Environmental Protection Agency Reports

Questions (851)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

851. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on the report from the Environmental Protection Agency Air Quality in Ireland 2018 and its specific call for the effective implementation and enforcement of the proposed nationwide smoky coal ban to reduce air pollution; the timeline for a decision in relation to fulfilling the existing commitment to introduce a smoky coal ban; his views on the comments by an organisation (details supplied) on the issue of the smoky coal ban; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44548/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I welcome the recent publication by the Environmental Protection report “Air Quality in Ireland 2018”, which sets out the current position as regards our air quality and illustrates certain challenges in this regard. The report indicates that air quality levels at monitoring sites in Ireland were below the current EU legislative limit values in 2018, although the stricter World Health Organisation (WHO) guideline values (which are lower and, therefore, offer greater protection) were exceeded at a number of monitoring sites for fine particulate matter, ozone, and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Particulate matter from the domestic burning of solid fuel is one of the main pollutants identified in the report. In relation to the proposed nationwide extension of the ban on the marketing, sale and distribution of bituminous coal (or “the smoky coal ban”, as it is commonly known), I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question [41406/19] of 16 October, and note that the position is unchanged.

In relation to the comments of the Asthma Society, my officials recently had a positive meeting with representatives of the Society to hear their views on the issue, and I look forward to further engagement in the future.

In the meantime, I intend to publish the National Clean Air Strategy in the coming months, to inter alia set out a number of policy measures to improve air quality nationwide.

My Department is also funding the Environmental Protection Agency’s roll-out of the Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme (AAMP), which will greatly improve the data available on air pollution in Ireland, facilitating the design and targeting of appropriate policy measures to tackle it.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (852, 861)

Jack Chambers

Question:

852. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if broadband connection points are to be tendered for under the national broadband plan; when the tendering process will commence; if a company (details supplied) is eligible to bid for the tender; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44578/19]

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Jack Chambers

Question:

861. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has met a company (details supplied) in the context of the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44816/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 852 and 861 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.

In the first year of roll out, the NBI will deploy over 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 communities with a high speed broadband service, enhancing online participation and allowing for the establishment of digital work hubs in these locations. The BCPs are included in the overall scope of the National Broadband Plan and NBI’s solution which was submitted and evaluated as part of their final tender submission. The BCPs along with a number of other parts of NBI’s solution will be subject to a subcontract. NBI will be required to demonstrate good value for money for these key subcontracts. NBI is currently putting in place the necessary subcontracts with its key suppliers, so that it can assure the delivery of its commitments under the NBP contract.

I can confirm that neither I nor officials in my Department have met with the company referred to by the Deputy in the context of the National Broadband Plan.

Medical Waste Disposal

Questions (853, 863)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

853. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 346 of 28 June 2019, the outcome of the meeting on 13 June 2019. [44580/19]

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John Curran

Question:

863. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the delivery of the annual support of €75 for the disposal of medical incontinence wear for vulnerable persons to help meet the average annual coat of disposing of domestic waste; when the support will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44860/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 853 and 863 together..

Since mid-2017, a range of charging options have operated, which encourage householders to reduce and separate their waste. This provides flexibility to waste collectors to develop various service-price offerings that suit different household circumstances. Mandatory per kilogramme 'pay by weight' charging was not introduced. A Price Monitoring Group (PMG) was established in mid-2017 to monitor the on-going cost of residential waste collection to homeowners across Ireland as the ‘flat-rate structure’ was being phased out. While fluctuations in prices and service offerings have been observed, the overall trend has been relative price stability.

My Department has been examining this issue in detail and has engaged with relevant stakeholders in an effort to see how best to provide a financial support to persons with long-term incontinence with respect to the disposal of medical incontinence wear. In this regard my officials held a meeting with a number of representative organisations on 13 June 2019 to provide an update on the current situation regarding the proposed support along with a summary of efforts to date to develop a suitable mechanism to deliver this support. There are complex issues at play, which is understandable given the sensitive nature of the medical data in question.

Postal Codes

Questions (854)

Peter Burke

Question:

854. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if an issue with an eircode (details supplied) will be resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44654/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Eircodes are assigned to new property addresses using a valid postal address and verified geographical locations provided by authoritative sources. These sources are An Post, who collect information on new and existing properties, as well as changes to existing addresses and Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSI) who provide the geographical locations for all these properties. The National Ambulance Service (NAS) integrated Eircodes into its computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system in February 2016. NAS use a state-of-the-art CAD system that utilises only the latest version of Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSI) digital maps for call taking and ambulance dispatch and not Google maps. Callers to the NAS give the patients address and Eircode. The advanced mobile locator automatically positions the patient’s property and the nearest available ambulance on the NAS call takers OSI digital map. The patient’s geographical location along with the Eircode is then sent to the mobile data terminal (MDT) in the ambulance, which allows the ambulance crew navigate to the scene using OSI digital maps so as to arrive at the correct location facilitating speedier access to care.

Ambulance emergency requests often come from isolated locations. The use of Eircodes assists in the rapid identification of often non-unique, rural addresses. The NAS considers the Eircode information to be very important in responding to emergency calls for such addresses.

Electric Vehicles

Questions (855, 881)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

855. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason there are no electric vehicle fast charging points in County Cavan; if matters raised by a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; if consideration will be given to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44678/19]

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Anne Rabbitte

Question:

881. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of electric vehicle charging points installed in each county in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the number of planned installations in each county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45081/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 855 and 881 together.

The Climate Action Plan sets out a range of actions to support the delivery of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. These actions include developing the infrastructure to stay sufficiently ahead of demand.

There are currently over 650 standard public charge points and 96 fast chargers, which are mainly on national routes, in Ireland. Most of this infrastructure was installed up to 2016 by the ESB as part of its eCars programme with a limited number of charge points installed since. My Department does not have a detailed breakdown by county and year of the charge point installations. However, the public charge points currently provided by ESB eCars are shown along with the status of each charger on their online map.

I am aware that there is currently no fast charger in County Cavan. I also understand that there is a need for greater numbers of charge points, and in particular fast chargers, as the number of electric vehicles increase. Under the first call for applications from the Climate Action Fund, I approved funding of up to €10 million will support ESB eCars to develop a nationwide, state-of-the-art electric vehicle fast charging network, with ESB eCars also investing €10 million. This project includes the installation of 140 fast chargers consisting of 90 150kW chargers (each of which will be capable of charging two vehicles simultaneously) and upgrading 50 existing standard chargers to 50kW chargers The project will also involve replacing over 500 existing standard charge points with next generation high reliability models.

This is a multi-annual project and is expected to be fully completed by 2022. The locations of the chargers that will be installed as part of this project have not been finalised. However, a provisional map of the planned network, showing indicative locations, was developed by ESB eCars and has been published on my Department’s website.

I expect approximately half of the 140 new fast chargers to be installed by the end of 2020 bringing the total to over 160 fast chargers. This is expected to further increase to over 200 by the end of 2021 and over 230 by the end of 2022.

In addition, Budget 2020 provided €2 million in funding for a new SEAI support scheme for public charge points. This scheme provides funding to Local Authorities who install public charge points. A grant of up to €5,000 per charge point is provided with sufficient funding available to support the installation of up to 400 charge points next year.

Energy Schemes Data

Questions (856, 886, 887)

Dara Calleary

Question:

856. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if funding will be made available in late 2019 to SEAI to conduct energy efficiency works on homes of persons in receipt of eligible social welfare payments whose homes previously had limited works carried out under the remit of the free upgrade scheme; his views on whether a home that may have received nominal works in the past such as attic insulation would benefit greatly from full energy efficient works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44691/19]

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Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

886. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of homes that previously received works under the better energy warmer homes schemes that have been successful for a second visit to date in 2019; the number of applications requesting a second visit to date in 2019; the criteria used to assess eligibility for a second visit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45340/19]

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Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

887. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of homes that previously received works under the better energy warmer homes schemes which have been successful for a second visit in 2019; the number of applications requesting a second visit in 2019; the criteria used to assess eligibility for a second visit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45346/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 856, 886 and 887 together.

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.

The initial Warmer Homes Scheme budget allocation for 2019 was €24 million. However, following a mid-year capital review conducted by my Department and SEAI, the budget has been increased to €39.8 million for 2019. The budget for 2020 will be €52.8 million - a record level of funding for the scheme.

The aim of the scheme is to deliver efficiency measures in a way which represents the best possible use of Exchequer funding. The rules of the Scheme stipulate that repeat upgrade visits are not provided. This rule is in place to ensure that the available Exchequer funding provides upgrades to as many eligible homes as possible and to prioritise eligible homes that have never had any work completed under the scheme.

In 2018, the measures available under the scheme were expanded. Previously, those homes which were not suitable for cavity wall insulation could not get their walls insulated under the scheme. Since the expansion of measures, the scheme can now, in certain circumstances, provide internal or external wall insulation. This is permitting the upgrade of a wider range of property types (such as homes with solid walls) and also increases the energy savings and emissions reductions that the scheme can achieve. In addition, it will 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 types of works and the available budget. The homeowners on this waiting list have never received any form of free upgrade from SEAI under the scheme.

The Climate Action Plan commits to reviewing ways to improve how current energy poverty schemes target those most in need. This review is underway and will consider the issue of revisits for additional works.

Information and Communications Technology

Questions (857, 858, 859)

Alan Kelly

Question:

857. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of computers in his Department that still use an operating system (details supplied) in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44706/19]

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Alan Kelly

Question:

858. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his Department will not be forced to pay additional premium payments to a company (details supplied) once support for an operating system expires in January 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44722/19]

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Alan Kelly

Question:

859. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to protect his Department in the event of a malware attack or security risks as a result of the failure to upgrade computers from an operating system (details supplied) in his Department and the agencies under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44738/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 857 to 859, inclusive, together.

My Department currently has 552 devices using the Windows 7 operating system. My Department has not been informed of any additional charges with regard to extended support for the Windows 7 operating system beyond January 2020. There is no obligation on my Department to accept any additional premium payments for on-going support that may be applied by Microsoft from January 2020. My Department has a complex security infrastructure deployed that incorporates the use of hardware and software to protect all network assets and devices on the Department's network and my Department is satisfied that this infrastructure is providing optimum protection to the Departments ICT network.

My Department is working with our shared service provider, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, to implement a phased migration of all computers on the network to a later version of the Windows operating system during 2020.

Climate Change Adaptation Plans

Question No. 861 answered with Question No. 852.

Questions (860)

Jack Chambers

Question:

860. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the pledges, initiatives, partnerships and funding committed to in the context of the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit nine action areas; the nature of commitment and involvement by Ireland in each of the coalitions and multi-state initiatives established as part of the summit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44812/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The UN Climate Action Summit, which took place on 23 September, was convened by the UN Secretary General to build momentum towards enhanced climate ambition by Parties to the Paris Agreement. This was preceded on Saturday, 21 September, by the Youth Climate Summit. Parties to the summit were invited to make new commitments under a number of different themes, include mitigation strategy; resilience and adaptation; climate finance and carbon pricing; social and political drivers; energy transition; resilience and adaptation; nature-based solutions; infrastructure, cities and local government; industry; and youth engagement and public mobilisation. Ireland has confirmed support for a number of initiatives under different themes for the Climate Action Summit which are aligned with domestic policy priorities and these are set out below.

1. Mitigation Strategy Coalition

Ireland was included on a list of countries and non-Party stakeholders that demonstrated genuine leadership either by having developed plans to achieve net zero CO emissions by 2050, by having identified this target as a long-term national goal or by advancing consultations on a long-term strategy for climate-neutrality in line with the Paris Agreement.

2. Resilience and Adaptation Coalition

- Call for Action: Raising Ambition for Climate Ambition

- InsuResilience Initiative

- Global Commission on Adaptation Agriculture Food Security Initiative

- Africa Adaptation Initiative

- LDC Initiative for Effective Adaptation and Resilience (LIFE-AR)

3. Social and Political Drivers Coalition

- Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Climate Action Initiative

- Health as a Political Driver for increased Climate Ambition on Climate Change

- Addressing the Impacts of Climate Change on Culture and Natural Heritage

- Just Transition and the Creation of Green Jobs for All

4. Energy Transition Coalition

- Decarbonising Shipping: Getting to Zero Coalition

- Three Percent Club for Energy Efficiency

5. Nature-Based Solutions Coalition

- Nature Based Coalition

6. Industry Coalition

- Leadership Group for Industry Transition

7. Youth Engagement and Public Mobilisation Coalition

Ireland and the Marshall Irelands jointly sponsored the preparation of the 'Kwon Gesh' (or "Solemn Duty") climate pledge, which invites its signatories to give the younger generation a greater voice in creating climate policy.

A full list of the announcements and commitments made at the Climate Summit can be found at UN climate website at www.un.org/climatechange.

The commitments entered into by Ireland do not give rise to any new funding commitments for the State. In terms of next steps, it is now a matter for the lead countries to determine how each initiative can be further developed and implemented. My Department expects to have further engagement from the relevant lead countries in relation to each initiative over the coming months.

Question No. 861 answered with Question No. 852.

Departmental Staff Data

Question No. 863 answered with Question No. 853.

Questions (862)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

862. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of full and part-time staff employed in his Department; the number of such staff being paid at the minimum wage rate of pay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44841/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

There are currently 349 full time and 48 part time (work sharing) staff in My Department. All staff in my Department are paid above the minimum wage rate of pay.

Question No. 863 answered with Question No. 853.

Warmer Homes Scheme

Questions (864, 865)

John Curran

Question:

864. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the timelines and deadlines for the expanded warmer homes scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44861/19]

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John Curran

Question:

865. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the retrofitting of social housing and those at risk of energy poverty under the expanded warmer homes scheme will be prioritised; his plans to ensure that delivery of same is done in a timely manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44862/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 864 and 865 together.

The Warmer Homes Scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households that meet the defined eligibility criteria and are vulnerable to energy poverty. The Scheme has been in existence since 2002 and has provided upgrades to over 140,000 homes, leaving the occupants better able to afford to heat their homes to an adequate level.

The scheme is available nationwide and has evolved over time from initially only providing basic insulation, to now also offering a much deeper retrofit including internal and external wall insulation. The Climate Action Plan commits to a review of the scheme being completed by the end of the year to ensure that those most in need are targeted.

A budget of €52.8 million has been allocated to the Scheme for next year. This represents the biggest ever budget for the Warmer Homes 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. 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 householders.

Social housing upgrades are a matter for the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. A budget of €25 million has been allocated for the social housing energy efficiency retrofit programme in 2019. Budget 2020 has provided an additional €20 million from revenues arising from the increase in the carbon price, for the retrofitting of social housing in the Midlands. This scheme will focus on upgrading much larger batches of homes in distinct, compact geographical areas and allow private homeowners to opt-in. This will determine the savings that can be achieved through a larger scale and more structured approach to the renovation of our housing stock. It will also create new, sustainable employment in the region. The specific design of the project will be driven by the Retrofit Taskforce which is chaired by my Department.

Illegal Dumping

Questions (866)

John Curran

Question:

866. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the funding being made available to each county council to deal with incidents of illegal dumping and fly tipping in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44863/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department provided funding of €1.2 million and €1.8 million to the Anti-Dumping Initiative in 2017 and 2018 respectively and a further allocation of €3 million has been made available this year to support over 280 projects across the country. Details of this year’s allocations and the projects funded by the Anti-Dumping Initiative in both 2017 and 2018 can be accessed on my Department's website at the following link:

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

Electricity Generation

Questions (867)

John Curran

Question:

867. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the degree to which electricity generation can depend on alternatives such as wind, solar and hydropower; the percentage of electricity being met by each of these means; his projections for the future in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44864/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Government's Climate Action Plan sets out the roadmap to increasing the overall share of renewable electricity generation to 70% of demand by 2030. This is a significant increase from the current level of 30%. The Climate Action Plan provides for the early and complete phase-out of the highest CO2 intensity fossil fuels in the electricity sector - coal by 2025 and peat by 2028 - leading to a reduction of 7-8Mt of CO2 emissions by 2030. The specific trajectory of renewable electricity out to 2030 will be set out in Ireland's National Energy and Climate Plan which is due to be finalised by the end of 2019.

Regarding the current fuel mix, I refer the Deputy to the 2018 statistics published by Eirgrid which shows the fuel mix for electricity generation in Ireland. They can be found on Eirgrid website at

http://www.eirgridgroup.com/site-files/library/EirGrid/Fuel20Mix.jpg.

This generation mix is expected to change with the planned increase of renewables between now and 2030, further detail on which can be found in EirGrid's recently published All Island Generation Capacity Statement 2019-2028, which can be found on EirGrid's website at:

http://www.eirgridgroup.com/site-files/library/EirGrid/EirGrid-Group-All-Island-Generation-Capacity-Statement-2019-2028.pdf.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (868, 869, 870, 871, 872, 873, 875, 878)

Robert Troy

Question:

868. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the provision of broadband service to an area (details supplied). [44891/19]

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Robert Troy

Question:

869. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the availability of broadband for a property (details supplied). [44932/19]

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Robert Troy

Question:

870. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the availability of fibre broadband in an area (details supplied). [44945/19]

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Robert Troy

Question:

871. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the availability of fibre broadband to an area (details supplied). [44947/19]

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Robert Troy

Question:

872. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the provision of fibre broadband to an area (details supplied). [44958/19]

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Robert Troy

Question:

873. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the provision of fibre broadband to an area (details supplied). [44959/19]

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Robert Troy

Question:

875. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the provision of fibre broadband to an area (details supplied). [44975/19]

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Robert Troy

Question:

878. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the availability of fibre broadband services for an area (details supplied). [44990/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 868 to 873, inclusive, 875 and 878 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 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 premises referred to by the Deputy are in the AMBER area on the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map, which is available on my Department's website at www.broadband.gov.ie. The AMBER areas represent the target areas for the proposed State led Intervention under the NBP.

Since the Government decision in May 2019 to appoint NBI as the Preferred Bidder for the National Broadband Plan contract, work has continued on the due diligence necessary to conclude the contract. This process is progressing towards contract award, which is expected before the end of the year. The network deployment will commence shortly after that.

The Bidder has indicated that the NBP State intervention will take an estimated 7 years from the beginning of deployment. A deployment plan will be made available by the Bidder once the contract is signed.

In the first year of roll out, the Bidder will deploy approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) across all counties. It is anticipated that between 7 and 23 BCPs will be deployed in each county. BCPs will provide a community based high speed broadband service, enhancing online participation and allowing for the establishment of digital work hubs in these locations.

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

Work continues on finalising the contract and in parallel to this work, I am considering the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Communications Committee report which was published recently. I will bring my deliberations of the report to Government in due course.