Departmental Meetings

Question No. 2210 answered with Question No. 2206.

Questions (2209)

Bríd Smith

Question:

2209. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the meetings or discussions he or his officials have had with groups (details supplied) and other groups or bodies in relation to the Petroleum and Other Minerals Developments (Amendment) (Climate Emergency Measures) Bill 2018 since January 2018. [32221/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Petroleum and other Minerals Development (Amendment)(Climate Emergency Measures) Bill 2018 has been the substantive topic of two meetings held since January 2018. On 12 February 2018 my officials met with representatives of IOOA, and on 26 June 2018 Minister of State Kyne and officials met with representatives of IBEC. Effective regulation of petroleum activities requires oversight of work programmes proposed by applicants for, and holders of, petroleum authorisations. In that context my officials regularly meet with applicants and authorisation holders to invigilate proposed and existing work programmes, particularly from a technical and financial perspective, thus facilitating informed decision making. At a number of these meetings the current status of the Petroleum and other Minerals Development (Amendment)(Climate Emergency Measures) Bill has been raised. Within that context officials from my Department have met with CNOOC Petroleum Europe Ltd, ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Ireland (Offshore South) Ltd, Petrel Resources Plc and Providence Resources Plc on the dates set out in the following table.

Date of Meeting

Company

23 January 2018

CNOOC Petroleum Europe Ltd

25 January 2018

Providence Resources Plc

30 January 2018

ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Ireland (Offshore South) Ltd

1 February 2018

Providence Resources Plc

8 February 2018

Petrel Resources Plc

7 June 2018

Petrel Resources Plc

14 June 2018

CNOOC Petroleum Europe Ltd and ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Ireland (Offshore South) Ltd

21 June 2018

Providence Resources

12 July 2018

Petrel Resources Plc

19 July 2018

CNOOC Petroleum Europe Ltd

20 September 2018

CNOOC Petroleum Europe Ltd

2 October 2018

CNOOC Petroleum Europe Ltd

20 March 2019

CNOOC Petroleum Europe Ltd

Question No. 2210 answered with Question No. 2206.

Fuel Poverty

Questions (2211)

Bríd Smith

Question:

2211. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the progress made with a national survey of fuel poverty and those in need of supports as agreed by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Action. [32234/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I published the Government's Climate Action Plan 2019 on 17 June. The plan sets out, for the first time, how Ireland can reach its 2030 targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and also puts Ireland on the right trajectory towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Plan has been strongly informed by the work of the Citizens Assembly and the work of the All Party Committee on Climate Action which managed to achieve a broad cross-Party consensus on a number of difficult issues.The Plan sets out over 180 actions with a strong focus on the just transition and addressing energy poverty. This includes a commitment to reviewing ways to improve how current energy poverty schemes target those most in need. In addition, my Department and the SEAI are participating in a Central Statistics Office led project to develop energy poverty indicators. The results of this project will provide a more nuanced view of energy poverty in Ireland and will include spatial elements to facilitate targeting of households most in need. It is anticipated that this work will provide valuable outputs in terms of informing future national policy, satisfying upcoming EU requirements on energy poverty and presenting key statistics in the public domain to further our understanding of how to solve energy poverty.

A bottom-up analysis of fuel poverty in Ireland was previously published by my Department in late 2015. This report examined both the ‘extent’ of fuel poverty (ie how many households are in fuel poverty) and the ‘severity’ of fuel poverty (ie how much of a household’s income is require to be spent on fuel). The report can be downloaded from: https://www.dccae.gov.ie/documents/An%20Objective%20Analysis%20of%20Energy%20Poverty%20in%20Ireland.pdf.

A public consultation to ascertain the views of the public on the options for the use of revenues raised from increases in the Carbon Tax recently concluded. The Department of Finance consultation paper identified a range of potential options including a number of fuel poverty options. A copy of the consultation paper can be downloaded from: https://assets.gov.ie/9384/b078dbb6c7614c748b897ba01b481532.pdf.

The Deputy may also be interested in the recently published ESRI report titled ‘Carbon taxation in Ireland: distributional effects of revenue recycling policies’. This report is available at: https://www.esri.ie/publications/carbon-taxation-in-ireland-distributional-effects-of-revenue-recycling-policies.

Petroleum and Gas Exploration

Questions (2212)

Bríd Smith

Question:

2212. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the petroleum licence applications currently under consideration by his Department. [32235/19]

View answer

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 30 June 2019. 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 in respect of the three month period ending 30 June 2019. Applications for 10 petroleum authorisations are currently under consideration by my Department. The form of authorisation sought is as follows:

Authorisation

Number

Licensing Option

2

Frontier Exploration Licence

6

Lease Undertaking

2

Total

10

Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan

Question No. 2214 answered with Question No. 2206.

Questions (2213)

Bríd Smith

Question:

2213. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to legislate for changes in the planning regulations to provide for renewable energy projects offshore; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32236/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Marine Planning and Development Management Bill 2019 falls within the remit of the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. The revised General Scheme of what was formerly the Maritime Area and Foreshore Amendment Bill 2013 is to be published on the Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government's website. The Bill will introduce a new marine planning regime which will provide a streamlined consenting process for offshore renewable energy projects. This Bill is part of the Government’s efforts to prevent climate change, provide cleaner air, and create the green jobs and businesses of the future.

Question No. 2214 answered with Question No. 2206.

Consultancy Contracts Data

Questions (2215)

Shane Cassells

Question:

2215. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of external consultant reports commissioned by his Department in each of the years March 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the cost of same; the company involved; and the title and publication date by report in tabular form. [32243/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department administers a very diverse, complex and technical brief across a range of strategic sectors. The technical, commercial, legal complexity and evolving nature of sectors with which the Department deals requires access from time to time to external professional expertise to assist in discharging its functions. In procuring these specialised services, my Department always seeks to ensure value for money and that these services contribute to project delivery and informed, robust and evidence based policy making.

The bulk of the studies commissioned are technical and specialist in nature and were necessary to address specific issues as they arose and enable the Department to discharge its policy and project responsibilities in the areas concerned.

Details of external consultant reports commissioned by my Department in each of the years concerned are available at the following link.

Consultant Reports

*These costs are recouped from the operator of the Corrib Gasfield Project.

**The payments listed above refer to payments made to the contract holder in any given contractual 12 month period, which runs from May to April.

** paid quarterly from the Environment Fund. As yet no payment has issued to Tobin Consulting Engineers for the 2019/2020 contract which commenced in May 2019

****Technical support for the development and management of key operational elements in the national climate and energy policy process is provided by the Technical Research and Modelling Group (TRAM).

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (2216)

Shane Cassells

Question:

2216. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the photography costs for his Department in each year since March 2011 including costs incurred from use of the Ministerial allowance; the occasions for which photographers were booked; the photographers used; the costs associated with each occasion that a photographer was used in tabular form; if there is a policy regarding the booking of photographers within his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32260/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The contracting of photography services for my Department is carried out as part of competitive procurement processes in line with Office of Government Procurement guidelines. Where possible, every effort is made to minimise costs. I refer to the reply to Question Nos. 601 and 604 of 14 December 2017 which covers photography costs for my Department for the period 2011 to 2017.

The following table sets out the photography costs incurred by my Department for 2018 and 2019 to date.

Photography Costs in 2018

Company

Event

Cost €

Naoise Culhane Photography

Retailers signing up to the Food Waste Charter

603

Maxwell Photography

Digital Safety Conference on Online Safety at the RHK Kilmainham

474

Marc O’Sullivan

Anti-Dumping Initiative in Merrion Square

554

Maxwell Photography

Ireland hosting of the BIC (British Irish Council) meeting

430

Maxwell Photography

Empowering Communities for Climate Action Event June 2018; part of Project Ireland 2040

449

2018 Total

2,510

Photography Costs to date in 2019

Company

Event

Cost €

Fennel Photography

Event to mark the banning of single use plastics in Ballymun

461

Event Capture

Smart Community Launch in Tubbercurry, co. Sligo

397

Fennel Photography

Food Cloud event in Tallaght

461

Gareth Chaney

International Energy Agency Review of Irish Energy Policy 2019

150

Maxwell Photography

Announcement of the preferred bidder to the National Broadband Plan, D Justice, St. Stephens Green.

301

Maxwell Photography

Launch of Eircodes for Machinery

135

Maxwell Photography

Regulation of Online Content announcement

510

Maxwell Photography

Anti-Dumping Initiative

320

Maxwell Photography

Visit to Covanta regarding Climate Action Fund

412

Total to date in 2019

3,147

Payments from Ministerial allowances are not a charge on the Vote of the Department and therefore my Department does not hold information on these payments.

Legal Costs

Questions (2217)

Shane Cassells

Question:

2217. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the expenditure incurred in respect of external legal fees in each year since March 2011, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32277/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department administers a very diverse and complex brief. Its remit includes oversight of very complex policy areas and direct procurement of major services where protection of the State’s interest must be paramount. This situation necessarily requires my Department to procure specialist external professional advice in legal areas to enable it to discharge its responsibility to deliver quality services and protect the interests of the State and the taxpayer. In procuring specialised legal services, my Department always seeks to ensure value for money and the keeping of expenditure to the minimum necessary.

The information requested is outlined in the following table.

Year

Cost

2011

€335,335

2012

€102,222

2013

Nil

2014

€57,121

2015

€718,220

2016

€686,449

2017

€3,161,039

2018

€1,808,244

To date 2019

€738,707

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (2218)

Shane Cassells

Question:

2218. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the expenditure incurred in external information technology costs in each year since March 2011, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32294/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department's remit includes complex policy areas, oversight of State regulation and service provision across key strategic sectors such as climate action, waste management, energy and public broadcasting, and regulation of sectors such as mining and hydrocarbon exploration. Given the technical complexity, economic significance and community interest in these areas my Department therefore necessarily incurs expenditure on external information technology. The external information technology costs for the years 2011 to 2019 is outlined in the following table.

2011 – March to end of Year (Total)

€2,523,155

2011 - Leased Lines

€110,944

2011 - Hardware

€379,058

2011 - Software

€1,160,532

2011 - IT Consultancy/Outsourcing

€406,376

2011 - IT Contractors

€466,244

2012 (Total)

€2,926,416

2012 - Leased Lines

€122,226

2012 -Hardware

€214,740

2012 -Software

€1,627,609

2012 -IT Consultancy/Outsourcing

€30,982

2012 -IT Contractors

€930,858

2013(Total)

€2,823,893

2013 - Leased Lines

€115,210

2013 - Hardware

€430,381

2013 - Software

€1,417032

2013 - IT Consultancy/Outsourcing

€57,556

2013 - IT Contractors

€803,714

2014(Total)

€2,459,358

2014 - Leased Lines

€106,720

2014 - Hardware

€175,798

2014 - Software

€1,239,397

2014 - IT Consultancy/Outsourcing

€126,253

2014 - IT Contractors

€811,190

2015(Total)

€2,392,939

2015 - Leased Lines

€114,603

2015 - Hardware

€80,846

2015 - Software

€1,088,441

2015 - IT Consultancy/Outsourcing

€160,595

2015 - IT Contractors

€948,454

2016(Total)

€3,334,345

2016 - Leased Lines

€117,530

2016 - Hardware

€991.,918

2016 - Software

€1,124,291

2016 - IT Consultancy/Outsourcing

108,820

2016 - IT Contractors

€991,785

2017(Total)

€2,284,351

2017 - Leased Lines

€100,116

2017 - Hardware

€639,266

2017 - Software

€547,895

2017 - IT Consultancy/Outsourcing

€39,561

2017 - IT Contractors

€957,514

2018(Total)

€2,581.,381

2018 - Leased Lines

€74,273

2018 - Hardware

€571,982

2018 - Software

€739,275

2018 - IT Consultancy/Outsourcing

€258,576

2018 - IT Contractors

€937,275

2019(Total to date)

€916,681

2019 - Leased Lines

€64,924

2019- Hardware

€43,925

2019 - Software

€213,148

2019 - IT Consultancy/Outsourcing

€516

2019 - IT Contractors

€591,279

Better Energy Homes Scheme

Questions (2219)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

2219. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the SEAI will be adequately resourced to continue to deliver the better energy warmer homes scheme. [32342/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme provides free energy efficiency upgrades to the homes of people living in or at risk of energy poverty. The Scheme is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) on behalf of my Department. In June 2018 the range of energy efficiency measures available under the Scheme was expanded to include ‘deeper’ measures. Under the expanded scheme, in certain circumstances, external or internal wall insulation, central heating and replacement windows, can be provided where a technical assessment (by SEAI contractors) considers them necessary. Since the expansion of the scheme demand for the scheme has been very high resulting in longer waiting times for applicants.

The initial 2019 budget allocation for the Scheme of €24m was in line with the 2018 allocation. However, following a mid-year capital review conducted by my Department and SEAI, the budget has been increased to €39.8m for 2019. Decisions in relation to the 2020 budget allocation for the Warmer Homes Scheme and the other energy efficiency and sustainable energy grant schemes will be made as part of the annual Estimates process later this year.

Recycling Data

Questions (2220)

Noel Rock

Question:

2220. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the volumes of plasterboard recycled in each of the years 2016 to 2018; the obligations on construction companies to segregate plasterboard under the European landfill directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32356/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Environmental Protection Agency is the statutory body charged with the preparation of waste statistics in Ireland. It is my understanding that the Agency has not yet published statistics on plasterboard recycling, but will publish updated statistics in relation to Construction and Demolition (C&D) waste in September, 2019 in line with reporting requirements under the Waste Framework Directive. Statistics on C&D waste are available from the Agency's website at http://www.epa.ie/nationalwastestatistics/constructiondemolition/. Under a 2003 EC Council Decision, non-hazardous gypsum-based materials should be disposed of only in landfills (for non-hazardous waste) in cells where no biodegradable waste is accepted. Licensing of landfills and enforcement of licence conditions are statutory functions of the Environmental Protection Agency. Under section 60(3) of the Waste Management Act 1996, I am precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to the performance by the Agency, in particular circumstances, of a statutory function vested in it.

There is no specific requirement under the Landfill Directive to segregate plasterboard. However, construction companies are required, under planning legislation, to prepare site Waste Management Plans which, inter alia , outline the manner in which clients, planners, designers, contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers can act co-operatively in order to reduce C&D waste arisings and to improve the manner in which any waste generated is managed.

Furthermore, Ireland must transpose the EU Circular Economy package by July 2020 and as part of this process my officials will, inter alia, examine if there is a need for specific measures to require the on-site segregation of C&D waste / materials.

In June 2018, my Department also established a Construction Waste Resource Group comprising key Construction and Demolition sector and Waste sector stakeholders, including policy, regulatory and industry representatives to provide a valuable platform to discuss and monitor C&D waste issues, including how the sector can better prevent and recycle C&D waste. At the last meeting of the group, Gyproc Ireland gave a presentation to members on plasterboard recycling in Ireland. A subgroup of the Construction Waste Resource Group chaired by the Agency is also continuing to work on developing approaches to further encourage waste prevention & segregation on construction sites, including through the development of a repository of best practice guidance documents which is available at https://www.epa.ie/waste/nwpp/candd/.

Television Licence Fee Collection

Questions (2221)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

2221. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a report on the work of the Working Group on Future Funding of Public Service Broadcasting will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32376/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

A Working Group was set up on foot of a Government decision last year to examine options for the reform of TV licence collection in light of the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the future funding of public service broadcasting. I have received the Report of the Working Group and it is currently under consideration.

Protected Disclosures Data

Questions (2222)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

2222. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of protected disclosures for which he has engaged an external consultancy and or legal firm since 2014 to date; the name of the firms engaged; the year and the costs associated with engaging the consultancy and or legal firms in respect of protected disclosures; the way in which persons are protected in cases in which an external consultancy firm is engaged in respect of protected disclosures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32394/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department has engaged the services of Byrne Wallace to provide legal expertise to facilitate the effective investigation of three Protected Disclosures received in my Department. Legal advice was provided to the Department between February 2017 to date. The cumulative cost to my Department for this service is €23,437.65 inclusive of VAT.

The premise of the Protected Disclosure Act 2014 is to protect the identity of the Discloser insofar as is possible. My Department strives to protect the identity of the Discloser at all times. On occasion, in order for an effective investigation to take place, it may be necessary to release the Discloser’s identity. In this case the Discloser would be advised in advance.

Consultations with Byrne Wallace on each Protected Disclosure are subject to legal privilege.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions No. 2224 to 2227, inclusive, answered with Question No. 2182.

Questions (2223)

Robert Troy

Question:

2223. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the roll-out of fibre broadband by Eir in an area (details supplied). [32412/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The premises in Ballymore referenced by the Deputy are in the LIGHT 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 LIGHT BLUE areas are where eir is in the process of deploying high speed broadband to 300,000 premises on a commercial basis. This means that premises in the area referenced by the Deputy will receive access to a high speed broadband service through eir's deployment which is still ongoing. Under a Commitment Agreement signed with my Department in April 2017, eir is in the process of passing 300,000 predominantly rural homes with high speed broadband. According to data for Q1 2019 the company has passed almost 250,000 premises nationwide as part of its ongoing deployment. Further information provided by eir to my Department, advises of plans to complete the vast majority of the deployment by the mid-year completion target with the remaining premises to be completed soon afterwards.

Information on eir's rural deployment is available on that company’s website, http://fibrerollout.ie/Eircode-lookup/. A copy of the Commitment Agreement is available on my Department’s website, www.dccae.gov.ie.

Questions No. 2224 to 2227, inclusive, answered with Question No. 2182.

Bituminous Fuel Ban

Questions (2228)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

2228. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the position regarding the introduction of a nationwide ban on smoky fuels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32578/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No 570 of 2 July. The position is unchanged.

Illegal Dumping

Questions (2229)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

2229. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the measures he is taking to combat illegal dumping in rural areas particularly in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32582/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department has introduced a number of measures to target illegal dumping and to strengthen efforts to improve waste enforcement generally. These include: - The provision of an annual waste enforcement grant of €7.4 million to support the recruitment and retention of 150 local authority waste enforcement personnel across the country. Mayo County Council receive an annual allocation of €158,000 in this regard;

- The establishment of Waste Enforcement Regional Lead Authorities (WERLAs) to support and co-ordinate local authority action;

- The establishment of a National Waste Enforcement Steering Committee, which facilitates the deployment of co-ordinated multi agency responses to illegal waste activity across the regions.

In addition, my Department launched the National Anti-Dumping Initiative in 2017, to encourage local authorities, in partnership with local community organisations, to identify high risk or problem areas, conduct necessary clean-up operations and develop appropriate enforcement responses to incidences of illegal dumping. In March of this year, I announced funding of €3 million for the 2019 Anti-Dumping Initiative, an increase of 50% on 2018. This funding will support 280 projects nationwide. Mayo County Council have been allocated €121,960 under this initiative in 2019. Full details of this year’s allocations and the projects funded by this initiative in 2017 and 2018 can be accessed on my Department’s website at the following link:

https://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/environment/topics/waste/enforcement/anti-dumping-initiative/Pages/AntiDumpingInitiative.aspx.

Wastewater Treatment

Questions (2230)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

2230. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the proposed wastewater treatment plant for Newport, County Mayo; when preliminary works will commence; the amount of funding being allocated to the project; the date or year construction is expected to be completed on the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32583/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I have no function in terms of policy or legislation concerning Waste Water Treatment Plants.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (2231, 2253, 2283)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

2231. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to engage with Eir on its proposals for rural broadband; the information provided to date on the proposals of Eir; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32584/19]

View answer

Michael Moynihan

Question:

2253. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has met with Eir to discuss its alternative proposals to the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33238/19]

View answer

Brendan Smith

Question:

2283. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his Department has completed its analysis of the Eir broadband proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33976/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2231, 2253 and 2283 together.

I have not met with eir following its appearance before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on 25 June.

Following on from eir’s appearance before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on 28 June, and its subsequent letter to the Department dated 28 June, my Department, in consultation with its advisors and with ComReg, has concluded that the information outlined in the letter does not represent a feasible alternative to the National Broadband Plan (NBP) and has no impact on the decision to appoint a preferred bidder for the NBP. It should also be noted that eir makes it clear in their letter of 28 June that their evidence before the Committee and their letter do not represent "a formal offer designed to replace or supersede the current NBP procurement process "

- The objectives of the NBP Strategy approved by Government in December 2015 and signed up to by bidders through the participation in the procurement process, are as follows:

- High speed broadband should be provided to 100% of premises in the country

- There needs to be strong protections for the State with full transparency of where the State Subsidy is being directed

- There needs to be equal access for all commercial retail providers to the network

- A future proofed network should be provided so that a digital divide between urban and rural areas does not re-emerge; and

- Prices should be affordable for users – both for connections and products.

These, along with the application of value for money principles, have underpinned the procurement process since December 2015.

eir was one of the final bidders to the National Broadband Plan and under these terms, made a draft bid of €2.75billion (ex VAT) before making the decision to withdraw from the process. The evidence presented by eir both in the Committee and in their subsequent letter to the Department does not meet the above objectives and contains material which has already been raised and considered during eir’s participation in the procurement process.

At its meeting on 17 July, Government noted the significant progress made by my Department and the Preferred Bidder, National Broadband Ireland in finalising the necessary legal and financial documents required for contract close.

In a response sent to eir by my Department, following the Government meeting, it was outlined that the provision of a State subsidy to any company without competition is not legal under procurement and State Aid rules, nor would it meet the key objectives of the National Broadband Plan.

My Department will continue to engage with eir as part of its monitoring of eir's rural 300k deployment under the Commitment Agreement signed with my Department. As at Q1 2019 eir has delivered high speed broadband to 250,965 premises nationwide. According to information provided by eir to my Department, it plans to pass the remaining premises later in 2019.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (2232)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

2232. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number and location of primary and secondary schools connected to high speed broadband; the number and locations of schools awaiting connection to high speed broadband in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32641/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I refer the Deputy to the reply to Question No 605 of 25 June 2019. Through the 2012 Schools 100Mbps Project all 780+ post primary schools across Ireland were provided with access to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) high speed broadband. The aim of this project, which was achieved, was to ensure that all second level students can enhance their learning experience through digital access.

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 have provided no concrete plans to invest.

My Department published an updated version of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map which is available at www.broadband.gov.ie . The Map shows is 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 the 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 rollout high speed broadband to 300,000 premises as part of a Commitment Agreement signed with my Department in April 2017.

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 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.

The Bidder is aiming to pass 133,000 premises by the end of the second year, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until roll out is completed.

As regards Primary Schools, 674 schools located in the Amber area will be provided with high speed broadband through the State Intervention. 1,965 schools located in the Blue area are already or will be provided with high speed broadband through commercial operators and 503 schools located in the Light Blue area will be provided with high speed broadband through eir’s ongoing roll out which is nearing completion.

The table gives a breakdown by number and location of Primary schools according to the Map.

COUNTY

AMBER

BLUE

LIGHT BLUE

TOTAL

CARLOW

6

29

6

41

CAVAN

21

40

14

75

CLARE

33

58

21

112

CORK

87

209

52

348

DONEGAL

43

113

19

175

DUBLIN

8

439

2

449

GALWAY

59

116

54

229

KERRY

29

65

38

132

KILDARE

14

86

3

103

KILKENNY

21

39

14

74

LAOIS

17

35

13

65

LEITRIM

14

17

8

39

LIMERICK

19

85

31

135

LONGFORD

10

20

7

37

LOUTH

6

64

1

71

MAYO

63

55

48

166

MEATH

26

76

13

115

MONAGHAN

20

36

5

61

OFFALY

15

38

13

66

ROSCOMMON

36

33

22

91

SLIGO

23

25

19

67

TIPPERARY

39

67

49

155

WATERFORD

15

48

12

75

WESTMEATH

16

44

14

74

WEXFORD

17

68

19

104

WICKLOW

17

60

6

83

TOTAL

674

1,965

503

3,142

Broadband Service Provision

Question No. 2234 answered with Question No. 2168.

Question No. 2235 answered with Question No. 2182.

Questions (2233)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

2233. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when a nursing home (details supplied) is due to be connected to high speed broadband under the National Broadband Plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32642/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The premises referenced 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 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 and allowing for the establishment of digital work hubs in these locations.

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. 2234 answered with Question No. 2168.
Question No. 2235 answered with Question No. 2182.

Better Energy Homes Scheme

Questions (2236)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

2236. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if there has been a reduction in funding for the SEAI better energy warmer homes scheme in view of the increase in waiting times for works to be carried out; his plans to increase funding to the scheme in order to reduce the waiting lists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32760/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Warmer Homes Scheme provides free energy efficiency upgrades to the homes of people living in or at risk of energy poverty. The Scheme is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) on behalf of my Department. In June 2018 the range of energy efficiency measures available under the Scheme was expanded to include ‘deeper’ measures. Under the expanded scheme, in certain circumstances, external or internal wall insulation, central heating and replacement windows, can be provided where a technical assessment (by SEAI contractors) considers them necessary. Since the expansion of the scheme demand for the scheme has been very high resulting in longer waiting times for applicants.

The initial 2019 budget allocation for the Scheme of €24m was in line with the 2018 allocation. However, following a mid-year capital review conducted by the Department and SEAI, the budget has been increased to €39.8m for 2019. This revised budget is €4.3m more than the outturn for the scheme in 2018.

Decisions in relation to the 2020 budget allocation for the Warmer Homes Scheme and the other energy efficiency and sustainable energy grant schemes will be made as part of the annual Estimates process later this year.