Broadcasting Legislation

Ceisteanna (752)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

752. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to update the Broadcasting (Major Events Television Coverage) Act 1999; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23273/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) provides that Member States may designate sporting and cultural events of major importance to society as free-to-air. At a national level, the Broadcasting Act 2009 sets out the statutory process for designating events as free-to-air.

Section 162 (7) of the Broadcasting Act 2009 states that “On the passing of this Act any order made under section 2 of the Broadcasting (Major Events Television Coverage) Act 1999 which is in force on such passing continues and is deemed to have been made under this section.”

Under Section 173 (2) of the 2009 Act, I am obliged to review the list of designated events every three years. The purpose of the review is to consider the appropriateness of the current list of designated events and to examine whether to add any events of major importance to society.

The most recent review was finalised in 2017 and approval was received from the European Commission to designate the All Ireland Senior Ladies Football and Camogie Finals as events of major importance. As part of the review process, the Department carried out a period of public consultation and submissions were received for the inclusion of a number of different sporting events.

The events currently designated by Order (S.I. 465 of 2017) can be found at the following link: https://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/communications/consultations/Pages/Review-of-Designation-of-Major-Events-.aspx.

The current list of designated events will be reviewed again in 2020.

Exploration Licences Applications

Ceisteanna (753)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

753. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of exploration and drilling licences granted between 4 June 2007 and 23 January 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23276/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

In the period 4 June 2007 to 23 January 2011, eight exploration licences were granted and eight wells were drilled offshore Ireland.

Minister Bruton will shortly publish an All of Government Climate Plan, which will set out policies that will cut our reliance on fossil fuels in electricity, transport, the built environment and other sectors. As part of this Plan, we will be taking actions to reach 70% renewable electricity by 2030. This would mean Ireland would have one of the highest levels of renewables in the world.

Fossil fuels will still be required to provide our remaining electricity needs and to provide a back-up supply when there is insufficient renewable energy on the grid, as well as to heat our homes as we transition towards renewable heating systems.

Halting exploration in the Irish offshore would have no impact on our greenhouse gas emissions. It would, however, mean that we would be fully reliant on fossil fuel imports.

Postal Codes

Ceisteanna (754)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

754. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has completed a cost-benefit analysis and review of Eircode; the uptake of Eircode; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23298/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

My Department conducted a number of Cost Benefit analyses on the Eircode project in 2008, 2010 and 2015. These showed that, in addition to the project yielding a positive Net Present Value to both the State and Private Sector, that it would also bring about a wide range of other benefits including accurate location of all addresses in the State, including the 35% of addresses that are ‘non-unique’; make it easier for consumers to shop online and enabling emergency services to quickly locate addresses, particularly in rural areas.

Eircode use among the public and businesses continues to grow significantly and this, in part, can be seen by use of the free online Eircode Finder app which has had more than 41 million look-ups since its launch, a 53% increase in look-ups from 2017 to 2018 and an average monthly look-up of 1.48m in April 2019.

The National Ambulance Service (NAS) have integrated Eircodes into their dispatch system which means that the patient’s address and the position of the nearest available ambulance can be accurately pinpointed, using the Eircode, on a digital map, enabling an ambulance to be quickly and accurately routed to someone in need of medical help.

Eircodes are being used by public sector bodies including, CSO, OSi, National Transport Authority, Student Universal Support Ireland, Local Authorities, Revenue, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Health Service Executive. Other state bodies and agencies that interact with the public have incorporated Eircodes into their operational systems.

Google have integrated Eircodes into Google Maps and other leading satnav providers such as TomTom, Garmin, HERE and Microsoft have also integrated Eircodes into their satnav apps for use by consumers and businesses.

Eircode have informed my Department that to date there are over 1,100 business organisations who licence and use Eircodes within their business operations across a wide spectrum of sectors. A number of these organisations are both international and Irish SMEs that develop business solutions and apps utilising Eircodes for their customers. One such Irish SME developed a free Eircode mobile app based on Google Maps that is used extensively by courier/delivery drivers who deliver parcels every day with Eircodes. This app has over 16,000 active delivery users and was used 237,751 times for satnav directions in April 2019.

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (755, 756)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

755. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if there is a cost to the State for withdrawing preferred bidder status if assurances in the final contract for the national broadband plan are deemed to be insufficient by the State and the contract is not signed; the cost involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23365/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

756. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the procurement process for the national broadband plan is still deemed a competition, despite a preferred bidder being chosen; if the State has the ability to abandon the procurement process without a cost incurring on the State for doing so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23366/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 755 and 756 together.

The Project Information Memorandum (PIM) published by my Department for the National Broadband Plan (NBP) State intervention procurement process, makes it clear that there is no obligation to reimburse any Bidder, regardless of whether or not the procurement results in the award of a contract. The procurement process is ongoing and continues until contract award.

The Government Decision of 7 May 2019 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract for the NBP to the Bidder. This award is subject to the completion of the final stage of the procurement process, including finalisation of financial and legal documents.

Not proceeding to a contract would involve significant opportunity cost for the State and its citizens. Firstly, it would at best result in a delay of a number of years in the delivery of a future proofed high speed broadband service to the 1.1 million citizens in the intervention Area and would also introduce considerable uncertainty as to whether or not some premises would be left behind. In addition, the analysis carried out suggests that any alternative option may be more costly than that to be delivered under the existing NBP draft contract.

Renewable Heat Incentive

Ceisteanna (757)

Joe Carey

Ceist:

757. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the support scheme for renewable heat will open; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23400/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) is now fully open for applications.

The first phase of the scheme, an installation grant for heat pumps, opened for applications in September 2018. This phase of the scheme will support ground, air and water source electric heat pump installations providing grant aid of up to 30% of the installation cost.

I opened the second phase of the SSRH, an operational support for biomass boilers and anaerobic digestion heating systems, on 4 June 2019. Under this phase of the scheme, eligible renewable energy technologies will be supported through a multi-annual payment, for a period of up to 15 years, on the basis of prescribed tariffs.

The SSRH has been developed to financially support the adoption of renewable heating systems by commercial, industrial, agricultural, district heating operators and other non-domestic heat users not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System. Under Project Ireland 2040, the National Development Plan sets out an allocation of €300 million for the roll-out of the scheme for the period up to 2027.

The scheme design includes eligibility and sustainability criteria that projects must conform to over the period of support. In addition, there are a number of budgetary controls in order to control overall costs, including project budget caps, a scheme budget cap and periodic tariff reviews to prevent windfall gains. These measures will ensure that heat supported under the SSRH is sustainable, applied for useful purposes and represents value for money for the taxpayer.

The scheme will be administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and full details, including how to apply, are available on SEAI’s website at the following link: https://www.seai.ie/sustainable-solutions/support-scheme-renewable-/

Exploration Licences Approvals

Ceisteanna (758)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

758. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the rationale for the issuance of the oil exploration licence off the coast of County Kerry in view of the declaration by Dáil Éireann of a climate emergency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23484/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The details of CNOOC Petroleum Europe Limited's application to undertake drilling of the exploratory Iolar Well on Frontier Exploration Licence 3/18 in the Porcupine Basin, including the reasons for the decision to grant the application, are published on my Department's website.

The decision to grant the application is in accord with the Energy White Paper, Ireland’s Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-30, which sets out Government energy policy in respect of Ireland’s transition to a low-carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy. The White Paper is clear that fossil fuel energy sources will continue to make a significant, though progressively smaller contribution to our energy mix over the course of the energy transition. It notes that as Ireland makes this transition the development of Ireland’s indigenous oil and gas resources has the potential to deliver significant and sustained benefits, particularly in terms of enhanced security of supply, import substitution, fiscal return and national and local economic development.

The Energy White Paper has been followed by the development and approval of Ireland's first National Mitigation Plan in 2017. The All of Government Climate Plan, which will be published shortly, will set out a concrete set of policies which will further cut Ireland's reliance on fossil fuels in electricity, transport, the built environment and other sectors.

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (759)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

759. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the term, the bidder, in the third paragraph of the context of options outlined in the 2019 national broadband development contingency plan options document refers to a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23486/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

My Department considered a number of alternative options available to Government to advance the availability of high speed broadband premises across the State in the event the NBP State intervention procurement process failed to deliver a solution acceptable to Government. The Contingency Plan Report 2019 was published by my Department and is available here (https://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/communications/topics/Broadband/national-broadband-plan/Pages/Key-Procurement-Documents--.aspx).

The alternative options considered in the Contingency Plan Report 2019 were based on three alternatives– a phased approach, a separate build within a confined budget and a backhaul only solution. Some of these alternatives had already been analysed in 2018. The Department’s own internal knowledge underpinned the analysis of these alternatives, based on the technical and commercial expertise within the State's team and its experience through engagement with the market during the NBP intervention. For example, the Department had developed its own detailed analysis of the cost and timeframe for a backhaul solution in 2014. In addition, the Department had access to analysis regarding costings and timelines from external bodies such as ComReg which provided information on alternatives such as a fixed wireless approach based on a subsidised fibre backhaul build.

The final tender solution submitted by the bidder provided some additional factual information that supported the modelling of these solutions, for example, the likely length of road network and the likely number of poles and ducts within the intervention area.

Building Energy Rating Compliance

Ceisteanna (760)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

760. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of a scheme for retrofitting private dwellings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23491/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The National Development Plan (NDP) demonstrates the Government’s commitment to meeting Ireland’s infrastructure and investment needs over the period 2018-2027. The Plan commits to investing €21.8bn in climate and low carbon related actions, of which, approx. €3.7bn is identified for funding residential energy efficiency upgrades and retrofitting oil heated homes with heat pumps and solar PV. The Plan identifies a target for retrofitting private dwellings of 45,000 homes per year to a Building Energy Rating B from 2021.

It is clear that the Exchequer alone will not be able to fund the scale and depth of retrofit activity that needs to happen in order for us meet our climate targets. For that reason, alternative financing options will have to play a part in Ireland’s strategy to decarbonise our buildings. Examples of these alternative approaches could include, for instance, the introduction of new mechanisms to lower the interest rates applicable to loans for energy efficiency works as well as energy performance contracting.

My Department is currently working with a number of key stakeholders to explore the potential for the introduction of new ways to support energy efficiency in homes, including financing options. The forthcoming All of Government Climate Plan will set out the actions to be taken to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change and at a minimum meet our targets for the period to 2030.

Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (761)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

761. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the estimated time for broadband connection to an area under the national broadband plan; and if a property (details supplied) was part of the additional 80,000 residences and businesses to be connected as announced by a company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23509/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The premises referenced by the Deputy is in a Light Blue 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 Light Blue areas are where eir is in the process of deploying high speed broadband to 300,000 premises on a commercial basis, under a Commitment Agreement signed with my Department in April 2017. According to data for Q1 2019 submitted by eir to my Department the company has passed almost 250,000 premises nationwide as part of its ongoing deployment. This information will be available on my Department's website shortly.

Information on eir's rural deployment is available on that company’s website, http://fibrerollout.ie/Eircode-lookup/. A copy of the Commitment Agreement is available on my Department’s website, www.dccae.gov.ie.

According to information provided by eir to my Department, it plans to complete the vast majority of the deployment by the mid-year completion target with the remaining premises to be completed soon afterwards. My Department is engaging with eir in this matter.

Recycling Policy

Ceisteanna (762)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

762. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to repeat the tyre recycling scheme in 2019 or in early 2020; if so, the amount he envisages would be allocated to the scheme; if centres will be operated in each county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23558/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

In 2017, my Department made funding of €1 million available to local authorities to deal with the clean-up of existing stockpiles of tyres across the country. This was done to support the introduction of a new compliance scheme for tyres and waste tyres from 1 October 2017. At that time, it was also indicated that the issue of waste tyres on farms would be considered.

In 2018, €700,000 was made available to remove waste tyres from farms. Irish Farm Film Producers Group (IFFPG), the national farm plastics recycling compliance scheme, undertook the work on behalf of my Department. Four collection sites were chosen based on the fact that they represented a good geographical spread. In total 4,253 tonnes of tyres were collected and 2,229 farmers availed of the service. The budget for this initiative was fully expended in 2018.

Actions during 2019 to address waste agriculture tyres are being considered in the context of the further development of the compliance scheme for tyres and waste tyres.

Electric Vehicles

Ceisteanna (763)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

763. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the changes he will introduce to prevent sleepers staying at electronic charge points over and above the time necessary. [23577/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The majority of public chargers in use in Ireland are part of the ESB ecars network. Currently there are no fees for using this charging network which can lead to consumers using the network in place of charging at home or using it for longer than they need. I understand that ESB ecars intends to introduce fees for the use of fast chargers later this year and standard chargers in 2020. This will encourage electric vehicle drivers to charge at home where possible thus ensuring the public chargers have a higher level of availability.

In relation to the use of spaces for electric vehicle charging, there is existing legislation in place, namely the Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations 1997 to 2014 (S.I. No. 182 of 1997) as amended by the Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) (Car Clubs and Electrically Powered Vehicles) Regulations 2014 (S.I. No. 325 of 2014). These regulations explicitly prohibit a non-electric vehicle stopping or parking in designated spaces and outlines how these spaces are only to be used by electric vehicles while being recharged. The enforcement of this legislation is a matter for An Garda Síochána and for Local Authority traffic wardens.

Electric Vehicles

Ceisteanna (764)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

764. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the roll-out of additional charge points for electric vehicles across the country will be completed. [23578/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Providing adequate charging infrastructure is critical to ensure continued growth in electric vehicles.

Home charging is the most cost-effective way to charge an electric vehicle and is the primary method of charging for the majority of electric vehicles both internationally and in Ireland. A Government grant of up to €600 is available, via the SEAI, to the purchasers of new and second-hand electric vehicles to support the installation of home chargers.

There are currently over 650 standard public charge points and 78 fast chargers as a part of the ESB eCars network. In addition there are public chargers provided by local authorities, retail outlets and private companies.

Under the first call for applications from the Climate Action Fund, I approved funding of up to €10 million to support ESB eCars to develop a nationwide, state-of-the-art electric vehicle fast charging network. This project successfully completed the assessment stage and the validation stage is now underway.

The project includes the installation of 90 high-power chargers each of which will be capable of charging two vehicles simultaneously, upgrading 50 existing standard chargers to fast chargers and replacing over 250 existing standard chargers with next generation high reliability models. This is a multi-annual project and is expected to be fully completed by 2022.

My Department, in conjunction with the SEAI, is also working on how best to support the provision of greater levels of on-street public charging.

Inland Fisheries Ireland

Ceisteanna (765)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

765. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the 16 instream and enhancement project contracts signed in 2017 under the National Strategy for Angling Development 2015-2020 had demonstrated consultation with the relevant local authorities regarding these projects; if so, the details of the consultations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23630/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

There were 22 enhancement projects approved by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) in the 2017 round of funding under the National Strategy for Angling Development. As the deputy will appreciate, due to the conservation imperative, there is often a narrow annual window of opportunity to undertake instream works and projects are likely to be delivered over a 2-3 year timeframe.

Six of these projects have been completed and funding drawn down. A further 11 have agreed funding status and are at various stages of delivery as a result of the project promoters progressing compliance with all required statutory and other consents which are a feature of publically funded grant schemes.

This includes consultation on potential planning requirements with the relevant Local Authority and a planning application where required, consultation with other statutory bodies, environmental assessments (particularly in Special Areas of Conservation) and landowner consents.

The table at the link sets of the status of each of the projects.

Enhancement Projects

Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (766)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

766. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 517 of 21 May 2019, when broadband will be delivered to all houses in Magillstown, Balheary, Swords, County Dublin. [23635/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure that every home, school and business in Ireland has access to high speed broadband. This is being achieved through a combination of commercial investment across the country, and a State intervention in those areas where commercial operators acting alone are unlikely to invest. The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. In 2012, less than 700,000, or 30% of Irish premises had access to high speed broadband. Today, 74% of the 2.4 million premises in Ireland can access high speed broadband.

In April 2017, my Department published an updated version of the NBP High Speed Broadband Map. This is available at www.broadband.gov.ie.

The map shows the areas targeted by commercial operators to provide high speed broadband services and the areas that will be included in the State Intervention Area under the NBP. The Map is colour coded and searchable by address/Eircode:

- The AMBER area represents the parts of the country where commercial operators have no plans to build high speed broadband networks. Premises in the AMBER area will be provided with high Speed Broadband through a State Intervention.

- The BLUE area represents those areas where commercial providers are either currently delivering or have plans to deliver high speed broadband services.

- The LIGHT BLUE area represents eir's commercial rural deployment plans to roll-out high speed broadband to 300,000 premises as part of a Commitment Agreement signed with my Department in April 2017.

The following table details the percentage of premises to be covered by the State Intervention and through commercial investment in the areas identified by the Deputy. eir's deployment of high speed broadband under the Commitment Agreement signed with my Department in April 2017 within the townlands of Magillstown and Balheary is now complete.

Townland

Premises within the NBP Intervention Area

Premises within Commercial Operator’s Area

Premises within eir planned rural deployment

Total

Magillstown

59% (13)

41% (9)

0% (0)

100% (22)

Balheary

45% (17)

55% (21)

0% (0)

100% (38)

Premises where commercial providers are not currently delivering or have indicated no plans to deliver high speed broadband services will be addressed through the National Broadband Plan State led Intervention

This intervention is the subject of the procurement process to engage a company to build, operate and maintain the NBP State intervention network. I recently brought a recommendation to Government to confer Preferred Bidder status on Granahan McCourt, the remaining bidder in the NBP procurement process and Government agreed to this at its meeting on 7 May.

The Government decision of 7 May 2019 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to National Broadband Ireland, subject to contract close including the finalisation of financial and legal documents. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network will commence shortly after that. The Bidder has indicated that the NBP State intervention will take an estimated 7 years from the beginning of deployment. A deployment plan will be made available by the Bidder once the contract is signed.

In the first year of roll out, the Bidder will deploy approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) across all counties. It is anticipated that between 7 and 23 BCPs will be deployed in each county. BCPs will provide a community based high speed broadband service, enhancing online participation and allowing for the establishment of digital work hubs in these locations.

The Bidder is aiming to pass 133,000 premises at the end of the second year, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until roll out is completed.

Litter Pollution Fines

Ceisteanna (767, 768)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

767. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of fines given to persons who did not remove dog fouling by county. [23663/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

768. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount spent on awareness, warnings and so on to prevent dog fouling by county. [23664/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 767 and 768 together.

The Litter Pollution Acts, 1997 to 2009, provide the statutory framework to combat littering and include provisions relating to dog fouling. Under the Acts, the primary management and enforcement response to littering (including dog fouling) rests with Local Authorities. It is a matter for each Local Authority to determine the most appropriate course of action to tackle litter pollution locally within the legislation provided. This includes the most appropriate public awareness, enforcement and clean-up actions in relation to litter and dog fouling, taking account of local circumstances and priorities.

My Department does not collate statistics on the number of fines issued by Local Authorities in relation to specific litter offences, such as dog fouling offences. However, my Department does publish data on the revenue generated from Local Authority on-the-spot litter fines and Courts' fines. The data is available at:

https://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/environment/topics/waste/litter/Pages/Local-Authority-Litter-Fines-and-Expenditure-Statistics.aspx

With regard to litter awareness, my Department has, since 1997, co-funded the Local Authority Anti-Litter and Anti-Graffiti Awareness Grant Scheme (ALAGS). Local Authorities are responsible for selecting suitable ALAGS projects for funding and deciding on individual grant allocations. Where possible, the focus is on voluntary initiatives by community and environmental groups, and also on involving schools and young people in anti-litter and anti-graffiti action. Typically, eligible projects include local media campaigns, clean-ups, primary/secondary school competitions, exhibitions, and the production of videos, posters and leaflets.

ALAGS funding increased by 28% in 2017 to €884,000 and this level was maintained in 2018. In previous years Local Authorities have been requested to consider, where practical under the scheme, expending a portion of their grant on dog fouling awareness projects.