Climate Change Adaptation Plans

Ceisteanna (529)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

529. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the relationship between the national mitigation plan, the national energy and climate plan and the all-of-Government action plan on climate disruption. [8315/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

As the Deputy is aware, I am currently preparing an All of Government Climate Plan which will set out the actions which must be taken 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 previous actions and framework put in place by both the National Mitigation Plan and the National Development Plan, and is to be completed by the end of March this year.

My Department is also working closely with other relevant Departments and Agencies on the preparation of the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP). The preparation of an NECP is a requirement under EU law and for the first time brings together energy and climate planning into a single reporting framework. A draft of Ireland’s NECP was published by my Department in December 2018 for public consultation and a final version must be submitted to the European Commission by the end of 2019. I intend that new commitments to be included in the All of Government Plan will also inform the finalisation of the NECP during the course of 2019.

Air Pollution

Ceisteanna (530)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

530. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to introduce a public information campaign encouraging motorists not to idle their engines at level crossings due to the additional environmental pollution and carbon emissions this creates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8317/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I am currently developing the first-ever National Clean Air Strategy to provide the framework for a set of cross-Government policies and actions to reduce harmful emissions and improve air quality and public health. The issue of vehicular emissions and their effects on public health will be examined in the context of the strategy, which I intend to publish later this year. While I have no plans to introduce a public awareness campaign specifically around the issue of cars idling at level crossings, an awareness campaign on air quality in general is likely to form part of the strategy.

Salmon Management Report

Ceisteanna (531, 532, 533, 534)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

531. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the exact conservation limits for the River Nore; the exact number of salmon which were estimated to have entered the river in 2018; the projected number of salmon to enter the river in 2019; the way in which the numbers are trending as a result of the extensive information used to determine the number of salmon entering the system, in terms of numbers improving or declining and the rate; the estimated future date for the reopening the river for snap net fishing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8337/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

532. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the salmon stock levels on the rivers Barrow and Suir; the conservation limits of salmon on the rivers; the effect this information has on projecting stock levels on the rivers; the possible future date for the reopening the rivers for fishing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8338/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

533. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the 2014 snap net salmon fishing licences for the rivers Nore and Suir remain valid; if holders of these licences have an entitlement to fish should the rivers reopen for fishing of this nature in the near future; the process for the application and issuing of licences for snap net salmon fishing on the rivers Nore and Suir should the rivers reopen for fishing in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8339/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

534. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if an independent review by independent marine economists will be commissioned to investigate the possibility of reopening of the rivers Nore and Suir for snap net salmon fishing and the potential for a heritage fisheries pilot scheme on the rivers Barrow, Nore and Suir; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8342/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 531 to 534, inclusive, together.

Since 2007, Ireland manages salmon stocks on an individual river basis as each of Ireland’s 147 salmon rivers (including river sections and estuaries) has its own genetically unique stock of salmon. Juvenile salmon from each river migrate to sea as juveniles and return to their natal river to spawn and create the next generation of fish unique to that river.

Management is carried out by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). IFI is supported in its management role by scientific advice from Ireland’s independent Technical Expert Group on Salmon (TEGOS), comprising scientists from a range of organisations. IFI also has to have regard to EU legislation, particularly the Habitats Directive under which salmon habitats are protected. In that regard, given the established scientific advice, the issue of further review does not arise.

Scientific and management assessments of each of the distinct stocks, including the Suir, Nore and Barrow, are carried out every year with IFI engaged in extensive stock monitoring which feeds into the Scientific Group's annual reviews. An average of the 5 years' data is used to estimate expected returns for the coming year to ensure that a good or bad year does not have a disproportionate impact on the assessment in any single year.

It is not possible to definitively predict the projected opening dates for any individual river. Responsible management demands that rivers are only open to harvest, by either angling or commercial means, once a sustainable harvestable surplus, sufficiently in excess of the individual conservation limit for each river, is identified. The annual assessment process is based on up to date information to determine the status of each river and to inform fisheries management. The conservation limit is the number of adult spawning fish required to sustain a healthy population in the river.

The following table sets out the percentage Conservation Limit achieved on the Rivers Barrow, Suir and Nore 2013 to 2019:

Year

River Barrow

(CL - 11,738)

River Suir

(CL - 14,055)

River Nore (CL 10,420)

year

% Conservation Limit (CL) achieved

% Conservation Limit (CL) achieved

% Conservation Limit (CL) achieved

2019

16%

102%

80%

2018

17%

100%

77%

2017

18%

79%

70%

2016

18%

68%

60%

2015

17%

80%

91%

2014

29%

83%

121%

2013

29%

117%

153%

The issue of heritage activity is a matter for the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Conscientious management of Ireland’s salmon rivers must primarily concentrate on the availability of a sustainable resource and all activity which involves the taking of fish is permitted and delimited based on this conservation imperative.

Licensing of commercial fishing, including snap net fishing, is based on the most recent track record of the participants/applicants. Consideration of such track records can obviously only reference the years in which the rivers were open to harvest and the closure of a river does not impact the issuing of licences in this manner.

I will provide a copy of the most recent Wild Salmon and Seatrout Statistics report compiled by IFI which includes commercial and angling catch statistics from 2001 to 2017. These statistics are indicative of wild salmon abundance and stock trends for all rivers in this period. I have also asked IFI to prepare a detailed briefing note on the rivers Suir, Nore and Barrow which I will forward to the Deputy shortly.

Departmental Contracts Data

Ceisteanna (535)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

535. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his attention has been drawn to cost overruns on contracts within his Department with a value in excess of €10 million that came in more than 10% over budget in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; if so, the details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8418/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

My Department actively manages budgets and expenditure across its six Programme areas to deliver on its business priorities and objectives. The vast majority of capital and current expenditure in my Department comprises day to day operational funding for the Department and Agencies under its remit, funding for the broadcasting sector from TV licence fee receipts, grant funding for sustainable energy programmes administered by the SEAI and for energy research, as well as grant funding to Local Authorities under the landfill remediation scheme. Projects are delivered primarily in the Communications and Natural Resources Programme areas. My Department is satisfied that there have no material overruns on its exchequer capital projects in the period referred to in the Question.

Public Procurement Contracts Data

Ceisteanna (536)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

536. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of State contracts that were not awarded to the lowest tenderer or bidder in each year since 2011 to date in his Department or bodies under the aegis of his Department; the reason the lowest tender or bid was not chosen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8801/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The information requested is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Motor Tax

Ceisteanna (537)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

537. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position in relation to changes to the motor tax renewal online system and the advance notification provided to motorists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7903/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

There are arrangements in place whereby my Department, through the National Vehicle and Driver File (NVDF) system, reminds motorists that motor tax is due through the issue of a motor tax reminder notice, some 3-4 weeks before the due date. These notices are generated automatically and some 400,000 issue at the end of each month through a combination of electronic and paper based notices. This is an administrative process and the legal obligations place the onus on the registered owner to have their motor tax affairs in order if a vehicle is used on the public roads. The online motor tax site www.motortax.ie assists this through the facility to download the motor tax renewal form or a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to enable a vehicle to be taxed online.

It is important to note that only customers who elect for electronic reminders receive them and those customers who wish to remain with the paper based system may do so. The process of ‘signing up’ owners who wish to avail of electronic reminders is achieved as part of the completion of an online motor tax application – at stage two of the process the customer enters their email address, and the system displays a message as to what this entails. Customers who have signed up for the electronic service also have the facility to ‘opt out’ at any stage, or indeed, when processing their subsequent tax renewal. Those who have not selected this option, or those who have taxed their vehicle at the local Motor Tax Office, continue to receive their motor tax renewal notice by post.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland Projects

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (538)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

538. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the timeline for the construction of the proposed motorway between counties Limerick and Cork; the projected date it will be open; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7663/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design and construction of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

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

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

National Transport Authority

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (539)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

539. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to divert a cycle lane through Cathal Brugha Barracks; the consideration given to the security implications of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7705/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area, including cycling and walking infrastructure.

Noting the NTA's responsibility in the matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a more detailed reply. Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Rural Transport Services Provision

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (540, 549)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

540. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the areas catered for by LocalLink in County Kildare; and his plans to extend the service. [7747/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

549. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the areas catered for by LocalLink in County Laois; and his plans to extend the service in the future. [7954/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 540 and 549 together.

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public passenger transport services nationally. It also has national responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including management of the Rural Transport Programme which now operates under the Local Link brand.

Noting this I have forward the Deputy's Questions to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Road Projects Status

Ceisteanna (541)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

541. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of progress being made to deliver the A5/N2 road project; if an expected timeline for the completion of the project is available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7775/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The planning and implementation of the A5 upgrade project is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland authorities.

The current funding arrangements in relation to the A5 are governed by the Stormont House Agreement and Implementation Plan - A Fresh Start. Under this Agreement the Government is committed to provide funding of £75 million (sterling) towards the cost of Phase 1a of A5 upgrade scheme. The aim of this commitment was to facilitate the delivery of this phase of the scheme as soon as possible once the planning process in Northern Ireland was concluded.

As part of the Capital Plan Review in 2017 financial provision was made for meeting the Government's commitment regarding the A5 in 3 tranches over the period 2019 to 2021. When those allocations were put in place it was anticipated that the planning process would have concluded and construction of the 1st phase started before now.

However, legal challenges to the approval of the scheme have resulted in unavoidable delays to the timeframe for implementation of the scheme. Following judicial review proceedings last year the scheme approval was quashed.

Allowing for the time required by the Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure (DfI) to review work previously undertaken on the scheme and implement necessary statutory procedures, it was evident, following liaison at official level, that the initial €27 million tranche of funding would not be drawn down this year and would need to be rolled forward. As was the case for previous Government contributions, it is envisaged that payments towards the cost of the A5 will be based on an agreed protocol and linked to the achievement of construction stage milestones. Funding for this project is assured from 2020 onward.

National Transport Authority

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (542)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

542. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the compensation and consultation process that persons affected by the proposed BusConnects enhanced bus corridors may avail of; the way in which the process will allow persons to raise concerns as to impacts on their property; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7879/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the development and implementation of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area, including BusConnects.

Noting their responsibility in relation to this matter, I have forwarded the Deputy's query to the NTA for their consideration and direct reply. Please notify my office if you have not received a reply within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Transport Infrastructure Ireland Projects

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (543)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

543. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount contributed by the State to the cost of building the Limerick tunnel; the amount private companies contributed to building the tunnel; his views on whether the contract entered into relating to traffic guarantees represents good value for money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7917/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design, construction and operation of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

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

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Sports Capital Programme Administration

Ceisteanna (544, 557)

Mary Butler

Ceist:

544. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when he expects the sports capital grants for 2019 to be allocated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7925/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mary Butler

Ceist:

557. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when the sports capital grants for 2019 will be allocated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8069/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 544 and 557 together.

The 2018 round of the Sports Capital Programme opened for applications on Friday 7 September and the application period closed on Friday 19th October. By that deadline, a record 2,337 applications were submitted seeking a total of €162m in funding.

A total of 186 of these applications were for projects that were deemed invalid under the 2017 round of the programme that subsequently submitted corrected documents. These applications were assessed first and €7m in allocations to 170 projects were announced on the 17th January.

For the first time, applicants who have submitted incorrect documentation under this round will be given the opportunity to correct their application during the assessment period. While there will be no undue delay in completing the assessment process, in view of the opportunity to correct documentation, the record number of applications received and the detailed information contained in each application, it is likely to take a number of months to have all applications assessed. Accordingly, I expect that it will be at least the second quarter of this year before the full set of allocations under this current round of the programme are announced.

Departmental Priorities

Ceisteanna (545)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

545. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his policy priorities for the transport sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7926/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

My Department’s priorities for the transport sector, within the capital envelope available to it, are:

1. To maintain the existing extensive transport networks so as to ensure quality levels of service, accessibility and connectivity to transport users.

2. To develop infrastructure and service provision as envisaged under Project Ireland 2040 with a view to meeting the needs of the 2040 population by tackling urban congestion and improving connectivity to the regions, key international ports and airports.

In terms of investment policy in this area, my priority is the delivery of the significant projects and programmes committed to within Project Ireland 2040, such as -

- The BusConnects programme of improved bus services and infrastructure in all major cities, including significantly enhanced cycling facilities also;

- The MetroLink;

- The DART Expansion programme;

- The delivery of the M20 connecting Cork and Limerick cities;

- The Accessibility Retro-fit programme.

These projects and programmes will be complemented by other planned investments to improve the sustainability of our transport system, such as the significantly enhanced funding allocated toward the heavy rail network nationally, the development of a new National Train Control Centre and the roll-out of strategic cycle networks in the major cities.

In terms of delivery of public transport services my priority is to maintain and ensure implementation of governance oversight arrangements for State bodies in the public transport domain and ensure appropriate funding of services that require public financial support.

In relation to public transport/active travel policy, my priority is to complete a review of existing policy as committed to under the Programme for a Partnership Government. This review is a significant and substantial resource commitment and my Department has commenced and substantially completed the research and analysis required to inform the proposed period of public consultation which I expect to launch in the near future.

The specific priorities in the roads sector continue to be:

(i) Maintenance of the national, regional and local road network in good condition;

(ii) Advancement to construction stage, subject to necessary approvals, of the important national and regional road improvement projects identified in the National Development Plan 2018-2027; and

(iii) The appraisal of a range of other projects with a view prioritising projects for future development.

- In relation to Brexit, to ensure continued connectivity with the UK for Irish road haulage and road passenger transport operators. As well as contingency planning for Brexit, the other key policy priority for the maritime sector is continue the implementation of the National Ports Policy.

- In the aviation sector the policy priorities are:

- Contingency planning for UK withdrawal from the single aviation market; in particular for a “no-deal” scenario.

- Capacity of State Airports (incl. Dublin Airport North Runway and Capital Investment Programme, as well as long term future capacity needs).

- Enactment of the Aircraft Noise (Dublin Airport) Regulation Bill 2018.

Departmental Priorities

Ceisteanna (546)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

546. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his policy priorities for the development of tourism based on outdoor recreation and sport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7927/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I published the Tourism Action Plan 2019-2021 in December 2018. The Action Plan commits to developing and enhancing tourism experiences within the framework of Project Ireland 2040.  In this regard, the Deputy will be pleased to note that investment in activity-based tourism and tourist attractions has been prioritised under the National Development Plan 2018-2027 in order to provide the type and quality of experience that visitors are seeking. 

With specific regard to Greenways, last July Minister Ross and I launched the Strategy for the Future Development of National and Regional Greenways.  Under this Strategy, €53m is available from my Department for the funding of Greenways projects between 2019 and 2021 and applications from the first funding call under this strategy are currently being considered by my Department officials and a cross departmental and agency project assessment board.

In order to help ensure alignment of efforts across all relevant Government Departments and State agencies, the Deputy will be pleased to note that officials for my Department and from Fáilte Ireland participate in the National Outdoor Recreation Group chaired by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht - a cross-organisational group of public service recreational infrastructure providers, which aims to coordinate the approach to outdoor recreation across State-owned lands and waterways.

Road Safety

Ceisteanna (547)

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

547. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding blood alcohol levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7934/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I refer the Deputy to Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 2010, which very clearly sets out the categories of driver subject to the a lower alcohol limit (20 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood).

Rural Transport Services Provision

Question No. 549 answered with Question No. 540.

Ceisteanna (548)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

548. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a meeting (details supplied) took place; and if so, the outcome of this meeting between his officials and the NTA in relation to rural transport. [7940/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I am advised that at the request of the Minister of State at the Department of Health, with responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Mr. Jim Daly, TD, a meeting took place on 6th February last, with the National Transport Authority (NTA), at which my Department was also represented.

I understand that a number of issues in relation to transport in rural areas were discussed, including the proposal for a rural taxi service. The NTA has statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public transport services nationally and also has national responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including management of Local Link. It is also the regulator for the taxi industry.

At my request, the NTA is examining the potential to further improve rural transport provision and in this regard is particularly examining ways to improve and support the Local Area Hackney and Community Transport Services schemes.

Question No. 549 answered with Question No. 540.

Rail Services

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (550)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

550. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a security service is still provided on Irish Rail evening trains out of Dublin; if so, the station at which the security remains on board until; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7955/19]

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.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A