Waste Data

Questions (61)

Denis Naughten

Question:

61. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will provide details of the anti-dumping initiative outturn data from each local authority for the four years of the scheme in terms of tonnage of waste removed in clean-ups, number of clean-ups, bulky goods collections and volumes collected, enforcement and education measures; the budget estimate for the 2021 initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2957/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Details of the funding provided and the projects supported for the period 2017 to 2019 by local authority are available on the Department's website at the following link - https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/e27ac-anti-dumping-initiative/

Total tonnages of waste removed under the Anti-Dumping Initiative (ADI) for each of the three years 2017-2019 are as follows:

2017 - 2,500t

2018 - 2,571t

2019 - 1,638t

It is important to note that clean up is only one element of the ADI. Sites where serious levels of illegal dumping occurred would have been targeted over the first two years of the campaign. Perhaps more important in the medium to longer terms are the abatement and preventative measures funded under the Initiative.

Data for 2020 is currently being collated by the Waste Enforcement Regional Lead Authorities and will be made available on the Department's website when finalised. However, provisional figures for 2020 indicate that a total of €3,023,750 was spent in support of 304 projects across the country under the 2020 ADI.

The budget allocation for 2021 has yet to be finalised. I have set out a commitment in the Government's Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy to review the National Anti-Dumping Initiative, so that communities and voluntary groups will continue to be supported in their efforts to tackle this problem in a sustainable manner.

Litter Pollution

Questions (62)

Denis Naughten

Question:

62. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he plans to increase on-the-spot litter fines; his plans to address data protection concerns with regard to the use of CCTV for litter enforcement; if he will review the provisions with regard to the confiscation of vehicles used by fly-tippers in view of the fact that this provision has not been utilised by local authority enforcement officers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2958/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I have committed, under the Government's Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy, to increase the range of offences to which Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) penalties would apply and the level of the on-the-spot litter fine may be considered in that context.

I have also set out a commitment in the Waste Action Plan to ensure that all waste enforcement legislation will be “data proofed”, so that all available and emerging technologies can be fully utilised in a manner which is General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliant. My Department will continue to liaise with the local authority sector and the Data Protection Commission to ensure that the appropriate legislative underpinning is in place to allow for the use of CCTV to support enforcement efforts in a manner which is both effective and GDPR compliant.

In terms of the use of specific enforcement options, such as the confiscation of a vehicle, by the EPA or local authorities, section 60(3) of the Waste Management Act, I am precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to the performance by the EPA or a local authority, in particular circumstances, of a statutory function vested in it.

Section 14 of the Act allows an authorised person, for any purpose connected to the Act, halt and/or board a vehicle, which can then be taken to a designated place and detained there, for only as long as is necessary to fulfil the purpose under which it was seized.

Section 61 of the Act does provide for the detention and forfeiture of certain vehicles and equipment, but only by order of the court and only after a person is convicted on indictment of an offence under Section 36, 39 or 57 of the Act. Only in such instances can the court, before which the person is convicted, order the forfeiture to a local authority or the Agency of vehicles/equipment owned by the defendant and used in the commission of the offence.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (63)

Denis Naughten

Question:

63. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will provide details of the impact that the national broadband plan will have on Ireland's carbon emissions profile; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2967/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

A sustained reduction of commuters and commuting time will, over time, bring a reduction in transport carbon emissions. Previous work in this area indicated that, for each new full-time remote worker, estimated average daily transport-related emissions savings of approximately 2.6-2.9 kg CO2, depending on petrol/diesel fuel mix, could be achieved. My Department is currently in the process of updating this analysis to inform the development of new actions to support Ireland’s emissions reductions to 2030 under Ireland’s Climate Action Pan.

The National Broadband Plan State led intervention has been designed to ensure that as much as possible of the network infrastructure will comprise the re-use of existing poles and ducts which NBI will lease from existing infrastructure owners. Infrastructure re-use in this manner ensures the State complies with State Aid Guidelines and environmental sustainability best practice.

Deployment of the NBP has the potential to deliver a range of environmental benefits linked to Government policy and cloud services as well as reduced emissions from teleworking and business travel. The Cost Benefit Analysis behind the business case for the Government decision to proceed with the NBP highlighted environmental benefits among a variety of other economic and social benefits. It did not, however, set out to specifically forecast the impact of the NBP on emissions. My Department will be looking at this in more detail when we start to assess the benefits that are being delivered on foot of the ramping up of investment in the NBP.

Data Centres

Questions (64)

Denis Naughten

Question:

64. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will provide details of the impact that data centres will have on electricity demand in Ireland over the next decade and the policy interventions planned as a result; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2968/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Government policy in relation to data centres is primarily a matter for the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The Government Statement on the role of data centres in Ireland's Enterprise Strategy, 2018 recognises that a plan-led approach is needed to develop a range of measures to promote regional options for data centre investment, minimising the need for additional electricity grid infrastructure.

The Programme for Government commits to developing efficiency standards for equipment and processes, particularly those set to grow rapidly, such as data centres. Last year, the European Commission adopted Shaping Europe's Digital Future, which includes an objective to foster an open, democratic and sustainable society. Key actions include initiatives to achieve climate-neutral, highly energy efficient and sustainable data centres by no later than 2030.

EirGrid, in their Generation Capacity Statement 2020-2029, project that demand from data centres could account for 27% of all demand by 2029, up from 2% in 2018.

Significant increases in volumes of generation capacity, including from renewable energy sources, will be required to meet Ireland’s electrification objectives including demand from heat pumps, electric vehicles and data centres.

The Climate Action Plan sets out a number of actions to ensure that data centres are accommodated in a sustainable manner including implementing flexible demand and other innovative solutions for data centres. This has been implemented by EirGrid for new data centres seeking to connect in Dublin.The Climate Action Plan also provides that the IDA will use its new strategy to fully integrate decarbonisation objectives across its portfolio of clients. This strategy will seek to ensure new large-scale enterprise investments in Ireland, including factors such as location and power purchase agreement opportunities, are aligned with the build-out of the grid to maximise renewable sources.

Work is also ongoing by the Renewable Electricity Corporate Power Purchase Agreements (CPPAs) Steering Group, led by the SEAI in order to deliver on the step up in ambition in the Climate Action Plan of meeting 15% of electricity demand from CPPAs by 2030. A set of policy options have been developed in order to increase the take up of CPPAs with an expected consultation on these policy proposals in Q1 2021.

Departmental Strategies

Questions (65)

Denis Naughten

Question:

65. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the status of the clean air strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2969/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department is currently working to finalise Ireland’s first National Clean Air Strategy which I intend to publish in the coming weeks. The Strategy will provide the policy framework necessary to identify and promote the integrated measures and actions across Government that are required to reduce air pollution and promote cleaner air, while delivering on wider national objectives.

In line with the Programme for Government, the Clean Air Strategy will also support the following measures:

- establishing a regional approach to air quality and noise enforcement;

- developing a multi-agency approach to clamping down on the sale of high-sulphur content fuel imported from the UK, with Local Authorities and the Revenue Commissioners;

- investing in our network of monitoring stations, to provide scientific evidence of air quality across different parts of the country, including real-time and localised air quality information; and

- moving towards a full nationwide residential solid fuel regulation.

There are a number of national policy frameworks already in place which will also help to reduce pollutant emissions and improve air quality, such as the Climate Action Plan and the National Energy and Climate Plan. It is important that synergies are maximised between these plans and the Clean Air Strategy, with a view to achieving lasting reductions in the health and environmental impacts of air pollution in the most effective manner.

Electricity Supply Board

Questions (66, 67)

Denis Naughten

Question:

66. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the details of the discussions he has had with stakeholders regarding the future use of the west Offaly power station; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2970/21]

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Denis Naughten

Question:

67. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the details of the discussions he has had with stakeholders regarding the future use of Lough Ree power station; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2971/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 66 and 67 together.

The first progress report of the Just Transition Commissioner, Mr Kieran Mulvey, published on 22 May, reflects a comprehensive engagement with relevant stakeholders in the Midlands, setting out the analysis of the challenges facing the region, and for Bord na Móna workers, their families and communities, arising from an accelerated exit from peat harvesting. The report contains a range of important recommendations several of which have already been acted on by the Government. I intend to shortly publish an implementation plan to address the remainder.

The recommendation of the Commissioner that a study be undertaken in relation to the future potential of the ESB power stations at both Lanesborough (Lough Ree Power) and Shannonbridge (West Offaly Power) for the establishment of a dedicated Energy Hub in the Midlands was subsequently included as a commitment in the Programme for Government.

A feasibility study into the establishment of a Green Energy Hub using the existing infrastructure at the West Offaly and Lough Ree sites has been underway over the last number of months. This is being overseen by a steering group chaired by the ESB, and includes representatives of my Department, relevant Local Authorities, and other stakeholders. I expect that the work of the group will conclude early this year, having regard to the timelines required to meet the company’s planning permission obligations in relation to both sites.

Driver Test

Questions (68)

Denis Naughten

Question:

68. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Transport if online certificate of professional competence, CPC, courses for heavy goods vehicles, HGV, drivers are being offered in view of level 5 restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2201/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

At the current time the RSA does not facilitate on-line Driver CPC training. EU Directive 2003/59/EC which introduced Driver CPC was updated in 2018 (EU Directive 645 of 2018) and while the amended directive allows for the use of ICT tools such as e-learning and blended learning as part of CPC training, a substantial amount of the training will be required to be completed in an approved Driver CPC training centre.

The RSA believes that delivering some part of the training online is the way forward and it is their intention to consult with the industry, including all Driver CPC training organisations to establish how training can be enhanced and improved within the scope of the opportunities provided for in the EU legislation. It is hoped that this review will start in early 2021.

Maritime Safety

Questions (69, 70)

Thomas Gould

Question:

69. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Transport when Ireland will have its own merchant navy record training book for Ireland's merchant navy engineering cadets, deck officer cadets and electrical cadets. [2224/21]

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Thomas Gould

Question:

70. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Transport the reason Ireland relies on the UK's Merchant Navy Training Board to set the standard of training for Merchant Navy engineering cadets, deck officer cadets and electrical cadets and rating training by virtue of a UK-made training record book for each discipline. [2225/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 69 and 70 together.

The standard of training in Ireland for maritime education and training is set by the International Maritime Organization’s Convention on the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping as implemented in EU law by means of EU Directive 2008/106, as amended, and further transposed into Irish law. The training for seafarers is approved by my Department and Ireland is currently listed as a “White Listed” country confirming that Ireland is giving full and complete effect to the provisions of this convention. The cadet training record books published by the International Chamber of Shipping and those published by the Merchant Navy Training Board are widely used by shipping companies and maritime administrations worldwide. As part of this, Ireland facilitates the use of the Merchant Navy Record Training book as a number of the cadets at the National Maritime College of Ireland are following careers with UK based companies and they use this record book as part of their company’s internal training procedures.

Traffic Management

Questions (71)

David Cullinane

Question:

71. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Transport the legal speed limit for powered wheelchairs; his plans to legislate in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2245/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

There is no legal speed limit for powered wheelchairs, and I have no plans to legislate for a speed limit to be introduced.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (72, 91, 92, 96, 98)

Neale Richmond

Question:

72. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Transport the measures in place to limit or curtail travel from South Africa, given the strain of Covid-19 detected there; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2252/21]

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Peadar Tóibín

Question:

91. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Transport the reason for the decision not to impose mandatory quarantine or isolation for travellers coming to Ireland. [2557/21]

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Peadar Tóibín

Question:

92. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Transport the reason there is no mandatory test in Ireland for travellers from the UK or South Africa. [2559/21]

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Neale Richmond

Question:

96. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Transport if he will implement a mandatory requirement for a negative PCR test to be taken 72 hours prior to entry into Ireland as per the EU traffic lights approach to travel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2584/21]

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Neale Richmond

Question:

98. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Transport the penalty for those who do not show a negative PCR test taken 72 hours prior to entry into Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2586/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 72, 91, 92, 96 and 98 together.

The Government continues to advise against non-essential international travel and that essential travel is undertaken with due regard to public health safety measures.

In the case of Great Britain and South Africa, flight bans were introduced for the first time with effect from 1 December in response to the emergence of a new strain of COVID 19. They were replaced by requirement from 9 of January for passengers originating from Great Britain or South Africa and arriving into Ireland have been required to have evidence of a negative or “not detected” result of a Covid-19 PCR test obtained within 72 hours of arrival into Ireland.

Arising from the deteriorating epidemiological situation and the concern at the implications of increased transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 via the emergence of new variants, the Government extended this requirement to all regions with effect from 16 January. The test must be taken within 72 hours of arrival to Ireland.

Exemptions include international transport workers- including hauliers, pilots and aviation crew, masters and maritime crew; passengers in transit, members of An Garda Síochána, and Children aged six and under.

Passengers will be asked to present evidence of their negative/‘not detected’ RT-PCR test result before boarding, and will be denied boarding if they cannot produce such evidence, unless they claim to be among the exempt categories.

Passengers who arrive in an Irish Airport or Sea Port without the required evidence will commit an offence and may be subject to prosecution resulting potentially in a fine not exceeding €2,500 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both.

In line with the EU Traffic Light system on arrival, passengers from ECDC red/grey locations and other locations are advised to restrict their movements for 14 days, but may release themselves from the advice to restrict their movements if they have a second negative result from a RT-PCR test taken no less than 5 days post arrival. This approach to post-arrival testing does not apply to travel from Great Britain, South Africa or South America who are advised to complete the entire 14 day period of self-isolation.

Arrivals from green and orange countries (as defined by the EU traffic light system) will not be required to restrict their movements on arrival but are to adhere to the local public health guidance.

The Government is keeping all measures relating to international travel under review.

Motor Insurance

Questions (73)

Pa Daly

Question:

73. Deputy Pa Daly asked the Minister for Transport his views on the renewal of car insurance in circumstances in which drivers’ licences are delayed or are unable to be renewed. [2264/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I am aware that, under the current Level 5 circumstances, some people are experiencing unavoidable delays in renewing their driving licences. As you know, a person cannot drive legally without a licence or without insurance.

My Department remains in constant contact with the Road Safety Authority (RSA) in relation to the impact of Covid on its services, and consideration is currently being given to a possible further extension of the period of validity of driving licences at a European level.

In the meantime, I understand that the RSA has been in touch with the insurance industry about delays in the driver licensing service, and I gather that both Insurance Ireland and the AA have indicated to the RSA that this will not affect people's cover.

As a point of fact, I should observe that insurance companies are private companies, and under EU law the Government has no power to issue instructions relating to the terms and conditions of their policies.

National Development Plan

Questions (74)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

74. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport the total planned investment in heavy and light rail in the current national development plan, NDP; the major projects involved; the estimated cost and completion date of each; if he will be proposing extra rail investment in the forthcoming review of the NDP; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2295/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Deputy may wish to be aware of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s Project Tracker which is available at the following link and details all of the major projects and programmes (including details around timings and costings) in the National Development Plan:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/6db7c4-investment-projects-and-programmes-tracker/

A number of the key rail projects/programmes currently being delivered include –

- The National Train Control Centre: a project which will significantly improve train management and operations across the country;

- Infrastructure renewal: a €1billion investment programme in the protection and renewal of the national rail network over the period 2020 to 2024;

- Expanded commuter rail fleet: an additional 41 InterCity Railcars under construction for deployment on the commuter rail network in the wider Leinster region;

- Dublin-Cork track relaying programme;

- Dublin City Centre Resignalling Project; and

- Enhancement of capacity on the Luas Green Line: a project to increase capacity through the addition of 8 new trams to the fleet as well as the extension of all 26 existing trams to 55m in length.

In line with the current National Development Plan and the Public Spending Code, Preliminary Business Cases are being developed for DART+ and MetroLink, while planning and design of a proposed Cork Light rail network is also being funded, with similar planning and design underway in relation to a proposed Luas Finglas in Dublin. There are also proposals to fund station improvement works at both Ceannt and Colbert Stations and I understand those works are also subject of applications to the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund as well as funding that may be made available through the National Transport Authority.

I can assure the Deputy that a key component of my approach to the revised National Development Plan will be to submit an ambitious Regional Cities Investment Programme for each of Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford, including investment in their rail networks, and I look forward to working with him and other colleagues in the years ahead on this important programme.

Workplace Relations Commission

Questions (75)

Mick Barry

Question:

75. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Transport the number of referrals made to the Marine Survey Office by the Workplace Relations Commission arising from inspection the latter made on Irish-flagged fishing vessels from January to December 2020; the status and outcomes of each referral made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2319/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

During 2020, the Marine Survey Office (MSO) received two referrals from the Workplace Relations Commission. The MSO has completed its follow up activities in respect of the two fishing vessels concerned. Corrective action, where it was required by the MSO, has been actioned by the owners. Both vessels are also subject to scheduled flag state inspections by the MSO and one of the vessels was subsequently re-inspected later in 2020, with no related deficiencies. The other vessel is due to be inspected by the MSO during 2021.