Animal Welfare

Questions (205)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

205. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he continues to monitor all aspects of animal welfare including canine and non-sporting equines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49452/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I am fully committed to promoting good practices that respect the welfare of all animals and my Department devotes considerable resources to protecting animal welfare and in dealing with breaches of animal welfare legislation.

Officials from my Department are directly involved in monitoring animal welfare on farms as part of their inspection duties in the areas of animal health, food safety, transportation and welfare. My Department also actively works via the regional Early Warning System to ensure that potential welfare problems in farming are identified at an early stage and, wherever possible, avoided.

I would encourage anyone who has evidence of a breach of animal welfare to report it to the Animal Welfare Hotline operated by my Department. The phone numbers of the hotline are as follows: Call Save: 076 1064408; Phone: 01 6072379

Where breaches of animal welfare are suspected, these can also be emailed to animalwelfare@agriculture.gov.ie.

It is important to point out that control in respect of animal welfare is a matter that is also dealt with by a wide range of organisations not just my Department.  In the case of non-farmed animals, a vital role is played by An Gárda Síochána, Local Authorities and authorised officers of the ISPCA and DSPCA.  These latter are some of the many recipients of substantial ex-gratia funding which my Department provides to underpin important work done by many organisations in the area of supporting animal welfare.

In December 2018, I announced the largest ever Department allocation of funding to 108 animal welfare organisations of €2.75m. 

An advertisement was placed in the national press earlier this year inviting applications from welfare bodies for funding in respect of their activities in 2020.  Applications for funding from animal welfare bodies are assessed and awards made on the basis of certain criteria, including the level and type of assistance provided by the organisation in the delivery of care and welfare services to animals and the level of funding raised from other sources to support welfare activities.  To date, 110 applications have been received.  These are currently being processed and I expect to make an announcement on funding by the end of the year.

Brexit Supports

Questions (206)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

206. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which financial supports and-or incentives are in place to address the negative impact of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49453/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The government recognises that Brexit will have negative impacts on the Irish economy and, as a result, I have introduced a number of supports for farmers and the agri-food sector to assist in addressing the challenges posed by Brexit.  These include:

- the €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme for Brexit-impacted SMEs and mid-cap businesses. The funding arrangements ensure that at least 40% of the fund is available to food businesses. Up to 15th November 2019, 802 loans have been approved of which 212 to the value of approx. €46.6m have been sanctioned and 37 of these, to the value of €9.5m, relate to food businesses.

- the DBEI/DAFM “Future Growth Loan Scheme” will make up to €300 million of long-term strategic investment loans available to eligible Irish businesses, including farmers and the agri-food & seafood sectors. Businesses have been able to apply for loan eligibility through the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) since 17th April 2019.  As of 15th November 2019, 1,906 loans are approved of which 683 are farmers, and 227 are food companies.  Of these, 592 loans to the value of €120m have been sanctioned, and of these 592 loans, 283 are farmers with a total sanction amount of €32.7m, and 56 are food companies for a value of €20m.

- A market prioritisation exercise undertaken by Bord Bia to identify priority markets across all food and drinks categories;

- tailored supports and analysis are being provided to food companies through Bord Bia’s Brexit Barometer;

- an intensified series of trade missions to develop and grow new markets has taken place.

In Budget 2020, the Government announced that it will provide a ‘no-deal’ contingency fund to support our most vulnerable sectors, with up to €650 million available overall, to be activated in tranches as the full impacts of Brexit emerge.  €110 million will be made available for the agri-food sector in the first tranche, to be supplemented by any exceptional aid provided from the EU.

The provision of immediate supports for our beef sector will be a first priority, as will support for our fishing fleet. We also want to support food companies to re-orient towards new products and markets, and to support other sectors to improve their competitiveness.

While supports cannot fully address the negative effects of a no-deal for the agri-food and fisheries sectors, this first tranche of supports will be used to ameliorate the immediate impact on farmers and fishermen, as the full impact of a no-deal Brexit crystallises, and to make some of the adjustments needed to improve resilience for businesses in the face of new market realities.  Of course, we await  developments in the UK over the coming weeks, which will determine whether a no-deal exit is likely at the end of January 2020.

Artisan Food Sector

Questions (207)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

207. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the degree to which opportunities continue to exist for the artisan food sector; the degree to which the industry has grown over the past three years; his expectations for the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49454/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Artisan and speciality food businesses can have a significant impact on local rural economies and their importance is acknowledged in the Food Wise 2025 strategy.  Growth prospects for the sector are positive overall, driven by increased consumer interest in the provenance of food, environmental concerns, health and a desire to support the local economy.

A range of supports for this particular sector is available both from my Department and in links with other Government Departments.

I understand that approximately 500 artisan and speciality food companies with a turnover of between €100,000 to €3.5m are registered with Bord Bia for supports and services they offer, include marketing assistance, specialised training, capacity building and promotion.

Funding under the Rural Innovation & Development Fund is provided by my Department for initiatives designed to promote agri-food tourism in rural areas. Agri-food tourism broadly is the practice of offering an activity or activities in rural areas to visit areas of well-known agricultural produce and to sample and taste the local or regional cuisine or specialties. It also encompasses local food, farmer and artisan market schemes that support and are paired with local and seasonal food producers and artisan crafts. Following the 2019 call for proposals, I announced funding totalling €243,000 for  twelve agri-food tourism projects in June this year.

Last year, together with my colleague the Minister for Rural and Community Development, I launched the ‘LEADER Food Initiative'. This funding is provided from my Department under the Rural Development Programme (RDP), and is delivered using the LEADER methodology via the Department of Rural and Community Development.  It supports new and existing artisan, micro and small food producers to address emerging challenges through investment in areas such as capital equipment, market development, competitiveness and innovation.  I understand that 34 projects with a total value of more than €1.9 million have been approved under the Scheme to date.

The Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation also provide funding for local food initiatives through the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), thirty one dedicated teams located in the Local Authorities nationwide which provide expert advice and guidance to all small businesses.

Taken together, all of these initiatives support farm and local community diversification and help farmers and small food businesses to connect with the wider community. From a Government perspective, they provide a collaborative framework for different Departments and agencies to work together for the development of the Small Business food sector.

National Broadband Plan Implementation

Questions (208)

Dara Calleary

Question:

208. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when premises that will be serviced by broadband connection points will be fully connected under the national broadband plan. [49398/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Government recognises the need to roll out high speed broadband as quickly as possible and is conscious that the full rollout of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) State intervention area will take a number of years.

Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) are locations of community importance across Ireland such as community centres, parish halls and schools. The BCPs have been specifically selected by the local authorities so that they can provide public Wi-Fi and other facilities to support mini digital/enterprise hubs to the local community in advance of the main NBP deployment. Approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) will receive an early connection in the roll out of the NBP.

Broadband Officers in each Local Authority were tasked with consulting with local communities and business to find the appropriate mix of locations to reap the maximum benefits.

All BCPs will have a free public Wi-Fi connection, others will have hot-desks, and some will be digital hub business centres where digital training, business information events, and other SME supports are organised.

It is anticipated that there will be between 7 and 23 BCP locations identified in each county and they will include 138 community centres, 14 tourism locations, 51 schools and three business parks.

Work will commence on the deployment of the Broadband Connection Points immediately. It is expected that 298 Broadband Connection Points will be established and providing a high speed broadband service by the end of 2020.

By the end of 2021, NBI plans to pass approximately 115,000 premises, with 70,000 - 100,000 passed each year thereafter until rollout is completed. NBI has indicated that the network rollout will take an estimated 7 years from the beginning of deployment. A deployment plan will be made available by NBI shortly.

National Broadband Plan Data

Questions (209, 210, 211, 212, 213)

Jack Chambers

Question:

209. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the material change to the intervention area since the mapping exercise for the national broadband plan was completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49163/19]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

210. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of premises added and removed, respectively, from the intervention area of the national broadband plan. [49164/19]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

211. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the breakdown of premises removed from the intervention area by operator type (details supplied). [49165/19]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

212. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the providers whose premises already passed from the intervention area of the national broadband plan. [49166/19]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

213. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of operators whose data was accepted and not accepted, respectively, in respect of submissions made on the mapping consultation for the intervention area of the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49167/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 209 to 213, inclusive, together.

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

Having consulted with industry on an ongoing basis, my Department recently conducted a final public consultation to close the mapping exercise in advance of the award of the NBP contract. 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.

The European Commission approved the NBP under state law and confirmed that the NBP target areas where no broadband infrastructure offering download speeds of at least 30MB/s is currently in place, and where no private investor has demonstrated a concrete plan to invest commercially in the near future.

Having evaluated the submissions received, approximately 38,000 premises were removed from the intervention area as commercial operators provided evidence that these premises can now access a high speed broadband service from an existing network. These premises relate to network deployment detailed in submissions received from eir (34,000 premises) regarding its fibre rural network and SIRO (4,000 premises) as part of its wider fibre network rollout, which were evaluated as meeting the assessment criteria published by the Department.

In addition, approximately 37,000 premises originally identified as being served by commercial operators have now been included in the intervention area for the NBP, as commercial operators' plans to serve these premises have not materialised.

The map has also been updated for approximately an additional 2,000 premises identified in the latest Ordinance Survey Ireland data. The final Intervention Area now covers 537,596 premises.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (214)

Jack Chambers

Question:

214. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a minimum number of premises in the national broadband plan intervention area was required. [49168/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

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

Having consulted with industry on an ongoing basis, my Department recently conducted a final public consultation to close the mapping exercise for the intervention area in advance of the award of the NBP contract. The final intervention area now covers 537,596 premises. This was an important element in the State aid process and a positive State aid decision was received from the European Commission on 15 November.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (215)

Jack Chambers

Question:

215. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the circumstances under which encroachment by commercial operators onto the intervention area of the national broadband plan is deemed to have taken place; the mechanism by which his Department is notified of the intention to claim that encroachment has taken place; the method by which the contract signatory may claim the contingency set aside for this and whether this payment takes the form of a one-off payment. [49169/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

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 concrete 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. The updated Intervention Area proposed now represents 537,596 premises in the State.

The NBP contract provides a mechanism for National Broadband Ireland (NBI) to apply for compensation for encroachment where other commercial operators have deployed a future proofed high speed broadband service in advance of NBI's own deployment in the intervention area.

This subsidy is capped and can only be applied for where my Department determines a commercial deployment of high speed broadband meets the requirements set out in the NBP contract, specifically a deployment of a fibre or equivalent high speed broadband technology, and that this deployment has had a negative impact on NBI's business case. The mapping consultation, which has confirmed the intervention area, has reduced the risk of this element of contingency subsidy being required.

Energy Schemes

Questions (216)

Michael McGrath

Question:

216. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the details of the various home energy grants that are available to persons building an eco-friendly timber frame home on their site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49193/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department funds a number of energy efficiency grant schemes that are administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The aim of these schemes is to improve the energy efficiency of our built environment, in a way which represents the best possible use of Exchequer funding.

As new homes are already required to meet specific energy performance standards and to incorporate renewables under Building Regulations, grant support is currently focussed on improving the condition of existing dwellings. In light of the above, the SEAI does not provide grant support for new-build homes.

Renewable Energy Generation

Questions (217)

Pat Casey

Question:

217. Deputy Pat Casey asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the timeframe for the publication of guidelines pertaining to the supply of energy to the national grid through solar energy and solar farms in County Wicklow; the terms and conditions which prospective suppliers must adhere to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49196/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

In order to deliver on the ambition set out in the Climate Action Plan, my Department is developing the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS). The RESS has been designed within a competitive auction-based, cost effective framework and the scheme will provide for a renewable electricity (RES-E) ambition of 70% by 2030. The Scheme is subject to state aid approval from the EU Commission.

The Climate Action Plan targets the delivery of indicative volumes of up to 1.5 GW of grid scale solar by 2030. Utility scale solar energy farms will be critical to diversifying the renewable technology mix and to deliver gains through connecting hybrid renewable technologies. The volume of connected solar in 2030 may well exceed this target if prices continue to fall and solar projects are successful in the RESS auctions.

The terms and conditions of the first RESS auction (RESS-1) will set out the process by which all competing technologies including solar farms receive support for supplying energy to the national grid.

My Department held a public stakeholder briefing on 22 November 2019 at which officials presented on the RESS detailed design framework, and the presentation from the briefing session is available on my Department's website. It is expected that the draft RESS 1 terms and conditions will be published in December 2019, subject to Government approval.

Warmer Homes Scheme

Questions (218)

David Cullinane

Question:

218. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the estimated full-year cost of extending the warmer homes scheme to replacing single glaze windows; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49225/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme provides energy efficiency upgrades to the homes of people living in or at risk of energy poverty. The Scheme is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) on behalf of my Department. These upgrades are provided free of charge to the homeowner. This year the total allocation for the scheme is €39.8 million.

Under the existing scheme, window upgrades can be provided in certain circumstances following an SEAI technical survey. This recommendation is typically made in circumstances where only single glaze windows exist and where wall insulation is also being installed. Recommendations are made on a case by case basis.

Better Energy Homes Scheme

Questions (219)

David Cullinane

Question:

219. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the estimated full-year cost of extending the better energy homes scheme to provide universal attic insulation and universal wall insulation in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49226/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Existing grants under the Better Energy Homes Scheme are fixed amounts that are expected to cover approximately 30% of the total cost to the homeowner of the insulation being installed. However, the cost of insulating homes can vary significantly from property to property. Key factors which determine the cost include the type of insulation required, the size of the property and whether there is any existing insulation to be upgraded.

If the existing grant was increased to meet 100% of the cost, it is estimated that the additional full-year (2018) costs would have been approximately €20 million, solely based on the grants paid for attic and wall insulation in 2018. However, it would be expected that actual costs of the proposal would be significantly higher due to increased demand arising from the provision of a 100% grant instead of a 30% grant.

The Government’s Climate Action Plan sets an ambitious target of 500,000 home retrofits to Building Energy Rating ‘B2’ by 2030. I recently announced the establishment of a Retrofit Taskforce that will drive the achievement of this commitment and develop a new national delivery model, which will group homes together, create easy pay back mechanisms and support smart financing.

Recycling Policy

Questions (220)

David Cullinane

Question:

220. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the estimated full-year cost of a new recycling centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49227/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Waste management planning, including with infrastructure provision and associated costs, is the responsibility of local authorities under Part II of the Waste Management Act, 1996 (as amended). I have no function in the matter.

Departmental Schemes

Questions (221)

David Cullinane

Question:

221. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the cost of the warmth and well-being pilot scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49228/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Warmth & Wellbeing Pilot Scheme is a joint policy initiative between my Department and the Department of Health under the Government’s Strategy to Combat Energy Poverty and the Healthy Ireland Framework. The main aim of the Scheme is to validate, in an Irish context, the strong international evidence that making homes warmer, drier and more energy efficient can have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of people living with chronic respiratory conditions.

Since 2016, approximately €26.3 million has been invested under the Scheme in upgrading over 1,200 homes in the pilot areas of Dublin 8, 10, 12, 22 and 24.

The process of evaluating the Scheme is on-going and is being overseen by a Steering Group comprised of my Department, the Department of Health, SEAI and HSE. Initial reports from the HSE have indicated that the upgrades are delivering benefits to the health and wellbeing of participants. An initial review of the energy impacts of the scheme has shown that the average Building Energy Rating of participating homes improved from a D2 to a B3 with carbon emissions reducing by on average 2.2 tCO2/year.

It is expected that an interim report on the health impacts of the scheme, which is being undertaken by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, will be completed in the coming months with the final evaluation scheduled for completion in 2021. A process for determining the next steps for the Scheme is nearing completion.

Broadcasting Sector

Questions (222)

David Cullinane

Question:

222. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount of public funding from his Department given to each of the directly funded licensed television and radio stations broadcasting here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49229/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

RTÉ and TG4 are the only broadcasters that receive public funding directly from my Department.

RTÉ receives its public funding from TV Licence Fee receipts, which includes a contribution from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in respect of free TV licences. Total licence fee funding for RTE in 2019 has not yet been determined as the final amount is contingent on licence fee sales to the public to year end. In 2018, RTE's licence fee receipts amounted to €188.5m.

In 2019, TG4 received all its public funding from the exchequer, which amounts to €34.233m current and €2m capital funding.

My Department also pays 7% of net licence fee receipts to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland for the administration of the Broadcasting Fund. This fund is used for the Sound and Vision and Archiving Schemes which are open to all broadcasters. Details of funding provided under these schemes is published on the BAI website at www.bai.ie/en/broadcasting/funding-development-3/.

Legislative Measures

Questions (223)

David Cullinane

Question:

223. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when he plans to move the Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2019 to Committee Stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49230/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Broadcasting Amendment Bill 2019 provides for:

- the part funding of the BAI through TV licence receipts so as to reduce the levy burden on broadcasters,

- the creation of a new funding scheme that would allow the granting of bursaries to journalists in local or community radio stations,

- the BAI to retain part of the levy to fund its working capital requirements and allows them the scope to determine exemptions and deferrals to the levy.

In addition, I have received Government approval to bring an amendment at Committee stage that will allow TV licence collection to be put out to public tender. I intend to seek Government approval for the drafting of this Head before year end, with a view to introducing the necessary amendment at Committee stage early in the New Year.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (224, 225)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

224. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number and percentage of households and commercial premises that have access to fibre optic broadband in areas (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49274/19]

View answer

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

225. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the proportion of the remaining household and commercial premises that have fibre optic broadband to the premises itself, excluding districts to be enabled by the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49275/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 224 and 225 together.

Premises where commercial providers are not currently delivering or have indicated no plans to deliver high speed broadband services will be addressed through the National Broadband Plan (NBP) State led Intervention.

There is a total of 1,838,932 premises outside the NBP Intervention Area that already have access to high speed broadband.

I attach a table that sets out the number and percentage of premises to be covered through the State Intervention (Amber area) and through commercial investment (Blue area) in the counties identified by the Deputy. The table contains my Department's most up to date statistics, which are for Q3 2019.

Information on the specific towns referred to by the Deputy are available on the High Speed Broadband Map on my Department’s website, www.broadband.gov.ie.

The Blue area is where commercial providers are either currently delivering or have plans to deliver high speed broadband services. The NBP defines high speed broadband as delivering a minimum speed of 30Mbps download and 6Mbps upload in a reliable, high quality and consistent manner. Premises in the Blue area may access a high speed broadband service via various platforms including fibre, many exceeding the definition of high speed broadband.

As the Deputy will be aware, the telecoms market is fully liberalised and regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg. The regulator publishes a quarterly report which highlights trends in the telecommunications industry. This includes the number of subscriptions in Ireland to high speed broadband services by speed (e.g. download speeds of 30 megabits per second) and by platform (fibre, cable, VDSL etc.). The latest report can be found at https://www.comreg.ie/publication/quarterly-key-data-report-q2-2019.

Very high speeds are increasingly available across all fixed broadband platforms. Per the ComReg report approximately 79.6% of broadband subscriptions were >=30Mbps (with 33.1% >=100Mbps). This equates to approximately 81.5% (with 35.4% >=100Mbps) of residential subscriptions and 64.0% (with 14.6% >=100Mbps) of business subscriptions.

County

Premises withinthe NBP InterventionArea

Premises within Commercial Operator’s Area

Premises withineir planned ruraldeployment

Amber %

Blue %

Light Blue %

Total

Dublin

12,145

597,112

203

2

98

0

609,460

Louth

8,245

53,085

226

13

86

1

61,556

Meath

18,989

67,609

396

22

78

0

86,994

Kildare

13,329

79,837

260

14

85

1

93,426

Wicklow

14,871

50,415

144

23

77

0

65,430

Cork

78,695

190,231

2,279

29

70

1

271,205

Limerick

21,024

76,019

844

21

78

1

97,887

Waterford

14,876

47,028

86

26

74

0

61,990

Galway

38,338

95,951

1,444

28

71

1

135,733

Sligo

14,809

25,143

187

37

63

0

40,139

Kilkenny

18,092

29,973

90

38

62

0

48,155

National Broadband Plan Data

Questions (226)

Barry Cowen

Question:

226. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the cost in each year of the national broadband plan since the signing of the contract in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49280/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The maximum cost of the contract to deliver the National Broadband Plan, signed on 19th November, is €2.977 billion over 25 years. This includes €480 million for contingency costs and €354 million in VAT.

My Department has a capital allocation in 2020 for the National Broadband Plan of €119 million. The multi-annual expenditure ceilings for Capital Expenditure for my Department are published in the Budget 2020 Expenditure Report. The total capital expenditure ceiling for my Department for 2021 is €517 million and for 2022 is €611 million.

The detailed allocations required for the NBP for 2021 and for subsequent years of the NBP will be settled in the context of the annual Estimates process.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (227)

Mary Butler

Question:

227. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on an issue (details supplied) which is affecting a rural part of County Waterford; the way in which this issue will be addressed in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49288/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) is the Government’s plan to rollout high speed broadband to the 1.1 million people living and working in the nearly 540,000 premises including almost 100,000 businesses and farms, along with 695 schools where commercial operators will not commit to deliver the service.

The Deputy's Question relates to a premises which is located in the AMBER area on NBP High Speed Broadband Map, which is available on my Department's website at www.broadband.gov.ie. The AMBER area represents the area to be served by the network to be deployed under the NBP State led Intervention, the contract for which was signed on 19 November with National Broadband Ireland (NBI).

Work has already begun and a deployment plan will be made available by NBI shortly. All counties will see premises passed in the first 2 years and over 90% of premises in the State will have access to high speed broadband within the next four years.

Approximately 300 Broadband Connections Points (BCPs), including schools, library hubs and local sports halls in every county in Ireland, will be connected to high speed broadband during 2020, to enable communities to quickly get free public access to high speed broadband. The BCP locations are available to view on the High Speed Broadband Map on the Department’s website www.dccae.gov.ie.

By the end of 2021, NBI plans to pass approximately 115,000 premises, with 70,000 - 100,000 passed each year thereafter until rollout is completed. NBI has indicated that the network rollout will take an estimated 7 years from the beginning of deployment.

With regard to the Eircode query raised by the Deputy, Eircodes are assigned to new property addresses using a valid postal address and verified geo-locations. An Post collects information on new and existing buildings, as well as changes to existing addresses and Ordnance Survey Ireland provides the geo-locations for these buildings. An Post GeoDirectory issue a new release of the GeoDirectory database file on a quarterly basis to Capita Business Support Services Ireland, trading as Eircode, in accordance with their licence agreement.

Residents who have queries relating to Eircodes can contact Eircode by phone on 0818 300 005, email hello@eircode.ie or by post to Capita Business Support Services Ireland Ltd, Unit B, West Cork Business and Technology Park, Clonakilty, Co. Cork, P85 YH98.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (228)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

228. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of agency staff hired and-or engaged by his Department in the past five years to date; the cost per year of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49292/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department does not employ agency staff.

National Broadband Plan Implementation

Questions (229, 230, 231)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

229. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a hub (details supplied) will be prioritised to go live with high-speed broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49327/19]

View answer

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

230. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a hub (details supplied) will be prioritised to go live with high-speed broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49328/19]

View answer

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

231. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a hub (details supplied) will be prioritised to go live with high-speed broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49329/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 229 to 231, inclusive, together.

The Government recognises the need to roll out high speed broadband as quickly as possible and is conscious that the full rollout of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) State intervention area will take a number of years.

Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) are NBP locations of community importance across Ireland such as community centres, parish halls and schools.

Approximately 300 BCPs will receive an early connection in the roll out of the NBP.

I confirm that each of the locations mentioned in the Deputy’s questions are included as BCPs.

The BCPs have been specifically selected by the local authorities so that they can provide public Wi-Fi and other facilities to support mini digital/enterprise hubs to the local community in advance of the main NBP deployment.

Broadband Officers in each Local Authority were tasked with consulting with local communities and business to find the appropriate mix of locations to reap the maximum benefits.

All BCPs will have a free public Wi-Fi connection, others will have hot-desks, and some will be digital hub business centres where digital training, business information events, and other SME supports are organised.

It is anticipated that there will be between 7 and 23 BCP locations identified in each county and they will include 138 community centres, 14 tourism locations, 51 schools and three business parks.

Work will commence on the deployment of the BCPs immediately. It is expected that 298 Broadband Connection Points will be established and providing a high speed broadband service by the end of 2020.