Warmer Homes Scheme Eligibility

Questions (831)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

831. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the parameters for the section of budget 2020 which proposes to provide free upgrades to lower income households to make their homes warmer, more comfortable and more energy efficient; the definition of the proposed financial outlay from the State regarding free upgrades; the definition of a lower income household; the measures proposed to make such homes warmer, more comfortable and more energy efficient; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45248/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Supporting home owners on low incomes to retrofit their homes is a priority for Government. In Budget 2020, the Government allocated €52.8 million for the Warmer Homes Scheme to support the retrofitting of the homes of people living in or at risk of energy poverty. This represents the biggest ever allocation for the Scheme – more than double the initial allocation for 2019. €13 million of this funding is ring-fenced revenue arising from the increase in the carbon price. Income eligibility for the Warmer Homes Scheme requires applicants to be in receipt of one of the following Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection payments: - -

- Fuel Allowance

- Job Seekers Allowance for over 6 months and have a child under seven years of age

- Working Family Payment

- One-Parent Family Payment

- Domiciliary Care Allowance

- Carers Allowance and live with the person you are caring for

The measures that can be carried out under the Warmer Homes Scheme include the following:

- Attic Insulation

- Cavity Wall Insulation

- External Wall Insulation

- Internal Wall Insulation

- Ventilation

- Lagging Jackets, Draught Proofing and Energy Efficient Lighting

- Heating Systems and Windows (only when recommended by SEAI surveyor)

The exact mix of measures provided to each property depends on the existing condition of the home and the recommendations of an SEAI survey of the home.

Additional funding is also being made available to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to retrofit local authority homes. This includes €20 million of carbon price revenue which has been allocated to deliver grouped upgrades as promised in the Climate Action Plan. Targeted at the Midlands, the new scheme will be built around core work on some of the social housing stock in the region but also designed to allow other homeowners to “opt in” to the aggregation model which will streamline services on an area basis. The specific design of the scheme will be led by the Retrofit Taskforce which is chaired by my Department.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (832, 833)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

832. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he is satisfied that he and-or his officials provided the Oireachtas Committee of Public Accounts and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment with the most up-to-date information and mapping information in respect of recent committee hearings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44245/19]

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Catherine Murphy

Question:

833. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the rationale for the approach taken in the context of the market survey update consultation regarding the national broadband plan mapping exercise; if his attention was drawn to the difficulties obtaining mapping and future plans by smaller internet service providers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44246/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 832 and 833 together.

The Government appointed National Broadband Ireland (NBI) as the Preferred Bidder for the NBP in May 2019. This followed a tender process designed to ensure that every home and business throughout the country will have access to future proofed high speed broadband and will cater specifically to an estimated 1.1 million people, representing almost 25% of the population of rural Ireland who would not otherwise have access to this vital service. Since then my officials have been performing the due diligence work needed before a contract can be concluded.

As a State intervention, the NBP must comply with the requirements of the European Commission’s Guidelines on the application of the State aid rules on broadband. The Guidelines require, amongst other things, that Member States carry out a detailed mapping exercise and public consultation process in particular to identify as far as reasonably possible those areas where intervention is required.

My Department recently conducted a public consultation to close the ongoing mapping exercise, seeking submissions from operators who wish to have their existing high speed broadband networks, or who have developed plans to invest in high speed broadband networks over the next 7 years, to be included on the Department’s High Speed Broadband Map. That consultation was extended twice at the request of operators, resulting in a total nine week period for submissions and it closed on 30th September 2019.

As part of the consultation, over 180 submissions were received from a variety of stakeholders, including 30 from large and small commercial telecommunications operators, with the remainder from local authority broadband officers and members of the public.

Operator submissions are assessed against the Department’s published assessment criteria. Operators submitting planned investments are required to sign a declaration that they will enter into a Commitment Agreement with the Department if their plans satisfy the assessment criteria and are accepted by the Department as being concrete and credible.

The findings of the consultation, which will be available in the coming weeks, will ensure that the State Intervention Area is up to date and that it reflects commercial operators’ plans and the responses from householders and businesses, in advance of a contract being signed later this year. This will be an important element in concluding the State Aid approval process with the European Commission.

Both I and my officials have provided detailed and comprehensive information to the Oireachtas on the National Broadband Plan (NBP), including with the respect to the Intervention Area Map, and details of the process through which the map may be changed are published on my Departments website.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (834)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

834. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has undertaken the process of due diligence in respect of a person (details supplied) and their former businesses and-or enterprises in the context of the national broadband plan; if concerns were raised during this process; if so, the way in which he and-or his officials dealt with same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44247/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Government appointed National Broadband Ireland (NBI) as the Preferred Bidder for the National Broadband Plan (NBP) in May 2019. Since then my officials have been performing the necessary financial and contractual due diligence work needed before a contract can be awarded. The Department’s work is well progressed and, pending Government approval, I expect that the contract will be signed before the end of the year after which deployment will commence.

Inland Fisheries Ireland

Questions (835, 836, 837, 838)

Imelda Munster

Question:

835. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 520 and 521 of 15 October 2019, the cost of the additional appointee to which he referred; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44289/19]

View answer

Imelda Munster

Question:

836. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 520 and 521 of 15 October 2019, the specific details of the role of the additional appointee with regard to the design of certain river habitat enhancement projects on OPW drained channels that have been allocated funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44290/19]

View answer

Imelda Munster

Question:

837. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 520 and 521 of 15 October 2019, the projects the additional appointee is working on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44291/19]

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Imelda Munster

Question:

838. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 520 and 521 of 15 October 2019, his plans with regard to appointing a replacement for the project management officer that recently resigned from the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44292/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 835 to 838, inclusive, together.

The additional appointee is on the pay scale of a Research Officer in Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) which is €35,151 to €67,575 per annum.

The role of the appointee is to review the projects proposed on OPW channels and determine, in the first instance if they are appropriate. If the works are required, the appointee will prepare habitat enhancement plans that will increase the biodiversity of the riverine environment. The additional resource will also have a role in assisting with the supervision of the construction of the works necessary for the plan and in ad-hoc duties in support of the Project Management Office in delivering river channel enhancement projects.

There currently are a number of river habitat enhancement projects on OPW drained channels that have been allocated funding by IFI that are not making progress towards completion. IFI are engaging with the applicants for these projects to ascertain if they intend to or are able to make progress with the projects. If the applicants do not make progress with these projects it is IFI’s intention to withdraw the offer of funds from the applicants and determine what works are required at these sites to increase the biodiversity of those riverine habitats and the priority of those works to IFI. The appointee will develop plans for those sites where enhancement works are required. To that end, and in order to avoid possible delays to those projects arising from season critical factors, the additional resource has commenced reviews and surveys of those projects in advance of the withdrawal of funds. The projects are the Abbert River Spawning & Habitat Regeneration project, the Boycetown and Trimblestown project, the Deel Project Phase1, the Hartions Bridge Instream Work Project and the Navan Anglers O’Grady Phase 1 and 2 projects.

There are currently no plans to replace the temporary project management officer that recently resigned from IFI.

Building Energy Rating Administration

Questions (839)

David Cullinane

Question:

839. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of the 420,000 homes that have availed of the range of home retrofit schemes administered by SEAI that have changed their building energy rating as a result of work carried out under the retrofit scheme; the changes by BER rating in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44301/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Government funded grant schemes for energy efficiency have supported upgrades to over 400,000 homes since 2000. Data in relation to the number of homes that have changed their BER following an upgrade under these schemes is not available. However, the SEAI has carried out analysis on a sample of the homes upgraded under the Better Energy Homes scheme. The findings are presented in Table 1. A similar analysis, again estimating the pre works BER was carried out on 2017 and 2018 completions under the Warmer Homes Scheme. The estimated pre works BERs and actual post works BERs are presented in Table 2

The Climate Action Plan has committed to increasing the scale and depth of retrofit activity in order to meet our emissions reduction targets from the Built Environment. This will involve 500,000 homes being upgraded to a BER B2 or the cost optimal or carbon equivalent by 2030. A Retrofit Taskforce, chaired by my Department, is driving the achievement of this target. A key part of the Taskforce’s work will be designing a national retrofit delivery model that groups homes together to achieve economies of scale and provides smart financing options and easy pay back methods. A €20 million pilot in the Midlands in 2020, funded with the revenues from the increased carbon tax and focussing on social housing as a core element of the project, will inform this model.

Energy Schemes Data

Questions (840)

David Cullinane

Question:

840. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of homes in each county that have availed of retrofit programmes (details supplied) in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44302/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

A range of Government funded grants are available to householders to suit their circumstances and scale of work they wish to undertake. The measures available under these grants have been progressively expanded in recent years to promote deeper measures and support the transition away from fossil fuel heating systems. The majority of these grants are available to homeowners whose properties were built before 2006. Since the introduction of these grants nearly 400,000 homes across the country have received an energy efficiency upgrade, representing nearly one home in five across the country.

The Government’s Climate Action Plan sets an ambitious target of 500,000 energy efficiency retrofits by 2030. Achievement of this target will be supported by the Project Ireland 2040 allocation of €3.7 billion as well as the range of measures identified in the Plan.

Budget 2020 has allocated €146 million for retrofitting homes and businesses. This record level of investment is an important step towards realising the Government’s Climate Action Plan targets for building retrofits.

The information requested in relation to the number of homes that availed of grants under each scheme, by county breakdown where available, from 2009 to end of September 2019 is set out in the table below. Approximately 40,000 additional homes were also upgraded from 2000-2008 under the Warmer Homes scheme and from 2012 to date under the Better Energy Communities scheme. A county breakdown is not readily available for those properties.

-

Better Energy Homes Scheme

Warmer Homes Scheme

Warmth & Wellbeing Pilot

Deep Retrofit Pilot

2009-2019

No. of Homes Completed

No. of Homes Completed

No. of Homes Completed

No.of Homes Completed

Carlow

2438

1904

0

Cavan

4062

2299

1

Clare

9393

3137

2

Cork

32917

14088

8

Donegal

5352

5582

16

Dublin

49873

18239

1130

62

Galway

17033

6416

10

Kerry

10283

4171

3

Kildare

7940

4542

4

Kilkenny

4159

1992

5

Laois

3391

2001

1

Leitrim

1118

1763

1

Limerick

14483

5749

6

Longford

1669

1747

0

Louth

8241

4779

1

Mayo

6376

6111

64

Meath

9339

4112

2

Monaghan

3062

1848

0

Offaly

2476

2637

1

Roscommon

3060

2929

0

Sligo

2464

2401

0

Tipperary

8885

5529

27

Waterford

7896

4460

15

Westmeath

3321

3006

7

Wexford

8494

5170

23

Wicklow

4759

3426

2

Commercial Property

Questions (841)

David Cullinane

Question:

841. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of commercial property green leases that SEAI has identified that are under operation by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44303/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The SEAI do not gather or have information on the number of commercial property green leases in Ireland. Property leases, whether green or not, are private agreements and would be considered commercially sensitive contracts. Green leases usually rely on tenant–landlord cooperation by promoting collaboration and fostering better communication between the parties.

It is generally recognised that there are advantages to green leases, or the incorporation of green clauses in leases, when it comes to promoting improved energy efficiency.

In this context, green leases are included as an area of focus as part of the public consultation exercise to be launched shortly on ways to help address the split incentive problem in the rented sector. This will include seeking suggestions on how in practice more widespread use of effective green leases could be encouraged or promoted in rented commercial buildings.

Just Transition Fund

Questions (842)

Michael Harty

Question:

842. Deputy Michael Harty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a just transition fund will be provided for Moneypoint power station to offset the move from fossil fuels and its impact on workers that lose their jobs at the station; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44324/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Ireland’s necessary transition away from carbon-intensive sources of energy, towards more sustainable, renewable energy sources, will have a significant impact on the workers in these carbon-intensive sectors, their families, and communities. Government has committed to delivering a whole of Government approach, and to working with local stakeholders, to ensuring that a just transition is provided to those impacted by this transition. Budget 2020 includes a number of measures that will form part of the Governments approach to supporting a Just Transition. They include:

- €6 million for a Just Transition Fund;

- €5 million for bog restoration and rehabilitation; and

- €20 million to deliver new model to group housing upgrades.

These measures will be immediately targeted at the Midlands and will support retraining and reskilling workers and assist local communities and businesses in the Midlands to adjust to the low carbon transition. There will be further engagement with local stakeholders on the application of the funding.

I understand that, following extensive engagement between ESB, the staff at Moneypoint and their trade unions, staff have accepted a proposal relating to the reconfiguration of the station based on a new lower running regime. This proposal was accepted in a staff ballot which concluded on 4 October. This is a positive step in retaining an on-going operation in Moneypoint. ESB will continue to work with staff and their representatives to implement the agreement in a collaborative way to face the challenges ahead.

I can assure the Deputy that ESB remains committed to Moneypoint and, in line with its Brighter Future strategy and Government decarbonisation policy, the Company is currently examining technology options for the plant that will deliver large-scale, low-carbon electricity generation, fuel diversity, and security of supply, after generation from coal ceases no later than 2025.

The agencies of the State will support workers affected through their services and I am open to receiving submissions from regional stakeholders on remaining challenges which might need support in the context of just transition.

Energy Infrastructure

Questions (843, 845)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

843. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to reconsider including the Shannon liquid natural gas terminal on the EU project of common interest list; the analysis made in the context of the proposed inclusion; if he sought external advice on the matter; if so, if he will provide the advice; the cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44329/19]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

845. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to approve the inclusion of the proposed gas terminal on the Shannon Estuary in the fourth list of projects of common interest in the absence of assessments of energy security, greenhouse gas emissions and sustainability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44404/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 843 and 845 together.

The Shannon LNG project to which the Deputies refer has been designated as a project of common interest for the last 6 years. It was designated as a project of common interest in 2013 and again in 2015, and 2017. It has been supported by Ireland since 2013 as it would enhance Ireland’s energy security by increasing import route diversity. This project is one of a number of natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects included in the 4th EU PCI list.

However, while Ireland continued to support the inclusion of Shannon LNG on the 4th EU PCI list, I have made it clear that the Government will not consider any application for EU Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funding for any LNG project until an energy and sustainability security of supply review has been completed and considered by the Government and the Dáil, and only if the projects in question are consistent with national and EU climate policy objectives.

The energy sustainability and security review will consider how and from where fossil fuels are sourced during a transition to a carbon neutral economy. It will also consider the role that battery storage, pumped storage, hydrogen and CCS can play.

In addition, at the meeting of 4 October 2019 which considered the 4th PCI list, Ireland enquired from the EU Commission whether the implications of importing LNG to the European Union, from conventional and unconventional fracked sources, have been examined in terms of a sustainable, secure and competitive European energy policy. The Commission advised that it had launched a study on methane emissions and agreed with the need to link gas imports to the objective of a climate neutral economy.

In relation to the process of PCI selection, it is organised by the European Commission in accordance with the requirements of EU Regulation 347/2013 which covers PCIs. This involves an evaluation process of projects put forward by project promoters. The process also involves the project promoters, regulators, Member States and other stakeholders participating in regional groups to discuss the projects.

The draft PCI list, which was agreed by Member States and the Commission at a meeting of 4 October 2019, has now been adopted by delegated act by the European Commission, and forwarded by the Commission to the European Council and Parliament for their consideration.

My Department did not seek external advice on the inclusion of the Shannon LNG project on the 4th list of Projects of Common Interest; the project has been included on each of the previous PCI lists from 2013 to date. The project is a private commercial project and the future development of this project, including final investment decisions, are matters for the project promoter.

The EU Regulation which provides for the designation of a project of common interest does not override the requirement to comply with environmental law or to obtain the necessary permits or consents. Compliance with all legal and regulatory requirements in relation to consents or permits, including environmental assessment, are the responsibility of the project promoter. Decisions on consents for the construction of an LNG plant would be a matter for the relevant consenting authorities.

Housing Estates

Question No. 845 answered with Question No. 843.

Questions (844)

Peter Burke

Question:

844. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will consider housing estates (details supplied) in County Westmeath as part of the retrofit programme allocation made in budget 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44375/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

A just transition and protecting the most vulnerable is at the heart of the Climate Action Plan and measures announced as part of Budget 2020 will support those most affected. The Government has allocated €20 million of Carbon Price revenue to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to deliver grouped upgrades as promised in the Climate Action Plan. Targeted at the Midlands, the scheme will be built around core work on some of the social housing stock in the region but will also be designed to allow other homeowners to “opt in” to the aggregation model which will streamline services on an area basis. It will also support an estimated 400 jobs directly and indirectly. The specific design of the project will be led by the Retrofit Taskforce which was established in recent weeks and is chaired by my Department. Decisions in relation to the locations that will be involved in the scheme next year have not yet been made.

This significantly increased level of investment represents an important step towards realising the Government’s Climate Action Plan targets in the area of building retrofitting while prioritising the most vulnerable households.

Question No. 845 answered with Question No. 843.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (846, 847, 848)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

846. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has funded or if funds relating to national broadband plan funding have been directed towards a company (details supplied) in 2019; his plans for same in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44413/19]

View answer

Catherine Murphy

Question:

847. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has funded or if funds relating to the national broadband plan have been directed towards a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44431/19]

View answer

Catherine Murphy

Question:

848. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to award an initial percentage of national broadband plan funds to a company (details supplied) via another company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44453/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 846 to 848, inclusive, together.

The Government appointed National Broadband Ireland (NBI) as the Preferred Bidder for the National Broadband Plan (NBP) in May 2019. Since then my officials have been performing the necessary financial and contractual due diligence work needed before a contract can be concluded. The Department’s work is well progressed and, pending Government approval, I expect to sign the contract before the end of the year after which deployment will commence.

The NBP contract for the State intervention will be with NBI. NBI will be supported by a number of internationally experienced subcontractors, including the KN Group, Kelly Group and Actavo among others to assist in the delivery of the NBP. NBI is also finalising infrastructure access agreements with key infrastructure providers such as eir and enet. NBI will be required to demonstrate good value for money for these key subcontracts.

Landfill Sites

Question No. 850 answered with Question No. 828.

Questions (849)

John Brady

Question:

849. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the person or body that will cover the costs associated with the remediation works at Whitestown landfill, County Wicklow, including legal costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44522/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The costs of the required remediation works at Whitestown are not yet known and are a matter for the Local Authority in the first instance. No decision has been taken about funding of the remediation works.

Question No. 850 answered with Question No. 828.