be put in place between the holding company and a company (details supplied); if it will provide a legal guarantee that the company will provide extra equity as a contingency in order to fulfil the national broadband plan; if it fails to be implemented as expected, the person or body responsible for negotiating the agreement; if the State is involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22656/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 378 to 380, inclusive, together.

The precise manner in which National Broadband Ireland (NBI) must be capitalised and supported throughout the project term was set out in the tender documentation. These requirements were fully assessed by an expert commercial and finance team as part of the final tender evaluation process. While there are no further requirements outside of this process, the level of the State subsidy is capped, with NBI carrying project risk.

NBI is a new entity established by Granahan McCourt for the purposes of delivering the NBP. It is this company that will be the signatory to the NBP Contract. The equity of NBI will be invested in NBI via a holding company as would be typical for projects such as this. The holding company will be wholly owned by Granahan McCourt Dublin (Ireland) Limited.

The Bidder will invest a minimum level of up to €220 million including equity funding and working capital requirements. This is made up of €175 million from Tetrad Corporation and the rest from Granahan McCourt (Dublin) Ireland Ltd.

At final tender, Tetrad Corporation provided a commitment letter in relation to the equity required for the project. The equity commitments will be contractualised in advance of contract award. This means that the Minister will have the right through those contracts to enforce the equity commitment on behalf of the project.

Craoltóirí Seirbhíse Poiblí

Questions (381)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

381. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Cumarsáide, Gníomhaithe ar son na hAeráide agus Comhshaoil cad iad na bearta atá i gceist aige a dhéanamh chun a chinntiú go gcomhlíonfaidh RTÉ a ndualgas reachtúil i leith na Gaeilge i bhfianaise na tuarascála a d’fhoilsigh an Coimisinéir Teanga le gairid inar dúradh go raibh RTÉ ag sarú an Achta Craolacháin, 2009 maidir le soláthar clár teilifíse Gaeilge; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráites ina thaobh. [22850/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

De réir Alt 98 den Acht Craolacháin 2009, is craoltóir neamhspleách náisiúnta seirbhíse poiblí é RTÉ agus, ar an ábhar sin, níl aon ról agamsa mar Aire ina chuid oibríochtaí ó lá go lá. Foilsíonn RTÉ Ráitis Bhliantúla ar Ghealltanais Feidhmíochta le spriocanna a bhaineann le réimse seirbhísí, an Ghaeilge san áireamh. Déanann Údarás Craolacháin na hÉireann, mar rialtóir neamhspleách, athbhreithniú ar a fheidhmíocht i gcomhthéacs na spriocanna sin gach bliain.