Climate Change Policy

Questions (78)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

78. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the engagement he has had to date with the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage with regard to supporting and promoting efforts at the local government level on climate action, particularly in relation to County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29388/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Under the Climate Action Plan 2019, a Climate Action Charter for Local Authorities was agreed between my Department and the Local Authorities. The then Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government was consulted as part of this process. The goal of the Charter is to ensure that every Local Authority embeds decarbonisation, sustainable development and climate resilience into all aspects of the work they do.  The Charter acknowledges the need to take collective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the impacts of climate change, while also committing Local Authorities to being advocates for climate action. Under the Charter, Local Authorities will measure the carbon impact of activities and implement measures to reduce carbon emissions in line with national objectives, including a 50% improvement in energy efficiency by 2030.

In 2018, my Department entered into a five year financial commitment of €10 million to establish four Climate Action Regional Offices (CAROs).  Mayo County Council is the lead authority for the Atlantic Seaboard North region, which also includes the Local Authorities for counties Mayo, Sligo, Donegal and Galway, as well as Galway City . My Department engages with all four CAROs on a regular basis, in particular through participation in the National Local Authority Climate Action Steering Group. Under the National Adaptation Framework, each Local Authority has developed a Local Adaptation Strategy. These strategies are now being implemented, and each CARO is working with the Local Authorities in its region to both facilitate and monitor implementation of the local climate adaptation actions within the strategies. 

The Climate Action Bill further strengthens the role of Local Authorities in climate action. It sets out legislative requirements for each Local Authority to prepare a Climate Action Plan, which will include both mitigation and adaptation measures and be updated every five years. These plans will have to be consistent with national climate plans and strategies, and Local Authorities will have to liaise with each other in the preparation of these plans.

To build the necessary capacity, my Department is also funding and engaging with the CAROs in relation to the implementation of a new Local Authority climate action training programme. This programme is increasing knowledge of climate change and the need for action among all Local Authority staff, and will facilitate both climate mitigation and adaptation at local level.

Grant Payments

Questions (79)

Jennifer Whitmore

Question:

79. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the efforts he is taking to address the long waiting list for SEAI warmer homes grant; the extent which Covid-19 has impacted on the waiting list for retrofitting of homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29430/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Better Energy Warmer Homes 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 and in 2020 the average value of the energy efficiency measures provided per household was over €14,800. I have secured additional resources this year to expand the capacity of the SEAI to deliver the scheme. Funding for the energy poverty retrofit schemes has also increased to over €109 million in 2021. This is an increase of €47 million on the 2020 allocation. In addition, delivery capacity has increased due to a new, broader contractor panel that commenced at the end of 2020.

The SEAI has advised me that wait times vary, based on the demand for the scheme at the time of application as well as other factors including the scale of works to be completed, access to the property, availability of materials and the weather.

The average wait times are expected to increase significantly in 2021 due to the extensive COVID-19 related restrictions on construction activity between March and June of last year as well as between January and 12 April of this year when the scheme was fully paused in line with Government guidelines.  Works under the scheme have now recommenced in line with activity in the residential construction sector.

Natural Gas Imports

Questions (80)

Réada Cronin

Question:

80. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the studies that have been undertaken to assess the emissions, climate and humanitarian impact of imported gas vis-a-vis Ireland's own offshore gas up to 2030; if undertaken, if he will publish same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29411/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The commitment in the Programme for Government to ending the issuing of new licences for the exploration and extraction of natural gas has been implemented by my Department and it will be given statutory effect by the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021. I, as Minister, do not intend to review or revisit this policy. Therefore, my Department has not undertaken, and does not intend to undertake, studies in relation to the merits of future natural gas exploration in Ireland in the context of achieving the Government's climate ambitions to 2030 and beyond.

My Department is currently carrying out a review of the security of energy supply of Ireland’s electricity and natural gas systems. The review is focusing on the period to 2030 in the context of ensuring a sustainable pathway to 2050. The review includes a technical analysis which will help inform a public consultation.

The technical analysis includes identification and examination of the key risks to the security of supply in the electricity and natural gas systems; identification of options that could address or mitigate these risks in the period to 2030; and appraisal of these options in the context of ensuring a sustainable pathway to 2050. 

The review will take into account the expected levels of indigenous natural gas production under pre-existing applications, options and licences. However, in line with the Programme for Government, the options that could be taken to address or mitigate potential risks will not include further additional indigenous gas production.

It is planned that the technical analysis will be published and the public consultation undertaken in the second half of this year. The review, once completed, will be submitted to Government. 

North-South Interconnector

Questions (81)

Matt Carthy

Question:

81. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the meetings or engagements he has had regarding the north-south interconnector to date in 2021. [29380/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The North-South Interconnector is critical to improving the efficient operation of the all-island single electricity market and increasing security of electricity supply in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It will also help Ireland to move towards our 70% renewable electricity target by 2030. A resilient and well-connected energy infrastructure is vital for Ireland’s economic well-being and the ability to respond to the future needs of energy consumers.  As with any project of such scale and significance, I routinely discuss the project with my officials and colleagues within Government.

The option of undergrounding the North-South Interconnector has been comprehensively assessed on several occasions.  Most recently, the key finding from the International Expert Commission's October 2018 report was that an overhead line remains the most appropriate option for this piece of critical electricity infrastructure.

Notwithstanding this, I have decided to commission a further short review to assess if the overall finding from the 2018 report remains valid. Terms of reference for this study were published on my Department's website on 21 April. On 7 May, my Department initiated a procurement process using the procurement frameworks administered by the Office of Government Procurement to appoint an expert to undertake the review. The aim is to complete the review as quickly as possible.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (82)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

82. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the estimated number of schools that will be connected under the National Broadband Plan by the end of 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29382/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department continues to work with the Department of Education to prioritise schools with no high speed broadband, within the NBP Intervention Area, for connection over the term of the National Broadband Plan. In this regard, an acceleration of this aspect of the National Broadband Plan was announced which will see some 679 primary schools connected to high speed broadband by end-2022, well ahead of the original target delivery timeframe of end-2026. The list of all primary schools to be connected, broken down by County, is available on the website of National Broadband Ireland (NBI).

Currently 114 primary schools have been installed with the necessary infrastructure by NBI. Connectivity is delivered through retail service providers as per arrangements with the Department of Education.  NBI expect to make substantial progress through the remainder of this year with a total estimate of 250 schools getting high-speed connectivity by end 2021 and the final target of 679 schools being achieved by end 2022.

Environmental Schemes

Questions (83)

David Stanton

Question:

83. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications further to Parliamentary Question No. 56 of 17 February 2021, the progress of the public consultation on the proposed deposit and return scheme and the planned introduction of the scheme in the third quarter of 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29373/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy, launched last September, sets out a clear roadmap for the introduction of a Deposit and Return Scheme (DRS) for plastic bottles and aluminium cans in the third quarter of 2022. This process began with the launch of a public consultation on the design of a DRS for Ireland in October last year.  It was encouraging to see the level of public engagement in this first consultation with the majority of the 364 submissions received supporting the introduction of the Scheme and favouring a centralised, legislation based system, operated by a single entity.   The submissions received under this consultation will be published shortly on my Department’s website.  

Following this consultation, a stakeholder working group, consisting of beverage producers, retailers, eNGOs and waste collectors was established to progress the design of the system.  The Department of Agriculture, Environment Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland have sat in on the working group discussions as observers. 

The second step in the process was a further consultation on the regulatory framework for the Scheme which concluded on 7 May. Submissions received under this are currently being assessed and will inform the working group in their deliberations on a final regulatory framework.

I intend to finalise Regulations enabling the introduction of the Deposit and Return scheme early in the third quarter of this year, in order to enable the scheme to commence in the third quarter of 2022.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (84)

Neale Richmond

Question:

84. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the status of the roll-out of the national broadband plan in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29416/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

There are 13,696  premises in the Intervention Area in County Dublin that will receive access to high speed broadband under the National Broadband Plan. I am advised that as of 27 May, 2,437  (17.8%) of these have been surveyed by National Broadband Ireland (NBI). Surveying is the first step to delivering the new fibre network and informs design solutions for fibre network provision. Detailed designs are used to initiate the ‘make ready’ project with Open eir, where Open eir ensure poles and ducts being reused are fit for purpose and are made ready for other required infrastructure. Equipment ordering decisions are dependent on this step. Survey data is required to initiate pre-works paving the way for fibre deployment. Pre-works involve construction of new duct routes, erection of poles, building chambers and tree trimming. On completion of pre-works, the main construction works can commence.

I am advised by NBI that surveys are completed or ongoing in Skerries, Balbriggan, around Fingal, Castleknock, Blanchardstown, Clonsilla, Ongar, Chapelizod, Ballyfermot, Cabra, Bluebell, Finglas,City West, Bohernabreena, Rathcoole, Cruagh, Kilakee, Ballychorus, Ticknock and Ballybrack. Pre-works are in progress around Skerries, City West, Bohernabreena and Rathcoole.

Further details are available on specific areas in Dublin through the NBI website www.NBI.ie which provides a facility for any premises within the intervention area to register their interest in being provided with deployment updates through its website.

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 27 May, 317 Broadband Connection Points sites have been installed by NBI. A number of BCPs are connected in County Dublin including Glenasmole Community Centre, Man O War GAA Club, Fingal Ravens GAA Club, Stars Of Erin GAA , Dublin Mountain Community Centre, Tyrrelstown Community Centre and Newbridge House & Farm.

Balscadden National School is connected to high speed broadband as part of this initiative.

North-South Interconnector

Questions (85)

Matt Carthy

Question:

85. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the person or body that will carry out the announced review into the north-south interconnector; the expected cost of the review; if it will fully consider the option for undergrounding the project; and when he expects the review to be concluded. [29379/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The North-South Interconnector is critical to improving the efficient operation of the all-island single electricity market and increasing security of electricity supply in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It will also help Ireland to move towards our 70% renewable electricity target by 2030. A resilient and well-connected energy infrastructure is vital for Ireland’s economic well-being and the ability to respond to the future needs of energy consumers.  The option of undergrounding the North-South Interconnector has been comprehensively assessed on several occasions.  Most recently, the key finding from the International Expert Commission's October 2018 report was that an overhead line remains the most appropriate option for this piece of critical electricity infrastructure.

Notwithstanding this, I have decided to commission a further short review to assess if the overall finding from the 2018 report remains valid. Terms of reference for this study were published on my Department's website on 21 April. On 7 May, my Department initiated a procurement process using the procurement frameworks administered by the Office of Government Procurement to appoint an expert to undertake the review.

The cost of this review will be determined within this formal Government procurement process in due course. The aim is to complete the review as quickly as possible.

Grant Payments

Questions (86)

Alan Farrell

Question:

86. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the volume and type of grant applications under the circular economy innovation grant scheme which is €250,000 for 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29401/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Circular Economy Innovation Grant Scheme is a new scheme which aims to provide support to projects that can advance the Circular Economy in Ireland and/or raise awareness of the need to transition to a Circular Economy. As announced at the launch on Thursday, 15 April 2021, the Scheme is intended to provide support to social enterprises and voluntary and community based organisations in particular.  

The closing date for applications was close of business on Friday, 28th May 2021. A total of 75 applications were received; The majority of those applications were from the NGO, voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors.

Climate Change Policy

Questions (87)

Jennifer Whitmore

Question:

87. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications his views on the recent conclusion of the Fiscal Advisory Council that climate action in Ireland will require a fundamental reorientation of the way the economy operates incurring heavy claims on Government resources and requiring careful planning; the costings that have been carried out in relation to the implementation of climate action measures in the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29427/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Achieving our ambitious climate targets will require careful planning and an all-of-Government approach to ensure their delivery. The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021, when enacted, will introduce a number of new obligations to help ensure good planning in respect of climate action. The Bill introduces a requirement to annually revise the Climate Action Plan and  prepare, at least once every five years, a National Long Term Climate Action Strategy. Annual revisions to the Climate Action Plan will focus on the near and medium term perspectives; be consistent with the adopted carbon budget programme; and provide a roadmap of actions, including sectoral actions, that are needed to comply with  the carbon budgets and sectoral emission ceilings. The National Long Term Climate Action Strategy will outline, over a minimum thirty year period, the range of opportunities and transition pathways towards the national climate objective. Work is currently underway across Government on the development of a new Climate Action Plan for 2021. This plan will include additional policies and measures in every sector to bring about the significant changes needed to transform our society. Furthermore, the Government is undertaking a review of the National Development Plan (NDP), which will look at the necessary capital investment in areas such as energy, transport and the built environment to support delivery of the Programme for Government commitment. The low-carbon transition will require significant private investment alongside Exchequer expenditure on a sustained basis over a number of decades. Polices and measures will need to integrate change into existing spending plans and create the regulatory requirements, market incentives and innovative space to achieve our climate objectives.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (88)

Thomas Gould

Question:

88. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the status of broadband in Blarney, County Cork. [29422/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

There are 79,669 premises in the Intervention Area in County Cork which will receive access to high speed broadband under the National Broadband Plan, including the area of Blarney. I am advised that as of 27 May, 22,765 (28.6%) of these premises have been surveyed by National Broadband Ireland (NBI). Surveying is the first step to delivering the new fibre network and informs design solutions for fibre network provision. I appreciate people’s frustration when they are living so close to but cannot obtain 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 this is underway.

I am advised by NBI that surveys are completed or ongoing in Midelton, Cullen, Templebreedy, Carrigaline, Ballyfoyle, Douglas, Ballyphehane, Glasheen, Mahon, Kilpatrick. Surveys have started Ballydesmond, Kiskeam, Umeraboy, Knocknagree, Rineen, Cullen, Coolinarna, Millstreet, Hollymount and Caherbarnagh. Main works are ongoing in  Carrigaline, Fountainstown, Ballinhassig, Monkstown, and Upper Rochestown.  Preworks are ongoing in Midleton.The first fibre to the home connections are successfully connected in Carrigaline, Co Cork and Cavan with almost 4,000 premises passed and available for connection to date.

Further details are available on specific areas in Cork through the NBI website www.NBI.ie which provides a facility for any premises within the intervention area to register their interest in being provided with deployment updates through its website.

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 27 May, 317 Broadband Connection Points sites have been installed by NBI. A number of BCPs are connected in County Cork  including Laharn Heritage Centre, Ballindangan Community Centre, Whitechurch Community Centre, Clogagh Community Hall,T.O. Park Labbamollaga, Bere Island Heritage Centre, Sherkin Island Community Hall, Glash Community Centre, Ballydaly Community Hall, Aubane Community Centre, Mealagh Valley Community Centre, Coláiste Phobal Cléire, Lissavard Community Centre, Aghabullogue Community Centre and Castletownkenneigh Community Centre

Clogagh National School and Ballycroneen National School are installed as part of this initiative.

Departmental Bodies

Questions (89)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

89. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he has met the management, board and the staff of an agency (details supplied) since he took the decision to abolish the agency, scrap its future plans and lay off the workers in the agency. [29387/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Following a strategic review, which concluded that the Digital Hub is no longer required to sustain the continued growth of Dublin's digital enterprise sector, the Government decided on 27 April that the Digital Hub Development Agency should be dissolved and its land and property assets transferred to the Land Development Agency. In the period between the completion of the strategic review and the Government decision, Minister Ryan met with the Chairperson of the DHDA Board and the Chief Executive. Officials from my Department have met with members of the Board and executive of the DHDA to discuss implementation of the Government decision.

I will shortly request the Board of the DHDA to prepare a programme for an orderly wind down, addressing the needs of the staff of the DHDA, client companies and communications with the local communities. My Department will work closely with the DHDA on the finalisation of the necessary steps including the re-deployment of its permanent staff within the public sector.

There will be no immediate effect on the DHDA's client companies and they will be in a position to continue trading as normal throughout the wind down period.

The Grant Thornton Strategic Review report concluded that the Irish digital enterprise sector and Dublin co-working office space market are robust and are not reliant upon the services provided by the DHDA.  It is therefore anticipated that the time afforded for the orderly wind down will permit the client companies to find alternative accommodation, noting the supply of co-working and office space available in Dublin.

The redevelopment of the sites will also support a significant level of employment in construction and support a major economic and social regeneration in Dublin 8.

Environmental Policy

Questions (90)

Steven Matthews

Question:

90. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will report on the role his Department plays in ensuring that mineral exploration and mining in Ireland supports the economy and protects the national environment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29431/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

My department is currently preparing a Policy Statement on Mineral Exploration and Mining in Ireland.  The policy statement will seek to underline the importance of the sector and the role that it has in: - transitioning Ireland and the European Union to the circular economy and net–zero greenhouse gas emissions;

- supporting primary and secondary economic activity and associated jobs creation; and

- progressing many of our national, European, and international policies and commitments.

The draft policy statement is undergoing Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). In this regard, an SEA Scoping Report was published on 24 May, 2021 (available on www.gov.ie ) inviting submissions from the wider public as part of a non-statutory consultation. A public consultation on the draft policy statement itself is scheduled for later in the summer.    

The sector is subject to robust and transparent regulation, including in terms of environmental protection.  The activity of mining requires, inter alia , obtaining a planning permission from the relevant local authority; an Integrated Pollution Control or Industrial Emissions Licence from the EPA and a State Mining Facility from my Department.

Electricity Generation

Questions (91)

Denis Naughten

Question:

91. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the discussions he has had with stakeholders regarding the future use of West Offaly and Lough Ree power stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28803/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Just Transition Commissioner made a recommendation in his first progress report, published in May 2020, 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. This was subsequently included as a commitment in the Programme for Government. ESB has been participating in a number of working groups established under the Just Transition programme which looked at the future of the Midlands area following the closure of the ESB Midlands stations and the ending of the harvesting of peat by Bord na Móna. 

One of the working groups, which included  representatives of my Department, relevant Local Authorities, and the Just Transition Commissioner, looked specifically at how the existing infrastructure on the station sites might form a part of a future renewable energy hub. To that end, ESB commissioned an internal engineering report to examine how the power plants might be re-used in the future. Options reviewed included the possibility of using other types of fuel. The report was subsequently reviewed by Fichtner, an external international consultancy firm with acknowledged expertise in these areas. These reports have not identified any viable alternative use for the existing power plants.

While the management of ESB-owned facilities is the responsibility of the Board and management of the ESB, the company has informed the Department that it plans to lodge planning applications shortly to develop additional energy services at these sites. These will include synchronous condensers and energy storage capabilities at both locations.

Closed-Circuit Television Systems

Questions (92, 99, 100)

Joe Carey

Question:

92. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications his legislative plans to deal with the issues raised by the Data Protection Commissioner regarding the use of CCTV systems in the detection of illegal dumping and litter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29375/21]

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Pádraig O'Sullivan

Question:

99. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will introduce legislation to allow local authorities to use CCTV footage to prosecute illegal dumpers; if there are data protection concerns in relation to this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29365/21]

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Darren O'Rourke

Question:

100. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications his plans to tackle illegal dumping; if he intends to amend current legislation to permit the use of anti-dumping CCTV; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29406/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 92, 99 and 100 together.  

The introduction of a Waste Management (Circular Economy) Bill is a commitment under the "Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy", published in September 2020. My Department is currently finalising the draft Heads of the Bill, after which I intend to seek Government approval to publish the General Scheme.On the issue of CCTV, it is the view of the Data Protection Commission (DPC) that, although the Litter Pollution Act and the Waste Management Act provide local authorities with powers to prevent, investigate, detect and prosecute littering and dumping offences, the Acts do not provide for the processing of images of members of the public using CCTV footage. This advice is being considered by my Department and is subject to internal legal advice.It is my intention to facilitate not only the use of CCTV, but also the use of a broad range of Audio Visual Recording equipment under the Bill. A combination of legislation and guidance will help to ensure that the processing of personal data may be carried out by local authorities tasked with enforcing litter and waste law, thus providing an important deterrent in order to protect our environment from the scourge of littering and illegal dumping, while at the same time respecting the privacy rights of citizens.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (93)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

93. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the number of premises connected to date under the roll-out of the National Broadband scheme; the number of premises surveyed to date; when details of the projected roll-out area by area will be available for all premises covered by the scheme; the projected cost of the National Broadband scheme for the next 20 years; the projected completion date of roll-out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29203/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) State led Intervention will be delivered by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) under a contract 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 over 544,000 premises, including almost 100,000 businesses and farms along with 695 schools.

Despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, National Broadband Ireland has made steady progress on delivery of the new high speed fibre broadband network under the National Broadband Plan. I am advised by NBI that, as of 27 May 2021, over 220,000 premises across 26 counties have been surveyed. The first fibre to the home connections are successfully connected in a test and trial phase in Carrigaline, Co Cork and Cavan with almost 4,000 premises passed and available for connection.

Build works are continuing across the country in 12 Deployment Areas covering townlands in Carrigaline, Ballinasloe, Cavan, Clare, Dundalk, Galway, Limerick Monaghan, Roscommon, Tipperary, Tralee, Wexford and Carlow and  "make ready" work is underway in a further 15 Deployment Areas. In line with the NBP Contract, the deployment plan is a 7 year build programme which is due to be completed by the end of 2026. The maximum cost of the NBP to the State under the NBP contract will be €2.7 Billion over 25 years. This includes €480m for contingency costs.

I am advised that NBI is working to provide more detail on its website, with a rolling update on network build plans. The NBI website, www.nbi.ie, which is searchable by eircode, provides details at individual premises level. This will be updated to provide the most up to date information and timelines on deployment as the project progresses.

NBI has established a dedicated team to investigate acceleration of the rollout from its current contracted schedule of seven years.  As part of this investigation NBI is engaging with current build partners (eir and enet) to reschedule build activities and is also reviewing potential additional build partners as an option to speed up the build process. 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.

Energy Policy

Questions (94)

Jennifer Whitmore

Question:

94. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the modelling being carried out by his Department to predict energy demand in future; the efforts that are ongoing to reduce energy demand across the State to ensure sustainable output of energy as Ireland moves towards renewable forms of electricity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29428/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has a statutory role in compiling and disseminating national projections of energy production and use. SEAI has published energy demand and supply projections for Ireland since 2006 in collaboration with the Economic and Social Research Institute. These projections are used to inform the debate on future energy trends and to assist the government in developing policy measures.   In the electricity sector, EirGrid's Generation Capacity Statement, which is published annually, sets out the expected levels of electricity generation and demand for each year over the coming decade.  EirGrid is also currently undertaking a 'Shaping our Electricity Future' consultation across the three dimensions of electricity networks, power system operation, and electricity markets with the aim of developing an integrated vision of the 2030 power system and electricity market. The draft strategy comprises four approaches to achieving this, as well as meeting the projected increased demand for electricity over the coming years.

In addition, My Department is currently carrying out a review of the security of energy supply of Ireland’s electricity and natural gas systems. The review is focusing on the period to 2030 in the context of ensuring a sustainable pathway by 2050. This review is taking into account the commitment in the Programme for Government to  reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 51% by 2030 and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 which is now provided for in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021.

Regarding energy efficiency measures, my Department funds a number of grant schemes to support homeowners, communities, commercial and public sector bodies to improve the energy efficiency of their properties. These are administered by the SEAI and fu

ll details on the application processes for all schemes operated by the Authority are available at www.seai.ie

Flexible Work Practices

Questions (95)

Violet-Anne Wynne

Question:

95. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if the remote working strategy which intends on supporting 4,000 workers to continue working remotely will be accessible equally across the island given that there has been reports of a lapse of up to 18 months for the installation of fast speed internet in certain areas of the west coast; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29465/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Covid 19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of high speed, quality, reliable broadband to ensure that citizens across Ireland can participate in remote working, on-line schooling, shopping, critical video calls, both business related and social, and a range of other online activities. A combination of commercial investment and the State led intervention will ensure access to high speed broadband in every part of the country and no premises will be left behind, no matter how remote. Of the 2.4 million premises across Ireland, 77% of premises now have access to high-speed broadband of more than 30 Mbps.  National Broadband Ireland will address the remaining premises through the National Broadband Plan State intervention.

A number of commercial operators have also announced further investment plans in high-speed broadband. Eir has said it will roll out fibre to a further 1.4 million premises, bringing its 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 higher speeds available to many of its customers across more than 1 million premises. Many other network operators and telecom service providers across the State also continue to invest in their networks.

The Remote Working Strategy was published in January by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to ensure that remote working is a permanent feature in the Irish workplace in a way that maximises economic, social and environmental benefits. The Programme for Government recognises that the National Broadband Plan will be a key enabler to such policies and has committed to seek to accelerate its roll out. My Department continues to explore the potential to accelerate the roll out with National Broadband Ireland.

Grant Payments

Questions (96)

Seán Canney

Question:

96. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will introduce at specific 100% grant for the retrofit scheme for first-time buyers of vacant properties to incentivise them to live in towns and villages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29205/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department funds a number of grant schemes to support people to improve the energy efficiency of their properties. These are administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).  Grants for insulation and heating control systems are available to homes built and occupied prior to 2006. Heat pump and solar grants are available to homes built and occupied prior to 2011. The schemes offer partial grants for individuals who can afford to contribute to the cost of upgrades as well as free energy efficiency improvements for people at risk of energy poverty.

Since 2000, around 450,000 homeowners have upgraded their homes with support from these schemes, representing nearly one home in four across the country. This has resulted in warmer, healthier and more comfortable homes that are easier and cheaper to heat and light.  

This year, €221.5 million in capital funding has been provided for SEAI residential and community retrofit programmes. This represents an 82% increase on the 2020 allocation and is the largest amount ever for the schemes. Full details on the application processes for all schemes operated by the SEAI are available at www.seai.ie

My Department has no plans to introduce a specific 100% grant for the retrofit scheme for first-time buyers of vacant properties to incentivise them to live in towns and villages. However, Government is funding the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, administered through the Local Authorities. The scheme is designed to breathe new life into rural communities - making them more attractive places to live, work, socialise and raise a family. The Minister for Rural and Community Development recently announced €15 million in funding for the scheme. The Programme for Government commits to bringing forward an expanded Town and Village Renewal Scheme to bring vacant and derelict buildings back into use and promote residential occupancy. Further details are available from the Department of Rural and Community Development: https://www.gov.ie/en/policy-information/01125e-town-and-village-renewal-scheme/

National Broadband Plan

Questions (97)

Rose Conway-Walsh

Question:

97. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the status of the National Broadband Plan in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29461/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 97 and 103 together. 85 and 91 together

There are 36,615  premises in the Intervention Area in County Mayo  that will receive access to high speed broadband under the National Broadband Plan. I am advised that as of 27 May, 8,281  (22.6%) of these have been surveyed by National Broadband Ireland (NBI). Surveying is the first step to delivering the new fibre network and informs design solutions for fibre network provision.

Detailed designs are used to initiate the ‘make ready’ project with Open eir, where Open eir ensure poles and ducts being reused are fit for purpose and are made ready for other required infrastructure. Equipment ordering decisions are dependent on this step. Survey data is required to initiate pre-works paving the way for fibre deployment. Pre-works involve construction of new duct routes, erection of poles, building chambers and tree trimming. On completion of pre-works, the main construction works can commence.

I am advised by NBI that surveys are completed or ongoing in Aghagower, Ballyhean, Breaghwy, Burren, Castlebar, Clogher, Cloonkeen, Croaghmoyle, Islandeady, Killavally, Manulla, Pontoon, Strade, Tawnynagry, Turlough, Drumsheen, Bunnyconnellan, Ballina Town, Carrowntreila, Ardagh, Campbells Crossroads, Rosserk, Shanvoley, Derryhick, Kilhale, Tawnylaheen, Turlough, Ballyvary, Keeloges, Castlebar Town, Rinnaseer, Bellaburke, Killawullaun Mountain, Carn, Carnacon, Ballyglass, Belcarra, Balla and Ringarraun, Newport, Carrowbeg, Inishgort, Inishcottle, Myna, Fahy, Ashbridge, Glenisland, Srahmore, Glenhest, Comploon, Slogger and Tawnameeltoge. Pre-works have commenced in areas around Castlebar and Ballina.Further details are available on specific areas in Mayo through the NBI website www.NBI.ie which provides a facility for any premises within the intervention area to register their interest in being provided with deployment updates through its website.

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 27 May, 317 Broadband Connection Points sites have been installed by NBI. A number of BCPs are connected in County Mayo  including Bofeenaun Community Centre,Taugheen Community Centre, Kilmovee Community Centre, Belderrig Community & Research Centre, Clare Island Community Centre, Keel Community Centre, Killaser Community Centre, Islandeady Community Centre, Finny Community Centre and Cushlough Community Centre.

Cloghans National School, Scoil Néifinn, Midfield National School, Meelick More National School, Kinaffe National School, Facefield National School, Errew National School, Shraigh National School, Rathbane National School, Rathnamagh National School, Dookinella National School, Tavraun Central National School and Saint Coleman's National School are installed as part of this initiative.