Bord na Móna

Questions (84, 85, 86, 87)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

84. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if the conditions for the rehabilitation of cutaway bog to wetland habitat attached to the funding described in the memorandum of understanding regarding peat-fired electricity generation, outlined at appendix 8 of the Operational Programme for Economic Infrastructure 1994-1999, is still binding on the Minister and Bord na Móna; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6825/21]

View answer

Thomas Pringle

Question:

85. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if the conditions for the rehabilitation of cutaway bog to wetland habitat attached to the funding described in the memorandum of understanding regarding peat-fired electricity generation, outlined at appendix 8 of the Operational Programme for Economic Infrastructure 1994-1999, have been enforced by his Department on Bord na Móna; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6826/21]

View answer

Thomas Pringle

Question:

86. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the status of compliance with the conditions for the rehabilitation of cutaway bog to wetland habitat, attached to the funding described in the memorandum of understanding regarding peat-fired electricity generation outlined at appendix 8 of the Operational Programme for Economic Infrastructure 1994-1999, by Bord na Móna; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6827/21]

View answer

Thomas Pringle

Question:

87. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications his plans to ensure compliance with the conditions for the rehabilitation of cutaway bog to wetland habitat, attached to the funding described in the memorandum of understanding regarding peat fired electricity generation outlined at appendix 8 of the Operational Programme for Economic Infrastructure 1994-1999; those conditions that to date have not been complied with by Bord na Móna; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6828/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 84 to 87, inclusive, together.

The information requested is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Warmer Homes Scheme

Question No. 89 answered with Question No. 47.

Question No. 90 answered with Question No. 88.

Questions (88, 90)

Jennifer Whitmore

Question:

88. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the number of SEAI warmer homes grants approved, by county, in 2020 and to date in 2021; the waiting time for a surveyor to be allocated; the subsequent waiting time for work to commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6877/21]

View answer

Jennifer Whitmore

Question:

90. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the number of SEAI warmer homes grants that were approved in 2020 and to date in 2021, by county; the current waiting time for a surveyor to be allocated; the subsequent waiting time for work to begin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6921/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 88 and 90 together.

The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme is funded by my Department and administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households vulnerable to energy poverty.

To date, over 142,000 homes have received free upgrades under the scheme, leaving the occupants better able to afford to heat their homes to an adequate level. There are currently over 7,800 homes awaiting works on the Warmer Homes Scheme work programme. This includes homes that are: currently undergoing works; have been allocated to contractors for works; have completed an initial home survey and are awaiting allocation to a contractor or are awaiting the initial survey of their home.

SEAI data indicates that for homes completed in 2020, the average time from application to completion was approximately 18 months.  For the same time period, the average time for a surveyor to be allocated was approximately 8 months and the average time from survey allocated to works completed was 10 months.

SEAI have advised my Department that the average waiting times quoted above should only ever be used as a general guide and waiting times may vary, based on the demand for the scheme at the time of application.  For instance, once the survey is completed and works are allocated to a contractor the time to complete works is dependent on a number of factors including the scale of works to be completed, access to the property, availability of materials, weather and more recently COVID-19 public health restrictions.

The following table shows the number of eligible applications made in 2020 and to date in 2021 by county.

2020 Warmer Homes Scheme work programme

2021 Warmer Homes Scheme work programme YTD

County

Applications*

Applications*

Carlow

31

5

Cavan

45

1

Clare

59

3

Cork

291

18

Donegal

163

6

Dublin

690

45

Galway

159

3

Kerry

93

1

Kildare

79

6

Kilkenny

41

1

Laois

27

0

Leitrim

31

2

Limerick

93

6

Longford

38

1

Louth

62

1

Mayo

182

4

Meath

106

7

Monaghan

31

5

Offaly

51

2

Roscommon

63

1

Sligo

47

2

Tipperary

126

2

Waterford

84

8

Westmeath

81

7

Wexford

97

2

Wicklow

80

4

Total

2850

143

*This refers to applications deemed eligible under the current Warmer Homes scheme eligibility criteria. These homes will be allocated to a surveyor on a first come first served basis. The survey of the property will determine suitability for works from those currently available under the scheme.

Question No. 89 answered with Question No. 47.
Question No. 90 answered with Question No. 88.

Waste Management

Questions (91)

Neasa Hourigan

Question:

91. Deputy Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the timeline for his plans to expand brown bin services to all households; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6930/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy, Ireland's National Waste Policy 2020-2025 contains some 200 measures which will be delivered on a phased basis over the 5 year lifetime of the Plan. Since I launched the plan in September of last year, my officials have been working on advancing priority measures, including measures relating to plastic waste, end of waste, and food waste.

Food waste measures in the plan address both the prevention of food waste in the first instance and also the better management of food waste which does arise. Amongst these measures is a commitment to make the provision of an organic waste bin mandatory as part of a waste collection service for all households. My officials have already commenced the process of engaging with the key stakeholders, including the waste collection industry, with a view to delivering on these food waste commitment in as short a time frame as possible. Part of the work will ensure that delivery of the national rollout of organic bins is consistent with other measures such as the standardisation of bin colours throughout the State.

Broadband Infrastructure

Questions (92)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

92. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if the case of a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; the status of the roll-out of fibre broadband to this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6995/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Question refers to a premises located in the AMBER area on the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map which is available on my Department's website 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.

I appreciate people's frustration when they are living so close to a fibre network but cannot get a connection to that network, particularly given the heightened importance of connectivity during the Covid-19 pandemic. The NBP will ensure that in all such cases a future proofed high speed broadband network will be built to serve these premises and work to deliver on this is underway.

I am advised by National Broadband Ireland that, as of 26 January 2021, over 166,000 premises across all counties have been surveyed. Surveys in County Monaghan have been completed in Cornacassa, Cortolvin, Ballybay and Stranooden. Surveys are ongoing in Drumcru, Stonebridge, Tiernahinch, Clones, Annalore, Kileevan, Drumullan, Newbliss, Cumber, Scotshouse, Clonowla, Clonagore, Clonoone, Mullinahinch, Bellanode, Drumhilock, Tydavnet, Cloughnart, Scotstown and Killymarley. Further details are available on specific areas within County Monaghan through the NBI website which provides a facility for any premises within the intervention area to register their interest in being provided with deployment updates through its website www.nbi.ie. Individuals who register with this facility will receive regular updates on progress by NBI on delivering the network and specific updates related to their own premises as works commence. I am advised that NBI is working to provide more detail on its website, with a rolling update on network build plans. NBI also has a dedicated email address, reps@nbi.ie, which can be used by Oireachtas members for specific queries.

Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) are a key element of the NBP providing high speed broadband in every county in advance of the roll out of the fibre to the home network. As of 30 January, 260 BCP sites have been installed by NBI and the high speed broadband service will be switched on in these locations through service provider contracts managed by the Department of Rural and Community Development for publicly accessible sites and the Department of Education for school BCPs. BCP’s are installed at Corduff Community Centre, Tannagh Outdoor Education Centre, Corcaghan Community Centre, Carn Resource Centre, Mullyash Community Centre and Monaghan GAA Centre of Excellence. BCP sites at Saint Alphonsus Community Hall, Ballybay Wetlands and Latton Resource Centre are installed and connected. Further details can be found at https://nbi.ie/bcp-locations/.

Annalitten, Drumgossatt and Saint Brigid's National School are installed by NBI for educational access as part of this initiative. My Department continues to work with the Department of Education to prioritise schools with no high speed broadband, within the Intervention Area, for connection over the term of the NBP. In this regard, an acceleration of this aspect of the National Broadband Plan was announced in December which will see some 679 primary schools connected to high speed broadband by 2022, well ahead of the original target delivery timeframe of 2026. Further details are available on the NBI website at https://nbi.ie/primary-schools-list/.

Broadband Infrastructure

Questions (93)

Robert Troy

Question:

93. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the reason townlands outside villages are being serviced with e-fibre broadband before more densely populated areas, for example, Barry Village, County Longford (details supplied); and the reason the roll-out was decided in such a manner. [7001/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Question refers to a premises located in the AMBER area on the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map which is available on my Department's website 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 network rollout for the National Broadband Plan is divided  into 227 Deployment Areas (DAs) across the country.  These are typically an area of approximately 25km in radius and in total they cover 96% of Ireland’s landmass. The architecture of the network design is specifically based on the design of the NBI network coming from the eir exchanges or the metropolitan area networks (MANs) managed by Enet. It is based on an engineering design that allows NBI to get to every premises as quickly as possible  working within the confines of how fibre networks are built.

Each DA creates a ‘fibre ring’ which is essential to ensure reliability, robustness and resilience. Critical to the success of the network, NBI’s fibre rings are built with back-ups,ensuring that in the event of one fibre cable being disrupted, the whole network continues to perform.  Each fibre ring that NBI deploys is designed in a way that is non-discriminatory, meaning that as the rollout progresses, it may pass relatively urban areas at the same time as passing some of the most remote premises within the intervention area. The design will utilise existing infrastructure to a very significant degree.

I appreciate people's frustration when they are living so close to a fibre network but cannot get a connection to that network, particularly given the heightened importance of connectivity during the Covid-19 pandemic. The NBP will ensure that in all such cases a future proofed high speed broadband network will be built to serve these premises and work to deliver on this is underway.

I am advised by National Broadband Ireland that, as of 26 January 2021, over 166,000 premises across all counties have been surveyed. Surveys in County Longford have been completed in Drumlish, Ennybegs, Moat Farrell, Cullyfad, Longford Town, Newtownforbes, Cloondara, Stonepark, Ardagh, Moydow and Kilashee. Further details are available on specific areas within County Longford through the NBI website which provides a facility for any premises within the intervention area to register their interest in being provided with deployment updates through its website www.nbi.ie. Individuals who register with this facility will receive regular updates on progress by NBI on delivering the network and specific updates related to their own premises as works commence. I am advised that NBI is working to provide more detail on its website, with a rolling update on network build plans. NBI also has a dedicated email address, reps@nbi.ie, which can be used by Oireachtas members for specific queries.

Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) are a key element of the NBP providing high speed broadband in every county in advance of the roll out of the fibre to the home network. As of 30 January, 260 BCP sites have been installed by NBI and the high speed broadband service will be switched on in these locations through service provider contracts managed by the Department of Rural and Community Development for publicly accessible sites and by the Department of Education for schools. BCP’s are installed at Colmcille GAA Club, Ballymore Shamrocks GAA Club, Mullinalaghta Community Centre, Corlea Heritage Centre and Aughine Community Centre. Further details can be found at https://nbi.ie/bcp-locations/.

Naomh Guasachta National School (Bunlahy) has been installed by NBI and Fermoyle National School has been connected for educational access as part of this initiative. My Department continues to work with the Department of Education to prioritise schools with no high speed broadband, within the Intervention Area, for connection over the term of the NBP. In this regard, an acceleration of this aspect of the National Broadband Plan was announced in December which will see some 679 primary schools connected to high speed broadband by 2022, well ahead of the original target delivery timeframe of 2026. Further details are available on the NBI website at https://nbi.ie/primary-schools-list/.

National Broadband Plan

Questions Nos. 95 and 96 answered with Question No. 47.

Questions (94)

Johnny Mythen

Question:

94. Deputy Johnny Mythen asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the status of the roll-out of the national broadband plan at a location (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7010/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The premises referred to in the Question is located in the BLUE area on the NBP High Speed Broadband Map which is available on my Department's website at www.broadband.gov.ie. BLUE areas are not included in the State intervention area covered by the National Broadband Plan as commercial operators are already providing high speed broadband or have indicated future plans to do so. My Department defines high speed broadband as a connection with minimum speeds of 30Mbps download and 6Mbps upload. The activities of commercial operators delivering high speed broadband within BLUE areas are not planned or funded by the State and my Department has no statutory authority to intervene in that regard.

My Department has raised a query regarding the premises in question with the network operator to get the current status for this location. As soon as a reply is received my Department will revert to the Deputy with an update.

Questions Nos. 95 and 96 answered with Question No. 47.

Post Office Network

Question No. 98 answered with Question No. 47.

Questions (97)

David Stanton

Question:

97. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications his plans to support the post office network, particularly those individual branches under a public service obligation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7179/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The importance of the post office network has been clearly demonstrated throughout the pandemic where we have seen a range of initiatives through our post offices which have helped support local communities, the elderly and vulnerable. The serious decline in mail volumes and the impact of Covid-19 on footfall through post offices has had a severe impact on the postal network and the revenue being generated for postmasters.

A lot of work has been done over the past few years to develop the network and this has had a positive effect for both postmasters and customers. This momentum needs to be maintained and if An Post, the postmasters and Government work together we can ensure that the network can emerge as a central hub for a wide variety of valuable community-focused services.

Government believes An Post has untapped potential to do more and make a further significant contribution across many areas of public, business and community life in Ireland. What we are doing now is working with An Post to investigate the scope to channel additional services through the network. As with any business the post office needs to develop commercial strategies to enable it to grow and maintain its relevance for its users. All options will be considered fully and efforts will be redoubled to give effect to our commitment to ensuring a sustainable and viable post office network.

In the circumstances, there are no proposals to introduce a Government funded subsidy for the post office network.

Question No. 98 answered with Question No. 47.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (99, 100, 101)

Ruairí Ó Murchú

Question:

99. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the location of the pilot area used by National Broadband Ireland in establishing the feasibility of using the ESB Networks infrastructure in the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan. [7241/21]

View answer

Ruairí Ó Murchú

Question:

100. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the benefits considered by National Broadband Ireland for using the ESB Networks infrastructure to accelerate the national broadband plan. [7242/21]

View answer

Ruairí Ó Murchú

Question:

101. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the expected timeframe for completion of the pilot exercise using the ESB Networks infrastructure to accelerate the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7243/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 99 to 101, inclusive, together.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of good reliable broadband to ensure that citizens across Ireland can avail of remote working, education and other essential online facilities. The Programme for Government commits to seek to accelerate the roll out of the National Broadband Plan. In this regard, my Department continues to engage with NBI to explore the feasibility of accelerating aspects of this rollout to establish the possibility of bringing forward premises which are currently scheduled in years 6 and 7 of the current plan to an earlier date.

As part of that work NBI is engaging with all current build partners (eir and enet) to bring forward build activities and is also actively reviewing other possible build partners such as the ESB where such options could also speed up the build process. The engagement with the ESB involved the ESB surveying a single Deployment Area in County Galway, which is one of the 227 Deployment Areas included in the NBP intervention and the development of a detailed design with the aim of establishing the technical and practical feasibility of utilising the ESB network. All possible alternative network providers are being considered and substantial work has been completed to date with further actions scheduled over the coming months. These engagements are a commercial matter for NBI and the relevant service provider in the first instance and it would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this time.

Exploring the potential to accelerate the network rollout is being undertaken in parallel with the measures required to mitigate delays arising as a result of Covid-19.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (102)

Ruairí Ó Murchú

Question:

102. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the consideration that has been given to providing broadband to premises outside of the parameters of the national broadband plan that struggle with connectivity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7244/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The High Speed Broadband Map, which is available at www.broadband.gov.ie, shows the areas which will be included in the National Broadband Plan (NBP) State led intervention as well as areas targeted by commercial operators. The map is colour coded and searchable by address and Eircode.

Commercial areas defined as BLUE on the NBP map are not included in the State intervention area covered by the National Broadband Plan as commercial operators are already providing high speed broadband or have indicated future plans to do so. My Department defines high speed broadband as a connection with minimum speeds of 30Mbps download and 6Mbps upload. The activities of commercial operators delivering high speed broadband within BLUE areas are not planned or funded by the State and my Department has no statutory authority to intervene in that regard as they operate in a fully liberalised market regulated by ComReg as independent regulator.

The NBP network will offer users a high speed broadband service with a minimum download speed of 500Mbps from the outset. This represents an increase from the 150Mbps committed to under the Contract. The deployment plan forecasts construction commenced in all counties within the first 2 years and over 90% of premises in the State having access to high speed broadband within the next four years.

I understand that some homes and businesses in Blue areas on the NBP map have experienced difficulty getting a reliable high-speed broadband service and my Department is proactively engaged in dealing with any such anomalies to ensure no home or business is left behind. It remains open to the Department to bring additional premises into the National Broadband Ireland (NBI) roll-out plan under the NBP contract where no commercial high-speed broadband service is available from any of the commercial operators.

Of the 2.4 million premises across Ireland, 77% of premises now have access to high-speed broadband of more than 30 Mbps. NBI will  address  the remaining premises through the National Broadband Plan State intervention. In many parts of the country, very high capacity networks are now becoming the norm. For example, 40% of subscriptions are for services offering speeds in excess of 100Mbps. There are more than 225,000 fibre subscriptions across the country, representing a 55% increase on last year.

A number of commercial operators have announced further investment plans in high-speed broadband. Eir has said it will roll out fibre to a further 1.4 million premises, bringing their fibre deployment to some 1.8 million premises. SIRO is currently completing the first phase of its fibre deployment which will see 375,000 premises passed with gigabit services. Virgin Media is offering 250Mbps as a standard offering with 500Mbps and 1Gbps available to many of their customers across the more than 1 million premises that they cover. Many other network operators and telecom service providers across the State also continue to invest in their networks.