Broadband Service Provision

Questions (769)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

769. 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. [23682/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

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. 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.

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 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. A deployment plan will be made available by the Bidder once the contract is signed.

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.

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.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Questions (770)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

770. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the estimated capital cost of retrofitting the State building and capital stock needed to achieve this sector's targets in line the EU emission reduction targets set for 2020 and 2030 and the 80% reduction target for 2050, in tabular form. [23722/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Government is committed to ensuring that the public sector continues to play a leadership role in tackling climate change through the achievement of relevant energy efficiency and carbon emissions targets. The public sector has already made a strong contribution in this regard with the most recently published statistics showing that the sector had improved its energy efficiency by 24% to end 2017. Cumulatively, the energy efficiency improvements achieved by public sector bodies have resulted in an avoided energy spend of more than €1 billion and a carbon emissions saving of over 3.5 million tonnes.

The achievements to date result from a combination of improved energy management as well as equipment and building fabric improvements. A combination of approaches will continue to be necessary in the future to meet our targets. These approaches include:

- Energy management and behavioural change;

- Natural renewal – buildings and vehicles replaced by more efficient models over time;

- Energy supply efficiency – more renewable electricity requiring less primary energy to supply the energy consumed in buildings;

- Targeted energy efficiency investment – including retrofits of buildings, fleets and facilities to reduce their energy consumption and/or increase renewable energy supply.

The National Development Plan is making significant funding available in pursuit of our national targets. This includes funding of €800 million for public building energy retrofit, along with further funding for school energy retrofits, third level building renovations, and public transport fleet replacement. The potential for this investment to be supported by non-exchequer sources of funding such as Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) will be also be explored.

My Department is providing leadership and guidance to Government departments and public sector bodies to help them to achieve their efficiency targets as part of the process of implementing the Public Sector Energy Efficiency Strategy. This includes the SEAI engaging with Public Sector Bodies to assess the range and nature of project opportunities – including building fabric upgrades. This ongoing exercise will help to inform the assessment of the costs to achieve the targets for 2030 and beyond. It is also important to note that the achievement of public sector targets will require initiatives beyond the building stock including public transport fleets, water and waste facilities, public lighting and other energy users across the public sector.

The forthcoming Government Climate Plan will also set out further commitments for public sector bodies to demonstrate leadership in taking climate action, including a specific climate mandate for each organisation and ambitious new energy efficiency and decarbonisation targets for the sector as a whole.

National Development Plan Funding

Questions (771)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

771. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount of funding earmarked in the National Development Plan 2018-2027 for retrofitting homes and the capital stock; and his views on whether this funding will be sufficient to achieve the efficiency improvements necessary to deliver this sectoral contribution to achieving emissions reduction targets for 2030 and 2050. [23723/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The National Development Plan (NDP) demonstrates the Government’s commitment to meeting Ireland’s infrastructure and investment needs over the period 2018-2027. The Plan commits to investing €21.8bn in climate and low carbon related actions, of which, approx. €3.7bn is identified for funding residential energy efficiency upgrades and retrofitting oil heated homes with heat pumps and solar PV. The NDP also allocates funding of €800m for public building energy retrofits, along with further funding for school energy retrofits and third level building renovations.

In 2018, the total expenditure allocated to sustainable energy schemes administered by the SEAI was €134m. The equivalent figure for this year is €141m. The allocation for the Energy Programme in 2020 will be agreed during this year's Estimates process.

It is clear that the Exchequer alone will not be able to fund the scale and depth of retrofit activity that needs to happen in order for us meet our climate targets. For that reason, alternative financing options will have to play a part in Ireland’s strategy to decarbonise our buildings. Examples of these alternative approaches could include, for instance, the introduction of new mechanisms to lower the interest rates applicable to loans for energy efficiency works as well as energy performance contracting.

The forthcoming All of Government Climate Plan will set out the actions to be taken to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change and at a minimum meet our targets for the period to 2030.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Questions (772, 773, 774)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

772. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the total fines the State will be made to pay due to failure to reach the EU 20% emissions reduction targets by 2020; the gross total; and the budgetary impact for each individual year following the fine, that is, 2020, 2021, 2022 and-or the latest applicable date. [23724/19]

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Pearse Doherty

Question:

773. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the estimated fines the State will be liable for as a result of failing to reach 2030 emissions reduction targets based on the slow current rate of emission reductions of 1% by 2020. [23725/19]

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Pearse Doherty

Question:

774. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on whether the State will reach its emissions reduction targets for 2030 based on current policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23726/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 772 to 774, inclusive, together.

I am now finalising a Government Climate Plan which will set out the actions to be taken to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change, including how Ireland will, at the very least, meet its targets for the period to 2030. The Plan will set out how this Government intends to make Ireland climate resilient across our entire society. It will have a strong focus on implementation, including clear timelines and steps needed to achieve each action. The goals and targets will be informed by analysis of the most cost-effective choices available to reach our 2030 targets. By articulating a decarbonisation ambition range for each sector, the framework provided by the Plan will enable each sector to identify and put in place the most appropriate policy tools to deliver this stated ambition in order for Ireland to meet its 2030 targets. I intend that the Plan will be published shortly.

Under the 2009 Effort Sharing Decision 406/2009/EC (ESD), which put in place binding annual emissions targets for each year between 2013 and 2020 for sectors outside the EU Emissions Trading System, Ireland must achieve a reduction of 20% relative to 2005 levels of emissions. Under the latest projections of greenhouse gas emissions, published earlier this month by the EPA, emissions from those sectors of the economy covered by the ESD could remain at between 0% and 1% below 2005 levels by 2020.

The ESD allows Member States to meet their targets by means of unused emissions allowances from earlier years, or through purchasing allowances from other Member States or on international markets. Ireland has already acquired a portion of the additional allowances that will be required for compliance. However, I am advised that Ireland will need to purchase additional allowances to meet projected shortfalls in 2019 and 2020. Under the ESD framework, compliance for any given year is calculated up to 18 months after the year in question. Therefore, the final budgetary impact of the cost of allowance purchases in respect of any ESD compliance shortfalls in 2019 and 2020 may not arise until 2021 or 2022. My Department currently estimates the cost of this requirement to be in the region of €6m to €13m, depending on the price and final quantity of allowances required.

Ireland’s strategy to meet its targets under the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2008-2012) included investments in three multilateral funds, as well as a number of transactions for the purchase of carbon credits directly from the market. Through the direct market purchases and investment in the three funds, a total of €120 million was spent, in which 8,558,888 credits were received by the State. Of this total, 3,052,416 have been surrendered for compliance with the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. The remaining number of carbon credits currently held by the State is 5,506,472, which may be used for ESD compliance.

The latest emissions projections indicate that Ireland could exceed its cumulative annual greenhouse gas emissions ceilings for the 2021 to 2030 period under the EU Effort Sharing Regulation, by between 59 and 75 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent under different scenarios of policy implementation and assuming full utilisation of the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry mitigation option.

Exploration Industry Data

Questions (775)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

775. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of licences he and-or his predecessors have issued to domestic and international companies in respect of oil and-or gas exploration in all State territories in the past 50 years to date; the location of the explorations; the results of same; if the State has incurred costs as a result of same and-or has had to provide assistance for remedy or repair of territory; the number of existing applications for gas and-or oil exploration licences that have yet to be approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23797/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Section 57 of the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act, 1960 requires the Minister to lay before the Houses of the Oireachtas every six months a report detailing all exploration activities including petroleum exploration 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. In addition a report on the status of all petroleum authorisations is published on a quarterly basis on my Department's website. The most recent such report was published on 31 March 2019.

The following table outlines the number of each form of petroleum exploration authorisation involving the award of acreage issued in the last 50 years. It should be noted that petroleum authorisations may progress from one form to another e.g. a Licensing Option converts to an Exploration Licence, which converts to a Lease Undertaking and finally in the production phase to a Petroleum Lease.

-

Nos.

Licensing Options (Offshore)

142

Licensing Options (Onshore)

7

Exploration Licence (Offshore)

129

Exploration Licence (Onshore)

8

Reserved Area Licence

1

Lease Undertaking

6

Total

293

These petroleum exploration authorisations have been awarded both onshore Ireland and in all major basins in the Irish Offshore.

This exploration activity has resulted in four commercial gas fields but no commercial oil finds.

The cost of petroleum exploration activities is borne by petroleum exploration authorisation holders. The State has not incurred costs as a direct result of petroleum exploration activities or in respect of remedy or repair of territory within the State. All wells must be plugged and abandoned by the petroleum exploration authorisation holders. In addition the holders of petroleum production authorisations must bear all decommissioning costs associated with production facilities.

12 applications for petroleum exploration authorisations involving the award of acreage are currently under consideration.

Trading Online Voucher Scheme

Questions (776)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

776. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the estimated full-year cost if the budget for the trading online voucher scheme increased by 50%. [24123/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department's Trading Online Voucher Scheme is designed to support micro businesses, i.e. businesses with 10 or less employees and less than €2 million turnover per annum, to develop their trading online capability. The scheme offers a financial incentive of up to €2,500 along with training, mentoring and network support. The Scheme is funded by my Department, and administered nationwide through the Local Enterprise Office network. The Trading Online Voucher Scheme is a demand-led scheme and has a capital budget in 2019 of €2.3m, which it is anticipated will be sufficient to meet the demand from micro businesses.

National Broadband Plan Data

Questions (777)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

777. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will provide the cost estimates provided for the national broadband plan by companies (details supplied); the reasons identified for the gap in the estimates provided by these companies and the bidders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24232/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Cost estimates were developed by my Department’s specialist NBP team, which include financial and technical advisors KPMG and Analysys Mason, at specific points during the National Broadband Plan (NBP) procurement process. When the original budget model was prepared it was acknowledged that this would require further revisions as the proposed solution would be developed during dialogue with the bidders in the process.

In addition, the submission of detailed solutions by two separate bidders in September 2017 provided the NBP Team with a detailed breakdown of the financials, cost estimates, technical solutions and the revenue estimates likely to be assumed in a final tender submission.

Following the competitive dialogue process and consideration of the draft bids received, a final budget model was developed by the NBP team prior to the submission of the bidder’s final tender in September 2018.

Details of the final budget cost model has been published, to the greatest extent possible, by my Department and is available here https://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/communications/topics/Broadband/national-broadband-plan/Pages/Key-Procurement-Documents--.aspx.

Climate Change Policy

Questions Nos. 779 and 780 answered with Question No. 751.

Questions (778)

Micheál Martin

Question:

778. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will report on his Department's involvement in achieving climate change targets; and if he has specialists employed in his Department on same. [23900/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

As I stated in reply to Question No. 171 of 22 May 2019, my Department currently has a total of 66 staff assigned to climate and related energy policy functions, across eight separate divisions. This staff complement has significant experience in developing and implementing climate and energy policy at international, EU, national, regional and local levels. In addition to its own staff, the Department also has access to scientific and technical advice in agencies under its aegis to assist it in delivering the Government’s climate policy objectives.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the competent authority in Ireland for the preparation and annual publication of official inventories and projections of greenhouse gas emissions, and for reporting this data to the European Union and to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Oireachtas receives a summary of the most recent inventory and projections prepared by the EPA each year in the Annual Transition Statement, which I am required to prepare and submit in accordance with the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015.

The EPA also provides a range of expert scientific and technical advice on climate change to the Government. The EPA supports the Department in representing Ireland at relevant meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The EPA also undertakes a number of climate-related research and awareness activities, including the provision of support for the delivery of activities under the National Dialogue on Climate Action. The EPA also produces, in accordance with its statutory mandate, a quadrennial State of the Environment Report which provides an integrated assessment of the overall quality of Ireland's environment, the pressures being placed on it and the societal responses to current and emerging environmental issues. The last such report was published in 2016, includes a specific focus on climate change, and is available from the EPA’s website.

The Department is also supported in the delivery of its policy objectives for the decarbonisation of the energy sector by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). In addition to the delivery of a range of programmes and schemes on behalf of the Department, the functions of SEAI include the preparation of national energy statistics and projections. SEAI also undertakes national energy modelling functions, informed, inter alia, by data collected from the various schemes and programmes that it administers.

SEAI had a total of 91 staff as at the end of December 2018. The EPA had a total of 410 staff at that time. While it is difficult to fully disaggregate the number of EPA staff working on climate issues, the EPA estimate this at 32.

The work of both EPA and SEAI inform, in turn, the wider work of the Technical Research and Modelling (TRAM) Group, which provides the overall framework for the provision of technical capacity to Government Departments for climate action policy development and implementation.

TRAM was established on foot of a Government Decision in 2015 and its membership comprises technical experts from relevant Government Departments and Agencies. In addition, representatives of externally contracted bodies providing modelling and analytical support may participate in TRAM meetings. To date, these services have been provided by the ESRI, UCC, UCD and EnvEcon.

I am leading the finalisation of a Government Climate Plan which will set out the actions Ireland needs to take to reach our targets. The Plan will set goals for all key sectors including electricity, agriculture, transport, industry, buildings, waste management, and the public sector. I intend to seek Government approval to publish the Plan shortly.

The Plan will lead to a significant step-up in policy ambition and delivery, to ensure that we at least meet our 2030 targets and get on a clear pathway to meeting our 2050 objectives. It will be updated every year, and will also be informed by the recommendations contained in the report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Action.

The goals and targets will be informed by analysis of the most cost-effective choices available to reach our 2030 targets. By articulating sectoral decarbonisation ambition ranges, the framework provided by the Plan will enable each sector to identify and put in place the most appropriate policy tools to deliver this stated ambition in order for Ireland to meet its 2030 targets.

Questions Nos. 779 and 780 answered with Question No. 751.

Telecommunications Services Provision

Questions (781)

Eamon Ryan

Question:

781. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his position on a company (details supplied); and his views on the use of hardware and software built by the company here. [24335/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The provision of telecommunications networks and services, which can support advanced digital technologies, including 5G, is a matter for the relevant undertakings operating in a fully liberalised market regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), as independent Regulator.

There are statutory provisions to ensure that operators of networks and services in Ireland take appropriate measures to manage risks to the security of their networks and services, and to guarantee their integrity. These requirements are set out in the European Communities (Electronic Communications Networks and Services) (Framework) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 333 of 2011). ComReg is responsible for ensuring compliance with these provisions.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in my Department has been reviewing the full spectrum of cyber security risks associated with 5G systems since late 2018. This work will feed directly into the new National Cyber Security Strategy.

In March 2019 the EU Commission published C(2019) Recommendation 2335, setting out an EU Process to jointly assess these risks. Member States have been asked to prepare national assessments and to forward these to the European Commission by end June for collation. The NCSC is working on this matter in close collaboration with other EU Members States and Institutions, ComReg, and the telecommunications industry to ensure that the review is comprehensive and evidence based. This report will be completed shortly.

Penalty Points System Data

Questions (782)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

782. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of penalty points issued by age, gender, county and Garda district in each of the previous three years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23312/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The information requested by the Deputy is provided in the document at the link, and gives details of the number of penalty points that have been endorsed on the National Vehicle and Driver File (NVDF) for the years 2016 to May 2019 inclusive. The data have been broken down by Age, Gender and County.

The Garda District details are not available on the NVDF.

Penalty Points Issued

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Questions (783, 784)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

783. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the estimated cost of decarbonising the national transport system in order to reach the sectoral targets for the total 2020 and 2030 EU emission reduction targets and the 2050 emission reduction targets of the State by each NTA sector in tabular form. [23727/19]

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Pearse Doherty

Question:

784. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the emission reduction targets for decarbonising the national transport system by 2030 and 2050. [23728/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 783 and 784 together.

The 2014 National Policy Position on Climate Action and Low Carbon Development established the ambitious objective of achieving a competitive, low carbon, climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050. The National Policy Position outlined a national target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by at least 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050 across the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors. The National Mitigation Plan, published in 2017, set Ireland on a pathway towards achieving the 2050 decarbonisation target. The Plan included over 100 emissions-reducing actions that were underway or planned, including a range of transport measures, and it set out the potential emissions impact and the estimated costs of many of the actions. The National Mitigation Plan initiated the process of developing medium to long term mitigation choices for the next and future decades.

My colleague, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment is now at an advanced stage in preparing a follow-on plan that will map out a whole-of-Government approach to Climate Action and meeting Ireland's emissions commitments. My Department is working closely with his Department and across Government to ensure that the transport sector, which accounts for about 20% of Ireland overall carbon emissions (and about 27% of Ireland's accountable emissions in the non-ETS (emissions trading scheme) area), plays a key role in the overall Government approach to tackling climate commitments. My Department has worked hard to develop an ambitious, challenging and wide-ranging set of actions, particularly for public transport and active travel. The new Plan will be considered by Government shortly and then published. It will set out the situation across the various sectors, including transport, for delivering on the future emissions reduction targets.

The Deputy will be aware of our work to reduce the emissions from public transport. From next month, no diesel-only buses will be purchased for the urban PSO bus fleet and work has also been underway to trial and compare various options for low carbon alternatively-fuelled buses on Irish bus routes. Of course, less than 5% of Ireland's transport-derived carbon dioxide emissions arise from public transport, so efforts to "green" the fleet - though important in leadership terms - will have only a limited impact in reducing emissions. A critical area of challenge when looking at transport emissions is in targeting the 52% of emissions that come from private car use. This is where public transport and active travel offer real benefits in environmental terms: through expanding their capacity we can facilitate a shift from private car to public transport. Under Project Ireland 2040, we are investing €8.6 billion in Ireland's public transport system. We want to make public transport and active travel a viable alternative for more people for more of their journeys. Our substantial investment will be used to support the MetroLink, BusConnects and the DART Expansion Programme amongst other important projects. In fact, the NDP budget for new public transport/active travel projects is well above what we will be investing in new roads, which is a reversal of the balance of investment between these two areas in the past.