Skip to main content
Normal View

Tuesday, 15 Feb 2022

Written Answers Nos. 253-271

Departmental Consultations

Question No. 254 answered with Question No. 250.

Questions (253)

Jennifer Whitmore

Question:

253. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for Transport the amount that was spent on consultation fees for a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8021/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and exchequer funding in relation to the National Roads Programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 and in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), the planning, design and construction of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. This is also subject to the Public Spending Code and the necessary statutory approvals. In this context, TII is best placed to advise you.

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

Question No. 254 answered with Question No. 250.

Road Projects

Questions (255)

Johnny Mythen

Question:

255. Deputy Johnny Mythen asked the Minister for Transport if he will provide an update on the restoration of the road network in the aftermath of the Christmas flooding in County Wexford including the seven bridges that collapsed; the amount of additional funding and resources that has been provided to Wexford County Council to deal with same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8141/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant local authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from Councils' own resources supplemented by State road grants, where applicable.

My Department is including a specific provision of €4 million in the 2022 Regional and Local Road grant allocations to assist Wexford County Council with road repair works arising from the flooding event that occurred in Wexford on Christmas Day.

Electric Vehicles

Question No. 257 answered with Question No. 256.

Questions (256, 257)

Ruairí Ó Murchú

Question:

256. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Transport the total number of e-charging points which are installed and working across the country and the number of charging points yet to be installed in tabular form. [8157/22]

View answer

Ruairí Ó Murchú

Question:

257. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Transport the actions being taken to increase the number of e-charging points which are being installed in the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8158/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 256 and 257 together.

The Deputy will be aware that the Government is fully committed to supporting a significant expansion and modernisation of the electric vehicle charging network over the coming years.

A national charging infrastructure strategy is being developed which will set out a pathway to stay ahead of demand over the critical period out to 2030. My Department is engaging with relevant stakeholders to inform this work and it is envisaged that the strategy will be published for consultation early this year.

Preparations are underway to establish an Office of Low Emission Vehicles. This Office will play an important role in our transition to zero emission vehicles. It will co-ordinate measures to support the uptake of EVs and the roll-out of charge point infrastructure.

In terms of existing supports for public charging, the Public Charge Point Scheme continues to be available during 2022 to provide local authorities with a grant of up to €5,000 to support the development of on-street public chargers. The primary focus of the scheme is to provide support for the installation of infrastructure which will facilitate owners of electric vehicles, who do not have access to a private parking space, but instead rely on parking their vehicles in public places near their homes to charge their EVs. My Department is reviewing the Scheme at present to ensure that it is as effective as possible in driving the decarbonisation effort.

The Department is working closely with a number of key stakeholders, including Local Government, to ensure electric vehicle charging infrastructure stays ahead of demand. This includes developing appropriate guidance for local authorities in line with the Programme for Government which will ensure we can continue to expand our national charging network through the supports for on street chargers. I am also aware that a report was published by the CCMA on the provision of guidance to local authorities on the provision of charging infrastructure. The document is available for viewing online at www.lgma.ie/en/publications/general-publications/local-authority-electrification-of-fleet-and-ev-charging-guidance.pdf

€10 million was committed from the Climate Action Fund (CAF) to support ESB investment in the charging network and this has leveraged a further €10 million investment from ESB. This intervention alone will result in:

- 90 additional high power chargers, each capable of charging two vehicles - 17 high power chargers distributed across 14 multi vehicle hubs have been delivered as part of the programme to date. The installation of high powered charging hubs will be the priority for the remainder of the program.

- 52 additional fast chargers, which may replace existing standard chargers - This work is completed at 36 locations. ESB are awaiting the delivery of new chargers which have twice the charging capacity and speed when compared to the existing technology. This element of the programme will restart when the units are delivered and conclude in Q3.

- 264 replacement standard chargers with more modern technology and with each consisting of two charge points - This work is substantially complete, 258 of the chargers have now been successfully replaced.

The project is due to be completed in 2023.

Further details on ESB charge points nationwide can be found at www.esb.ie/ecars/charge-point-map

In light of the ESB eCars responsibility in the matter of the provision of charge points, I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the ESB for direct response. Please contact my Office if no reply is received within 10 working days.

Question No. 257 answered with Question No. 256.

Electric Vehicles

Questions (258)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

258. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Transport if he has examined the inclusion of an income cap for electric vehicle grants; if so, the income caps that were examined by his Department; the estimated number of persons that would be excluded under each income cap if it was introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8171/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The SEAI grant scheme aims to encourage behavioural change and support the Government’s commitment to achieving a 51% reduction in transport emissions by 2030.

The grant schemes are kept under continuous review to ensure that they are as effective as possible in driving the decarbonisation effort.

On July 1st 2021, the grant process was changed so that only vehicles that had a retail price of under €60,000 were eligible for grants, so as not to spend government funds subsidizing high cost vehicles.

In addition, this Department convened the Electric Vehicle Policy Pathway (EVPP) Working Group to produce a roadmap to achieving the 2030 EV target. The EVPP Working Group comprises senior officials and has considered regulatory, financial, and taxation policies to help drive a significant ramp-up in passenger EVs and electric van sales.

The recommendations of the EVPP Working Group were approved by Government and the full report is now available online.

In order to support the transition to EVs, the Group recommended that the generous suite of EV supports already in place in Ireland should be retained until at least end-2022. Additional measures to further incentivise EVs and/or disincentivise fossil-fuelled vehicles will also be necessary.

As such, the report recommended that cost-effective, targeted policy supports should continue to be developed and strengthened over the coming years and that an Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) should be established, as a matter of priority, to co-ordinate the implementation of existing and future EV measures and infrastructure.

This new Office should also take charge of developing and launching an extensive communication and engagement campaign, whole-of-Government in coverage, to drive the availability and understanding of key information regarding EVs, tailored to household, business and public sector consumers. Work is now under way to establish this OLEV.

Overall, the Department is acutely aware that the cost of electric vehicles remains an issue for many consumers. To this end, electric vehicle policy is kept under continuous review with a view to making low-emission vehicles affordable.

Public Sector Staff

Questions (259)

Violet-Anne Wynne

Question:

259. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Transport if Government policy during the pandemic can be taken to mean that public servants working under the auspices of his Department were protected from short time working notwithstanding the commercial position of the employer as per the Labour Court recommendation regarding same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8233/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform developed Guidance and FAQs on working arrangements and temporary assignments during COVID-19 for civil and public service employers. My Department are currently engaging with DPER on this policy in relation to recent Labour Court recommendations.

Traffic Management

Questions (260)

Charles Flanagan

Question:

260. Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the excessive number of HGVs driving through the town of Abbeyleix on a daily basis in order to avoid the M7 and M8 toll fare; if he will examine the matter (detail supplied) with a view towards resolving the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8239/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the operation and management of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. Therefore, matters relating to the day to day operations of national roads, including toll roads and the establishment of a system of tolls, are within the remit of TII.

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

Road Tolls

Questions (261)

Seán Canney

Question:

261. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Transport the estimated cost to put in place the M50 toll; the cost to construct the infrastructure for same; the revenue that was ring-fenced to recoup the costs; the number of years over which it was recouped; the way that revenue continues to be collected; his plans to relocate the toll from its current location to beyond the Blanchardstown exit given that there appears to be evidence of traffic avoiding tolling to get to Blanchardstown (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8248/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the operation and management of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. Therefore, matters relating to the day to day operations of national roads, including toll roads and the establishment of a system of tolls, are within the remit of TII. More specifically, the statutory power to levy tolls, to make toll bye-laws and to enter into agreements with private investors are vested in TII under Part V of the Roads Act 1993 (as amended).

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

Public Sector Staff

Questions (262)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

262. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport if he will address a matter regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8251/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

While I cannot comment on the precise circumstances of individual cases, under the Road Traffic (Driving Instructor Licensing) (No. 2) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 203 of 2009), a driving instructor licence issued prior to the regulations was treated as if it was a licence under the regulations.

Therefore, under such circumstances, a recognised pre-2009 licence being treated as a licence issued under the 2009 Regulations, is required to be renewed between 1 month before or after its expiry date. As such, in the circumstances described in the details supplied, if a person has not renewed their licence since 2004, and now wants to become an Approved Driving Instructor, they are obliged to apply in the normal manner and to go through the normal process from the beginning.

Road Projects

Questions (263)

David Stanton

Question:

263. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Transport if the preferred route option of the proposed upgrade of the N25 national road between Midleton and Carrigtwohill County Cork that was determined by technical advisors following an assessment will be made public (details supplied); if this information will be communicated to landowners and householders potentially impacted by the choosing of this preferred route; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8325/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and exchequer funding in relation to the National Roads Programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 and in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), the planning, design and construction of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. This is also subject to the Public Spending Code and the necessary statutory approvals. In this context, TII is best placed to advise you.

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

Road Projects

Questions (264)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

264. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport if funding will be granted for the N71 road from Kenmare to Glengarriff via Bonane (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8361/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and exchequer funding in relation to the National Roads Programme. Once funding arrangements have been put in place with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 and in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), the operation, management and upgrading of individual national roads is a matter for TII, in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. This is also subject to the Public Spending Code and the necessary statutory approvals. In this context, TII is best placed to advise you.

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

Rail Network

Questions (265)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

265. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport the date on which the renovation works on set down bus stop, taxi ranks area of Bray train station will commence; and if his attention has been drawn to the lack of wheelchair accessibility and absence of pedestrian crossings at the site since the new buildings were constructed opposite the station. [8365/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport; however, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport. It is the National Transport Authority (NTA) that has the statutory responsibility for securing the provision of accessible public passenger transport services, in conjunction with the respective service operator. The NTA also provides funding to Local Authorities to install transport infrastructure, for example, accessible bus stops.

As the issues raised by the Deputy concerning Bray Train Station and its environs come under the remit of the NTA, I have forwarded the Deputy's question to them for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Bus Services

Questions (266)

Noel Grealish

Question:

266. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that private bus companies operating to and from Galway city are dropping off and picking up passengers on roadsides rather than using the location mandated by the licence issued by the NTA; if he will insist that the NTA enforce the full terms and conditions of the licences issued by them to private bus companies operating to and from Galway city to ensure the safety of passengers; the implications of the NTA’s non-enforcement of the terms and conditions of licences issued by them to private bus companies operating to and from Galway city; if he will engage directly with Galway City Council and the NTA to resolve the bus parking situation in Galway city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8414/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport; however, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport. Under the Public Transport Regulation Act 2009, the National Transport Authority (NTA) is responsible for the licensing of public bus passenger services.

In view of the above, I am forwarding the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Primary Medical Certificates

Questions (267, 272)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

267. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Finance the measures being taken to ensure that there are no further delays in primary medical certificate applications due to no board of appeals being available presently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7880/22]

View answer

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

272. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance the impact the resignation of the Disabled Medical Board will have on primary medical certificate applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8440/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 267 and 272 together.

The Disabled Drivers & Disabled Passengers Scheme (DDS) provides relief from VRT and VAT on the purchase and use of an adapted car, as well as an exemption from motor tax and an annual fuel grant.

The Scheme is open to severely and permanently disabled persons who also meet one of six specified medical criteria, as a driver or as a passenger and also to certain organisations. In order to qualify for the Scheme, the applicant must hold a Primary Medical Certificate issued by the relevant Senior Area Medical Officer (SAMO) in the HSE. Assessments for the primary medical certificate, by the HSE, are continuing to take place. Certain other qualifying criteria apply in relation to the vehicle, in particular that it must be specially constructed or adapted for use by the applicant.

In the event that a PMC is not granted by the relevant Senior Area Medical Officer an appeal may be made to the independent Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal (DDMBA) who operate out of the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire.

I have no role in relation to the granting or refusal of PMCs and the HSE and the Medical Board of Appeal must be independent in their clinical determinations.

The members of the DDMBA wrote to me recently tendering their resignation from the Board. My officials are engaged with the Department of Health and the Public Appointments Service in terms of seeking expressions of interest from medical practitioners to participate in the Board. It is hoped to move this process along as quickly as possible so that appeals can recommence as soon as possible. I am informed by my officials that the Department of Health is in the process of finalising the expression of interest, working with the Public Appointments Service.

Requests for appeal hearings can be sent to the DDMBA secretary based in the National Rehabilitation Hospital. New appeal hearing dates will be issued once the new Board is in place.

Departmental Schemes

Questions (268)

Charles Flanagan

Question:

268. Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance when he expects the review of the disabled drivers and disabled passengers scheme will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7987/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Disabled Drivers & Disabled Passengers Scheme provides relief from Vehicle Registration Tax and VAT on the purchase and use of an adapted car, as well as an exemption from motor tax and an annual fuel grant.

The Scheme is open to severely and permanently disabled persons as a driver or as a passenger and also to certain charitable organisations. In order to qualify for relief, the applicant must hold a Primary Medical Certificate issued by the relevant Senior Area Medical Officer (SAMO) or a Board Medical Certificate issued by the Disabled Driver Medical Board of Appeal. Certain other qualifying criteria apply in relation to the vehicle, in particular that it must be specially constructed or adapted for use by the applicant.

To qualify for a Primary Medical Certificate an applicant must be permanently and severely disabled, and satisfy at least one of the following medical criteria, in order to obtain a Primary Medical Certificate:

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

- be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

- be without both hands or without both arms;

- be without one or both legs;

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg;

- have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

The current medical criteria medical criteria were included in the Finance Act 2020, by way of amendment to Section 92 of the Finance Act 1989. This amendment arises from legal advice in light of the June 2020 Supreme Court judgement that the medical criteria in secondary legislation was not deemed to be invalid, nevertheless it was found to be inconsistent with the mandate provided in Section 92 of the Finance Act 1989 (primary legislation).

As the Deputy will appreciate this Scheme confers substantial benefits to eligible persons and changing the medical criteria to more general mobility-focused criteria, would raise the already considerable cost of the Scheme in terms of tax foregone to the Exchequer. Any increase in the cost of the Scheme would require a concomitant increase in tax, reduction in public expenditure, or increase in the Exchequer deficit.

While I am very aware of the importance of this scheme to those who benefit from it, I am also aware of the disquiet expressed by members of this house and others in respect of the difficulties around access to the scheme.

Accordingly, I gave a commitment to the House that a comprehensive review of the scheme, to include a broader review of mobility supports for persons with disabilities, would be undertaken.

In this context I have been working with my Government colleague, Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. We are both agreed that the review should be brought within the wider review under the auspices of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy (NDIS), to examine transport supports encompassing all Government funded transport and mobility schemes for people with disabilities. The NDIS working group, chaired by Minister Anne Rabbitte, with officials from both my Department and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth as well as others, held its first meeting on the 26th January 2022. My officials will continue to work closely with officials from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, to progress this review, and on foot of that will bring forward proposals for consideration.

Tax Rebates

Questions (269)

Dara Calleary

Question:

269. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance if homeowners that have made energy upgrade investments in recent years will be able to avail of tax rebates given the increased level of supports now available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8071/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

One of the actions set out in the recently published Climate Action Plan is that the potential for new tax measures to support retrofit will be explored. In the normal course of events, the introduction of any new tax expenditure measure generally takes place in the context of the annual Budget and Finance Bill process.

In relation to the specific question posed by the Deputy, it would also be usual that proposals for tax expenditure measures would be assessed in accordance with my Department's Tax Expenditure Guidelines. These make clear that it is important that any policy proposal which involves tax expenditures should only occur in limited circumstances where there are demonstrable market failures, where a tax-based incentive is more efficient than a direct expenditure intervention; and that the potential for deadweight and additionality are considered.

In terms of the most efficient use of scarce resources, a proposal along the lines of that mentioned by the Deputy would be likely to involve a very high nugatory element. As such, the grounds for introducing such a measure would not be strong.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (270)

Bríd Smith

Question:

270. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Finance if a business (details supplied) which diversified during the pandemic in an effort to remain solvent can access the employment wage subsidy scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8262/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is an economy-wide support to assist eligible employers meet employee wages where trade is negatively impacted by Covid-19. The EWSS is operated on a self-assessment basis with the onus on applicants to satisfy themselves that they fully meet the eligibility criteria for the scheme as set down in the legislation and to self-declare to Revenue that they correctly qualify.

To qualify for the EWSS, a business must have tax clearance and have suffered a minimum 30% reduction in turnover or business orders in the period 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021, for pay dates on or between 1 July 2021 and 30 April 2022, due to the impact of COVID-19. The ‘reference period’ used to establish the minimum 30% reduction varies depending on when a business commenced trading. For example, where a business was established prior to 1 January 2019, the ‘reference period’ is 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019. There is no discretion in the legislation to apply a different qualifying criteria other than the 30% reduction in turnover or customer orders in the reference period. This remains the case where a business diversifies into other trades.

I am advised by Revenue that the business in question registered for EWSS in August 2020 and received payments until it deregistered from the scheme in early August 2021. As the business started trading prior to 2019, it is required to compare its turnover or customer orders against 2019 (reference period) to determine if there is a minimum 30% decline in turnover or business orders, for pay dates falling between 1 July 2021 to 30 April 2022. According to the information provided by the business, it is not currently experiencing this level of decline and as such is not entitled to the EWSS. This does not impact on eligibility for certain other COVID-19 support schemes such as the Debt Warehouse Scheme.

Revenue confirmed to me that it has already engaged directly with the business to explain the eligibility criteria required for the EWSS.

As the Deputy may be aware, in response to the additional public health measures announced on 17 December, the Government further announced on 21 December 2021, that the EWSS would reopen for certain businesses who would otherwise not be eligible and that such businesses could continue to be supported until the expiry of the scheme on 30 April 2022.

The new arrangements for EWSS provided employers who had previously availed of EWSS but who were no longer eligible, with the opportunity to re-qualify for the scheme where they met certain conditions. Broadly, to re-qualify the business must experience a 30% reduction in turnover, or customer orders during a particular reference period. For example, for businesses established on or before 30 April 2019, to re-qualify for EWSS, the business must have anticipated that their combined turnover for December 2021 and January 2022 would be down by at least 30% compared with their combined turnover for December 2019 and January 2020. The business must also have a valid tax clearance certificate.

Employers that qualified for re-entry to the scheme received support on a prospective basis from 1 January 2022, and they can remain in the scheme until its expiry date (30 April 2022).

EU Agreements

Questions (271)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

271. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Finance the amount that Ireland paid into the EU unrecycled plastic packaging levy in 2020 and 2021; and if the moneys came from the central budget and not from the packaging producers. [8349/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

As part of the overall agreement on the Post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and Next Generation EU (NGEU), EU leaders also made a number of changes to the current system of own resources, including the introduction of a plastic-based contribution based on non-recycled plastic packaging.

The plastic-based contribution is calculated on the weight of non-recycled plastic packaging waste with a call rate of €0.80 per kilogram. No contribution was paid in 2020, as the contribution was only introduced in 2021. In 2021, Ireland’s plastic-based contribution was €146 million.

The contribution is paid from the Central Fund of the Exchequer, in the same way as other own resources. At this time, it is not planned to apply a tax to any sector based on non-recycled plastic.

Top
Share