Aquaculture Licences

Ceisteanna (564)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Ceist:

564. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding the independent aquaculture licensing review group; if he will report on the recommendations being considered; when the review will be complete; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26734/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

In 2016, I commissioned the Independent Review of Aquaculture Licensing and the Report of the Group was submitted in May 2017.

The Review Group carried out a detailed examination of the existing aquaculture licensing process, undertook comprehensive stakeholder consultation and looked at comparative national and international consent systems to determine best practice for managing a complex licensing process in a transparent, environmentally appropriate and legally robust manner. The group’s report is published and available to view on my Department’s website.

Since receiving the report of the review group, my Department has engaged in detailed consideration of the recommendations set out in the report with a view to their implementation, having regard to the legislative, environmental, technical and public interest issues that arise. My Department has also engaged closely with industry representatives and relevant State agencies.

As all industry stakeholders and the EU Commission have, for different reasons, identified the elimination of the licensing backlog as the overriding priority in the reform of the licensing system, my Department’s response has focused on this issue while continuing to have regard to the other recommendations in the report. It should also be noted that the elimination of the licensing backlog will have an immediate beneficial effect on every individual aquaculture operator.

Fur Farming

Ceisteanna (565)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

565. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will meet with a person (details supplied) to discuss mink farming; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26796/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I will be glad to meet with representatives of the mink farming industry at the earliest opportunity.

Live Exports

Ceisteanna (566)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

566. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will address a matter concerning animal welfare raised in correspondence by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26803/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Live exports are a very important component of Ireland’s livestock industry and provide essential competition in the beef market place.

In view of this fact, and due to the nature of the shipping routes from this island, my Department implements very high standards in respect of the welfare of animals we export. EU Council Regulation (EC) No. 1/2005 on animal transport provides that stricter rules may be applied by member states than those set down at EU level. The Deputy should be aware that my Department has availed of this provision and, therefore, the current Irish legislation, made possible by powers conferred under section 36 of the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, sets higher standards relating to the approval of ships for livestock transport than those which apply generally in the EU. Indeed, our legislation is recognised by the EU Commission as being amongst the most effective and stringent in force as regards transport by sea.

All animals are inspected and must be certified as regards health status and fitness for travel and cattle on board a livestock ship departing from Ireland. In addition, due regard must be taken to weather conditions prior to sailings and these measures contribute to maintaining Ireland’s reputation as an exporter of livestock of high health status.

With a view to improving slaughter and transport standards in third countries, my Department, along with our EU partners, works closely with the World Organisation for Animal Health, OIE. The OIE is the intergovernmental organisation responsible for improving animal health and welfare worldwide. Ireland has once again proved its ongoing commitment to animal welfare by recently approving additional OIE multi-annual financial assistance to support its activities to enhance animal welfare worldwide.

The preservation of Ireland’s animal health status and the international reputation of veterinary certification services and the existence and application of a regulatory framework ensures that high standards and welfare considerations are taken into account during transport and are components essential to safeguarding the live export trade.

The Deputy can be assured that my Department will continue to promote and maintain an environment in which live exports can continue in both an economic and sustainable manner, with strong emphasis on the welfare of all animals being exported.

GLAS Eligibility

Ceisteanna (567)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

567. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the action being taken to open the GLAS scheme to farmers that completed their AEOS contracts in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26834/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) opened in three tranches commencing in 2015 following the closure of the Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS). All AEOS participants were given the option of joining the GLAS scheme should they have wished to do so. The GLAS scheme is now fully subscribed with GLAS 3 participants in their third year of participation in the five year GLAS scheme and the overall RDP budget is on track to be fully spent.

Agri-environment policy is included in the CAP reform negotiations currently under way and any future schemes will be dependent on the outcome of these negotiations.

Trade Agreements

Ceisteanna (568)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

568. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the potential impact on the beef sector has been assessed for agreements that may arise from the Mercosur trade talks; the details of impact assessments or research that has been carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26835/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Ireland's position in the EU-Mercosur negotiations has been consistent and well-known. We have strenuously opposed any agreement that would have negative consequences for the Irish and EU agriculture sectors, particularly the beef sector.

The results of the 2011 EU Commission Impact Assessment confirmed that, under all scenarios, there would be significant losses in the agriculture sector, particularly the beef sector in Ireland.

In November 2016, the European Commission carried out an analysis of the potential cumulative impact of twelve current and pending trade deals, including EU-Mercosur. The study showed particular vulnerabilities for the beef sector, which under specific scenarios could see EU beef imports increase very significantly, with a corresponding destabilising impact on the EU beef market.

I will continue to press for a balanced deal that safeguards our beef sector. I will continue to place particular emphasis on the EU’s own cumulative impact assessments of trade deals on agriculture and the potential impact of Brexit on an already delicately balanced EU beef market.

I have recently written to Commissioner Hogan expressing my deep concern about the potential impact of any concessions on beef on the sector in Ireland and the Taoiseach and the Minister, Deputy Humphreys, have also written to their counterparts in the Commission.

Beef Data and Genomics Programme

Ceisteanna (569)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

569. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason an average of 21 participants per week have dropped out of the beef data genomics programme during the first four months of 2019 with unclaimed funding rising to €9 million per year; his views on whether the strict conditions are proving prohibitive and unattractive for farmers that are leaving the scheme in such large numbers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26887/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

BDGP I and BDGP II commenced in 2015 and 2017 respectively, and both will run for six years. They represent a significant commitment for participating farmers over the duration of the programmes, and it is inevitable that some participants will seek to withdraw at some stage for a variety of reasons.

The Deputy should be aware that the number of withdrawal requests received over the first six months of 2019 is 80, which equates to some three participants each week.

A significant proportion of withdrawals each year are due to reasons such as ill health, and in such cases, Force Majeure, as provided for by EU Regulations and in the Terms and Conditions of the Programmes, may be applied with no recoupment of monies paid. However, in a number of cases annually, withdrawals are due to other reasons that will require any monies paid over the course of the programme to be repaid in accordance with the regulations.

Following supplementary payments that were made recently for 2018, payments totalling €42.8M have been made to 23,483 participants which represents 96% of those still active in the BDGP programmes.

Trade Agreements

Ceisteanna (570)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

570. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if beef from the United States of America (details supplied) will be hormone free; the terms of the new agreement between Europe and the United States of America; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26917/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

In 2009, the European Union and the United States concluded an agreement, revised in 2014, which provided for an interim solution to their long-standing WTO dispute regarding the use of certain growth-promoting hormones in beef production. Under the agreement, a 45,000-tonnes quota of non-hormone produced beef is open by the EU to qualifying suppliers, which include the United States.

Recently, based on an EU Council mandate, the Commission has reached an agreement in principle with the US and other substantial supplying countries that 35,000t of this quota will be allocated to the US, phased over a seven-year period, with the remaining amount left available for all other exporters.

The European Commission has assured member States that the agreement will not change the overall volume, quality or safety of the beef imported into the EU, which will remain in compliance with EU standards.

GLAS Payments

Ceisteanna (571)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

571. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when 2018 GLAS payments will issue to a person (details supplied). [26919/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named was approved into GLAS 1 with a contract commencement date of 1 October 2015 and has received all payments in respect of 2015, 2016 and 2017.

An issue arose in relation to the Farmland Habitat (Private Natura) action which has delayed the 2018 payment. GLAS officials are working on this issue and expect it will be resolved shortly.

Once this application clears the pre-payment validations, the outstanding 2018 payments will be processed.

Renewable Energy Incentives

Ceisteanna (572, 573, 574)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

572. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the timeline to increase renewable energy generation by contracting through the RESS scheme or another method; and the amount of renewable energy he plans to produce in each year of the NDP. [26087/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

573. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the basis on which contracting the RESS scheme is expected to create savings in the construction of renewable energy generating infrastructure as opposed to the State building this infrastructure directly; and the projected savings targets in year by year and gross totals in tabular form. [26088/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

574. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the State will own all or any renewable energy generating capital infrastructure contracted through the RESS scheme. [26089/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 572 to 574, inclusive, together.

Last week I launched the Climate Action Plan which includes a suite of actions to decarbonise the electricity sector and boost the quantity of renewable generation in order to meet our target of 70% of demand from renewable sources by 2030. The plan also creates a clear pathway to meeting our 2050 objectives and is available on my Department’s website: www.dccae.gov.ie.

In order to deliver on the ambition set out in the Climate Plan, my Department is developing the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS). The RESS will be characterised by a series of renewable electricity auctions, aligned with the ambition set out in the Climate Action Plan and the final National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) which is due to be submitted to the European Commission by the end of 2019. The ultimate auction timetable and volumes to be procured in any given year will be determined by a combination of the analysis carried out as part of the NECP, as well as an assessment of the supply pipeline of eligible projects to ensure competitive outcomes for consumers.

Furthermore, it is my intention that corporate contracting of renewable energy sources (Power Purchase Agreements or PPAs) will provide 15% of the required generation to meet Ireland's 2030 renewable electricity target. Together, the RESS and Corporate PPAs will provide a route to market for the delivery of indicative volumes set out in the Plan of 3.5 GW of offshore renewable generation and up to 1.5 GW of solar and 8.2 GW of onshore wind by 2030.

In Ireland, the electricity generation market is liberalised and open to both state owned and private enterprises to compete in line with the requirements of the EU internal energy market. Similarly, the awarding of support for renewable generation under the RESS will be through a competitive auction based framework where state owned and private enterprises will compete to deliver projects at the lowest cost to consumers. The RESS is subject to EU State Aid approval, with the qualification process for the first auction expected to begin in Q4 2019.

Climate Change Policy

Ceisteanna (575, 586, 594, 608)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

575. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the estimated full cost of implementing the Climate Action Plan 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26316/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

586. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the estimated full cost of implementing the Climate Action Plan 2019; the cost per year until the end of the plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26317/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

594. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the estimated cost of the Climate Action Plan 2019; the extent to which the spending plans are already accounted for in other plans such as the National Development Plan 2018-2027; the additional cost arising from the Climate Action Plan 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26462/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

608. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will report on the Climate Action Plan 2019 which was launched on 17 June 2019. [26558/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 575, 586, 594 and 608 together.

I published the Government's Climate Action Plan on Monday 17 June. The plan sets out, for the first time, how Ireland can reach its 2030 targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also put Ireland on the right trajectory towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The step-up in ambition in each of the sectors covered by the plan will require investment across the entire economy. Overall, through the mix of technologies and measures identified, the plan sets out the pathway that represents the least-cost burden to the economy as a whole. A significant portion of the technologies and measures set out in the plan will result also in net lifetime cost savings to the economy as a whole.

In terms of costs to the Exchequer and other public funding, the plan will be funded through Project Ireland 2040 which provides €30 billion for low carbon and sustainable mobility investments in the period to 2027.

Many of the actions in the plan do not require public funding. The actions contained in this plan fall broadly into four categories:

- public funding provided in the annual estimates process and in Project Ireland 2040

- measures such as setting a long-term trajectory for the carbon tax, in order to change long-term behaviour and decisions to encourage investment in more sustainable choices

- new regulations to end certain practices (e.g. phasing out oil and gas boilers in homes or introducing low emission zones in cities)

- actions to promote public and community engagement and participation in reducing our emissions.

For the first time, a decarbonisation target has been set for each sector. Each Government Department must now determine the optimum approach to utilising the funding available to it to support the policies necessary to meet the targets proposed for each sector. The exact costs will be determined from the detailed policy design work which will consist of a mix of regulations, taxes, and subsidies which the Government may choose to deploy to achieve the target abatement range in each sector.

It should also be noted that there would also be a very significant cost to the Exchequer for not implementing any policies to achieve compliance with our 2030 targets, which would also lock Ireland into a high carbon trajectory that would be unsustainable in the long-run.

Failure to implement these policies to meet our legally binding EU targets could result in a cost to the Exchequer of up to €1.75 billion over the next decade as well as locking Ireland into a future high carbon trajectory.

Waste Disposal Charges

Ceisteanna (576, 577, 578)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

576. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 422 of 5 December 2017, the status of the proposed introduction of a waste compensation scheme for persons with high medical needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26724/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mick Barry

Ceist:

577. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if consideration will be given to introducing a service for the collection of medical related domestic waste such as incontinence pads particularly in view of increases in domestic waste collection charges [26851/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mick Barry

Ceist:

578. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the commitment to provide financial assistance to those that have to dispose of incontinence pads in their domestic waste can be honoured. [26886/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 576 to 578, inclusive, together.

Since mid-2017, a range of charging options have been operated, which encourage householders to reduce and separate their waste, and provides flexibility to waste collectors to develop various service-price offerings that suit different household circumstances. Mandatory per kilogramme pay by weight charging was not introduced. A Price Monitoring Group, PMG, was established in mid-2017 to monitor the on-going cost of residential waste collection to homeowners across Ireland as the ‘flat-rate structure’ was being phased out. While fluctuations in prices and service offerings have been observed, the overall trend has been relative price stability.

My Department has engaged with relevant stakeholders, including representative organisations and public bodies, in an effort to see how best to provide a financial support to persons with long-term incontinence with respect to the disposal of medical incontinence wear.

Notwithstanding the complex issues at play, which are understandable given the sensitive nature of the medical data in question, I would like assure the Deputies that I continue to be committed to addressing this issue. There are currently no plans to introduce a service for the separate collection of medical related household waste.

Waste Disposal

Ceisteanna (579)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

579. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason Meath County Council has not complied with the waste management landfill regulations or taken sanction against those responsible for an unauthorised landfill (details supplied). [26085/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Issues concerning the enforcement of waste legislation are statutory matters for local authorities or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as appropriate, who both have significant powers under waste regulations to secure compliance by waste operators. The role of my Department is to provide a comprehensive legislative and waste policy framework through which the enforcement authorities operate.

Under section 60(3) of the Waste Management Act 1996, as Minister, I am precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to the performance by the agency or a local authority, in particular circumstances, of a statutory function vested in it.

The primary objective of local authorities in terms of waste enforcement is to achieve regulatory compliance in relation to waste activities in the local authority’s functional area. It is a matter for each individual local authority in the first instance to deal with any instances of illegal disposal of waste in their area and to take the appropriate enforcement action. Local authorities have significant powers available to them under the Waste Management Act, to enable them to tackle illegal waste activity. This includes the power to investigate complaints, prosecute offences, apply to the Courts for the imposition of fines, direct a holder of waste to dispose of it in a certain way within a specific timeframe and monitor and inspect waste holding, recovery and disposal facilities.

The Environmental Protection Agency carries out its waste enforcement functions through the Office of Environmental Enforcement (OEE). The OEE has a mandate to deliver enhanced environmental compliance through enforcement of EPA licences issued to waste, industrial and other activities. It also exercises a supervisory role in respect of the environmental protection activities of local authorities. In this regard, the OEE acts as a resource to members of the public who have exhausted all other avenues of complaint.

With respect to this particular site, it is my understanding that the OEE has a Public Authority Enforcement file open in respect of waste deposited on these lands and that this file remains under active consideration.

Better Energy Homes Scheme Expenditure

Ceisteanna (580)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

580. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to increase investment in the SEAI in order to achieve almost 30% emissions reduction targets for 2030. [26090/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The government recently approved and published the Climate Action Plan which sets out how we will meet our 2030 emissions targets and put us on the right trajectory to reach net zero emissions by 2050. This includes highly ambitious targets across the public and enterprise sectors as well as the built environment.

The Climate Action Plan sets out the actions which we will need to take in order to deliver on these targets. This includes commitments related to the introduction of new delivery models to minimise the cost of retrofits as well as the further development and optimisation of Government funding and grant schemes to drive demand for retrofits and deliver value for money. The Climate Action Plan will be updated annually.

The SEAI will have a key role to play in many of the measures and initiatives set out in the plan.

The government has significantly increased the level of resources allocated to the SEAI in recent years both in terms of capital allocation to expand the number and scale of supports and schemes available – and, importantly, to expand their human resources. This has enabled the Authority to grow its expertise and add new functions such as the organisation’s Behavioural Economics Unit. These developments will make a significant contribution to the achievement of national energy efficiency and carbon reduction goals.

Decisions in relation to any additional resource allocations for the SEAI from 2020 will be made in the context of the ambitious programme of measures set out in the Climate Action Plan, the 2020 Estimates process and the c.€5 billion funding identified in Project Ireland 2040 to support energy efficiency and related measures in the period 2018-2027.

Flood Relief Schemes

Ceisteanna (581)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

581. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary question No. 509 of 21 May 2019, if he is satisfied with the involvement of Inland Fisheries Ireland instream experts in a design capacity in relation to the Bandon flood relief scheme. [26146/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

From the perspective of its statutory remit, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) consulted with Byrne Looby Partners, agents for the Office of Public Works (OPW), who have responsibility for the Bandon Flood Relief Scheme.

This consultation was in relation to certain aspects of the Scheme during the design stage and ensured that vital remedial works required to recreate thalwegs, pools and other fisheries features, that would be impacted by the dredging works, were incorporated into the plan.

IFI and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government reviewed and commented on plans for the fish pass at the Weir in Bandon, designed by Fishway Engineering Ltd on behalf of Byrne Looby Partners for the OPW.

I am satisfied that, In accordance with its statutory remit, IFI has fully engaged with all parties concerned throughout the execution of the scheme, ongoing since 2016.

Inland Fisheries Ireland

Ceisteanna (582)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

582. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the level of stakeholder attendance at the recent Inland Fisheries Ireland funding workshops which were held nationally; and the number of expression of interest forms returned. [26147/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I am advised by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) that following the opening of the funding application system for the National Strategy for Angling Development to Expressions of Interest, funding workshops were held in nine venues around the country to raise awareness of the funds available, how to apply for funding using the application SmartSimple system and the types of projects that were eligible for funding.

The workshops were advertised on Social Media, in print media, on local radio, on the IFI website and through the SmartSimple system. Angling clubs were also contacted by IFI staff to encourage them to attend if they had an idea for a project that could be funded by the IFI.

At these workshops Project Management Office (PMO) and River Basin District (RBD) staff were present to answer questions and to assist potential applicants in registering on the SmartSimple funding system. In total 105 people attended the workshops.

As of 13 June, 193 Expressions of interest have been made for funding for projects withy an investment value of €2.5 million.

The Expressions of Interest process remains open.

Inland Fisheries Ireland

Ceisteanna (583)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

583. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a commitment was given by Inland Fisheries Ireland to undertake a review of the deficiency of instream design skillset among the consultant instream panel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26148/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The launch of the National Strategy for Angling Development, along with the ongoing funding available through the Salmon and Sea Trout Conservation Fund and Midland Fisheries Fund and significant ongoing interest in ensuring fisheries habitats are conserved and angling opportunities sustainably developed, has led to increased need to ensure appropriately qualified and experienced professionals are available to undertake increasing levels of work in line with legislative requirements.

Using a Multi Supplier Framework Agreement, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has set up a panel of suitably qualified providers that are available to undertake work across three areas outlined below. This panel has already been reviewed by IFI and is available for use by both IFI as well as stakeholders developing their own fisheries projects, as follows:

Panel 1 Environmental Experts

- Developing catchment based restoration plans based on environmental need.

- Undertaking associated screenings/scoping for environmental impact assessments, screenings/scoping for appropriate assessments/Natura impact assessments, appropriate assessments/ Natura impact statements and environmental impact statements.

- Undertaking reports and surveys including but not limited to topographical surveys, hydrological reports, geomorphological surveys, architectural heritage reports, archaeological reports etc. as required for each project.

Panel 2 Environmental Engineering Specialists

- Developing proposals and securing planning permission for fisheries development projects, including both instream habitat enhancement and angling access works.

- Developing, assessing and recommending design works options based on cost, maintenance, disturbance and other structural and ecological implications.

- Attending relevant public meetings to discuss and present development options to the general public, councils and interested parties as required.

- Overseeing and Monitoring projects during the works stage.

- Project Supervisor for the Design Process Role to the satisfaction of Inland Fisheries Ireland.

- Procure services of third party contractors as required on behalf of Inland Fisheries Ireland.

Panel 3 Construction Contractors, with instream and fisheries experience

- Delivering Construction Drawings for fisheries projects.

- QS breakdown of costs associated with development.

- Construction works for fisheries projects, both in stream and on the bank/shore.

- Sign Off on the completion of projects.

IFI does not restrict the use of experts by stakeholders to those within the Consultant Panel. However, non-panel members must have appropriate professional indemnity insurance. All outputs from the various panels or non-panel members are reviewed by IFI and/or an independent expert.

Should the Deputy have any further specific concerns, I would be happy to ask IFI to contact him.

Better Energy Homes Scheme

Ceisteanna (584)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

584. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the review of the better energy warmer homes scheme scheduled for mid-2019, will take place (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26246/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme is funded by my Department and administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households vulnerable to energy poverty. To date over 135,000 homes have received free upgrades under the scheme, leaving the occupants better able to afford to heat their homes to an adequate level.

The aim of the scheme is to deliver a range of energy efficiency measures in a way which represents the best possible use of Exchequer funding, focusing eligibility to those in receipt of certain payments from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, such as the Fuel Allowance, and limiting each home to one visit for an energy efficiency upgrade. Last year, the scheme was expanded. Subject to survey by SEAI and assessment of potential for improved energy performance, the scheme can, in certain circumstances, include internal or external wall insulation. This will permit the upgrade of more property types such as homes with solid walls, and also increase the energy savings and emissions reductions that the scheme can achieve and will also enable future fuel switching.

Demand for the scheme is extremely high, reflecting the shift to deeper measures, and is impacted by longer delivery times associated with these type of works and the delivery capacity of SEAI’s contractor panel.

My Department is currently working with the SEAI to determine whether changes to the scheme are required. It is expected that this review will be completed in the coming months.

Climate Change Policy

Question No. 586 answered with Question No. 575.

Ceisteanna (585)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

585. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the way in which marine ecosystems, including the growth and carbon storage capacity of kelp forests, informed the Climate Action Plan 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26315/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

As part of the Climate Action Plan, the government will continue to support the development of the blue bio-economy through such projects as the Clean Oceans Initiative, and support the realisation of the value-add from processed marine biological resources. There is also a specific action in the Plan relating to the work of the National Bioeconomy Implementation Group.

It is also important to recall that the Plan will be monitored quarterly and updated annually, with a Climate Action Plan 2020 to be published in 2020. This will ensure that this Plan is a living document, with new actions being added each year to reflect on-going research and technological developments.

I am informed that at present the EPA has no specific research work being undertaken on the role of kelp in carbon sequestration. However, a recent 2018 technical research report by the EPA, Valuing Ireland’s Coastal, Marine and Estuarine Ecosystem Services, presents the data and methods used to estimate the value of a number of marine, coastal and estuarine ecosystem service benefits.

I understand that similarly, the Marine Institute is not directly involved in research on the role of kelp in carbon sequestration. The institute has seaweed research underway that is focused on the chemical constituents within certain species of seaweed, in particular, to examine arsenic speciation and other metals. They also have proposals under preparation, approved with funding from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, that are intended to examine methodologies of assessing total biomass of seaweed. This latter work should inform the role of seaweed in carbon storage, though it is not the primary focus of the work proposed and approved at present.

Finally, some current research projects which are examining the issue of seaweed and carbon sequestration include the GeniALG H2020 research project which is examining marine macro-algae as a means of carbon capture/sequestration, and the School of Natural Sciences in NUI Galway which is doing some related work on Ulva green macro-algae.

Question No. 586 answered with Question No. 575.

Better Energy Homes Scheme

Ceisteanna (587)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

587. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the next round of home retrofit insulation grants will be announced through the SEAI; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26323/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Better Energy Programme is funded by my Department and operated by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The Programme consists of three main schemes: Homes, Warmer Homes; and Communities. These schemes are supplemented by two pilot schemes exploring the multiple benefits of energy efficiency and the challenges of moving to deeper retrofit: the Warmth and Wellbeing Scheme; and the Deep Retrofit Pilot.

I have allocated €85 million to these schemes in 2019.

The recently published Climate Action Plan includes ambitious targets of 500,000 retrofits as well as the installation of 400,000 heat pumps in existing homes. The Plan commits government to developing a new retrofitting delivery model, which will group retrofits together to achieve economies of scale, leverage private finance, and ensure easy pay-back methods. The savings on electricity bills from using less energy can help fund this, while homes will be warmer and produce less emissions. An area based retrofit programme would seek to capitalise on critical mass, leveraging economies of scale that would benefit both householders and the supply chain. This type of programme would focus on designated areas in both rural and urban environments and could be designed and delivered to include local authorities, approved housing bodies or other strategic delivery partners. It would also take account of the priorities to achieve greater depth of retrofit and the targeted replacement of oil boilers with renewable alternatives.

Decisions in relation to funding allocations for residential retrofit in 2020 and future years will be made in the context of the ambitious programme of building energy efficiency upgrades set out in the Climate Action Plan, the annual Estimates processes and the €3.7 billion funding identified in Project Ireland 2040 to support residential energy efficiency upgrades and the installation of heat pumps and solar PV for the period 2018-2027.

Renewable Energy Projects

Ceisteanna (588)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

588. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to consider the use of agricultural biomethane gas plants similar to those in used in Europe; the role such plants could play for small beef producers; the estimated tariffs that will be put in place to make such plants sustainable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26362/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Government's Climate Action Plan, published on 17 June, sets out over 180 actions to address the issue of climate disruption. These actions include setting a target level of energy to be supplied by biomethane grid injection in 2030 and holding a public consultation later this year in on the potential to support biomethane use in the transport sector through the Biofuels Obligation Scheme.

Biogas produced from anaerobic digestion has the potential to play an important role in Ireland's transition to a low carbon future. In addition to helping decarbonise the heat, transport and electricity sectors by replacing fossil fuels, the production of biogas can reduce emissions in the agriculture and waste sectors. Diverting wastes, such as slurries, to biogas production avoids the significant levels of greenhouse gases these waste streams would otherwise emit.

Anaerobic digestion plants can utilise a wide variety of feedstocks, including agricultural waste, in order to produce biogas (a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide). This biogas can be combusted in boilers to produce heat, or in combined heat and power plants to produce both heat and electricity. Alternatively, the biogas can be upgraded by removing the carbon dioxide to produce biomethane which can be injected into the existing gas grid.

Biomethane can also be utilised in the transport sector. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) can be deployed for all types of road transport vehicles but is particularly suited to larger vehicles such as buses, vans and trucks and therefore represents a viable alternative to diesel for the freight sector.

The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) will support farms and businesses to adopt renewable heating systems, including biogas heating systems. The SSRH has been developed to financially support the adoption of renewable heating systems by agricultural, commercial, industrial, 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 rollout of the SSRH for the period of up to 2027.

Earlier this month, I opened the second phase of the SSRH, an operational support for biomass boilers and anaerobic digestion heating systems for applications. Details of this scheme including the tariffs that apply are available on the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland's website at the following link https://www.seai.ie/sustainable-solutions/support-scheme-renewable-/.

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (589)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

589. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a community facility (details supplied) in County Donegal can connect to fibre broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26374/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The 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 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.

The Government Decision of 7 May 2019 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to the Bidder. This award is subject to contract close, including 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.

In the first year of this roll out, the Bidder will deploy approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) across all counties. It is anticipated that 10 of these BCPs will be deployed in Donegal. 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. A deployment plan will be made available by the bidder once the contract is signed.

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