Questions Nos. 507 and 508 answered with Question No. 505.

Question No. 509 answered with Question No. 504.

National Mitigation Plan

Questions Nos. 512 and 513 answered with Question No. 500.

Ceisteanna (510, 511)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

510. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the date on which he had first knowledge in relation to proposals by companies (details supplied) to export over 3.5 million tonnes per year of fracked gas from the United States of America to Ireland. [7806/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Clare Daly

Ceist:

511. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will provide all communications between his Department and a company (details supplied) or its representatives. [7807/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 510 and 511 together.

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. The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme, approved by Government in July 2018, will provide for a renewable electricity ambition of 55% by 2030, subject to determining the cost effective level which will be set out in the National Energy and Climate Plan. Currently, 30% of our electricity is generated from renewable energy sources.

I have secured Government approval to develop an all of Government plan which will set out the actions which must be taken to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change. This Plan will include the steps which we must take in order to achieve this and I am working with colleagues across Government to develop new initiatives across electricity, transport and heat, as well as a range of other sectors.

In all projected transitions to a low carbon economy by 2050, gas will continue to play a role. It plays 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.

So while gas usage will reduce significantly in the years ahead, Ireland will still need secure sources of gas. At present this is provided by both gas piped on shore from Irish gas fields and imports through gas pipelines from the UK.

The development of an LNG facility could further enhance Ireland’s gas security of supply by increasing import route diversity and would be compatible with the State’s commitments to tackle climate change.

Ireland’s energy policy is fully aligned with the EU’s climate and energy objectives on the transition to decarbonisation, which includes continuous and ongoing 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.

The project to which the Deputy refers is a private commercial project. Final investment decisions for the project and compliance with any legal and regulatory requirements in relation to consents or permits are the responsibility of the project promoter.

I am informed that in August 2018 Shannon LNG announced it had entered into an agreement with New Fortress Energy to develop the proposed LNG terminal project at Ballylongford. I understand that my Department was notified on 23 August that a press release on this would be issued on the next day. On 21 November 2018, at the request of Shannon LNG, officials from my Department met with representatives of Shannon LNG and New Fortress Energy. The purpose of this meeting was to introduce New Fortress Energy.

In relation to the production, sourcing, buying and selling of natural gas produced outside this jurisdiction, this is an operational matter for the undertakings involved. Any undertaking would be required to comply with EU law in this area.

Questions Nos. 512 and 513 answered with Question No. 500.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (514)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

514. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the projects which have been delayed as a result of cost overruns at the national children’s hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7792/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

My Department will reprofile €4 million, representing less than 1.5% of its overall capital allocation for 2019, to support the additional costs arising this year on the National Children’s Hospital project. In this regard, my Department will manage the timing of payments relating to a small number of projects, while ensuring that contractual commitments are met and service delivery is maintained.

Angling Sector

Ceisteanna (515)

Joe Carey

Ceist:

515. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the position in relation to a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7816/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I am advised by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) that when the initial approach was made regarding a potential lease, the angling Club were advised that fishing rights are variously vested in local landowners, Clare County Council and IFI. The then Committee of the Club were advised that consent of all holders of fishing rights would need to be obtained by the Club in order to progress the issue of a lease on the catchment. I am also advised by IFI that they have not referred the matter to the legal advisers of the State.

Recent contacts between the Club and local IFI staff related to a proposal for development works around the lakes, and I understand the proposal was referred to the National Strategy for Angling Development Projects Office within IFI. Other issues discussed over recent months include fish stocking and angling infrastructure maintenance, which are being considered. In addition, the Club requested inclusion of local schools in the “something fishy” educational programme and this has been delivered.

Climate Change Adaptation Plans

Ceisteanna (516, 517, 518)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

516. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has engaged with a local authority (details supplied) in respect of preparing a climate change adaptation strategy. [7819/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

517. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has engaged with a local authority (details supplied) in respect of preparing a climate change adaptation strategy. [7820/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

518. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has engaged with a local authority (details supplied) in respect of preparing a climate change adaptation strategy. [7821/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 516 to 518, inclusive, together.

Ireland’s first statutory National Adaptation Framework (NAF), published in January 2018, sets out the context to ensure local authorities, regions and key sectors can assess the main risks and vulnerabilities of climate change, implement climate resilience actions and ensure climate adaptation considerations are mainstreamed into policy making.

Under the National Adaptation Framework, each local authority is required to develop a local adaptation strategy in line with “Local Authority Adaptation Strategy Development Guidelines” which were launched by Minister of State Canney on 3 December 2018 and are available on www.dccae.gov.ie. Local authorities have been set a deadline for the completion of local strategies by 30 September 2019.

In January 2018, my Department also entered into a funding commitment of €10m over 5 years to establish four Climate Action Regional Offices. This recognises the significant obligation which has been placed on local government to develop and implement its own climate action measures – both in terms of mitigation and adaptation.

A key priority for the Climate Action Regional Offices in 2019 will be to support the local authorities within their region to develop their local adaptation strategies and ensure they align with national adaptation policy and sectoral priorities. Work is under way across all local authorities on the preparation of local adaptation strategies in line with the five step methodology set out in the Guidelines. The development and approval of the strategies themselves will, however, be the responsibility of each individual local authority.

My Department is working closely with local government in supporting the adaptation planning process and will monitor overall progress on the development of local adaptation strategies at local authority level via the National Adaptation Steering Committee, the Climate Action High Level Steering Group, as well as through the various governance structures established for the Climate Action Regional Offices.

Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (519)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

519. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if broadband will be supplied to a location (details supplied). [7870/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The specific premises referred to by the Deputy is in the AMBER area on the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map, which is available on my Department's website at www.broadband.gov.ie. The AMBER areas represent the target areas for the proposed State led Intervention under the NBP. This intervention is the subject of an ongoing procurement process.

The procurement process to appoint a bidder for the State intervention network is now at the final stage. I will bring a recommendation to Government in relation to the NBP in the coming weeks.

For those premises currently awaiting access to high speed broadband, practical initiatives will continue to be addressed through the work of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce to address obstacles and improve connectivity in respect of existing and future mobile phone and broadband services.

Under this Taskforce, engagement between telecommunications operators and local authorities through the Broadband Officers is continuing. These Broadband Officers are acting as single points of contact in local authorities for their communities. The appointment of these officers is already reaping rewards in terms of ensuring a much greater degree of consistency in engagements.

Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (520)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

520. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if broadband will be supplied to a location (details supplied). [7881/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

According to my Department’s high speed broadband map, available at www.broadband.gov.ie, the premises referred to by the Deputy is one which is indicated as having been passed by eir as part of their rural deployment of high speed broadband. Therefore, that premises should be in a position to order a high speed broadband connection from a provider offering services on the network.

Where a premises in this situation is having difficulty getting connected, my Department's customer service team in the National Broadband Plan (NBP) Division can assist by raising a case with eir.

I advise the Deputy’s constituent to contact the NBP customer service team at broadband@dccae.gov.ie directly, providing their name, phone number, email address and Eircode, as well as details of the issues they are experiencing. My Department will then be in a position to pursue a case on their behalf with eir.

Inland Fisheries Ireland

Ceisteanna (521)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

521. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will ensure that Inland Fisheries Ireland consults an organisation (details supplied) on the Inland Fisheries (Amendment) Act 2017; if he will ensure that Inland Fisheries Ireland has a constructive relationship with the association in future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8010/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Inland Fisheries Amendment Act 2017 was enacted last year and is on the statute book having been through all relevant stages of the Oireachtas legislative process.

I am advised that Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) seeks to have positive and constructive relationships with all stakeholder groups. I would support IFI’s reasonable expectation that these relationships are based on mutual respect and courteous rather than confrontational engagement.

Departmental Reports

Ceisteanna (522)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

522. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if consideration will be given to the key findings and recommendations in a report (details supplied) concerning the urgent need to improve broadband telecommunications infrastructure and mobile telephony in the Border region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8011/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The report referred to by the Deputy provides a list of recommendations to help County Councils set targets and deliverables and shape the National Broadband Plan to the needs of their communities. The report makes 20 recommendations for the five County Council areas within the cross-Border partnership (Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo).

The subject matter of the report and its recommendations are also of relevance to the ongoing work of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce, which involves a wide range of stakeholders including all local authorities. Through the work of the Taskforce, my Department, in tandem with the Department of Rural and Community Development, works closely with the Broadband Officers in all local authorities, including the five local authorities within the cross-Border partnership, to progress a suite of actions aimed at improving mobile phone and broadband coverage.

Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (523)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

523. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the timescale for broadband roll-out for an area (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8042/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The specific premises referred to by the Deputy is in the AMBER area on the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map, which is available on my Department's website at www.broadband.gov.ie. The AMBER areas represent the target areas for the proposed State led Intervention under the NBP. This intervention is the subject of an ongoing procurement process. The procurement process to appoint a bidder for the State intervention network is now at the final stage. I will bring a recommendation to Government in relation to the NBP in the coming weeks.

For those premises currently awaiting access to high speed broadband, practical initiatives will continue to be addressed through the work of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce to address obstacles and improve connectivity in respect of existing and future mobile phone and broadband services.

Under this Taskforce, engagement between telecommunications operators and local authorities through the Broadband Officers is continuing. These Broadband Officers are acting as single points of contact in local authorities for their communities. The appointment of these officers is already reaping rewards in terms of ensuring a much greater degree of consistency in engagements.

Internet Safety

Ceisteanna (524)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

524. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when he plans to appoint a digital safety commissioner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8059/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Shortly after my appointment as Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, I attended a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on 25 October 2018 to discuss the Digital Safety Commissioner Bill 2017.

At that meeting, I said that I believed that the era of self-regulation in this area was over. However, I also stressed that if the Oireachtas is to pass legislation addressing the need to ensure the safety of our citizens online, especially the most vulnerable members of our society, including our children, we must ensure that this it is robust, effective, and legally and practically sound.

I have also consulted with the Attorney General in relation to a number of legal issues raised by the proposal and I am currently considering possible options in this regard.

Brexit Preparations

Question No. 526 answered with Question No. 498.

Ceisteanna (525)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

525. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if plans for an all-of-Government approach to climate change have been considered as part of the contingency action plan on preparing for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 29 March 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8060/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

My Department has been engaged in active and ongoing contingency planning in respect of all of its relevant functions for some time in the context of preparing for the United Kingdom withdrawal from the EU.

Work on the development of a new All of Government Climate Plan is continuing, and it is my intention to finalise this work with a view to bringing the plan to Government before the end of March.

Question No. 526 answered with Question No. 498.

Climate Change Policy

Ceisteanna (527)

John Curran

Ceist:

527. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the steps he is taking to give investors a clear indication of Ireland’s commitment to the Paris Agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8232/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

In order to meet Ireland’s target for 2030 that we will reduce emissions in the non-ETS sector by 30%, and building on the framework put in place by both the National Mitigation Plan and the National Development Plan, I am currently developing an All of Government Climate Plan which will set out the actions which must be taken in every Government Department and Body. The central ambition of this plan will be to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change. I am working with colleagues across Government to develop new initiatives across electricity, transport and heat, as well as a range of other sectors.

The All of Government Plan will have a strong focus on implementation, including actions with specific timelines and steps needed to achieve each action, assigning clear lines of responsibility for delivery. It will also be informed by successful approaches in other countries, where such approaches could be adapted for implementation in Ireland.

The All of Government Plan will build on the recognition in both the National Mitigation Plan and the National Development Plan of the role of the private sector in supporting Ireland's transition towards a low-carbon and climate resilient society. This low carbon transition brings with it economic opportunities, and the private sector has an important role in investing in decarbonisation in Ireland, either on its own initiative or in parallel with public sources of funding.

The successful launch by the National Treasury Management Agency on 10 October 2018 of Ireland’s first sovereign green bond with a value of €3 billion is indicative of the level of investor interest in financing policies to promote the low carbon transition in Ireland.

The decarbonisation trajectory I intend to set Ireland on to 2030 will send a clear signal to the private sector and to investors, driven by national policies which provide the necessary enabling framework and act to stimulate private investments at the scale required to achieve our decarbonisation objectives.

Job Creation

Ceisteanna (528)

John Curran

Ceist:

528. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the areas in the green economy in which he plans to prioritise job creation and economic green growth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8233/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The recently published draft National Energy and Climate Plan set out a number of measures that will assist in the transition to a low carbon economy. Many of these measures, while reducing the level of greenhouse gas emissions will also promote job creation and economic growth, including such items as Town scale pilots of food and agriculture waste being converted to gas for local gas networks and biogas production and a new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) to support up to 4,500 Megawatts of additional renewable electricity by 2030. This will be augmented by the smart meter programme which will facilitate the development of distributed and micro generation, the use of energy storage technologies and increased energy efficiency measures. This will allow the energy consumer to become much more interactive in how they manage their overall energy usage.

With regard to climate action, Ireland faces a significant task, across the whole of the economy, in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. This also presents opportunities, as investment in the low carbon economy has the potential to create sustainable high quality jobs to support local communities and workers, including ensuring working with relevant stakeholders to ensure a just transition approach in regions most impacted by the on-going transition to a decarbonised society.

The Government agreed on 20 November 2018 to the preparation of new All-of-Government Plan to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change. Developing a deep understanding of the socio-economic and distributional impacts of climate policies and measures to ensure a fair and acceptable climate transition for citizens will be a key consideration of the new plan.

Ireland’s first National Policy Statement (NPS) on the Bioeconomy was published by Government in March 2018. This sets out the Government’s policy framework for developing the bioeconomy and outlined a vision, principles and strategic policy objectives to underpin the successful development of the bioeconomy in Ireland.

An important objective of the bioeconomy is to move Ireland beyond simply a target compliance and carbon mitigation focus to integrating sustainable economic development into our economic model as we transition to a low carbon and circular economy.

The forthcoming Circular Economy Action Plan will unlock growth and jobs potential by ensuring the right regulatory framework and giving clear signals to economic operators on the way forward with long-term waste targets. Future opportunities in the green economy could be expected in a number of categories such as, waste management, collection and remanufacture in textiles and clothing, Eco Design and Social entrepreneurship – creating local, community jobs and training opportunities.