Prospecting Licences

Questions (496)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

496. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the person or body that oversees that the conditions of prospecting and mining licences are adhered to; the number of members of staff dedicated to this work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50399/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Prospecting and mining licences are issued by my Department. The Exploration and Mining Division of the Department currently has a staff of 4 geologists and 6 administrative staff engaged in the processing and monitoring of these licences from prospecting through to extraction, as well as other activities related to exploration and mining. Further details are available on my Department's website at https://www.dccae.gov.ie

Extraction is also regulated under the planning system and requires an Integrated Pollution Control Licence from the EPA and compliance with the conditions therein.

Haulage Industry Regulation

Questions (497)

Marc MacSharry

Question:

497. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to deal with the extra regulations that will be in place on the haulage and freight industry following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49703/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The extent to which any new or additional regulations will apply to Irish exporters and the freight industry depends on the outcome of Brexit. All Government Departments and agencies, including my Department, are continuing their contingency planning for Brexit and this includes preparing for a no-deal UK exit from the EU, as well as an orderly withdrawal of the UK.

In the area of road transport, as part of the EU’s no-deal preparations, the European Commission adopted Regulation (EU) 2019/501, a contingency measure that will allows access to the EU Member States for UK road transport and passenger operators, on the basis of reciprocal access for EU operators transporting to and from the UK. This Regulation was initially to apply up to the end of December of this year, and has now been extended until the end of July 2020 given the extra time provided to the UK by the extension. While our hauliers will be able to travel to, from and through the UK in a no-deal scenario up to end July, this regulation will change how the current EU cabotage rules apply in respect of the UK during its period of application.

A no-deal Brexit would of course impact on the haulage and freight sector in many other areas outside of transport. The impact of tariffs, and of the customs and SPS requirements and associated checks East West would be significant and would involve additional costs for and potential disruption to businesses. No deal preparedness work therefore continues and Government and businesses must continue to prepare. I can assure you that I and other Government Ministers continue to engage with our EU counterparts, our colleagues across Government and the European Commission as part of our preparations for Brexit.

Motor Tax Rates

Questions (498)

Marc MacSharry

Question:

498. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that motor tax customers who choose to pay their motor tax in instalments rather than in one sum pay higher rates of motor tax; and if he has considered the inconvenience that this may present to customers who are financially unable to meet the entire cost at once. [49756/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Motor tax is payable on an annual, half-yearly or quarterly basis. The rates applicable to the half-yearly and quarterly options are 55.5% and 28.25% of the annual charge, respectively. These relativities have remained generally consistent since the 1960's.

The loss of income that would arise from changing these arrangements would have a negative impact on the total collected via motor tax and would have to be borne elsewhere in the motor tax system or through the taxation system generally. The loss to the Exchequer arising from the elimination of the additional charge for these options has been estimated at just under €48.4m, based on the volume of transactions in 2018.

Each half-yearly or quarterly renewal of motor tax requires the same administrative procedures as the annual renewal process. Accordingly, aside from the loss in receipts, any consideration of re-balancing of the charges for non-annual discs must take account of the fact that overheads, both direct and indirect, would increase exponentially if the change were to result in increased volumes of transactions.

Rail Services

Questions (499)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

499. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason and-or context and the consultation Irish Rail undertook in respect of the peak time initiative; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many persons are bound by core hour contracts and do not have the flexibility in their employment to engage with the initiative; if he and or his officials have used Irish Rail services in the manner that Irish Rail are promoting in terms of peak time travel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49790/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport in Ireland. The issue raised is a matter for Irish Rail and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the operator for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

In relation to final part of the Deputy's question, my Department does not hold information regarding the private travel arrangements of its officials. The Deputy will be aware, however, that the flexible hours working arrangements that are available to many staff across the Civil Service, including in my Department, gives staff some flexibility to vary their starting and finishing times.

Rail Services Provision

Questions (500)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

500. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will request Irish Rail to provide a train that will serve Thurles to arrive in Kent Station, Cork at 8.30 a.m. on week days (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49794/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. However, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport.

The issue raised is an operational matter for Iarnród Éireann and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Bus Éireann Services

Questions (501)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

501. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will consider rerouting the Nos. 190 and 109b bus services through the village of Robinstown, County Meath (details supplied). [49806/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport in Ireland.

The issue raised is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) in conjunction with Bus Éireann and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Trans European Transport Network Programme

Questions (502)

David Cullinane

Question:

502. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the projects his Department plans to submit for funding through the Connecting Europe facility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49834/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is the EU's funding instrument for the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). Funding under CEF is delivered in the form of grants awarded following competitive calls for proposals. For successful projects, co-funding rates can vary depending on individual calls, the type of project and the strength of applications. All applications will be assessed and evaluated by the European Commission in conjunction with independent external experts.

The Commission published the latest call for proposals in October 2019 and the deadline for applications is 26 February 2020. The call has an overall budget of €1.4 billion, with €750 million available under the general financial envelope, which is open to all Member States. The balance of €650 million is only open to Member States eligible for Cohesion Fund support, which does not include Ireland.

The call has budget lines dedicated to the following funding priorities:

- Pre-identified projects on the Core Network

- European Rail Traffic Management Systems (ERTMS): on-board deployment

- Safe and secure infrastructure, including safe and secure parking on the road core network

- Intelligent Transport Services for road (ITS)

- Single European Sky (SESAR)

- Actions implementing transport infrastructure in nodes of the core network, including urban nodes (passengers transport)

- Motorways of the Sea

Eligible public and private entities can apply for CEF funding. At present, my Department is aware that a number of state bodies intend to prepare applications for CEF funding under this call. My officials have been and are continuing to examine potential projects that the Department could submit for co-funding under this call. I will consider this further as the deadline for applications approaches. My Department must endorse and sign off on all proposals by Irish applicants.

Alongside the 2019 CEF Transport Multi Annual Programme, CEF is offering a blending facility. Projects applying for CEF support under the Blending Facility must also secure a loan from an Implementing Partner, such as the European Investment Bank or other financial institutions. The CEF transport blending facility has a budget of €198 million and will support two areas that will deliver on the Commission's agenda for a clean and digital transport system:

- Deployment of the European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS)

- Deployment of Alternative Fuels

The budget is evenly distributed between both funding priorities. The Blending Facility is unique in that there will be rolling deadlines for applications rather than one cut-off point. The first deadline is 14 February 2020 and new deadlines will be issued on a quarterly basis until March 2021 or until the budget is exhausted.

You may wish to note that on 20 November 2019, my Department hosted a CEF Information Day for interested stakeholders and potential applicants. The European Commission participated on the day and presentations were delivered on topics including the new call for proposals, the application process, and the future of CEF policy. Two successful Irish applicants also delivered presentations about their projects and experiences with CEF.

My Department is actively encouraging any potential CEF applicants to get in touch with an expression of interest at the earliest opportunity. Further information about CEF, TEN-T and the application process are available on our website at the following link:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/331b18-trans-european-network-for-transport-ten-t-and-connecting-europe-fac/

Dublin Bus

Questions (503)

John Lahart

Question:

503. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the income received by Dublin Bus from advertising in each of the years 2015 to 2018, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49874/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. However, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport.

The issue raised is a matter for Dublin Bus and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Dublin Bus

Questions (504)

John Lahart

Question:

504. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount of State subvention supplied to Dublin Bus in each of the years 2015 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49875/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

Since 2010, the award of Public Service Obligation (PSO) funding falls under the independent statutory remit of the National Transport Authority (NTA). The allocations to the companies are decided by the NTA in exercise of its statutory mandate and in accordance with the various contract arrangements that it has in place with PSO service providers.

I have, therefore, referred the Deputy’s question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days .

Departmental Reports

Questions (505)

Shane Cassells

Question:

505. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of external consultant reports commissioned by his Department in each year from March 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the cost of each report; the company involved; and the title and publication date by report in tabular form. [49912/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Department has published details of expenditure on external services (including consultant reports) for the period 2011-2018 which is available on our website (www.dttas.gov.ie).

Details of expenditure on external services by the Department for the period January-September 2019 will be published on our website in the coming weeks. Details of all expenditure on external services for 2019 will be available in 2020.

Road Improvement Schemes

Questions (506, 507, 508)

Declan Breathnach

Question:

506. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of class 3 cul-de-sac local roads which have been resurfaced by local authorities in each of the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019, excluding CIS funded resurfacing by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49973/19]

View answer

Declan Breathnach

Question:

507. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the inequitable situation that persons living on class 3 cul-de-sac roads have to tolerate in that the only chance of having such roads resurfaced is by means of the CIS scheme; his views on the unfairness of those persons having to pay towards the upkeep of the roads in addition to paying road tax and other taxes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49974/19]

View answer

Declan Breathnach

Question:

508. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that since the introduction of the CIS scheme that class 3 cul-de-sac roads are being overlooked in the normal course of a local authority roadworks programme; if he will consider issuing guidelines to local authorities to allocate a percentage of their road works funding to class 3 cul-de-sac roads in proportion to the lengths in kilometre of those roads needing resurfacing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49976/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 506 to 508, inclusive, together.

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is a statutory function of each local authority under the Roads Act 1993, as amended, with works funded by Local Authorities’ own resources supplemented by State road grants, where applicable. The initial selection and prioritisation of works is a matter for each local authority.

There were major cutbacks in funding for the road network in general during the recession. Project Ireland 2040 provides for a gradual increase in grant assistance for regional and local roads and there has been a significant increase in Exchequer funding particularly in the last two years - the €483 million allocated this year represents an increase of nearly 50% compared to 2017. However, the amount available is not sufficient to achieve “steady state” levels of investment.

Within the budget available to my Department, grant funding is allocated on the basis of grant programmes and not on the basis of the category of road. My Department does not, therefore, have the details sought by the Deputy regarding the resurfacing of Class 3 roads since 2016. The allocation of funding across specific roads or across categories is a matter for each local authority, having regard to the funding available to it from local and central sources as well as its particular priorities.

The main Regional and Local Road Grant programmes are focussed on specific policy objectives i.e. surface sealing to protect the road surface from water damage, road strengthening based on pavement condition rating to lengthen the life of roads and a Discretionary Grant Scheme which allows for a specified range of activities including winter maintenance. These 3 grant programmes account for most of the grant funding and are allocated taking into account the length of the road network and traffic factors in a particular local authority area. Apart from a requirement that 15% of the road strengthening grant is spent on regional roads, the allocation of funding to different categories of road is entirely a matter for decision by each local authority.

My Department does facilitate community participation in the repair of local roads. The statutory underpinning for local community involvement in road works was put in place in the Roads Act, 1993, as amended. Section 13(6) of the Act provides that a person, or group of persons, may with the consent of the road authority carry out maintenance and improvement works on a local road.

Road authorities had the option for many years of using part of their grant allocation for community involvement schemes if they wished to do so. A pilot Community Involvement Scheme with ring-fenced funding operated for two years in 2013 and 2014 and was well received. The recession did impact on the repair of less trafficked local roads as these roads tend to be considered towards the end of road authorities’ roadworks programmes. I re-introduced ring-fenced finding for CIS in 2018 with a view to allowing these local roads to be repaired sooner than might otherwise be the case and there has been a good uptake of the scheme. The Scheme is purely voluntary and does not take away from the statutory responsibilities of each road authority.

There is a common misconception that annual motor tax is in some way related to funding for roads. While historically the Local Government Fund did receive the proceeds of motor tax, as part of a source of funding for local authorities across their programmes (not just roads), this is no longer the case. Motor Tax receipts are now received directly by the Exchequer and form part of general taxation. there is therefore no relationship between the amount of tax due from owners of vehicles in a given location and the amount of local spending on roads in that location.

Road Projects Status

Questions (509)

Martin Heydon

Question:

509. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will reconsider the upgrade of the N81 as a priority for future capital roads plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49983/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

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

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

Rural Transport Services Provision

Questions (510)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

510. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he can assist rural communities dealing with transport in areas not served by public transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50008/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public transport services nationally. It also has national responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including management of the Rural Transport Programme, which now operates under the 'Local Link' brand.

In light of the NTA's responsibilities in this matter, I have referred your question to the NTA for direct reply to you. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days.

Bus Services

Questions (511)

Bríd Smith

Question:

511. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport further to Parliamentary Question No. 546 of 22 October 2019, the date and day on which the survey of services at peak hour in Chapelizod, Dublin 20 was conducted; if the survey was conducted by NTA staff on site in Chapelizod; if not, if the survey relied on on-board bus information; and the number of persons travelling on each bus was logged. [50042/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport in Ireland.

The issue raised is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Rail Services

Questions (512)

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

512. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will increase capacity on a train line (details supplied) from west County Dublin to Connolly Station in order to overcome existing overcrowding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50052/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding of public transport. Operational issues, such as those described by the Deputy, are a matter for Iarnród Éireann in the first instance, in consultation with the National Transport Authority (NTA).

The Deputy will be aware that there are a number of steps being taken to increase capacity on the rail network.

This year additional off-peak services were added to our rail network which have provided increased options for people who have the flexibility to travel outside the core commuter hours.

However, clearly I recognise the need to expand the physical infrastructure so that we can expand peak-time services also, and in that regard Government very recently approved the proposed purchase of 41 additional InterCity Railcars to increase capacity on the rail network including the Maynooth line. This additional stock will increase capacity by around 34% on the Maynooth, Kildare and Northern lines in the morning peak time and is expected to commence entry into service the year after next.

Furthermore and for the Deputy's information, in May this year the NTA and Iarnród Éireann commenced pre-qualifying in relation to a 10-year procurement framework for a minimum of 300 electric and battery-electric units with the potential for that to increase to 600 over the life of the procurement framework. This proposal forms part of the DART Expansion Programme which will see both the Maynooth Line and the Kildare Line (to Hazelhatch) electrified and I expect to receive a business case in relation to the overall programme next year. That programme will roughly double the capacity of the network in the morning peak time and will be transformative in terms of its expansion of rail services.

Cycling Facilities Provision

Questions (513)

Catherine Martin

Question:

513. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the level of provision for the carriage of bikes he plans to provide in future commuter and inter-city train carriages in view of the shortcomings of existing provision; and if the provision in Denmark and other countries will be examined which provide flexible solutions (details supplied). [50071/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Deputy is aware, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure. This includes, in consultation with Iarnród Éireann, the procurement and requirements of additional rail fleet.

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

Road Traffic Legislation

Questions (514)

Catherine Martin

Question:

514. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Road Traffic Act 2004 (details supplied) does not appear to allow for 20km/h or 40km/h speed limits; and if such speeds will be provided [50072/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I am happy to be able to inform the Deputy that section 9 of the Road Traffic Act 2004, as amended, does indeed provide for 20km/h and 40km/h special speed limits, which may be applied by road authorities to roads in built-up areas instead of the default 50km/h limit.

The link to the irishstatutebook.ie website to which the Deputy refers in her Question gives the original text of the 2004 Act as it was when passed. The Act has since been amended. If she goes to the link which she has supplied, she will see a button labelled 'Revised Act', which will show her the amended Act as currently in force.

Road Safety

Questions (515)

Catherine Martin

Question:

515. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when he plans to provide a new national pedestrian safety action plan in view of the fact the existing publication is out of date. [50075/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The National Pedestrian Safety Action Plan falls under the remit of the Road Safety Authority, and I have passed this query to them for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response has not been received within ten working days.