Air Pollution

Questions (963)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

963. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the research undertaken by his Department regarding outdoor air pollution; the main causes affecting Ireland in order of impact; the action being taken to address the causes of air pollution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3933/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

While overall air quality in Ireland is good compared to more urbanised and industrialised countries, Ireland faces some challenges in relation to both emissions and ambient air quality. With regard to emissions, exceedances against our EU ceilings are currently projected in the period to 2030 for ammonia, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs).

My Department is taking several steps to meet these challenges. A range of measures outlined in the Climate Action Plan 2019 will help ameliorate transport-related NOx and NMVOCs emissions. These include:

Putting 180,000 electric vehicles on our roads by 2025 and almost 1 million by 2030

Steps to decarbonise the public transport fleet

The development of a 5-year Cycling Strategy, and the roll-out of 200km of new cycle lanes through Bus Connects

Encouraging a transition to public transport through a new Park and Ride Strategy to help reduce congestion and lower journey times

Legislating for no new fossil fuel vehicles to be sold from 2030 onwards

In addition, officials from my Department and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport are co-chairing a working group on Urban Transport-Related Air Pollution, comprising representatives of the two Departments as well as the Departments of Health, Finance, and Public Expenditure and Reform, the Dublin Local Authorities, the EPA and various bodies in the transport sector, including TII, the NRA, and the RSA. This group will report later this year with recommendations to address pollution from traffic.

These measures will complement the work of my Department in developing a Clean Air Strategy, which will set out and give effect to clean air policies a manner consistent with national, EU and international policy considerations and priorities. This will include addressing agricultural ammonia through the adoption of abatement technologies and improvements in nutrient management at farm level.

Ireland also faces challenges in relation to concentrations of particulate matter (PM) in smaller towns, which is predominately related to domestic solid fuel burning. The extension of the current smoky coal ban to 13 new towns from September of this year will address concentrations of PM and related health concerns in these towns.

Finally, my Department funds, and is informed by, an ongoing research programme into outdoor air pollution overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Reports of recent EPA air quality research projects are available online at https://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/research/air/.

Air Pollution

Questions (964)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

964. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the extent to which indoor air pollution is a problem here; the way in which is it being addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3934/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The potential sources of indoor air pollution are wide ranging and diverse and addressing these fall across a number of Department’s and Agency’s functional areas. These sources include:

Local ambient air quality

Building technology (heating systems, ventilation systems, etc.)

Building fabric (construction materials, insulation materials, etc.)

Occupant activity (cooking, smoking, solid fuel usage, chemicals, etc)

Tobacco smoking

My Department has responsibility for national policy relating to outdoor air quality and certain emissions, and has been taking a number of actions to improve this, some of which will also impact positively on indoor air quality. For example, the Climate Action Plan includes actions such as upgrading a third of all homes to at least a B2 energy standard and installing approximately 600,000 heat pumps by 2030 (400,000 of these into existing homes and 200,000 into new homes to be built).

Ireland also faces challenges in relation to concentrations of particulate matter (PM) in smaller towns, which is predominately related to domestic solid fuel burning. The extension of the current smoky coal ban to 13 new towns from September of this year will contribute to addressing concentrations of PM and related air quality concerns for residents in the towns concerned.

Legislation is also in place which limits the emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds from paints and varnishes in order to reduce the levels indoor air pollution within buildings. Further information is available from the EPA at the following link:

https://www.epa.ie/air/airenforcement/decopaintsdirective/

Another of my Department’s overarching areas of responsibility as regards indoor air quality relates to environmental radiation.

Radon is a naturally occurring, colourless, odourless and tasteless radioactive gas formed in the ground by the radioactive decay of uranium which is present in all rocks and soils, and the gas can accumulate in homes and workplaces. It is the greatest source of exposure to ionising radiation for the general public in Ireland and the leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. It is estimated that exposure to radon accounts for approximately 300 lung cancer cases each year.

Certain areas of the country are more likely to have a high number of homes with excessive levels of radon and these areas are known as High Radon Areas. Comprehensive information on radon, including a radon map of Ireland and remediation options, is available on the EPA’s website https://www.epa.ie/radiation/meas/radon/

Recognising the scale of the radon problem in Ireland, the Government tasked an inter-agency group to develop a National Radon Control Strategy (NRCS), which would comprehensively address the radon problem in Ireland.

Progress under the Strategy to date includes:

The establishment and launch of a dedicated website www.radon.ie which provides customised information for different groups (such as homeowners, medical professionals and local authorities);

The development and rollout of a short targeted course for construction site staff on radon prevention. This course is now run by the Construction Industry Federation;

The development and rollout of a targeted training course for local authorities, public bodies and radon contractors on radon remediation; and,

The development of a registration scheme for radon measurement services in 2017. The resulting list of registered services is available to the public on www.radon.ie.

Phase 2 of the NRCS includes further measures to raise awareness of the dangers of radon and encourage testing and remediation measures. These measures will complement the ongoing work of my Department in developing a National Clean Air Strategy, which will set out and give effect to clean air policies in order to meet national, EU and international policy considerations and priorities.

As stated above, other key control measures to reduce indoor air pollution fall outside my own remit. For example, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government is responsible for policy and legislation in relation to building standards and ventilation for both residential and commercial dwellings, and sets appropriate standards regarding ventilation, heating appliances and materials used.

Another factor that influences indoor air quality, particularly in homes, is of course, smoking. The responsibility for the development of policies to tackle this important public health issue falls within the remit of the Department of Health

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (965)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

965. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount expended on access to online and hard copy media publications in each of the years 2017 to 2019 and to date in 2020; the breakdown of online and hard copy subscriptions including the publications that his Department subscribes to; if consideration has been given to using a banded set of IP addresses for online subscriptions rather than individual accounts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4002/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The table below provides a breakdown of hardcopy and online subscriptions for my Department from 2017 to 2020. In many of the cases, providers insist on individual accounts, however subscriptions are reviewed to identify if and where savings can be made.

Online Publication

Year

Cost

Total for the year

ReNews

2017

€642.71

ENDS

2017

€4693

Financial Times

2017

€4344

Mining Journal & Magazine

2017

€1187.21

Economic Geology

2017

€661.81

Northern Miner

2017

€473.55

Justis Publishing

2017

€4549.57

IRN Subscriptions

2017

€836.40

European Law Review Subscription

2017

€2200

Total

€19,588.25

ReNews

2018

€565.73

The Times/Sunday Times Ireland Edition

2018

€12

The Economist

2018

€450

Politico Pro

2018

€1554

ENDS

2018

€4913.82

Financial Times

2018

€5353

Irish Times

2018

€768

Sunday Business Post

2018

€339.98

Irish Independent

2018

€357.08

IRN Subscriptions

2018

€848.70

Upstream

2018

€2435.40

Mining Journal & Magazine

2018

€2011.05

Economic Geology

2018

€641.25

Northern Miner

2018

€394.41

Justis Publishing

2018

€4718.57

European Law Review Subscription

2018

€2171

Total

€27,533.99

The Times/Sunday Times Ireland Edition

2019

€246.70

The Economist

2019

€550

Politico Pro

2019

€9419

ENDS

2019

€5842.99

Financial Times

2019

€6216

Sunday Business Post

2019

€339.98

The Currency

2019

€250

Irish Times

2019

€768

Mining Journal &Magazine

2019

€2084.84

Northern Miner

2019

€705.31

European Law Review Subscriptions

2019

€2441

Justis Publishing

2019

€5164.45

Politico Pro (additional users)

2019

€1345.96

IRN Subscription

2019

€763

Total

€36,137.23

The Times/Sunday Times Ireland Edition

2020

€106.68

The Economist

2020

€275

Financial Times

2020

€572

Irish Independent

2020

€357.08

IRN Subscriptions

2020

€779.35

Mining Journal & Magazine

2020

€2576.85

Upstream

2020

€2277.96

Total to date

€6,944.92

List of Hardcopy publications

Hardcopy Publications

Year

Combined Cost of all Hardcopy publications

Irish Times

2017

€9214.80

Irish Times Saturday

2018

€9380.75

Daily Mail

2019

€11528.65

Daily Mail Saturday

2020(To end of April)

€3631.90

Mail on Sunday

Examiner

Examiner Saturday

Farmers Journal

Financial Times

Financial Times Weekend

Galway Advertiser

Galway Independent

Irish Independent

Irish Independent Saturday

Phoenix

Phoenix Annual

The Star

The Star Saturday

Business Post

Sunday Independent

Sunday Times

Sunday World

The Economist

The Economist Christmas

The Economist World

Time Special Edition

Village

Evening Herald

London Times

London Times Saturday

Mirror

Mirror Saturday

Departmental Data

Questions (966)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

966. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the top ten websites visited by officials and political staff annually in each of the years 2017 to 2019 and to date in 2020 via hardware provided to them by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4018/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department uses web filtering technologies to control access to websites, these filtering technologies use category information, and reputation scores for each website and blocks or allows accordingly. For operational reasons the information is kept on the filtering infrastructure for a limited time - currently set to a maximum of one month. The list of top ten websites is only readily available from 11th April 2020, The top site in each category is detailed in the table below:

Category

Website

Search Engines and Portals

www.google.ie

Computer and Technology

www.google-analytics.com

Content Servers

www.gstatic.com

Business

www.earth.google.com

Government and Legal

www.dccae.gov.ie

Web Based Mail

www.gmail.com

News

www.rte.ie

Social Networking

www.twitter.com

Marketing

www.googleads.com

Education and Reference

www.translate.google.com

Litter Pollution

Questions (967)

James Browne

Question:

967. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on polystyrene packaging that is littered and subsequently eaten by birds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4070/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

EU Directive  2019/904 of 5 June 2019 (commonly referred to as the Single Use Plastics Directive) focusses on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment.

Expanded polystyrene food and beverage containers are specifically included in the terms of the Directive and from 3 July 2021 the placing of these items on the Irish and EU markets will be banned.

Other polystyrene packaging will be subject to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) provisions which will ensure that producers of all packaging are liable for the costs associated with the collection, transport and treatment of the packaging they place on the market in addition to the costs of providing adequate information to waste holders and data gathering agencies.

Primary responsibility for the management and enforcement of anti-litter programmes rests with the Local Authority sector and my Department ensures that a robust legislative framework is in place to support these activities. My Department also supports a number of national anti-litter initiatives including the National Spring Clean Campaign, the Green Schools Programme and the Irish Business Against Litter League (IBAL).

Departmental Funding

Questions (968)

Jennifer Whitmore

Question:

968. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if funding is available for community-led projects engaging in climate action and protecting biodiversity at a local level; the available schemes for community groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4075/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department supports a range of environmental policies, programmes and initiatives on an annual basis.

Funding provided from the Environment Fund includes support for initiatives in the areas of climate action, waste prevention and enforcement, sustainable development, and environmental awareness. As part of this, it provides support to Green Schools, environmental NGOs and the Community Environment Action Fund.

The Community Environment Action Fund  provides a successful model to promote sustainable development at local level. The projects funded involve partnership arrangements between local authorities and various local groups including community groups, schools and environmental NGOs. Eligible projects are those which support and complement, at a local level, national environmental policies such as those on waste, biodiversity, climate action, air quality, water and sustainable development.

Further details on the Community Environment Action Fund and the projects funded may be found at the following link:

https://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/environment/topics/environmental-protection-and-awareness/local-agenda-21-partnership-fund/Pages/default.aspx

The Climate Action Fund is one of four funds established under the National Development Plan 2018-2027 as part of Project Ireland 2040. The fund supports initiatives that contribute to the achievement of Ireland's climate and energy targets in a cost effective manner. An exercise is currently underway which will inform future decisions on the funding of local community-led projects from the Climate Action Fund. Further information on the Fund is available at

https://www.dccae.ie/en-ie/climate-action/topics/climate-action-fund/Pages/default.aspx

Community-led local groups working on climate action projects can also seek funding from the SEAI Better Energy Communities Programme, although application intake for 2020 is now closed. This Programme supports energy efficiency community projects through capital funding, partnerships, and technical support. Communities can also join the Sustainable Energy Community network offering support to community movements seeking to improve their energy use. Further information is available at www.seai.ie

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (969, 972)

James Browne

Question:

969. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the position regarding fibre broadband provision at a location (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4087/20]

View answer

James Browne

Question:

972. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the position regarding the provision of fibre broadband to a location (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4099/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 969 and 972 together.

The Deputy's Questions refer to premises which are located in the AMBER area on the 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 in November last with National Broadband Ireland (NBI).

All counties will see premises passed under the NBP State led intervention in the next 2 years and over 90% of premises in the State will have access to high speed broadband within the next four years. The NBP network will offer users a high speed broadband service with a minimum download speed of 150Mbps from the outset. By the end of next year, NBI plans to pass approximately 115,000 premises, with 70,000 - 100,000 passed each year thereafter until rollout is completed.

Further information on deployment activities is available on NBI’s website(www.nbi.ie )and potential customers for High Speed Broadband within the AMBER area can now record an expression of interest through the NBI website to receive updates on progress with the roll out.

To support remote working and connected communities, approximately 300 Broadband Connections Points (BCPs) are scheduled to be connected to high speed broadband this year. This will assist communities to quickly get free public access to high speed broadband in advance of the main NBP deployment. The planned BCP locations, including schools, library hubs and local sports are available to view on the High Speed Broadband Map on the Department’s website www.broadband.gov.ie. It should be noted that some BCP locations may be subject to change.

These BCPs will leverage the high speed broadband connection through a range of measures and initiatives, for example providing free public Wi-Fi, some will also have hot-desks, and some will be digital hub business centres where digital training, business information events and other SME supports are organised. The BCP delivery project is well underway and surveying of the BCP locations is progressing, which will facilitate detailed design and installation.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (970)

James Browne

Question:

970. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will consider the need of an area (details supplied) to be promoted from the amber level of the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4089/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Question refers to premises that are in the townland of Tomnalossett, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford.

A number of premises in the area referred to are within the BLUE and LIGHT BLUE areas on the NBP High Speed Broadband Map which is available on my Department's website at www.broadband.gov.ie. These areas indicates that commercial operators are already providing high speed broadband or have indicated plans to do so in the future. My Department defines high speed broadband as a connection with minimum speeds of 30Mbps download and 6Mbps upload.

The remaining premises in Tomnalosset are located in the AMBER area on the NBP High Speed Broadband Map. 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 in November last with National Broadband Ireland (NBI). All counties will see premises passed in the next 2 years and over 90% of premises in the State will have access to high speed broadband within the next four years. The NBP network will offer users a high speed broadband service with a minimum download speed of 150Mbps from the outset. By the end of next year, NBI plans to pass approximately 115,000 premises, with 70,000 - 100,000 passed each year thereafter until rollout is completed. Further information on deployment activities is available on NBI’s website (www.nbi.ie) and potential customers for High Speed Broadband within the AMBER area can now record an expression of interest through the NBI website to receive updates on progress with the roll out.

To support remote working and connected communities, approximately 300 Broadband Connections Points (BCPs), will be connected to high speed broadband this year. This will assist communities to quickly get free public access to high speed broadband, in advance of the main NBP deployment. The planned BCP locations, including schools, library hubs and local sports are available to view on the High Speed Broadband Map on the Department’s website www.broadband.gov.ie. It should be noted that some BCP locations may be subject to change.

These BCPs will leverage the high speed broadband connection through a range of measures and initiatives, for example providing free public Wi-Fi, some will also have hot-desks, and some will be digital hub business centres where digital training, business information events and other SME supports are organised. The BCP delivery project is well underway and surveying of the BCP locations is progressing, which will facilitate detailed design and installation.

Renewable Energy Generation

Question No. 972 answered with Question No. 969.

Questions (971)

James Browne

Question:

971. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason the renewable energy support scheme will exclude farm scale projects; if the decision will be re-examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4090/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) is an auction-based scheme which invites renewable electricity projects to bid for capacity and receive a guaranteed price for the electricity they generate. Support schemes such as this must now be auction-based and are subject to state aid approval by the European Commission.

The full terms and conditions of the first RESS Competition were published by my Department on 27 February 2020. The Scheme includes a community preference category within the auction, subject to State Aid approval, of circa 30 GWh. This category has been developed specifically to allow communities and citizens, including farmers, to participate in RESS. In addition, my Department is also developing a microgeneration scheme which will in time allow for domestic and small commercial renewable energy development.

Question No. 972 answered with Question No. 969.

Climate Action Plan

Questions (973)

Catherine Martin

Question:

973. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of progress and a projected timeline for implementation of action No. 31 of the Climate Action Plan in relation to the need for a support scheme for the solar PV microgeneration scheme to ensure that persons can sell excess electricity they produce back to the grid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4203/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Climate Action Plan sets out how Ireland will achieve its 2030 targets for carbon emissions, and puts us on a trajectory which would be consistent with net zero carbon emissions by 2050. A key part of the Plan is a move to 70% renewable electricity by 2030.

Under Action 31 of the Climate Action Plan the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), on behalf of my Department, commenced a pilot solar photovoltaic (PV) scheme in July 2018, providing grant supports for homes built before 2011. To date, over 2,300 installations have received grant support.

Under Action 30 of the Climate Action Plan, a Micro-Generation working group, chaired by my Department, has been formed to develop an enabling framework for micro-generation which tackles existing barriers and establishes suitable supports within relevant market segments. A work programme is underway to address the main steps necessary to facilitate the feeding of excess electricity generation into the national grid.

The proposed suppot mechanisms will be outlined in a public consultation in 2020 and a suitable support payment for excess electricity generated on site and exported to the grid will be available to all micro-generators by 2021.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Questions (974, 976)

Carol Nolan

Question:

974. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if 6% of hedgerows will be included in calculations relating to carbon sequestration figures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4216/20]

View answer

Carol Nolan

Question:

976. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason for the non-inclusion of hedgerow and grassland sequestration potential here in the current calculation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4218/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 974 and 976 together.

Greenhouse gas emissions and removals associated with land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), are reported in Ireland’s National Inventory Report prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency and submitted annually to the EU and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. LULUCF includes activities associated with forestry, croplands, grasslands, wetlands, settlements and other lands. Hedgerows, as landscape features within the cropland and grassland categories, can form part of the emission and removal estimates for these land use categories. Emissions and removals of greenhouse gases associated with land-based activities are reported in a different category to those associated with agricultural activity, in line with international reporting guidelines.

While such emissions are not currently accounted for in relation to the calculation of compliance with Ireland’s emissions targets in the period to 2020, from 2021 onwards these emissions will be integrated into the EU framework for compliance with national emissions targets. It is, therefore, essential that Ireland has robust policies in place to manage emissions and enhance removals from LULUCF.

The EPA has funded and continues to fund research projects related to the sequestration potential of lands, including specifically into hedgerows. As with any LULUCF category, the methodology must capture the emissions or removals associated with human activity compared with a reference or base year. The EPA is also currently developing a national land-use map for reporting on land based activities under the LULUCF Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2018/841) and, as part of this, is examining mechanisms to assist in the development of estimates of the carbon stock associated with hedgerows.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Question No. 976 answered with Question No. 974.

Questions (975)

Carol Nolan

Question:

975. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if an analysis will be carried out on the way in which carbon sequestration capabilities are calculated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4217/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Greenhouse gas emissions and removals associated with land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), are reported in Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency. LULUCF includes activities associated with forestry, croplands, grasslands, wetlands, settlements and other lands. The emissions and removals associated with LULUCF in Ireland are reported in chapters 6 and 11 of Irelands National Inventory Report , submitted annually to the  EU and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The compliance requirements of the EU’s Effort Sharing Decision (Decision 406/2009/EC), which governs Ireland’s target emission reduction levels for 2013 to 2020, do not include  emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry.

The subsequent LULUCF Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2018/841) has established the mechanisms whereby LULUCF activities are to be included in Members States emissions reduction targets for 2021 to 2030 under the Effort Sharing Regulation (Regulation (EU) 842/2018).  Under this regulation Ireland can avail of 26.8 million credits associated with land use over the period 2021 to 2030. Thus for 2030, under European legislation, Ireland will be able to use removals associated with land-based activities in meeting its 2030 emission reduction targets. The methods by which the emissions and removals are to be accounted for are laid out in regulation (EU) 841/2018 in the context of Effort Sharing between EU Member States to meet overall EU climate change mitigation goals.

It is essential that Ireland has robust policies in place to manage emissions and enhance removals from this LULUCF category. This is recognised in the 2019 Climate Action Plan, which includes a range of measures to develop and better manage our carbon sinks.

Question No. 976 answered with Question No. 974.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (977)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

977. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on a matter regarding broadband provision in an area (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4259/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) contract was signed with National Broadband Ireland (NBI) in November last to roll out a high speed and future proofed broadband network within the Intervention Area which covers 1.1 million people living and working in the nearly 540,000 premises, including almost 100,000 businesses and farms along with 695 schools.

The area referred to in the Question has premises which are located in the Amber, Blue and Light Blue areas on the High Speed Broadband Map which is available on my Department’s website at www.dccae.gov.ie. The Amber area represents the area to be served by the network to be deployed under the NBP State led Intervention. Premises in the Blue area are already served by commercial operators or will be in the near future and premises in the Light Blue area will be served as part of eir’s ongoing rural fibre deployment.

Deployment activities related to the National Broadband Plan (NBP) are continuing, in line with the advice provided by Government and the HSE during the Covid-19 event, and key mobilisation and design activities continue to be progressed.

By the end of 2021, NBI plans to pass approximately 115,000 premises, with 70,000-100,000 passed each year thereafter until the rollout is completed. Further information on deployment activities is available on NBI’s website (www.nbi.ie) and potential customers for High Speed Broadband within the AMBER area can now record an expression of interest through the NBI website to receive updates on progress with the roll out.

To support remote working and connected communities, approximately 300 Broadband Connections Points (BCPs) are scheduled to be connected to high speed broadband this year. This will assist communities to quickly get free public access to high speed broadband, in advance of the main NBP deployment. The planned BCP locations, including schools, library hubs and local sports are available to view on the High Speed Broadband Map on the Department’s website www.broadband.gov.ie. It should be noted that some BCP locations may be subject to change.

These BCPs will leverage the high speed broadband connection through a range of measures and initiatives, for example providing free public Wi-Fi, some will also have hot-desks, and some will be digital hub business centres where digital training, business information events and other SME supports are organised. The BCP delivery project is well underway and surveying of the BCP locations is progressing which will facilitate detailed design and installation.

Waste Management

Questions (978)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

978. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has ceased the policy of introducing waste waivers for families with incontinence and disability issues. [4269/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department has been examining this issue in detail and has engaged with relevant stakeholders, including representative organisations and the HSE, in an effort to see how best to provide support to persons with long-term incontinence with respect to the disposal of medical incontinence wear. However, there are complex issues at play in this area, which are understandable given the sensitive nature of the medical data in question.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. Results from the PMG are available on my Department's website.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Questions (979)

Roderic O'Gorman

Question:

979. Deputy Roderic O'Gorman asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a cost-benefit analysis has been undertaken on the estimated cost of net carbon reduction in circumstances in which exploited wetlands have been restored to ecosystem function through drainage management and rewetting as referred to in section 6.3.3 of the 2019 greenhouse gas emissions national inventory report of the EPA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4297/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Wetlands play a vital role, inter alia, in mitigating climate change effects. Greenhouse gas emissions and removals associated with land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), as reported in Ireland’s National Inventory Report prepared by the EPA, include wetlands. While such emissions are not currently accounted for in relation to the calculation of compliance with Ireland’s emissions targets in the period to 2020, from 2021 onwards these emissions will be integrated into the EU framework for compliance with national emissions targets. It is, therefore, essential that Ireland has robust policies in place to manage emissions and enhance removals from this LULUCF category.

This is recognised in the 2019 Climate Action Plan, which includes measures to develop and better manage our carbon sinks, including the following measures:

- Restore/rewet all raised bogs designated as Special Areas of Conservation and Natural Heritage Areas within three cycles of the National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017 - 2022;

- Upgrade land-use and habitat mapping systems to establish the baseline condition of wetlands and inform the development of best-practice guidelines for wetland management;

- Ensure robust reporting and accounting of the emissions impact to meet relevant international reporting requirements (under the National Land Cover and Habitat Mapping Programme);

- Develop further measures to help rehabilitate exploited and degraded peatlands, including as part of national land-use planning and the new Common Agricultural Policy, and recognising that strategies may need to differ between regions;

- Undertake further research to assess the potential to sequester, store and reduce emissions of carbon through the management, restoration and rehabilitation of peatlands as outlined in the National Peatlands Strategy, which is under the aegis of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (980, 981, 982, 983, 984)

Duncan Smith

Question:

980. Deputy Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the provision of broadband under the national broadband scheme in respect of Garristown and the surrounding townlands in north County Dublin. [4352/20]

View answer

Duncan Smith

Question:

981. Deputy Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the provision of broadband under the national broadband scheme in respect of Naul and the surrounding townlands in north County Dublin. [4353/20]

View answer

Duncan Smith

Question:

982. Deputy Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the provision of broadband under the national broadband scheme in respect of Oldtown and the surrounding townlands in north County Dublin. [4354/20]

View answer

Duncan Smith

Question:

983. Deputy Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the provision of broadband under the national broadband scheme in respect of Rowlestown and the surrounding townlands in north County Dublin. [4355/20]

View answer

Duncan Smith

Question:

984. Deputy Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the provision of broadband under the national broadband scheme in respect of Ballyboghill and the surrounding townlands in north County Dublin. [4356/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 980 to 984, inclusive, together.

The High Speed Broadband Map, which is available at www.broadband.gov.ie, shows the areas targeted by commercial operators to provide high speed broadband services and the areas that will be included in the State Intervention Area under the National Broadband Plan (NBP). The Map is colour coded and searchable by address and Eircode.

- Premises in the AMBER area will be provided with high Speed Broadband through the State led Intervention, the contract for which was signed in November last with National Broadband Ireland (NBI).

- The BLUE area represents those areas where commercial providers are either currently delivering or have plans to deliver high speed broadband services.

- The LIGHT BLUE area represents eir's commercial rural deployment plans to rollout high speed broadband to 300,000 premises as part of a Commitment Agreement signed with my Department in April 2017.

The table below outlines the latest data on the number of premises in the areas mentioned by the Deputy where access to a high speed broadband connection is, or will be, delivered by commercial operators (BLUE/LIGHT BLUE) and those where access will be delivered under the State led intervention (AMBER).

Townland Name

AMBER

Premises within the NBP State Intervention Area

BLUE

Premises within Commercial Operator’s Area

LIGHT BLUE

Premises within eir's commercial rural deployment

Garristown

9% 25)

90% (243)

1% 2)

Naul

1% 1)

99% (142)

0% (0)

Oldtown

1% 1)

97% (174)

2% (4)

Rowlestown West

91% 10)

9% (1)

0% (0)

Rowelstown East

20% 12)

57% (35)

23% (14)

Ballyboghill

18% 24)

55% (72)

27% (35)

Deployment activities related to the National Broadband Plan (NBP) are continuing, in line with the advice provided by Government and the HSE during the Covid-19 event and key mobilisation and design activities continue to be progressed.

By the end of next year, NBI plans to pass approximately 115,000 premises, with 70,000 - 100,000 passed each year thereafter until rollout is completed. Further information on deployment activities is available on NBI’s website (www.nbi.ie) and potential customers for High Speed Broadband within the AMBER area can now record an expression of interest through the NBI website to receive updates on progress with the roll out.

To support remote working and connected communities, approximately 300 Broadband Connections Points (BCPs) are scheduled to be connected to high speed broadband this year. This will assist communities to quickly get free public access to high speed broadband, in advance of the main NBP deployment. The planned BCP locations, including schools, library hubs and local sports are available to view on the High Speed Broadband Map on the Department’s website www.broadband.gov.ie. It should be noted that some BCP locations may be subject to change.

These BCPs will leverage the high speed broadband connection through a range of measures and initiatives, for example providing free public Wi-Fi, some will also have hot-desks, and some will be digital hub business centres where digital training, business information events and other SME supports are organised. The BCP delivery project is well underway and surveying of the BCP locations is progressing, which will facilitate detailed design and installation.

Fishing Licences

Questions (985)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

985. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding fishing licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4439/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Commercial fishing for salmon is by way of public licence which does not confer any rights on the holder. In that regard the issue of compensation does not arise.

In order to comply with the EU Habitats Directive and the principles of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO), the Government decided in 2006 to cease all indiscriminate commercial fishing in the sea and to manage salmon fisheries strictly in line with scientific advice. On foot of that decision, in 2007, the Government introduced a hardship scheme open to all holders of a commercial salmon licence.

Funding of €25m was made available for direct payments to former fishermen, based on their track record in the fishery, with a further €5m available for projects in affected communities. The average payment to individual fishermen was approximately €23,000 and the highest individual payment was over €180,000.

The scheme closed in 2008 with all funds expended and there are currently no plans to introduce a similar scheme.

Sporting Rights

Questions (986)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

986. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the Six Nations Championship will be designated as being of major importance to society that must be screened live on a free-to-air television service here in order to ensure that the majority of the population can continue to watch the championship in the future without needing a costly subscription to a private provider; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4488/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) provides that Member States may designate sporting and cultural events of major importance to society as free-to-air. At a national level, the Broadcasting Act 2009 sets out the statutory process for designating events as free-to-air.

Under the 2009 Act, the Minister is obliged to review the list of designated events every three years. The purpose of the review is to consider the appropriateness of the current list of designated events and to examine whether to add any events of major importance to society.

The most recent review was finalised in 2017. Approval was received from the European Commission to designate the All Ireland Senior Ladies Football and Camogie Finals as events of major importance in May 2017. Ireland games in the Six Nations was designated on a deferred free to air viewing basis as the Irish Rugby Football Union secured a commercial agreement with Virgin Media to broadcast the tournament for the period 2018-2021.

In accordance with Section 173(2) of the Act, the next review is scheduled to commence later this year and all eligible events with a special general resonance to the people of Ireland will be considered for designation.

The current list is as set out below.

Live:

- The All Ireland Senior Ladies Football Final

- The All Ireland Senior Camogie Final

- The Summer Olympics

- The All-Ireland Senior Inter-County Football & Hurling Finals

- Ireland’s home and away qualifying games in the European Football Championship and the FIFA World Cup Tournaments

- Ireland’s games in the European Football Championship Finals Tournament and the FIFA World Cup Finals Tournament

- Ireland’s games in the Rugby World Cup Finals Tournament

- The Irish Grand National and the Irish Derby

- The Nations Cup at the Dublin Horse Show

Deferred:

- Ireland’s games in the Six Nations Rugby Football Championship

EU Directives

Questions (987, 988)

Carol Nolan

Question:

987. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if it will be ensured that all public bodies prepare for the implementation of the EU web accessibility directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4559/20]

View answer

Carol Nolan

Question:

988. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will consider making a progress report on the implementation of the EU web accessibility directive available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4560/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 987 and 988 together.

My Department is responsible for transposition of the EU Web Accessibility Directive. The Department is currently finalizing a draft statutory instrument which will transpose the Directive into Irish law.

The Directive requires Member States to periodically monitor the compliance of websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies within the scope of the Directive with the accessibility requirements of the Directive. The Directive also requires Member States to submit to the Commission a report every three years on the outcome of monitoring of the compliance of websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies, such report to be made public in an accessible format.

Whilst many public bodies are aware of the requirements of the Directive, further awareness raising measures will be undertaken as part of the transposition process.

Broadcasting Sector

Questions (989, 990)

Carol Nolan

Question:

989. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will consider urging the BAI to set homegrown production targets for home produced programmes to be broadcast with audio description as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4594/20]

View answer

Carol Nolan

Question:

990. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will consider allocating a proportion of the television licence fee to be spent on production of audio description for home produced programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4595/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 989 and 990 together.

Under Section 43(1)(c)of the Broadcasting Act, 2009 the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) are required to publish Access Rules for broadcasters with respect to the specific steps each broadcaster is required to take to promote the understanding and enjoyment of television by people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or partially sighted. The Access Rules apply to broadcasters within the jurisdiction of Ireland and set out obligations on broadcasters in respect of the provision of subtitling, Irish Sign Language( ISL) and audio description.

The 2019 Rules include revised subtitling targets for a number of broadcasting services and specific ISL and audio description targets have been identified for each broadcast service. The BAI monitor compliance with the access rules on a regular basis.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (991)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

991. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when connections will be made to houses and businesses under the national broadband plan; the number of houses and businesses contracted to be connected each year until the completion of the plan; when information will be available to consumers based on Eircode as to when they can expect to receive a broadband service under the plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4633/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) contract was signed with National Broadband Ireland (NBI) in November last to roll out a high speed and future proofed broadband network within the Intervention Area which covers 1.1 million people living and working in the nearly 540,000 premises, including almost 100,000 businesses and farms along with 695 schools.

The NBP network will offer users a high speed broadband service with a minimum download speed of 150Mbps from the outset. By the end of next year, NBI plans to pass approximately 115,000 premises, with 70,000 - 100,000 passed each year thereafter until rollout is completed. 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. The first homes passed will be able to get connected before the end of this year.

To support remote working and connected communities, approximately 300 Broadband Connections Points (BCPs) are scheduled to be connected to high speed broadband this year. This will assist communities to quickly get free public access to high speed broadband, in advance of the main NBP deployment. The planned BCP locations, including schools, library hubs and local sports are available to view on the High Speed Broadband Map on the Department’s website www.broadband.gov.ie. It should be noted that some BCP locations may be subject to change.

These BCPs will leverage the high speed broadband connection through a range of measures and initiatives, for example providing free public Wi-Fi, some will also have hot-desks, and some will be digital hub business centres where digital training, business information events and other SME supports are organised. The BCP delivery project is well underway and surveying of the BCP locations is progressing, which will facilitate detailed design and installation.

Energy Efficiency

Questions (992)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

992. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the discussions he has had with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, SEAI, to ensure that its grants for houses have a 50% top-up for work carried out on the offshore islands in view of the extra cost of carrying out such work on islands and the need to use the offshore islands as a model of best practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4657/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Better Energy Homes scheme operated by the SEAI gives grants to homeowners to improve energy efficiency in their homes. Applications received from specific offshore islands are eligible for 50% additional grant support. In addition,the Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme offers a 100% grant, subject to eligibility criteria and irrespective of location in Ireland.

In addition, the Community Grants programme, which awards funding to community based energy efficiency projects,operates an application appraisal system which favours island communities. The SEAI has supported island communities under this programme every year since 2012.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (993)

Peter Burke

Question:

993. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the cost to the Vote of his Department if the rate of employer PRSI was increased to 15.75% for the portion of salaries over €100,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4697/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The cost to my Department's vote if the rate of employer PRSI was increased to 15.75% for those on salaries over €100,000, based on current salaries, is €296,516.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (994)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

994. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason an address (details supplied) was not included by commercial operators in regard to the roll-out of the national broadband plan; the expected timeline for the household to be connected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4752/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Deputy's Question refers to a premises which is located in the AMBER area on the 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 in November last 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. The NBP network will offer users a high speed broadband service with a minimum download speed of 150Mbps from the outset.

Approximately 300 Broadband Connections Points (BCPs), including schools, library hubs and local sports halls in every county in Ireland, including County Galway, will be connected to high speed broadband this year, to enable communities to quickly get free public access to high speed broadband. The planned BCP locations are available to view on the High Speed Broadband Map on the Department’s website www.dccae.gov.ie. It should be noted that some BCP locations may be subject to change.

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.

BCPs will leverage the high speed broadband connection through a range of measures and initiatives, for example providing free public Wi-Fi, some will also have hot-desks, and some will be digital hub business centres where digital training, business information events and other SME supports are organised. “

By the end of next year, NBI plans to pass approximately 115,000 premises, with 70,000 - 100,000 passed each year thereafter until rollout is completed.

With regard to the fibre installation close to the premises mentioned in the Question, eir’s rural deployment of high speed broadband is a commercial undertaking and not part of the planned State Intervention network. It is not funded by the State and is not planned, designed or directed by my Department in any capacity. The decision as to what areas and premises are served was made by eir internally and on a commercial basis. My Department has no statutory authority to intervene in that process.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (995)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

995. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the timeline for areas (details supplied) to be connected to fibre broadband as part of the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4807/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Government is committed to delivering high speed broadband to every home, farm, business and school in Ireland. It is vital that we ensure the people of rural Ireland have the same opportunities as the people in our towns and cities.

The Deputy's Question refers to two premises which are located in the AMBER area on the 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 in November last 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. The NBP network will offer users a high speed broadband service with a minimum download speed of 150Mbps from the outset.

Approximately 300 Broadband Connections Points (BCPs), including schools, library hubs and local sports halls in every county in Ireland, including County Galway, will be connected to high speed broadband this year, to enable communities to quickly get free public access to high speed broadband. 20 BCPs are planned for deployment in Galway. The planned BCP locations are available to view on the High Speed Broadband Map on the Department’s website www.dccae.gov.ie. It should be noted that some BCP locations may be subject to change.

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, some will also have hot-desks, and some will be digital hub business centres where digital training, business information events and other SME supports are organised.

By the end of next year, NBI plans to pass approximately 115,000 premises, with 70,000 - 100,000 passed each year thereafter until rollout is completed.