Brexit Staff

Ceisteanna (192)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

192. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of regular grade civil servants his Department has hired in advance of a no-deal Brexit; the number of specialist grade civil servants hired in advance of same; the budget made available in advance of Brexit for hiring of staff in advance of the UK withdrawal from the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3313/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department is participating very actively in the Whole-of-Government approach to preparedness and contingency planning for Brexit. My officials are working closely with colleagues in other Departments and agencies across the public service to develop a joint approach in relation to the implementation at ports and airports of import controls on products coming from the UK. In July 2018, and again in September 2018, a number of decisions were made at Cabinet relating to Brexit preparedness and contingency planning, including the phased recruitment of staff, as required. The Government has already sanctioned in the region of €4m for the commencement of a phased process for the recruitment of additional staff to carry out increased volumes of import controls and export certification arising from Brexit.

The aforementioned requirements are significant, and arise in relation to the carrying out of documentary, identity and physical checks on imports of animals, plants, and products of animal and plant origin, as set out in EU legislation. The Department has carried out an extensive analysis exercise, based on examination of trade and container movement data, together with close consultation with stakeholder organisations and individual companies, to establish as best we can the likely volumes of controls that will need to be carried out. This has been a difficult exercise, given the lack of detailed data as a result of the UK’s participation in the Single Market up to this point, but we have based our assumptions and planning on what we believe are reasonable estimates of the likely volumes.

On staffing, we have used this data analysis exercise to guide our planning in relation to putting in place the staff that will be required to carry out the range of controls needed. These controls are carried out by a combination of portal inspectorate staff and where necessary, the appropriate veterinary and technical supervision, as well as administrative staff not located at the ports. The Department is working very effectively with Customs and others to provide the resources needed to apply the necessary controls.

In general, the Department will look to recruit and redeploy as well as engage temporary flexible solutions where appropriate and as necessary. Veterinary supervision will be provided with respect to products of animal origin by a combination of: veterinary inspectors currently on recruitment panels, where we are in the process of engaging with 37 remaining on current panels; new recruitment competitions; redeployment within the department on a temporary basis if necessary and the possible engagement of contracted service arrangements as required.

The Department is also drawing from a pool of applicants for Portal Inspector posts and from redeployed volunteers from within the Department to conduct some of the necessary checks. Candidates for these roles will be interviewed in February to provide capacity in Dublin Port and Rosslare for the engagement of 70 Clerical Portal Inspectors, and a significant pool of additional applicants is available for interview as needed.

The Department can also draw from a pool of applicants for Technical Agricultural Officers for plant health checks. The Department continue to engage with PAS re the aforementioned options as well as other required grades such as Assistant Agricultural Officers as well as back up administrative staff in traditional administrative civil service grades.

Overall, I am confident that the state will be in a position to deliver the services required in terms of both imports and exports at the appropriate time.

Grant Aid

Ceisteanna (193)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

193. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if there are loans available to farmers that are required to upgrade farm buildings to comply with the regulations of his Department (details supplied). [3351/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

One of my priorities is to improve access to finance for the agri-food sector. Food Wise 2025 identifies competitiveness as a key theme and includes a recommendation that stakeholders work to “improve access to finance for agriculture, forestry and seafood producers and agri-food companies”.

The Future Growth Loan Scheme has been developed by my Department and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in partnership with the Department of Finance, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and the European Investment Fund (EIF).  It will be delivered through participating finance providers and make up to €300 million of investment loans available to eligible Irish businesses, including farmers and the agri-food & seafood sectors. The loans will be competitively priced and will be for terms of 8-10 years and will support strategic long-term investment in a post-Brexit environment.

This is a long-awaited source of finance for young and new entrant farmers, especially the cohort who do not have high levels of security. It will also serve smaller-scale farmers, who often do not have the leverage to negotiate for more favourable terms with their banking institution.

The fund is leveraged by exchequer funding of €62 million, of which 40% or some €25million has been provided by my Department. The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) has just issued an open call inviting banks and other lenders to take part. The Scheme will run for three years from its launch date and further announcements in this regard will be made shortly.

Grant aid for capital investments, including a wide variety of on farm investment items, is available under the suite of seven measures available under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) II. Grant aid is available at a rate of 40% with a higher grant rate of 60% available to qualified young farmers. The Scheme is open to new applications with full details of the terms and conditions available on my Department’s website.

GLAS Data

Ceisteanna (194)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

194. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of persons in receipt of GLAS 1, 2 and 3 that have received the 85% advance payment of the 2018 payment; the number of persons that have passed all payment approval checks and are awaiting the 85% portion of the 2018 payment; the number of GLAS recipients that have yet to receive the portion of payment; the GLAS participants that have not received the advance payment due to outstanding nutrient management plans, GLAS training or finalisation of a commonage management plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3410/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

At end -December 2018 there were 49,100 active GLAS participants. To date, 43,932 GLAS participants have received their 2018 advance payment and are fully up to date with their payments. In addition, GLAS Plus payments have also been paid to 2,928 GLAS farmers. This amounts to over €158m paid since 2018 payments commenced on November 14th.

In relation to outstanding 2018 payments a significant proportion relate to applicants who have not yet fulfilled the requirements for payment. Non compliances include the non-submission of Commonage Management Plans and Nutrient Management Plans, GLAS 1 and 2 cases where the mandatory GLAS training has not been completed, Low Emission Slurry Spreading and Rare Breeds forms not returned or cases where the GLAS participant has omitted to update the Department on issues crucial to the payment process.

My Department is working closely with GLAS farmers, their advisors and Commonage Framework Plan advisors to ensure that payments issue to compliant farmers as quickly as possible. 

GLAS payments will continue to issue on a weekly basis. Advance 2018 payments to date are as follows:

 

GLAS 1

 -

GLAS 2

 -

GLAS 3

County

Cases

Advance

Cases

Advance

Cases

Advance

Carlow

270

250

123

108

126

110

Cavan

899

856

425- 

400

528

492

Clare

1598

1,506

684

644

794

687

Cork

2112

1,856

985

869

926

794

Donegal

1916

1,668

987

836

1,399

1,215

Dublin

57

47

17

14

19

16

Galway

3028

2,758

1,272

1,110

1,573

1,387

Kerry

1756

1,474

864

729

759

628

Kildare

238

203

75

64

113

92

Kilkenny

421

378

205

171

184

152

Laois

365

333

189

170

228

200

Leitrim

1011

938

419

396

523

479

Limerick

1039

947

294

272

400

361

Longford

508

469

338

304

326

296

Louth

144

136

77

74

92

78

Mayo

2523

2,279

1,309

1,179

1,650

1,470

Meath

416

380

195

169

245

209

Monaghan

571

537

142

137

332

292

Offaly

472

444

274

259

289

249

Roscommon

1510

1,406

543

508

710

636

Sligo

928

862

357

326

488

441

Tipperary

1111

1,019

491

441

490

427

Waterford

349

287

130

105

118

99

Westmeath

636

589

258

243

277

249

Wexford

743

658

256

226

310

262

Wicklow

324

283

150

125

196

169

TOTAL

24,945

22,563

11,059

9,879

13,095

11,490

 

Medical Waste Disposal

Ceisteanna (195)

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

195. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the provision of €75 to households in which a member has adult incontinence towards the disposal of dressings and pads; and when this will be provided [3191/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I refer the Deputy to the reply to Questions Nos. 507 and 517 of 22 January 2019. The position is unchanged.

Internet Safety

Ceisteanna (196)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

196. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the steps he is taking to ensure children and their parents are protected against the hacking of Internet connected toys; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3164/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

My Department has no governance or oversight function in relation to this matter. Consumer protection is a matter for the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation.

Television Licence Fee

Ceisteanna (197)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

197. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will report on the work of the interdepartmental television licence fee working group; and when he expects recommendations to be published. [3239/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action & Environment examined the longer term issue of the future funding of public service media and published their report at the end of November 2017. Following consideration of the recommendations made in that report, Government approval was received in July 2018 to establish a Working Group on the Future Funding of Public Service Broadcasting.

The group is chaired by an Assistant Secretary from my Department and comprises senior officials from the Departments of Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Office of the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The group will examine the following options for the future funding of public service broadcasting and collection of the TV Licence fee:

- Collection by the Revenue Commissioners;

- Tendering for Licence Fee Collection;

- Replacement of the fee with a Broadcasting Charge or a variation.

The group will also examine the following related issues:

- A more equitable contribution from the business sector, for example through the introduction of different rates or categories of licence.

- The impact of the new arrangements on the current licence fee collection mechanism

- Any legislative, administrative or resource changes required to implement recommendations

- The likely timeline for transition to any new arrangement

- A Communications Strategy to inform stakeholders of planned changes

The Group is meeting monthly to consider of all of the issues set out above. It is intended that the Group will report back to me in Q1 2019 and I will revert to Government at that stage.

Climate Change Adaptation Plans

Ceisteanna (198)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

198. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a scheme to convert methane to energy which has been trialled in other countries has been examined in view of the high percentage of carbon emissions that comes from the agricultural sector through methane; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3240/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

In addition to contributing to decarbonisation of the heat, transport and electricity sectors, anaerobic digestion also has the potential to reduce emissions for the agriculture and waste sectors and reduce transport emissions by offsetting the use of fossil fuels.

The REFIT3 support scheme, which is funded by the public service obligation paid by electricity consumers, has supported the development of anaerobic digestion facilities via a high-efficiency combined heat and power tariff. This scheme closed for new applications on 31 December 2015.

The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) has been developed to financially support the adoption of renewable heating systems by commercial, industrial, agricultural, district heating and other non-domestic heat users not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System. The first phase of the scheme, an installation grant for heat pumps, opened for applications on 12 September 2018. The second phase of the scheme, an operational support for biomass boilers and anaerobic digestion heating systems, is expected to open for applications early this year, subject to State aid clearance from the European Commission. Under Project Ireland 2040, the National Development Plan sets out an allocation of €300 million for the rollout of the scheme for the period up to 2027. In addition, my Department is also continuing to examine potential options to support biomethane grid injection.

Electricity output from anaerobic digesters will also be eligible for support under the forthcoming Renewable Electricity Support Scheme. The high level design of this scheme was approved by Government in July 2018 and will also require State aid approval.

On 28 November 2018, I announced the seven successful projects from the first Call for Applications under the Climate Action Fund. One of the successful projects, the Gas Networks Ireland GRAZE Gas project, involves the installation of a Central Grid Injection facility for renewable gas produced from the anaerobic digestion of wastes, including agriculture wastes such as slurry. The project will also support the use of this renewable gas in the transport sector through the development of two compressed natural gas fuelling stations and grant support for 74 vehicles.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Questions Nos. 200 and 201 resubmitted.

Ceisteanna (199)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

199. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if consideration has been given to measures to complement or replace potential carbon taxation such as a proposal (details supplied) advocated by certain NGOs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3241/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I have recently received a mandate from Government to begin the preparation of a new All of Government Plan to bring about a step change in our climate ambition over the next decade, and beyond. My vision is that this new Plan will set out the actions which must be taken to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change. It will have a strong focus on implementation, including actions with timelines and steps needed to achieve each action, assigning clear lines of responsibility for delivery. I am currently working with my colleagues in Government to develop proposals for inclusion in the new Plan. To inform the development of the Plan, I hosted a High Level Consultative Forum on Friday 18 January. This forum was attended by almost 200 people and included representatives from all of the key sectors responsible for greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland, as well as a strong representation from civil society.

I intend that actions to deliver the significant investment priorities identified for funding through the National Development Plan will be included in the new Plan, as well as additional actions that will look to taxation, regulation and behavioural change measures to further enhance Ireland’s climate mitigation policies. I intend that the Plan will also recognise, and seek to take advantage of, the economic opportunities that the low carbon transition presents for Ireland.

The Plan will build on existing policy and will be organised around six themes that focus action across Government in all sectors of the economy that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions:

- regulatory framework;

- adoption of known technologies;

- addressing market failure;

- driving change in business models;

- the public sector leading by example; and

- engaging with citizens and communities.

In developing this Plan, consideration will be given to the proposals referred to by the Deputy. I am also looking forward to receiving shortly the final report and recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action which has, over the last number of months, been considering the report of the Citizens Assembly in relation to climate change.

Questions Nos. 200 and 201 resubmitted.

Brexit Staff

Ceisteanna (202)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

202. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of regular grade civil servants his Department has hired in advance of a no-deal Brexit; the number of specialist grade civil servants hired in advance of same; the budget made available in advance of Brexit for hiring of staff in advance of the UK withdrawal from the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3316/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Government’s contingency planning for Brexit was initiated well in advance of the UK referendum in June 2016. As Minister for Communications, Climate Action, & Environment, I continue to oversee intensification of preparedness and contingency planning for the wide portfolio under my remit. Last month the Government published a Contingency Action Plan, setting out its approach to dealing with a ‘no deal’ Brexit. This is the culmination of many months of work. The Action Plan outlines the Government’s assessment of the challenges and the measures considered essential to limit the damage of a ‘no deal’ exit and to put in place measures to manage that exit as best as possible.

The Government and the EU remain committed to securing a negotiated outcome. We are now less than 70 days away from the UK withdrawal from the EU. Contingency preparations for a ‘no deal’ outcome are therefore intensifying as the risk of a disorderly Brexit increases, posing unique and unprecedented challenges. This work continues both at a national and EU level and further information on no deal preparedness will follow in in the coming weeks.

The Government’s overall objectives have been consistent from the start – seeking to minimise the impact on trade and the economy, protecting the peace process including avoiding a hard border, maintaining the Common Travel Area and reinforcing commitment to and participation in the EU. These objectives continue to guide our approach, regardless of the type of Brexit which emerges.

All resourcing of Brexit preparations, staffing and other costs relating to Brexit activities in my Department are met by existing budgets. Potential impact on a particular sector will depend largely on the shape of the future relationship between the EU and UK. Any future expenditure and staffing is dependent on evolving requirements.

Postal Services

Ceisteanna (203)

James Browne

Ceist:

203. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to ensure that An Post does not increase its rates for domestic parcel delivery by 70%; if he will direct An Post to undertake a review of this decision and its effect on small businesses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3362/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

An Post is a commercial State body with its own Board. Decisions relating to the commercial aspects of the business, including pricing strategies, are an operational matter for An Post.

Renewable Energy Generation

Ceisteanna (204)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

204. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the gas terminal in Tarbert, County Kerry (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3363/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The 2015 Energy White Paper Ireland's Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future sets out a road-map for Ireland to reduce its Greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050. The strategy is clear that non-renewable energy sources will make a significant – though progressively smaller – contribution to our energy mix over the course of the energy transition. The National Mitigation Plan, published in July 2017, restates the Government’s commitment to move from a fossil fuel-based electricity system to a low-carbon power system. Investment in further renewable generation will be incentivised. Ireland’s energy policy is fully aligned with the EU’s climate and energy objectives on the transition to decarbonisation, which includes continuous and on-going review of policies to reduce harmful emissions, improve energy efficiency, incentivise efficient and sustainable infrastructure investment, integrate markets, and promote research and innovation while ensuring our energy security of supply is maintained and enhanced.

During this transition, gas has the potential to deliver significant and sustained benefits, particularly in terms of enhanced security of supply. Natural Gas has the potential to play an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the power generation, industrial and commercial, residential and transport sectors by replacing more CO2-intensive fossil fuels. In Ireland gas powered generation also provides an important back-up for intermittent renewable wind generation.

The Shannon LNG project has been designated an EU Project of Common Interest (PCI) by way of an evaluation process organised by the European Commission. The designation of PCI status requires the agreement of Member States. Ireland supported the designation of Shannon LNG as a PCI in the original PCI list in 2013 and in subsequent lists in 2015 and 2017.

The Deputy will appreciate that the LNG project to which the Deputy refers is a private commercial project and any future investment decisions on the development of this project are a matter for the project promoter.

Córas Iompair Éireann

Ceisteanna (205)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

205. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the steps he has taken to address the ongoing situation faced by CIÉ salaried pensioners covered by the CIÉ 1951 superannuation scheme that have not received an increase since 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3110/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Issues in relation to Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) pension schemes are primarily a matter for the trustees of the pension schemes, the CIÉ Group and their employees.  Therefore, I have referred the question to CIÉ for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (206)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

206. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the way in which the €3 million allocated under the Brexit no-deal contingency plan to address information and communication technology and hardware deficits will be spent. [3129/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Government’s Contingency Action Plan published in December outlines that ICT systems across Revenue, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the HSE Environmental Health Service will need to be enhanced to deal with the increased volume of documents and requests for clearance, and notes that an initial provision of just over €3m is already allocated to address ICT hardware and software requirements. Further phased steps are planned to upgrade and improve relevant ICT systems and infrastructure.

While the ICT systems for these enhanced controls are a mattter for the relevant Departments, and not one directly within my area of responsibility,  I am advised that the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine secured funds to address ICT hardware and software requirements under the Central Case Brexit scenario in 2019. That Department was allocated €3.25 million for this work in 2019, with €2.75 million assigned for software and €0.5 million for hardware. Preparations are ongoing and I understand that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine expects to fulfil its ICT requirements in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

In Budget 2017, the Minister for Finance included provision for a €2 million investment in scaling up Revenue’s customs IT framework and they have carried out significant work to increase systems capacity to cater for trade with the UK as a third country. As part of their preparations for Brexit, I am advised that priority has been given to upgrading relevant IT systems to have the most advanced systems possible to support and facilitate smooth and efficient trade flows in a post-Brexit environment. Revenue has advised that performance testing is at an advanced stage and based on testing and the work completed to date, Revenue is confident that their various IT systems will support the expected additional workload arising from Brexit. In the event of a no-deal scenario and if required, the upgrades and enhancements to the systems will be ready for March 2019.

To facilitate import controls by the Environmental Health Service at Dublin Airport, Dublin Port and Rosslare Port, the HSE is also making every effort to ensure that in a no-deal scenario the necessary information and communications technology infrastructure will be in place by 29 March.

Public Service Vehicles

Ceisteanna (207)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

207. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his Department has reviewed or is reviewing the introduction of ridesharing services here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3137/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

A formal review of ridesharing services has not been undertaken but my Department keeps abreast of emerging technologies and is open to consider innovative initiatives.

The Deputy will be aware that the National Transport Authority (NTA) is the independent regulator of the small public service vehicle sector and has regulatory oversight of the sector, including the licensing of vehicles and drivers. 

The current regulatory regime that is in place for the sector is designed to protect the consumer and to help ensure personal safety. My view is that the regulatory framework for this sector should continue to be determined in the context of supporting these important public interest objectives.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (208)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

208. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of times in quarter four of 2018 that he met formally with the CEO of Iarnród Éireann. [3247/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I did not meet formally with the CEO of Iarnród Éireann in quarter four of 2018. 

Brexit Staff

Ceisteanna (209)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

209. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of regular grade civil servants his Department has hired in advance of a no-deal Brexit; the number of specialist grade civil servants hired in advance of same; the budget made available in advance of Brexit for hiring of staff in advance of the UK withdrawal from the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3329/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

In July 2018,  and again in September 2018, a number of decisions were made at Cabinet relating to Brexit preparedness and contingency planning, including the phased recruitment of staff, as required. The Government has already sanctioned € 4m for the commencement of a phased process for the recruitment of additional staff in the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Health sector to carry out the greatly increased volumes of import controls and export certification arising from Brexit. 

 Brexit has the potential to have serious adverse economic transport and tourism impacts and as a result has been identified as the main strategic risk facing the Department. As a result, the Department has organised itself internally to prepare for Brexit. While all relevant areas and staff of the Department are actively engaged in Brexit-related work, overall responsibility for the preparation and coordination of the Department's response to Brexit has been assigned to the Head of Function in the Policy and EU Division reporting to the Assistant Secretary with responsibility for Corporate Affairs and Policy Co-ordination. The EU Division was restructured with strengthened resources to allow a more strategic focus on a number of key issues, including Brexit. Brexit issues relating to sectoral issues across the Tourism, Public Transport, Aviation, Maritime and Road Transport and Freight Policy areas are managed by the relevant Heads of Function in those Divisions and are co-ordinated by the EU Division.  

In addition, a dedicated staffing resource at AP level has been assigned to Public Transport Division, to Road Transport and Freight Policy Division and to the Maritime Transport Division to assist with the prioritisation of Brexit related issues in those sectors. My Department has also recently hired 7 additional temporary staff members to deal specifically with “no-deal” Brexit related to issues in the Road Haulage area.

The Management Board has, and will continue, to keep under review the Department's organisation and structures for Brexit to ensure that they remain robust in addressing the evolving Brexit situation.

Railway Stations

Ceisteanna (210)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

210. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the plans of Irish Rail to install separated bins in and around stations in order to provide passengers an option to dispose of rubbish for recycling or general waste; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3349/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The issue raised is a matter for Iarnród Éireann and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Road Tolls

Ceisteanna (211)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

211. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the areas to which moneys are lodged in circumstances in which exact change cannot be returned to a customer at a road toll; the beneficiary of the amounts not collected by the customer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3350/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy in relation to roads.  The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects on national roads are a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 in conjunction with the relevant local authority. For regional and local roads it is a matter for each respective local authority.

More specifically, the statutory powers to levy tolls on national roads as well as regional and local roads, to make toll bye-laws and to enter into toll agreements with private investors are vested in TII (for national roads) and each local authority (for regional and local roads) under Part V of the Roads Act 1993 (as amended by the Planning and Development Act 2000 and the Roads Act 2007). 

Noting the above, I am referring the question to TII for direct reply within 10 working days.  Please inform my private office if you do not receive the information.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (212)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

212. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the discussions he has had with his British counterpart and the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland in relation to difficulties that may arise for motorists concerning insurance cover when crossing the Border; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3412/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Currently all Irish motor vehicles travelling within the EU are covered by the terms of the EU’s Motor Insurance Directive.  This allows motor vehicles to travel freely between the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain as well as within other EU countries. 

If the UK leaves the EU with a transition period, there should be no immediate change in the position regarding travel.  If the transition period is followed by a lasting arrangement which allows for travel under the current terms, there will be no further changes.   

Should a no deal Brexit occur, the UK (including Northern Ireland) will no longer be party to the Motor Insurance Directive. This means that, unless action is taken by the European Commission, a Green Card will be required to demonstrate to the authorities in Northern Ireland and Great Britain that valid motor insurance cover is in place for those vehicles, and vehicles from the UK coming to the State will require a Green Card as proof of insurance.  However, even in the case of a no deal scenario, the EU Commission would be able under the Motor Insurance Directive to declare that vehicles entering the EU from the UK would not require a Green Card.  It would be a matter for the UK authorities to determine whether they required a Green Card for Irish vehicles.  My Department continues to liaise with the European Commission on this issue.

As part of necessary contingency preparations, the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) has advised that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Green Cards will be begin to be issued to affected policyholders in March 2019 and policy holders are advised to contact their insurers a month in advance of their expected travel date.  This is an example of prudent advance planning by the MIBI and the wider insurance sector.

The Green Card is used as proof of insurance.  The Department understands that the vast majority of Irish motor insurance policies already include cover for travel in the UK. In such cases drivers will continue to be insured to drive in the UK even in a no-deal Brexit. However, they will need to carry the Green Card as proof of insurance if no other agreement is reached with the European Commission in the meantime. 

 Not all policies may include such cover in the event of a no-deal Brexit. In that eventuality, drivers who may be travelling to or through Northern Ireland or Great Britain should check their motor insurance policies and, if in doubt, check with their insurers that such travel would be covered.

Health Action Plan

Ceisteanna (213)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

213. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the implementation of the national physical activity plan; the progress to date on implementing each of the recommendations contained in the plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3417/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Significant progress has been made on the implementation of the National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) since its publication in 2016. Progress is being overseen by an Implementation Group, which is co-chaired by the Departments Transport, Tourism and Sport and Health.

A summary Progress Report and a detailed Implementation Report were published in 2017 and can be viewed on the Healthy Ireland website, www.healthyireland.ie  An updated Summary and Implementation Report will be published online in Q1, 2019.

Implementation of the NPAP is being pursued by several Departments and Agencies and is delivering a wide range of physical activity interventions and initiatives such as, for example, the Community Sport and Physical Activity Hubs supported by Sport Ireland and Local Sports Partnerships throughout the country. 

Engagement with key stakeholders to progress individual actions aimed at increasing national participation in physical activity has also been an important part of the implementation of the NPAP. In this regard, it is appropriate to emphasise the multi-disciplinary Stakeholder Forum on the Built Environment which was held last November and which supports key actions in both the National Obesity Policy and the National Physical Activity Plan. 

Implementation of the NPAP is also being coordinated closely with implementation of the National Sports Policy 2018-2027, published in July 2018, as both set out ambitious targets to increase physical activity levels across the population.