Questions Nos. 1 to 7, inclusive, answered orally.

Questions Nos. 8 and 9 resubmitted.

Cabinet Committee Meetings

Ceisteanna (10)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

10. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach when Cabinet committee E (Health) will next meet. [11548/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

Cabinet Committee E (Health) is scheduled to meet on 11 April.

Cabinet Committee Meetings

Questions Nos. 12 to 29, inclusive, resubmitted.

Questions Nos. 30 to 37, inclusive, answered orally.

Ceisteanna (11)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

11. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach when Cabinet committee F (National Security) will next meet. [11651/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

Arrangements are being made for the next meeting of Cabinet Committee F, will be finalised as soon as possible.

The role of cabinet Committee F is "to keep the State's systems for the analysis of, preparation for, and response to, threats to national security under review and to provide for high-level coordination between relevant Departments and agencies on related matters".

The Committee last met on 8 February and was attended by Ministers and Senior Officials from the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform; Foreign Affairs and Trade; Justice and Equality; Health; Communications, Climate Action and Environment; Transport, Tourism and Sport; Housing, Planning and Local Government; and Defence.

Also in attendance were key personnel from the Defence Forces and an Garda Síochána.

Questions Nos. 12 to 29, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 30 to 37, inclusive, answered orally.

Defence Forces Reports

Questions Nos. 39 to 41, inclusive, answered orally.

Question No. 42 answered with Question No. 39.

Ceisteanna (38)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

38. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to address the issues raised by the Kemmy report; and the timeframe for implementing same. [12954/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Defence Forces Climate Survey was commissioned on foot of a recommendation contained in the third and most recent Report of the Independent Monitoring Group (IMG) which was established to oversee the implementation of recommendations relating to harassment, bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment within the Defence Forces.

Follow up work to the initial findings in the Survey was conducted by the University of Limerick researchers via use of focus groups. The resulting report was published in July 2017 and further explored the issues raised in the original survey. The comments quoted therein cover a wide range of issues relating to human resources management. These include pay and conditions, vacancies, recruitment and retention, promotion systems, performance management, leadership, culture, morale, stress and work-life balance.

The report pre-dated the significant improvements in pay that have taken place in the intervening period. Successful negotiations with the Permanent Defence Force Representative Associations have provided for pay increases to Permanent Defence Force personnel under the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

The finalisation of negotiations under the agreement allowed for the commencement of the process for the implementation of pay increases and arrears, which have now been applied to the Permanent Defence Force.  An increase of 2.5% from 1 January 2016, for annualised salaries up to €24,000 and 1% for annualised salaries between €24,001 and €31,000 was paid in July 2017. An increase of €1,000 from 1 April 2017, on annualised salaries up to €65,000 per annum was also paid in July 2017.

In addition, improved payscales for general service recruits and privates who joined the Permanent Defence Force post 1 January 2013, were backdated to 1 July 2016 and paid in August 2017.

The Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, contains proposals for further pay increases over the period of the agreement ranging from 6.2% to 7.4% with the benefits to weighted towards those on lower pay. The agreement also provides for the restoration of the 5% reduction in allowances under FEMPI by the end of the Agreement. By the end of the agreement, the payscales for all public servants earning up to €70,000 will be restored to the levels that existed prior to the FEMPI legislation. The first increment under this agreement of 1% in annualised salaries due from 1 January 2018 has been paid to members of the PDF.

There is ongoing recruitment to the Defence Forces and a range of initiatives are being developed including commissioning from the ranks, criteria for the re-entry of former Permanent Defence Force personnel with specific skills and consideration of increased use of direct entry for specialist posts. The Public Service Pay Commission will also be examining recruitment and retention issues in its next tranche of work.

There is an ongoing programme of HR development within the Defence Organisation. As well as pay and recruitment, other issues highlighted in the Survey are being addressed. A number of initiatives including a review of the criteria governing contracts of enlisted personnel and a comprehensive skills gap analysis across the Defence Forces have been announced. I also initiated a review of the C&A scheme which is underway. These directly address issues raised in the Survey.

In tandem with these actions the Department is also engaged in planning on a longer term basis. Many of the recommendations arising from the Climate Survey have been captured in and will be progressed by White Paper projects.  Projects arising from the White Paper on Defence around topics such as medium term manpower planning and encouraging as wide a pool as possible for recruitment are already underway.

With regard to other issues relating to human resource management highlighted in the Climate Survey, there are extensive support systems currently in place for members of the Defence Forces. The Personnel Support Service is available to provide information, assistance and counselling on a range of matters including interpersonal problems and stress.

Questions Nos. 39 to 41, inclusive, answered orally.
Question No. 42 answered with Question No. 39.

Defence Forces Data

Ceisteanna (43, 60)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

43. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of Permanent Defence Forces personnel expected to serve on UN-led missions in 2018; the locations of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10381/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

60. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of Permanent Defence Forces personnel serving in UN-led missions; the location of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10380/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 43 and 60 together.

As of 1 March 2018, Ireland is contributing 586 Defence Forces personnel to 9 different missions throughout the world and also to a range of international organisations and National representations.

The United Nations missions in which Defence Forces personnel are currently deployed are the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with 377 personnel, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Syria with 135 personnel, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) in Israel and Syria with 12 personnel, the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) with 3 personnel and the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) with 4 personnel.

The 377 personnel in UNIFIL serve alongside Finnish Armed Forces as a part of a joint battalion of which Ireland took over command in November 2016.  As a consequence of taking over command,  an additional Company of some 150 personnel were deployed as part of Ireland's contribution to this mission.

Ireland has a long and continuous record of contributing to peacekeeping missions.  Participation in these missions demonstrates Ireland's strong support for the role of the United Nations in international peacekeeping.  The current contribution of some 586 personnel to overseas missions reflects the Government's continued commitment to our responsibilities in this area. 

The Department of Defence constantly reviews the deployment of Defence Forces personnel overseas.  With regard to any future deployments of Defence Forces personnel overseas, Ireland receives requests, from time to time, in relation to participation in various missions and these are considered on a case-by-case basis.

At the Government  Meeting on 27 February 2018, I secured approval for the deployment in 2018 of a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force  to serve once again as part of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy naval mission in the Mediterranean,  Operation Sophia. Arrangements are currently being made for two Irish naval vessels to deploy consecutively under rotation for a period of approximately 32 weeks in total.  

Full details of all personnel currently serving overseas are listed in the tabular statement below and will be circulated with the Official Report.

MEMBERS OF THE PERMANENT DEFENCE FORCE SERVING OVERSEAS

AS OF 1 MARCH 2018

UN MISSIONS 

Amount

UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) HQ

UNIFIL 111th Infantry Battalion

UNIFIL Sector West HQ

30

339

8

UNTSO (United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation) Israel & Syria

 12

MINURSO (United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara)

MONUSCO (United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic of the Congo) 

UNDOF (FHQ Staff, Camp Ziouani - Alpha side)

UNDOF (COS Staff - Camp Faouar - Bravo side)

UNDOF 56th Infantry Group (Camp Ziouani) 

6

2

127

TOTAL

531 

UN MANDATED MISSIONS

 

EUFOR (EU-led Operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina)

EUTM Mali (EU-led Training Mission) 

20 

KFOR (International Security Presence in Kosovo) HQ 

12 

Operational HQ/Floating HQ (Operation Sophia HQ) 

TOTAL NUMBER OF PERSONNEL SERVING WITH UN MISSIONS

572 

 

 

ORGANISATION FOR SECURITY AND CO-OPERATION IN EUROPE (OSCE)

 

Staff Officer, High Level Planning Group, Vienna

1

TOTAL NUMBER OF PERSONNEL SERVING WITH OSCE

1

 

 

EU MILITARY STAFF

 

Brussels

3

 

 

MILITARY REPRESENTATIVES/ADVISERS/STAFF

 

Military Adviser, Permanent Mission to UN, New York

1

Military Adviser, Irish Delegation to OSCE, Vienna

1

Military Representative to EU (Brussels)

4

Liaison Officer of Ireland, NATO/PfP (Brussels)

2

EU OHQ Operation Althea, Mons, Belgium

1

Irish Liaison Officer to SHAPE & Military Co-Op Division, Mons, Belgium

1

 

 

TOTAL NUMBER OF DEFENCE FORCES PERSONNEL SERVING OVERSEAS

586

Defence Forces Properties

Ceisteanna (44)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

44. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the Curragh Forum's work programme for 2018; the status of the establishment of a new lands management team for the Curragh Plains; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12945/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Curragh Forum was established to provide an opportunity for key stakeholders to consider and progress a wide range of issues regarding the use and management of the Curragh Plains.

The most recent meeting of the Forum took place on Friday 12 January 2018. It was attended by representatives of the Department of Defence, the Defence Forces, An Garda Síochána, Kildare County Council, Curragh Racecourse Ltd, the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association and Horse Racing Ireland. The issues discussed included legislation, traffic, signage and parking issues, illegal encampments, sheep grazing rights, and the ongoing land management and maintenance of the Curragh Plains.  It was agreed that progress in all of these areas requires Forum members to take ownership and work collaboratively in identifying and working towards implementing solutions.

A number of key actions were agreed by the members of the Forum to assist in addressing some of these issues. A work-programme was established for 2018 that will build on the progress made in the areas under discussion and will be supplemented by new issues arising. In addition, Kildare Co. Council has agreed that in conjunction with Kildare Fáílte, it will produce a Vision document for the Curragh that will be presented to the Forum for discussion.

On the work-programme, work has been undertaken in identifying suitable locations for the construction of car parking spaces on the Curragh, thus reducing damage to grasslands. The design and associated costings will be progressed in 2018.  The new lands management team that the Deputy refers to will be put in place in 2018 and in this regard, it is hoped to appoint a new Curragh Maor very shortly. This team will oversee all activities on the ground including, but not limited to, litter, sheep branding, patrolling, monitoring users of lands, inspection of property boundaries, and engagement with the public. When the new team is fully in place, it is hoped that there will be a new role of engaging in education and outreach.

A new environmental maintenance contract will be sent to tender shortly and there will be ongoing review of the legislation governing the Curragh in parallel with the use of other legislation that can more immediately address relevant issues.

All of these actions form part of the Curragh Forum work-programme for 2018.

Defence Forces Recruitment

Ceisteanna (45)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

45. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the reason a person (details supplied) was refused entry into the Defence Forces despite having passed their psychometric testing, interview and medical examination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12832/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

In order to be enlisted as a General Service Recruit, applicants are required to pass all stages of the recruitment process. These include Physical Fitness Test, Psychometric Test, Interview, Medical Examination and Security Clearance.

In relation to this particular case, the Military Authorities have advised that the individual referred to did not satisfy all the requirements for enlistment in the Permanent Defence Force. He was informed that his application was unsuccessful on 1st December 2017.

All applications for enlistment in the Defence Forces are treated as strictly private and confidential. I am unable to comment any further on this matter.

Project Ireland 2040 Implementation

Question No. 47 answered with Question No. 35.

Ceisteanna (46)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

46. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the way in which Project Ireland 2040 is likely to affect the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10390/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Project Ireland 2040 is the Government’s overarching policy initiative to make Ireland a better country for all of us, a country that reflects the best of who we are and what we aspire to be. The National Development Plan 2018 – 2027, a key part of Project Ireland 2040, recognises that Defence provides part of the societal bedrock which allows society to function and thus contributes to national wellbeing across political, social, economic and environmental elements. The increased investment in Defence under the Plan will provide a foundation of support in respect of other key sectors.

The importance of capital investment in Defence has been recognised in the National Development Plan by the allocation of €541 million for Defence capital funding for the period 2018 to 2022. This capital funding will allow the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructural development as identified and prioritised in the Defence White Paper.

The principal aim over this period will be to replace and upgrade, as required, existing capabilities in order to retain a flexible response for a wide range of operational requirements, both at home and overseas.

In addition, during the lifetime of the National Development Plan, modernisation and renewal of Defence Forces built infastructure and barracks will be advanced in military installations throughout the country.

The capital investment in the National Development Plan emphasises the importance attached by the Government to ensuring that the Defence Forces have the capability necessary to deliver on all roles assigned by Government.

Question No. 47 answered with Question No. 35.

European Security Strategy

Ceisteanna (48)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

48. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on a position paper (details supplied) which proposes moving Ireland into an EU defence union and reviewing the triple lock mechanism for Irish involvement in EU or other military operations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12833/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Any discussion papers, such as this one, which stimulate debate and discussion in the area of security and defence and contribute to public discourse in that regard are of course to be welcomed. That is not to say that any positions contained within the paper reflect Government policy but they simply contribute to a healthy, inclusive debate which is vital in a fully functioning, robust democracy.

As the Deputy will be aware, discussions within the EU in the area of defence and security take place in the context of the Common Security and Defence Policy for which decisions require the unanimous approval of all Member States. These discussions take place at regular meetings of Heads of State and Government, at Ministerial level meetings and through Council preparatory bodies.

Like any other discussion papers produced in the context of a wider debate on the future of European security and defence, this will be comprehended as part of the overall consideration by Government of future developments and potential policy responses in this area. 

As a policy, the Triple Lock mechanism is not under review at this time.  In the Defence (Amendment) Act 2006 the triple lock, which governs the deployment of the Defence Forces on international peace support and crisis management operations, remains unaffected.

In relation to Ireland moving into a defence union, the 2015 White Paper on Defence has clearly reaffirmed "that Ireland will continue to maintain a policy of military neutrality which is characterised by non-membership of military alliances and non-participation in common or mutual defence arrangements".

Within the EU, it is accepted that defence and security is a national competence and that any decisions require unanimity. Ireland continues to have a strong and equal voice on defence issues within the EU institutions. The treaties require that the EU respects the specific and different policies of Member States in the area of security and defence and that has not changed.

Our approach to consideration of any proposals or potential future implementation on security and defence cooperation will as always remain constructive and realistic.  We will continue to carefully consider all proposals and developments in these areas to ensure that that proposals and any potential future development add value and support coordinated capability development in support of CSDP in accordance with EU Treaties and related protocols.

Defence Forces Equipment

Ceisteanna (49)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

49. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the procurement schedule for military hardware for the next five years; the budgetary allocation; the equipment to be purchased; and the suppliers for hardware and ammunition to the Defence Forces. [10201/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

My priority as Minister with Responsibility for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Defence Forces is maintained to the greatest extent possible so as to enable the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service to carry out their roles as assigned by Government.

The acquisition of new equipment and equipment upgrades for the Defence Forces remains a clear focus for me, and the White Paper on Defence recognises that there are several new and or enhanced platforms to be procured. Future equipment priorities for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service are being considered in the context of the lifetime of the White Paper on Defence as part of the capability development and equipment planning process.

The National Development Plan provides for a Capital allocation of €541m for Defence for the five year period 2018-2022. This allocation will facilitate the investment necessary to ensure that the Defence Forces have the equipment and infrastructure to deliver on all their roles as set out in the White Paper.

The White Paper provides that the Army will continue to retain all-arms conventional military capabilities, and the principal aim over the period of the White Paper will be to replace and upgrade, as required, existing capabilities in order to retain a flexible response for a wide range of operational requirements both at home and overseas.

The major equipment programmes that are currently underway include a strong focus on essential force protection provided by armoured vehicles.  In this regard the Defence Organisation has commenced a maintenance and upgrade programme on the current fleet of 80 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs).  This is being carried out by General Dynamics European Land Systems - Mowag, the original manufacturer of the fleet who are based in Switzerland. In addition, 24 armoured utility vehicles have been procured from Centigon, France and 10 armoured logistical vehicles are currently being manufactured by Westward Scania, Ireland.   

With regard to the Air Corps, the White Paper provides for the replacement of the current Cessna fleet with three larger aircraft which will be equipped for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR).  An open tender competition has concluded and a contract has been placed with Pilatus Aircraft Ltd, a Swiss company, for the provision of three PC-12 fixed wing utility aircraft suitably equipped for ISTAR tasks.  It is expected that the three aircraft will be delivered by 2020.  The planning process for the replacement of the two CASA 235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft has recently commenced in my Department.

In relation to the Naval Service, the White Paper underpins the ongoing replacement of the Naval Service fleet. In this regard, a significant investment over recent years has been on the procurement of new Off-Shore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) for the Naval Service.  The fourth ship in the OPV programme, to be named LÉ George Bernard Shaw, is being built by Babcock International, a British company and is scheduled for delivery in mid 2018.

The White Paper provides for the replacement of the current Naval Service flagship LÉ Eithne with a multi role vessel (MRV). Planning has commenced on this project and it is intended to hold a public tender competition in due course to cover the supply of the MRV.  This procurement is, of course, subject to the availability of funding within the overall Defence capital funding envelope.

In terms of suppliers of military equipment, the principle of competitive tendering for Government contracts is used by the Department of Defence for the acquisition of defensive equipment for the Defence Forces. Central to those procedures is the requirement to allow fair competition between suppliers through the submission of tenders following advertising of the tender competition on the e-tenders site and on the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), where appropriate, in line with the EU procurement directives, including the Directive on the procurement of Defensive and Security Equipment. Details of tender competitions can be accessed on the Government’s eTenders website www.etenders.gov.ie. In addition, the Department routinely publishes details of purchases orders for goods and services valued over €20,000 on its website at www.defence.ie  which provides details of suppliers.

I am satisfied that the current provisions, together with the courses of action in the White Paper, will continue to ensure that the Defence Forces is suitably equipped, in line with international best practice, to fulfil all roles assigned by Government.

National Development Plan Data

Ceisteanna (50)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

50. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the proposed projects under his Department’s remit in the new National Development Plan 2018-2027; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10387/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The National Development Plan 2018 to 2027 provides €541 million in capital funding for Defence for the period 2018 – 2022. This level of funding will allow the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructural development as identified and prioritised in the Defence White Paper.

The following priority investment programmes and projects have been identified for inclusion:

- Equipment renewal and replacement programmes including mid-life upgrade of the Army Mowag APC armoured fleet (under way), along with investment in  further force protection, transport, communications and information technology, weapons and ammunition systems;

- Procurement of Light Tactical Armoured Vehicles;

- Replacement of the Air Corps Cessna Aircraft (underway);

- CASA Maritime Patrol Aircraft  Replacement Programme;

- On-going  Naval vessel replacement programme, including acquisition of a multi-role vessel;

- Mid-life refit of the Naval Service vessels LÉ Niamh and LÉ Roisín;

- On-going  investment in the modernisation and renewal of barrack infrastructure including accommodation, catering, workshops, storage and training  facilities.

With regard to the modernisation and renewal of Defence Forces built infrastructure, projects currently in progress include:

- Ordnance storage facilities in the Defence Forces Training Centre, Curragh, Co. Kildare;

- Training facilities in Sarsfield Barracks, Limerick and Stephens Barracks, Kilkenny;

- Accommodation facilities in the Defence Forces Training Centre, Curragh and Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin;

- Accommodation upgrade in Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, Co. Dublin;

- Catering facilities in Custume Barracks, Athlone; and

- Upgrade of fuel storage safety system in the Naval Base, Haulbowline, Co Cork.

In addition, during the lifetime of the National Development Plan, other significant Defence Forces built infrastructure projects will be advanced in military installations throughout the country.

The capital funding provided under the National Development Plan emphasises the importance attached by the Government to ensuring that the Defence Forces have the capabilities necessary to deliver on all the roles assigned by Government.

Defence Forces Medical Services

Ceisteanna (51)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

51. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the membership and terms of reference of the medical advisory group to be established by his Department to advise on various medical matters, including malaria chemoprophylaxis, will be made public. [10206/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

As I have outlined to the Deputy previously, I have accepted the recommendations contained in the Working Group's Second Report on Malaria Chemoprophylaxis in principle, whilst recognising that certain of these recommendations will need to be further developed to allow for their implementation. Many of the recommendations focus on areas including planning, training and education/information sharing as well as the establishment of a Medical Advisory Group.

While proposals will be further developed in relation to this new Medical Advisory Group, it will formalise the provision of ongoing expert advice, including external expert medical advice, to the Defence Forces in relation to a range of medical matters including malaria chemoprophylaxis.  As further work needs to be done in relation to the Advisory Group, I am not in a position to comment in relation to the matters raised by the Deputy, particularly in the context of on-going litigation.

Defence Forces Properties

Question No. 53 answered with Question No. 39.

Ceisteanna (52)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

52. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of plans for a peace and leadership institute on the Curragh; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10315/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

As the Deputy will already be aware, the White Paper on Defence includes a commitment to evaluate the potential development of a new Institute for Peace Support and Leadership Training at the Defence Forces Training Centre in the Curragh. The current Programme for a Partnership Government also includes a commitment to develop this Institute. It is foreseen that the new Institute will have international standing and contribute to the overall development of knowledge and experience in the areas of peace support, leadership and conflict resolution.

As I indicated in my response to your previous PQ 44032/17 on 17 October 2017, scoping work was carried out on the proposal throughout 2016. A concept paper was developed and some initial consultation with national and international third level and research institutes and potential philanthropic contributors took place.

Arising from this initial scoping work, it was decided to conduct a formal feasibility study. Following a tendering process, a contract was awarded to third party consultants to complete this study. Work on the study commenced in January 2018 and it is anticipated that it will take 7 months to complete. The study will inform next steps and I look forward to reviewing the report in due course.

Question No. 53 answered with Question No. 39.