EU Directives

Questions (2295)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

2295. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the progress made to transpose the European electronic communications code. [34471/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The European Electronic Communications Code, Directive (EU) 2018/1972, is a cornerstone piece of legislation in the European Digital Single Market programme. It aims to recast the legislative framework underpinning the electronic communications sector throughout the Union and make it fit for the digital age. The Directive consists of over 100 Articles and over 300 Recitals and its transposition will be a complex process. Officials in my Department are working on the transposition of this important file. An internal Steering Group has been established to oversee the planning and drafting of the transposition and a detailed project plan has been agreed. In addition, my Department is engaging with the Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg, industry representatives and other key stakeholders, as appropriate, to ensure the transposition is completed to the highest standard.

Cyber Security Policy

Question No. 2297 answered with Question No. 2184.

Questions (2296)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

2296. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the resources available to the National Cybersecurity Centre; and when he last met with officials from the centre on its resourcing needs. [34472/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is located within my Department, and is the primary cyber security authority in the State. The Centre has a number of roles, and is responsible for acting as a conduit for information to constituents, including operators of Critical National Infrastructure, Government Departments and Agencies. The Centre also provides expert advice and analysis on cyber security issues and is involved in coordinating the response to significant incidents. The Centre also acts as a central contact point in the event of a government or nation-wide cyber security incident affecting the State, and has a number of formal roles in the protection of Critical National Infrastructure, including those under the EU Network and Information Security Directive, which was transposed in September 2018. I meet with the senior officials with responsibility for Cyber Security regularly.

The NCSC is composed of highly skilled, specialist technical civilian staff, with skillsets in areas such as computer science, software engineering, malware analysis, information technology forensics, cryptography, software development, and cyber security compliance, as well as general cyber security skills. In terms of resources, additional funding has been secured for a substantial enlargement of the NCSC both in terms of personnel and additional technology in order to address the responsibilities placed upon the State by the Network and Information Security Directive. The annual allocation of the National Cyber Security Centre in 2019 is now €4,000,000, and staffing levels have increased significantly in recent years. My Department is also finalising a new National Cyber Security Strategy, which will set out the measures that Government will take to meet future challenges in cyber security.

Question No. 2297 answered with Question No. 2184.

Light Pollution

Questions (2298)

David Cullinane

Question:

2298. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the strategies and policies in place to address light pollution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34508/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

There is currently no legislation in Ireland dealing specifically with environmental light pollution, and my Department has no role in this regard. I am advised that the amount of light that might emanate from a proposed development in terms of potential impacts on adjoining properties and protecting their residential amenity is considered in assessing individual planning applications on a case by case basis. However there is no specific national strategy in place in relation to 'light pollution' under planning or environmental legislation.

Noise Pollution

Questions (2299)

David Cullinane

Question:

2299. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the strategies and policies in place to address noise pollution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34509/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The European Communities (Environmental Noise) Regulations 2018 (S. I. No 549 of 2018) transpose EU Directive 2002/49/EC4 relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise. The Directive aims to provide a common framework to avoid, prevent or reduce, on a prioritised basis, the harmful effects of exposure to environmental noise. For the purposes of these Regulations, environmental noise means unwanted or harmful outdoor sound created by human activities, including noise emitted by means of transport and from sites of industrial activity. The Regulations set out a two-stage process for addressing environmental noise. Firstly, noise must be assessed through the preparation of strategic noise maps for areas and infrastructure falling within defined criteria, e.g. large agglomerations, major roads, railways and airports. Secondly, based on the results of the mapping process, the Regulations require the preparation of noise action plans for each area concerned. The fundamental objective of action plans is the prevention and reduction of environmental noise.

The Regulations assign primary responsibility for both noise mapping and action planning to local authorities. While a number of other bodies also have noise mapping functions, they will be carried out on behalf of the local authorities concerned. The Regulations designate the Environmental Protection Agency as the National Authority for the purposes of the Regulations. The Agency's role includes supervisory, advisory and coordination functions in relation to both noise mapping and action planning, as well as reporting requirements for the purpose of the Directive. Further information on strategic noise maps and action plans is available at the following link: EPA https://gis.epa.ie/EPAMaps/

The Regulations provide for strategic noise maps and action plans to be made available to the general public for consultation and I would encourage the public to participate in this consultation process.

Air Quality

Questions (2300)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

2300. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the arrangements for monitoring air quality in the vicinity of the entrance and exit of the Dublin Port tunnel in Santry, Dublin 9; if this data is publicly available; the action which will be taken now in view of the recent Environmental Protection Agency report highlighting high levels of nitrogen dioxide at the location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34510/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

A report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recently released, indicates that areas around certain heavily trafficked roads in the Dublin area may have higher levels of the pollutant Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) than previously indicated. The NO2 levels indicated at the entrance and exit to the Port Tunnel by the report are based on modelling rather than monitoring, and I am not aware of any current monitoring at the location. Ambient air quality monitoring in Ireland is carried out in accordance with the requirements of the 2008 Clean Air for Europe (CAFE) Directive (Directive 2008/50/EC) and the Fourth Daughter Directive (Directive 2004/107/EC of 15 December 2004). These Directives also include rules on how Member States should monitor, assess and manage ambient air quality. The numbers and locations of the monitoring equipment for each pollutant are determined by the requirements of the Directives for ambient air monitoring in each zone.

There are a number of monitoring stations across North Dublin in the national monitoring network, including stations at Finglas, Marino and St Anne's Park. Data from these stations is available on the Environmental Protection Agency's website at http://www.epa.ie/air/quality/data/

The EPA report underlines the need to implement the Climate Action Plan. The Plan includes a number of actions which will have a significant impact on reducing harmful emissions and improving air quality. My Department and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport have begun discussions on establishing a working group, bringing relevant organisations together to ensure early action is taken on this matter and to improve the air quality in Dublin. This process will include the two Departments, the four Dublin Local Authorities and the EPA.

This work will complement the work already underway in developing a Clean Air Strategy, which will provide an overarching policy framework within which clean air policies can be formulated and given effect in a manner consistent with national priorities, and EU and other international policy considerations. The Clean Air Strategy will address a range of harmful air pollutants in Ireland, including those arising from the agricultural, transport and residential heating sectors, in an integrated manner. I intend to publish the Strategy in the coming months.

Better Energy Homes Scheme Eligibility

Questions (2301)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

2301. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason for continuing to exclude low-income pensioners from support for externally insulating their homes under the better energy warmer homes scheme on the grounds that they had earlier had their attic insulated under the scheme; the further reason in view of the fact that external insulation was not included in the scheme when the earlier work was done; if he will amend the terms of the scheme to enable pensioners in this situation to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and achieve energy savings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34514/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme is funded by my Department and administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households vulnerable to energy poverty. To date over 135,000 homes have received free upgrades under the scheme, leaving the occupants better able to afford to heat their homes to an adequate level. The aim of the scheme is to deliver a range of energy efficiency measures in a way which represents the best possible use of Exchequer funding, focusing eligibility to those in receipt of certain payments from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, such as the Fuel Allowance, and limiting each home to one visit for an energy efficiency upgrade. Last year, the scheme was expanded. Subject to survey by SEAI and assessment of potential for improved energy performance, the scheme can, in certain circumstances, include internal or external wall insulation. This will permit the upgrade of more property types such as homes with solid walls, and also increase the energy savings and emissions reductions that the scheme can achieve and will also enable future fuel switching.

Demand for the scheme is extremely high, reflecting the shift to deeper measures, and is impacted by longer delivery times associated with these type of works and the delivery capacity of SEAI’s contractor panel.

Better Energy Homes Scheme Data

Questions (2302, 2303)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

2302. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of houses each service provider has deep retrofitted under the better energy homes programme, the warmth and well-being or warmer homes schemes to date in 2019, in tabular form; the number of homes expected to be completed by the end of 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34538/19]

View answer

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

2303. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the level of funding available in 2019 to deep retrofit homes under the better energy homes programme, the warmth and well-being or warmer homes schemes; the number of homes planned to deep retrofit in 2019; the level of funding committed already to date; if he is satisfied the available funding will be adequate to maintain the schemes to the end of 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34539/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2302 and 2303 together.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) administers a range of energy efficiency retrofit schemes, including those referenced by the Deputy, on behalf of my Department.

The Better Energy Homes Scheme provides a financial incentive to private homeowners who wish to improve the energy performance of their homes. The financial allocation for this scheme is €21 million for 2019 with approximately €11 million spent to date and a further €4 million committed. Better Energy Homes is a demand-led programme and SEAI estimate that approximately 14,000 homeowners will receive grants this year towards energy efficiency upgrade works (both shallow and deeper).

The Warmer Homes Scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households who meet the defined eligibility criteria and who are vulnerable to energy poverty. The initial Warmer Homes Scheme budget allocation for 2019 was €24m. However, following a mid-year capital review conducted by my Department and SEAI recently, the budget has been increased to €39.8m for 2019 to address program needs. The total number of homes upgraded to date in 2019 under the Scheme is 2,241. The SEAI estimate that approximately 4,500 homes (both shallow and deeper interventions) will be upgraded under the Scheme by end of 2019.

The Warmth and Wellbeing Scheme aims to demonstrate the positive effects that making homes warmer and more energy efficient can have on the health and wellbeing of people in energy poverty who are living with a chronic respiratory condition. The budget allocation for the Warmth and Wellbeing Scheme is €7m with a total of 276 homes upgraded under the Scheme to date in 2019. The SEAI estimate that up to 400 homes in total will be upgraded under the Warmth & Wellbeing Scheme for the full-year 2019.

Officials in my Department have been informed by SEAI that the information requested by the Deputy on individual service providers is commercially sensitive. However, anonymised activity data is set out in the following tables. It is important to note that many factors affect the number of homes a given contractor delivers such as their contract, capacity, their quality of work, and their deeper retrofit experience.

Table 1: Better Energy Homes Contractor Allocations 2019 (year to date)*

Better Energy

Homes Contractor

No. of Homes Completed

Contractor 1

2,026

Contractor 2

588

Contractor 3

157

Contractor 4

98

Contractor 5

83

Contractor 6

74

Contractor 7

69

Contractor 8

67

Contractor 9

62

Contractor 10

57

Contractor 11

57

Contractor 12

55

Contractor 13

50

Contractor 14

46

Contractor 15

40

Contractor 16

39

Contractor 17

38

Contractor 18

37

Contractor 19

37

Contractor 20

36

*Over 500 contractors are registered for the Better Energy Homes Scheme. The table above lists the top 20 contractors in number of homes completed.

Table 2: Warmth & Wellbeing Scheme and Warmer Homes Scheme Contractor Allocations 2019 (year to date)

Contractor

Warmth & Wellbeing Scheme

Warmer Home Scheme

Total

Contractor 1

24

160

184

Contractor 2

32

143

175

Contractor 3

33

137

170

Contractor 4

19

137

156

Contractor 5

37

110

147

Contractor 6

0

139

139

Contractor 7

20

107

127

Contractor 8

8

118

126

Contractor 9

4

119

123

Contractor 10

13

107

120

Contractor 11

9

105

114

Contractor 12

8

103

111

Contractor 13

0

106

106

Contractor 14

6

92

98

Contractor 15

9

89

98

Contractor 16

25

43

68

Contractor 17

6

58

64

Contractor 18

0

51

51

Contractor 19

17

27

44

Contractor 20

0

40

40

Contractor 21

0

36

36

Contractor 22

0

35

35

Contractor 23

0

30

30

Contractor 24

0

28

28

Contractor 25

0

26

26

Contractor 26

0

25

25

Contractor 27

0

20

20

Contractor 28

6

13

19

Contractor 29

0

17

17

Contractor 30

0

14

14

Contractor 31

0

12

12

Contractor 32

0

12

12

Contractor 33

0

10

10

Contractor 34

0

2

2

Total

276

2271

2547

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (2304, 2305, 2306, 2307, 2308, 2309)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

2304. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of premises in County Cork which are connected to high speed broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34556/19]

View answer

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

2305. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of premises in the north west area of Cork city which are connected to high speed broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34557/19]

View answer

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

2306. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of premises nationally which are connected to high-speed broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34558/19]

View answer

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

2307. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of premises in County Cork which are not connected to high speed broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34559/19]

View answer

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

2308. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of premises in the north-west area of Cork city which are not connected to high speed broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34560/19]

View answer

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

2309. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of premises nationally which are not connected to high speed broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34561/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2304 to 2309, inclusive, together.

Every home, farm, school and business in Ireland will have access to high speed broadband – no matter where they are located – following the Government’s decision on 7th May this year to approve the appointment of a preferred bidder to the National Broadband Plan. Under this plan, Ireland will become one of the first countries in the world to ensure that those in rural areas have the same digital opportunities as those in urban areas.

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, 75% of the 2.4 million premises in Ireland can access high speed broadband.

The High Speed Broadband Map, which is available at www.broadband.gov.ie, shows the areas targeted by commercial operators to provide high speed broadband services and the areas that will be included in the State Intervention Area under the NBP.

The Map is colour coded and searchable by address and Eircode.

The AMBER areas represent the target areas for the proposed State led Intervention under the NBP.

The BLUE represent those areas where commercial providers are either currently delivering or have plans to deliver high speed broadband services.

The LIGHT BLUE areas represent eir's commercial rural deployment plans to rollout high speed broadband to 300,000 premises as part of a Commitment Agreement signed with the Department in April 2017 and available on my Department’s website www.dccae.gov.ie

The following table outlines the number of premises where access to a high speed broadband connection is, or will be, delivered by commercial operators (BLUE/LIGHT BLUE) and those where access to this vital service will be delivered under the State led intervention (AMBER).

County Name

AMBER

Premises within the NBP State Intervention Area

BLUE

Premises within Commercial Operator’s Area

LIGHT BLUE

Premises within eir's commercial rural deployment

County Cork

74,990 (28%)

187,835 (69%)

7,534 (3%)

North West Cork

20,792 (46%)

20,897 (47%)

3,020 (7%)

Nationally

544,887 (23%)

1,782,517 (75%)

58,131 (2%)

Information on a county by county basis with a breakdown of coverage across the townlands in every county is available on my Department’s website at http://www.dccae.gov.ie/communications/en-ie/Broadband/Pages/County-and-Townland-Maps.aspx.

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. According to information provided by eir to my Department, it plans to complete the vast majority of the deployment by the mid-year completion target with the remaining premises to be completed soon afterwards.

The Government Decision of 7 May 2019 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to the Bidder subject to contract close and the finalisation of financial and legal requirements; this work is progressing. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network will commence shortly after contract close.

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.

Departmental Communications

Questions (2310)

Shane Cassells

Question:

2310. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the expenditure by his Department on social media advertising and promotional material within the past year in tabular form. [34608/19]

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, there is a requirement to disseminate information and to address specific issues as they arise. The Department therefore necessarily incurs some expenditure on social media advertising and online promoted material on these from time to time. The information sought is outlined in the following table.

Campaign

Company engaged

Year

Cost

Trading Online Voucher Awareness

Facebook

2018

€369

Trading Online Voucher Awareness

Google Adwords

2018

€1,115

Trading Online Voucher Scheme

Seditio Ltd

2018

€2,890

Phasing Out Flat Fees for Household Waste Collection

Facebook

2018

€265

Phasing Out Flat Fees for Household Waste Collection

Focus Advertising

2018

€12,300

Phasing Out Flat Fees for Household Waste Collection

Mandy Johnston Communications

2018

€1,900

Regional Gathering Athlone

Facebook

2018

€560

Regional Gathering Tralee

Facebook

2018

€534

ObSERVE Promotion

Facebook

2018

€369

At the Ploughing

Facebook/ Instagram

2018

€369

TidyTowns Awards

Facebook

2019

€528

Regulating Harmful Content

Facebook

2019

€301

Regulating Harmful Content

Twitter

2019

€307

TOV Google Adwords Awareness

Google

2019

€2,649

ADI Infographic

Tony Harris Design t/a Green Room

2019

€861

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Questions (2311)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

2311. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the extent to which he remains satisfied that carbon emissions throughout the EU are measured equally with a view to ensuring that the more developed countries in the EU do not have the advantage over expanding economies such as Ireland with a view to an evenly spread advantage or disadvantage throughout the EU and noting in particular the relatively low rate of heavy carbon emitting industry here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34646/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prepares inventories of past, and projections of future, greenhouse gas emissions for Ireland on an annual basis. Inventories and projections are compiled by the EPA according to international standards to meet EU and UN reporting obligations and to inform national policy development. The EU Effort Sharing Regulation, which entered into force on 9 July 2018, sets out binding annual greenhouse gas emission targets for each Member State for the period 2021 to 2030. Ireland’s target under this Regulation will be for a 30% reduction in 2005 levels of non-ETS emissions by 2030.

Targets for Member States were established based on a range of criteria, including GDP per capita and the cost-effectiveness of domestic emissions reductions within each Member State. During the Effort Sharing Regulation negotiations, Ireland emphasised the need to prioritise a successful conclusion aimed at retaining a high environmental ambition for the EU, but also providing each Member State with the capacity to contribute to that ambition in a cost-effective and fair manner. I am satisfied that the Regulation provides appropriate recognition of different Member State circumstances, and the need to provide flexibility to reduce emissions as cost-effectively as possible in the context of the overall EU target.

The recently published Climate Action Plan 2019 sets out for the first time how Ireland will reach its 2030 targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and put Ireland on the right trajectory towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Plan sets out, in Chapter 3, the expected emissions abatement contribution from existing commitments under Project Ireland 2040 and from Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) measures. The Plan includes the necessary targets and measures, supported by detailed actions and roadmaps, to close the identified remaining gap of 58.4 MtCO2eq in the non-ETS sector. The relevant table is reproduced below.

Carbon Budget

Compliance Gap

Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) Ceiling

378.3 Mt

-

Projected Emissions (Pre-NDP)

479.9 Mt

101.6 Mt

Contribution of Project Ireland 2040 NDP Measures

- 16.4 Mt

85.2 Mt

Contribution of LULUCF

- 26.8 Mt

58.4 Mt

Additional Abatement Effort Required

- 58.4 Mt

0 Mt

Ireland supports strong EU ambition in order to contribute to the Paris Agreement objectives. The Climate Action Plan confirms Ireland’s support for increased EU climate ambition and the adoption of a net zero target by 2050 at EU level, including in the context of the importance of the EU reaffirming its role as a global leader in relation to ambitious climate action, and also in view of the upcoming UN Climate Summit in September 2019.

The transition to climate neutral economy will present both challenges and opportunities, and require additional changes across all sectors of the economy. Under the new Climate Action Plan I have committed to evaluate in detail the changes that would be necessary in pursuit of this objective at a national level.

Under the Plan, I have also committed to bring forward a new Climate Action (Amendment) Bill which will make the adoption of carbon budgets a legal requirement, require the Government to set a decarbonisation target range for each sector over five year periods, and establish a 2050 target in law.

Climate Change Policy

Questions (2312)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

2312. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on whether the afforestation, the use of bog lands carbon repositories and wind generated electricity can each contribute to carbon reduction with a view to improving the progress in line with international agreements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34647/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The recently published Climate Action 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 confirms that afforestation will have a key role to play in delivering emissions reductions and helping Ireland to achieve its 2030 targets. It commits, under Action 116, to implementing the Forest Programme 2014-2020 in line with the Mid-Term Review recommendations and targets an average annual afforestation rate of 8,000 hectares per annum of newly planted forest, as well as sustainable forest management of existing forests.

Better management of peatlands and soils under Actions 131 to 134 in the Plan will support the protection and enhancement of the carbon sink function of peatland landscapes, including through assessment and implementation mitigation options on post-production, peat extraction sites, and the implementation of measures for peatlands conservation.

To meet the required level of emissions reduction, the Plan sets a target of increasing the share of electricity generated from renewable sources to 70% by 2030, indicatively comprised as follows:

- at least 3.5 GW of offshore renewable energy

- up to 1.5 GW of grid-scale solar energy

- up to 8.2 GW total of increased onshore wind capacity

The Plan includes a number of actions to deliver this target, including regulatory streamlining of renewables and grid development; development of the offshore renewables sector, implementation of the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme; and development of an enabling framework for micro-generation.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Questions (2313)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

2313. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the steps he is taking to reduce automotive emissions of State cars (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31877/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The whole-of-Government Climate Action Plan clearly recognises that Ireland must significantly step up its commitments to tackle climate disruption. The transport sector, which accounts for about 20% of Ireland’s overall carbon emissions, must play a central role in the national decarbonisation effort. The national car fleet accounts for over half of all land transport emissions, and so a transition to low emission vehicles, including electric vehicles (EVs), is a necessary step-change to effect a substantial reduction in transport emissions.

In order to expedite the deployment of low emitting vehicles an inter-Departmental Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce was jointly established by my Department and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment to consider a full suite of potential measures available to Government. Phase 1 of the Taskforce concentrated on EVs; as part of this work, the important leadership role that Public Bodies and Government Departments can play in encouraging LEV uptake was examined. The Taskforce recommended the introduction of a new public procurement framework for EVs by 2020 and this recommendation was echoed in the Climate Action Plan (Action 149). The Office of Government Procurement is now developing a direct drawdown mechanism to allow public sector bodies to purchase an EV with a reduced administrative burden. It is expected that this measure will promote greater uptake of EVs in the State vehicle fleet, significantly reducing corresponding automotive emissions.

As battery and recharging technologies develop and a greater range of vehicles become commercially available I expect an increasing number of public bodies to transition towards EVs, with low emitting vehicles being favoured where feasible. In some limited cases, the operational requirements and the specific nature of certain work may not be adequately served by the range of lower emitting vehicles available, although this limitation is likely to reduce over time. Nonetheless, I note that the Deputy is asking specifically about passenger cars, and in those cases it is expected that EVs can offer a suitable low emitting solution for very many of the passenger car needs of State bodies.

I would like to reassure the Deputy that I will continue to work closely with Ministers Bruton and Donohoe and their respective Departments to map out the new policy pathway that will be necessary to ensure that Ireland and the State are well positioned to make the transition to low emission vehicles as efficiently and rapidly as possible.

Cycling Policy

Questions (2314)

John Curran

Question:

2314. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide additional details and the timeline for the establishment of the cycling project office as mentioned in the Climate Action Plan 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32031/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The establishment of the office, to which the Deputy refers, is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) as stated in the Climate Action Plan.

Noting the NTA's responsibility in the matter, I have referred your question to the NTA for a more detailed reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days

Public Transport

Questions (2315)

Jack Chambers

Question:

2315. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of low-emission buses which will enter the urban bus fleet in the next six months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32065/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in our cities, including provision of the bus fleet.

Noting the NTA's responsibility in the matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a direct reply. Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 days.

Light Rail Projects Status

Questions (2316)

Jack Chambers

Question:

2316. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the progress made on adding additional capacity to the Luas network; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32066/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area, including light rail.

Noting the NTA's responsibility in the matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a direct reply. Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 days.

Ports Policy

Questions (2317, 2318, 2319, 2374)

James Browne

Question:

2317. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has discussed with his UK counterpart the interest of the UK in the Fishguard and Rosslare Railways and Harbours Company in the context of UK-Irish relations. [32179/19]

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James Browne

Question:

2318. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has applied to the EU for exemptions under state aid rules to allow State investment in Rosslare Europort. [32182/19]

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James Browne

Question:

2319. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has addressed the issue of the ownership of Rosslare Europort with his UK counterpart in view of the threats of Brexit and the need to develop ports to ensure businesses can access markets. [32183/19]

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James Browne

Question:

2374. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has discussed with his UK counterpart the ownership model of Rosslare Europort. [32178/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2317 to 2319, inclusive, and 2374 together.

Rosslare Europort is unique among the State-owned ports, as it is not a commercial company operating under the Harbours Acts, but is instead operated on a commercial basis as a division of Iarnród Éireann. Technically, the port forms part of the Fishguard and Rosslare Railways and Harbours Company, which is a 19th-century joint-venture company, consisting today of Iarnród Éireann on the Irish side and Stena line on the Welsh (Fishguard) side.

The status of the port, and whether its current status potentially inhibits its development, was considered in a strategic review, commissioned by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and carried out by Indecon Economic Consultants.

Their report concluded that the creation of an independent port authority would be extremely difficult, given the port's complex legal structure. Instead, it was recommended that the port remain in public ownership and that the possibilities for increased private sector involvement be investigated.

In order to assist Iarnród Éireann's overall consideration of how best to move forward, the company then engaged consultants to assess market interest. The assessment was largely positive in terms of the potential for increased private sector investment in the port. However, it did identify possible implementation issues due to the complicated legislative basis of the port.

Following that assessment, the Department sought and received detailed advice from the Office of the Attorney General on the matter. That advice identified a number of legal issues with any such proposal and those issues remain under consideration by my Department. If there are any new developments I will of course consider them. In the meantime, I am satisfied that Rosslare Europort as a division of Iarnród Éireann is effectively managing operations at the port and looking at the potential of the port to develop further and take advantage of any new opportunities.

I have met individually with my UK counterpart, Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling, to discuss Brexit matters on three occasions since mid-2017. I most recently met the Secretary of State, at his request, in Dublin on 8 November last. Our discussion fully respected the mandate of the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator, Michel Barnier. The Secretary of State outlined key areas of concern for the UK in relation to transport.

While I did not specifically raise the issue of ownership of Rosslare Europort with the Secretary of State, I set out the importance of continued transport connectivity between Ireland and the UK, including in relation to ports, aviation, road transport and cross-border rail services.

The port is targeting growth and new business opportunities and recently received the approval of the Iarnród Éireann Board for a strategic plan to grow the port’s business. Iarnród Éireann and Rosslare Europort briefed my Department late last year on the company's plans for strategic development of the port over the coming years. This includes investment plans for up to €25 million in customer facilities and port infrastructure, port assets and new technology. The port is engaging with a number of potential new shipping customers to supplement existing operators and offer greater choice to freight and passenger business. Investment in the port is, in the first instance, a matter for its owner, Iarnród Éireann which is a commercial State body, and, while EU State Aid Rules restrict the scope for direct State investment, the company is exploring appropriate investment possibilities in connection with its strategic development plans.

Finally, Brexit will have implications for a number of key ports and airports and Rosslare continues to work closely with my Department and a range of other relevant Government Departments and Offices in preparing for the additional border controls that will arise from Brexit. In this context, my Department has met Rosslare Port management on a number of occasions over the past year about the infrastructural requirements of the port in connection with Brexit.