Road Projects Status

Questions (1611)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

1611. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the progress made with regard to the draft appraisal for the Julianstown bypass; if the project has been listed as urgent; if the application will be supported in view of more than 20,000 vehicles passing through the village each day, which is similar to the figures prior to the motorway being built which was meant to drastically reduce these numbers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36180/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant County or City Council, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants.

Prior to the financial crisis, applications for funding for road improvement projects would have been considered as part of the Specific Improvement, and Strategic Regional and Local Road Grant Schemes. However, the extent of the cutbacks in grant funding during the recession meant these grant schemes had to be curtailed after 2013 because expenditure on maintenance/renewal was falling well short of what was required to adequately maintain the regional and local road network.

Project Ireland 2040 does provide for the gradual build up in funding for the road network but it will take some time to reach the level required for the adequate maintenance and renewal of the network. For this reason there is limited scope at present for funding projects under the Specific and Strategic Grant Programmes. The primary focus is on implementation of the 12 regional and local road projects identified for development, subject to necessary approvals, in Project Ireland 2040.

Any additional projects proposed by local authorities for consideration under the Specific and Strategic Grant Programmes are assessed by the Department on a case-by-case basis. All projects put forward by local authorities for consideration must comply with the requirements of the Public Spending Code and my Department's Capital Appraisal Framework and it is important for local authorities to prioritise projects within their overall area of responsibility with these requirements in mind.

Under the capital project appraisal process a Preliminary Appraisal has to be submitted in relation to each proposed project. Once an appraisal is received it is assessed taking into account other competing projects, the overall regional and local road capital budget and the wider transport planning framework.

In this context the National Transport Authority's Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016 to 2035 provides the overall policy framework for transport development in the region. As part of the Corridor options appraisal, the Strategy considers the measures needed to meet travel demand on the economic Drogheda to Dublin City Corridor and focusses largely on public transport options and improved rail services. The proposed electrification of the rail line to Drogheda under Project Ireland 2040 reflects this approach.

The draft Preliminary Appraisal received from Meath County Council regarding a bypass of Julianstown will, therefore, have to be considered with the above factors in mind. Against the backdrop of the need for action to address climate change and limited resources, I am conscious that investment has to be focussed on the projects which best deliver on the Government's overall policy priorities and this means looking critically at proposals for new roads where public transport is being enhanced and where investment has already been made in high quality infrastructure such as the M1.

Roads Maintenance

Questions (1612)

James Lawless

Question:

1612. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the upgrading and resurfacing of the M4 motorway between Celbridge and Kilcock, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36197/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the upgrading and maintenance, including resurfacing, of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Noting the above position, I have referred the question to TII for a direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Public Transport

Questions (1613)

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

1613. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if funding will be increased for initiatives such as security screens on Bus Éireann vehicles and other security measures for public bus and rail services in view of increased attacks and antisocial incidents across transport networks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36219/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The safety and security of public transport passengers and staff, including arrangements to deal with anti-social behaviour, are important matters that, first and foremost, must be managed by every public transport company, in conjunction with An Garda Síochána, where appropriate.

While the vast majority of public transport passenger journeys occur without incident, I am concerned to ensure that the necessary arrangements are in place to ensure the safety of all passengers and staff.

My Department has been advised by Iarnród Éireann that it has undertaken a range of measures, including the doubling of security patrols, and proposes further measures to address anti-social behaviour on the rail network.

These include the introduction of Customer Service Officers on all Intercity routes, enhanced CCTV coverage, and the recently launched text alert service which enables customers to discreetly report anti-social behaviour incidents to a monitored security centre, and allowing security personnel and/or An Garda Síochána to be alerted and dispatched to incidents as required.

Iarnród Éireann's allocates significant funding each year on security measures. The annual spend on security has risen from €4.1 million in 2017 to €4.5 million in 2018 and it is projected by the company that this allocation will rise further in 2019 to approximately €4.7 million. The allocation of all Garda resources, including the manner in which Garda personnel are deployed, is solely a matter for the Garda Commissioner and his management team.

Both Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann have reported that the level of anti-social behaviour is relatively low on their services and noted a declining trend, which is positive.

The entire Dublin Bus fleet is fully fitted with CCTV cameras, with up to 10 internal cameras and two external cameras fitted on the more modern vehicles in the fleet. Each vehicle is equipped with a radio, which facilitates immediate contact to the Central Control Centre.

All of the company's buses are in radio contact with Central Control. Any instances of disruption or concerns around security are immediately reported and services are suspended as necessary. The company also has mobile inspectors in the city centre, who are available to attend incidents as required.

Dublin Bus operates a schools education programme, which involves educating young people about the importance of the bus in their lives and in their local communities. This has proven highly successful in encouraging young people to respect their bus and has assisted in the reduction of incidents of anti-social behaviour.

Bus Éireann has invested in extensive CCTV coverage throughout its fleet for the protection of passengers and staff and driver security screens are fitted to the entire low-floor, single-deck and double-deck bus fleet.

In relation to security screens on Bus Éireann vehicles, I am advised that manufacturers do not currently provide a solution whereby screens can be fitted on coaches and consequently it is not possible for screens to be fitted to the fleet.

I have been assured that Bus Éireann will continue to review this matter with coach manufacturers. However, they continue to face a number of safety challenges due to the constraints arising from the design and layout of the coach cab area, the high operating speeds of coaches, and the need for a clear and unimpeded view for drivers.

Emergency support for drivers is provided through 24-hour control centres and any incidents of anti-social behaviour are fully investigated and followed up with An Garda Síochána as required.

Following representations from the National Bus and Rail Union, my Department wrote to the three CIE companies seeking their views both on the issue of anti-social behaviour and in relation to ensuring the safety of passengers and staff. All companies stressed their strong and close working relationships with An Garda Síochána.

I also wrote to the Minister for Justice and Equality to seek his views on how we could address the issue of anti-social behaviour on our public transport system. The allocation of all Garda resources, including the manner in which Garda personnel are deployed is solely a decision for the Garda Commissioner and his management team.

I understand that An Garda Síochána has met with the Railway Safety Advisory Council in relation to the issue of anti-social behaviour on our public transport network and that further engagement and initiatives are planned.

Cyber Security Protocols

Questions (1614)

Jack Chambers

Question:

1614. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if there are dedicated, professionally trained and certified cybersecurity staff in relation to cybersecurity protocols under the remit of his Department; if such specialists are being recruited; if his Department maintains a risk register of security breaches; if so, if there are staff that analyse, log and maintain such a register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36235/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

My Department takes the area of cybersecurity very seriously and it is identified as a business risk on my Department's risk register. My Department has a professionally trained ICT security officer, whose responsibilities include management of cybersecurity related issues, and who liaises with the National Cyber Security Centre on a regular basis in order to keep abreast of any cybersecurity developments.

Staff record and maintain a register of security breaches as part of my Department's information security policies.

Our Management Board are regularly updated on issues relating to ICT security, including any breaches.

Departmental Operations

Questions (1615)

Jack Chambers

Question:

1615. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his Department has a disaster recovery plan, business continuity plan and-or disaster recovery sites; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36251/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

My Department has an ICT disaster recovery plan and appropriate disaster recovery sites to ensure that, in the event of any incident that impacts our ICT systems, ICT services required to operate my Department continue with minimal disruption.

A Department-wide business continuity plan is currently in development. The objective of the plan will be to enable my Department to effectively respond to an emergency or disruptive incident, ensuring that key functions, both ICT and otherwise, can be maintained at an acceptable level, or are restored to such a level as quickly as possible.

Roads Maintenance

Questions (1616, 1617)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

1616. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when trees will be felled as part of ongoing works being undertaken on a national route (details supplied). [36252/19]

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Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

1617. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the timeframe in respect of works (details supplied) being undertaken; and the likely completion date of same. [36254/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1616 and 1617 together.

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the operation and maintenance of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Noting the above position, I have referred the question to TII for a direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Sports Funding

Questions (1618)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1618. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if funding will be granted to a local authority (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36287/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund opened for applications on 19th November 2018 and the closing date for receipt of applications was 17th April.

72 applications were received in total including one application from Cavan County Council. Details of all applications received have been published on the Department's website along with the evaluation procedures and guidelines.

Assessment of the applications received has commenced. In view of the detailed information contained in each application, I am advised that it will take a number of months to have all of them assessed. Accordingly, I expect that it will be towards the end of this year before any allocations are announced.

Sports Capital Programme

Questions (1619)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1619. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of a grant application for a club (details supplied); if the application will be awarded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36320/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The 2018 round of the Sports Capital Programme closed for applications on Friday 19th October last. By that deadline, a record 2,337 applications were submitted seeking a total of €162m in funding.

186 of these applications were for projects that were deemed invalid under the 2017 round of the programme that subsequently submitted corrected documents. These applications were assessed first and approximately €7m in allocations to 170 projects were announced on the 17th January.

619 equipment only applications were assessed next and 466 allocations with a value of €9.8m were announced to these organisations in May.

Work is now underway in assessing the remaining applications for capital works, including an application from the organisation referred to by the Deputy.

For the first time, applicants who submitted incorrect documentation under this round are being given the opportunity to correct their application during the assessment period. While there will be no undue delay in completing the assessment process, in view of the opportunity to correct documentation, the record number of applications received and the detailed information contained in each application, it is likely to take a further number of weeks to have all applications assessed with allocations announced shortly after that.

As soon as allocations have been made, my Department will carry out a review of all aspects of the 2018 round of the programme to include any possible improvements for the future. This review will include consideration of the timing and scale of the next round but I fully expect that the SCP will again be open for new applications before the end of this year.

Driver Licensing Exchange Agreements

Questions (1620)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

1620. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the provinces in Canada that have reciprocal arrangements with Ireland in relation to driver licences; the reason the other provinces do not have similar arrangements with Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36345/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Ireland has driver licence exchange agreements in place with the following provinces in Canada: Ontario, Manitoba, Newfoundland & Labrador, British Columbia & Saskatchewan.

Canadian licences are issued by the government of the province or territory in which the driver is residing. Thus, specific regulations relating to driver's licences vary province to province, though overall they are quite similar. Licence exchange agreements can be made only when the relevant authorities in each jurisdiction have studied and compared the two licensing regimes, so that each side can be satisfied that they are compatible. On the Irish side, this task is undertaken by the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

We are currently finalising an exchange agreement with Alberta. This will bring to 5 the number of agreements in place with Canada. Work will continue to bring in agreements with the remaining provinces.

Driver Licensing Exchange Agreements

Questions (1621)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

1621. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when agreement and mutual recognition of driver licences from Alberta, Canada and Ireland will be reached so that persons who have come to live or returned to live here can obtain an Irish driver licence based on the one they had in Alberta; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36346/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Work is progressing on the driver licence exchange agreement with Alberta, Canada. The Memorandum of Understanding between Ireland and Alberta is currently with the Alberta authorities for approval and signature. A data sharing agreement will also need to be completed to meet our obligations under Data Protection legislation.

Once the agreements have been signed and returned, the relevant legislation will be put in place to complete the process.

Driver Licensing Exchange Agreements

Questions (1622)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

1622. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if persons who passed their driver test in Saskatchewan and did their probationary driving period in Alberta are covered by the reciprocal driving license arrangements between Ireland and Saskatchewan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36347/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Ireland has a driver licence exchange agreement with Saskatchewan, Canada. The place of issue of the licence will determine whether a licence can be exchanged. If a person has a valid Saskatchewan issued driver's licence, this can be exchanged for an Irish licence.

Brexit Preparations

Questions (1623, 1624, 1625, 1626)

Marc MacSharry

Question:

1623. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of times he has met with the Minister for Justice and Equality in relation to a no-deal Brexit and contingency planning for this eventuality, in tabular form. [36364/19]

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Marc MacSharry

Question:

1624. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of times he has met with the Minister for Defence and or the Minister of State with special responsibility for Defence in relation to a no-deal Brexit and contingency planning for this eventuality, in tabular form. [36365/19]

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Marc MacSharry

Question:

1625. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of times he or his officials have met with representatives from the Department of Justice and Equality in relation to a no-deal Brexit and contingency planning for this eventuality, in tabular form. [36366/19]

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Marc MacSharry

Question:

1626. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of times he or his officials have met with representatives from the Department of Defence in relation to a no-deal Brexit and contingency planning for this eventuality, in tabular form. [36367/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1623 to 1626, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy will be aware, as a Minister of Government, I meet regularly with my Cabinet colleagues including the Ministers for Justice and Equality and Defence. The Cabinet has considered contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit on many occasions, including most recently on 3 September 2019.

At Official level, detailed Brexit preparedness and contingency work is being taken forward on a whole of Government basis, across all Government Departments and Agencies, co-ordinated mainly by officials in the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade in close collaboration with the Department of the Taoiseach. As part of these structures, there are a range of inter-departmental groups in place  for contingency planning for all aspects of Brexit, including for a no-deal. These structures and groups provide a forum for a common understanding of issues arising and allow consideration and planning of issues across all sectors, including transport, justice and defence related issues.

Brexit Supports

Questions (1627)

Brendan Smith

Question:

1627. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if specific financial aid will be provided for the tourism and hospitality sector in the Border region due to the adverse impacts of Brexit and the heavy reliance of the sector on business from Northern Ireland and Britain; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36384/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Government's Brexit Contingency Action Plan Update was published on 9 July. It is the Government's assessment that there is a significant risk of a no deal Brexit on 31 October and accordingly work on no deal Brexit preparations continue to have the highest priority across Government Departments and Agencies.

There is a high degree of uncertainty in forecasting the macroeconomic impact of a no deal Brexit. However it is clear that the impacts would be very damaging. The Contingency Plan Update confirms that in parallel to the predicted macroeconomic impacts, a no deal Brexit will have severe negative effects in a number of sectors and will be widely felt on a regional basis. The impacts will be felt most notably in many exporting sectors including tourism.

In 2019 the Government allocated almost €8 million in additional funding to the tourism agencies specifically to respond to the impact of Brexit. Key elements of the budgetary response will involve temporary, targeted funding for the sectors most affected. In this regard, the Budget allocation for 2020 is subject to the annual estimates discussions with the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform.

Road Projects Contracts

Questions (1628, 1648)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

1628. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a delay will occur in the tendering process for stage II of the Dunkettle interchange upgrade in Cork. [36432/19]

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Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

1648. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he is satisfied that the process by which Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII, enables a public contract to go to tender is fit for purpose in view of the tender process for the Dunkettle interchange upgrade stage II, the cost of which was underestimated. [36776/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1628 and 1648 together.

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design and construction of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

This also includes responsibility for the procurement and tendering process associated with the national roads programme. In that regard, TII, as a Statutory Body, operates under Public Procurement Guidelines which are set at National Level, the extensive body of national and European public procurement law, established forms of contract, and the public capital investment procedures.

Noting the above position, I have referred the question to TII for a direct reply regarding the timelines and tender process for Stage II of the Dunkettle Interchange Project. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Regional Airports

Questions (1629)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Question:

1629. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the rationale for reviewing the funding model for regional airports; if the importance of the public service obligation, PSO, for regional airports such as Donegal Airport will be committed to; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that PSO funding is critical to the ongoing running and success of the airport and that the PSO model is in compliance with EU guidelines for regional airports; if the review will not undermine the viability of the funding model for Donegal Airport; if it will allow for sustainable growth and future expansion of the strategically important airport for the north-west; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36464/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The importance of regional airports in facilitating connectivity and regional development is reflected in Ireland's National Aviation Policy (NAP) as well as Project Ireland 2040 and related Regional Economic and Spatial Strategies.

These policies will be central to developing any funding supports for regional airports, including Donegal Airport, under the new Regional Airports Programme (RAP) 2020 -2024 which is currently being developed by my Department. The current Programme expires at the end of this year.

As part of the preparations for the new Programme, I am seeking the views of key stakeholders and interested parties on the development of the new Programme and related policy. An Issues Paper for Consultation was published on my Department's website on 30 August and the closing date for submissions is 30 September 2019.

The aim of the consultation is to contribute to the design of optimum, cost effective measures in support of regional airports over the period of the next Programme, taking account of regional development, connectivity, sustainability and climate impacts. They must also take into account changes to State aid rules since the publication of the last Programme.

In terms of national connectivity, the current Programme also supports two domestic Public Service Obligation (PSO) air services. This scheme, which must comply with Regulation (EC) No. 1008/2008, facilitates the operation of two domestic air services in Ireland; Donegal - Dublin and Kerry - Dublin. As you may be aware, a four year contract to operate services on these routes was awarded to Stobart Air in January 2018 and operates until 31 January 2022. The Department intends carrying out a mid-contract review on the performance of the PSOs , in keeping with practice on previous contracts, by the end of 2020.

Brexit Supports

Questions (1630)

Brendan Smith

Question:

1630. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the supports being provided to the haulage sector to prepare for Brexit; his plans to implement additional measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36489/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

My Department has maintained close contact with road haulage stakeholders in the context of Brexit and continues to work with the industry representative bodies to keep hauliers and business informed of developments, in keeping with our long-established practice. My officials held meetings in May, July and August with representatives of Freight Transport Association Ireland and the Irish Road Haulage Association to discuss Brexit and the whole-of-Government preparations and, importantly, industry preparations. I addressed an FTAI event on 29 August and emphasised the ongoing need for the transport and logistics sector to prepare for Brexit.

My Department hosted a Brexit Freight Forum with key road transport and maritime stakeholders including haulage industry representative bodies in January of this year. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine were also in attendance and addressed the Forum. In February and March of this year, my Department was represented at the Irish Retail Grocery and Distribution Sector Roundtable events hosted by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and engagement with this sector, including haulage industry representatives, is continuing.

In March, my Department issued a comprehensive Brexit communications notice to all licensed international road haulage operators outlining the position on a range of transport issues which would arise in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This notice is published in my Department’s area of www.gov.ie and the information available online will continue to be updated to keep industry stakeholders informed of Brexit developments.

A very important development is Regulation (EU) 2019/501 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 March 2019, which will ensure the maintenance of basic road connectivity for road freight transport in the event of a no-deal Brexit, allowing UK operators to continue to access the EU on the basis that the UK gives reciprocal access to EU operators. In a Brexit preparedness communication dated 04/09/2019 the Commission has proposed to extend the period of application of this Regulation until 31/07/2020.

The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) study into the implications of Brexit on the use of the landbridge, published in November 2018, estimated that approximately 150,000 Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) travel between Ireland and the continent via the landbridge each year. A cross-departmental Landbridge Project Group, chaired by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, was established in October 2017 and has been working on measures aimed at ensuring the ongoing effective and efficient use of the landbridge post-Brexit, including the key Dover-Calais route. My Department is represented on this Group and engagement continues with our EU partners to find solutions to minimise the potential disruption to Irish hauliers’ access to and through the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The IMDO hosted a workshop on 4 September 2019 to discuss maritime connectivity in the context of Brexit, and the Irish Road Haulage Association and Freight Transport Association Ireland were invited to this event, along with shipping companies, ports authorities, and importers/exporters.

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) has a range of supports available to business including the freight and logistic sector and details can be found on their website www.dbei.gov.ie.

My Department, along with other Government Departments, has emphasised the importance of stakeholders taking all necessary steps within their control to prepare for Brexit, including undertaking contingency planning to minimise the impact of Brexit on their operations. I would encourage road haulage operators to refer to the European Commission’s published Notices to Stakeholders in the field of road transport, the EU’s basic road connectivity contingency Regulation and the section titled “Brexit and Transport – What You Need to Know” in my Department’s area of www.gov.ie.

Electric Vehicles

Questions (1631)

John Curran

Question:

1631. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the steps he will take to legislate for the regulation of e-scooters in view of recommendations and a recently published report by the Road Safety Authority, RSA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36560/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Taking into account the recommendations of the TRL report commissioned by the RSA, I have launched a public consultation on the use of e-scooters and other forms of personal powered transporters. This consultation will run from 1st September 2019 to 1st November 2019 inclusive. The consultation document is available on my Department's website.

I will not be making any decisions on legislating or regulating the use of personal powered transporters during the consultation period and their use on public roads and in public places will remain illegal.

Cycling Policy

Questions (1632)

John Curran

Question:

1632. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the tender process to select a suitable service provider for the cycling design office planned to be operational during the fourth quarter of 2019 is complete; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36561/19]

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, including the establishment of the office referred to by the Deputy.

The Deputy is aware that the NTA issued a tender in relation to this matter earlier in the summer with a deadline for receipt of tenders by 17 July.

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

Legislative Measures

Questions (1633)

John Curran

Question:

1633. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when the necessary legislation required to implement and enforce a new variable speed limit regime and the ability to deploy lane closures on the M50 will be brought forward; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36562/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The legislative proposals to which the Deputy refers are will be contained in the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.

A General Scheme of the Bill, including the proposal for variable speed limits, was approved by Government for formal drafting last December, subject to two proposals within the Scheme being examined further in Cabinet Committee. These two proposals - for graduated speeding penalties and the carrying of driving licences - have now been examined in detail at official level and will be considered by Cabinet Committee shortly.

Once this process is completed, I hope to see work on drafting the Bill for publication completed, and to publish the Bill before the end of the year.

Public Transport Review

Questions (1634)

John Curran

Question:

1634. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when a public consultation will be launched in relation to public transport and active travel policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36563/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As I have previously informed the Deputy, I will shortly launch a review of sustainable mobility policy, commencing with a public consultation period. This review will look at all aspects of current policy in relation to public transport and active travel and preparations are now at an advanced stage with a view to launching in the coming weeks.

This review will allow all stakeholders to reflect on what has been achieved, what remains to be done and how our policy frameworks can support the realisation of a more sustainable transport system.

As part of the public consultation, I will be publishing a comprehensive suite of documents looking at the most important areas of public transport and active travel policy and seeking the views of all stakeholders. I will also publish a report of last year's initial Round Table Discussion with stakeholders, an Ex Post Evaluation of the Smarter Travel Areas programme 2012-2016 and a high-level assessment of the actions under the existing policies, Smarter Travel: A Sustainable Transport Future and the National Cycle Policy Framework.

I look forward to the next phase of this work and engaging with the public and all stakeholders as we look to shape the future direction of public transport and active travel policy.

Public Transport Data

Questions (1635, 1636)

John Curran

Question:

1635. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of electric buses operating in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36573/19]

View answer

John Curran

Question:

1636. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of low emission buses operating in Dublin; the number that will be operational by the end of 2019 and 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36574/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1635 and 1636 together.

My strong commitment to transition our public transport fleet away from fossil fuels towards cleaner technologies was recently reaffirmed in the all-of-Government Climate Action Plan, which sets out an unambiguous target for the first one hundred low-emission buses to enter the urban bus fleet by the end of Q4 2020. This movement to low-emission alternatives for public transport will help to promote and normalise the use of alternative fuels and technologies, while contributing some limited mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.

Progress towards meeting this target is already underway and a clear trajectory towards low-emission vehicles has been firmly established. In the immediate future, Ireland has committed to no longer purchasing diesel-only buses for the urban public bus fleets. The National Transport Authority (NTA), with statutory responsibility for PSO public transport vehicle procurement, initiated a tender competition to award a “Framework Agreement for the Supply of Double-Deck Diesel-Electric Hybrid Buses” before the end of Q4 2019. In addition, funded under the Green Public Transport Fund, Dublin Bus have taken delivery of six electric-hybrid buses, with a further three expected to be delivered before by year end.

Longer-term, findings from the Low Emission Bus Trials alongside EU public fleet procurement requirements (Clean Vehicles Directive) and on-going market analysis and research, will collectively inform the NTA's bus procurement strategy for the coming years. I understand that by 2023, under the BusConnects Programme, approximately half of the public urban bus fleet in the Greater Dublin Area will be low-emitting with full conversion by 2030.

Noting its responsibility with regards to this matter, I have referred your question to the NTA for consideration and direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.