I welcome the publication of the Engineers Ireland review of housing and infrastructure in Ireland. While housing and housing standards are issues that fall under the remit of the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, a number of recommendations do have relevance for programmes and initiatives on which my department leads. Improving the energy efficiency of a home, in line with NSAI standards for retrofitting, can help to combat the problems associated with damp housing such as mould and rot. Upgrading the insulation of a damp house can also have significant benefits for the indoor air quality and health of the occupants.
My Department funds a number of grant schemes to help people to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Work carried out under these schemes must meet NSAI standards and be carried out by an SEAI registered contractor.
My Department is also working to improve the energy efficiency of our rental sector. These homes are more likely to be less energy efficient than owner occupied homes, and therefore more prone to the types of issues highlighted by the Deputy. A cross Departmental Advisory Group has been established to examine potential policy options and make recommendations to Government. A public consultation on this matter is currently in development and will be published later in 2019.
While I understand the report considers connectivity in a broad sense, in relation to broadband connectivity, the Government decision on 7 May 2019 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to National Broadband Ireland, subject to contract close, including the 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.