Electric Vehicles

Ceisteanna (40, 53)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

40. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when he plans to deliver a definitive timeframe for the delivery of electric change points to accommodate the large numbers moving from diesel and petrol to electrified vehicles over the next decade in view of the Climate Action Plan 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28336/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

53. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans for local authorities to introduce charging points for electric vehicles on their properties nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28554/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 40 and 53 together.

The Climate Action Plan sets out a range of actions to support the delivery of charging infrastructure. These actions include developing the charging network to stay sufficiently ahead of demand and ensuring our regulatory regime for buildings requires the installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

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. 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. 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 commence this year and be fully completed by 2022.

My Department is also in the process of designing a scheme to provide support to local authorities for the installation of on-street charge points which I expect to be in place later this year.

Energy Usage

Ceisteanna (41)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

41. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he is monitoring the high usage of electricity at electronic data centres; the levels of energy required; the projected additional levels of power needed by this sector to 2030; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28333/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Data centres are a key contributor to electricity demand growth in Ireland. While data centres have until recently accounted for less than 2% of Ireland’s total electricity demand, EirGrid, in their Generation Capacity Statement 2018-2027, project that demand from data centres could account for 31% of all demand by 2027. Data centres consume very large amounts of energy and have a flat, predictable demand profile meaning that they use the same amount of electricity throughout the day and night and therefore require a range of generation technologies to meet their demand. Given the quantum of electricity required to power data centres, it is important that renewable projects are developed to meet the demand for additional renewable electricity generation and the costs of this are minimised for consumers. The Government Statement on the role of data centres in Ireland's Enterprise Strategy, 2018 recognises that a plan-led approach is needed to develop a range of measures to promote regional options for data centre investment, minimising the need for additional grid infrastructure.

Significant increases in volumes of generation capacity, including from renewable energy sources, will be required to meet Ireland’s increasing electricity demand including from data centres. The recently launched Climate Action Plan sets out a number of actions to ensure that data centres are accommodated in a sustainable manner. Corporate power purchasing of renewable energy by large energy users such as data centres will be critical to supplying data centre demand as will ensuring that large demand connections are regionally balanced to minimise grid reinforcements.

Electric Vehicles

Ceisteanna (42, 52)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

42. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the list of the location of e-car fast chargers and the implementation timeline approved under the climate action fund will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28576/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

52. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the number and location of e-car fast chargers which will be provided under the climate action fund will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28577/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 42 and 52 together.

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.

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 commence this year and be fully completed by 2022.

Determining the location of chargers is a key element of the project and will be an on-going process as the project develops. ESB ecars will identify the most appropriate locations for the chargers to be sited using a range of criteria. This will include using the latest software mapping techniques, taking account of information on current charge point usage, traffic volume, accessibility, amenities and grid capacity. A provisional map of the planned network, showing indicative locations, was developed by ESB ecars and has been published on my Department’s website.

Climate Change Adaptation Plans

Ceisteanna (43, 46)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

43. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the annual cost for each action listed in the Climate Action Plan 2019; the cost of enabling infrastructure; the breakdown of costs to be met from Exchequer and non-Exchequer funds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28526/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

46. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on the evaluation in a report (details supplied) which concludes that Ireland is the second worst performing EU member state in tackling climate change and that Ireland may face annual non-compliance costs of up to €0.5 billion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28334/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 43 and 46 together.

I published the Government's Climate Action Plan on 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. We have a great window of opportunity to reverse this trend and secure a healthy more resilient future for the country, It means changing the way we heat our homes, the way we travel and the way we power the country.

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.

In relation to the costs of purchasing carbon credits for compliance with Ireland’s emissions targets for the period 2013 to 2020 under the 2009 Effort Sharing Decision 406/2009/EC (ESD), my Department currently estimates the additional costs to be in the region of €6m to €13m, depending on the price and final quantity of allowances required. This is in addition to a total of €120 million that has already been spent as part of Ireland’s strategy to meet its targets under the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2008-2012), arising from which approximately 5,500,000 carbon credits are currently held by the State, which may be used for ESD compliance.

Recycling Policy

Ceisteanna (44)

Joe Carey

Ceist:

44. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of efforts to reduce single use plastics with specific reference to the EU directive on plastic products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28558/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

In the climate action plan we have committed to leading the way in reducing single use plastics are working at both national and EU level to tackle the problem. On 12 June 2019, the EU published its Directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. The Directive aims to deal with the top ten single use plastic items that cause 70% of marine litter. Ireland supported the ambition throughout negotiations and I am committed to transposing this Directive as soon as possible.

Work has already commenced on delivering key elements of the Directive. I have commissioned a national study into how we can deliver a 90% collection target for single use plastic drinks bottles in Ireland. The EPA has begun consultation with stakeholders in relation to the new reporting requirements contained in the Directive. My officials are commencing consultation with the industries to which new Extended Producer Responsibility obligations will apply. My Department are also considering measures for the reduction in consumption of single use plastic food containers and cups for beverages. The Government has also decided that Government Departments would not purchase single-use plastic cups, cutlery and drinking straws from 1 January 2019; this decision was extended to all public bodies and commercial state agencies under the aegis of Ministers with effect from 1 April 2019.

National Broadband Plan

Question No. 46 answered with Question No. 43.

Question No. 47 answered with Question No. 30.

Ceisteanna (45)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

45. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on whether the gap funding model for the national broadband plan led to an increase in costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28530/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

In July 2016 the Government selected the gap funded model as the optimum ownership model for the NBP State intervention. The Government considered two ownership models, having narrowed the options from five models. While this decision was informed by a high level cost modelling on both options, the NBP procurement was always structured so that the final cost would be determined through the dialogue process with bidders. At the point of the Government decision on the ownership model a number of factors were considered. Among these was the estimation that the gap funded model was likely to lead to a lower cost than the full concession model because of the strategic value bidders would place on the network and the incentive to continue investment and upgrade over the full 25 years of the contract and beyond.

Question No. 46 answered with Question No. 43.
Question No. 47 answered with Question No. 30.

Broadcasting Sector

Ceisteanna (48)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

48. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the measures he is considering in order to provide provisions of additional and more secure funding streams for public service broadcasting and other local media here. [28481/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

In light of the recommendations in the Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action & Environment on the Future Funding of Public Service Broadcasting, a Working Group was set up on foot of a Government decision last year to examine options for the reform of TV licence collection. I have recently received and am considering the report of the Working Group.

I secured additional funding for public service broadcasting in Budget 2019. TG4 will receive €36.2m Exchequer funding this year, comprising a combination of €34.2m current and €2m capital, which is an increase of €443,000 compared to 2018. Additional funding of €9.245m is being provided to RTE and the Broadcasting Fund, of which RTE will receive approximately €8.6m in 2019. The Broadcasting Fund, administered by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and financed from 7% of net licence fee receipts, supports the Sound and Vision and Archiving Schemes and benefits the broadcasting sector as a whole.

Renewable Energy Generation

Ceisteanna (49)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

49. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the specific measures that will be put in place under the first renewable electricity support scheme auction to ensure community participation and community benefit funding for all supported projects; and his plans to ensure community participation and benefits are provided as part of renewables projects delivered through corporate power purchase agreements. [28527/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Climate Action Plan contains a commitment to open up opportunity for community participation in renewable generation as well as community gain commitments. A cornerstone of the new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) will be the provision of pathways for increased community ownership, participation in and benefit from renewable electricity projects. The scheme will deliver capacity building supports for community-led projects, including financial, technical and legal assistance, along with community benefit obligations, for projects looking for support under RESS. The high level design mandates a Community Benefit Fund and Register standardised across the sector. The Community Benefit contribution is set at €2/MWh for all RES-E generation produced and seeking support via RESS auctions.

As part of the ongoing RESS detailed design work, which has included further engagement with community energy groups, my officials are exploring a variety of options to facilitate community-led projects within the first auction. My officials will continue to explore these options as the detailed design of RESS is progressed.

The implementation of RESS and the suite of measures for community participation are a key action in the recently published Climate Action Plan. The RESS scheme is one of the steps towards increasing the level of clean, renewable energy in Ireland and to mobilise local and community involvement in renewable energy projects

The final design of the scheme will be subject to state aid clearance from the EU Commission.

Under the current planning framework, renewable energy project developers are required to make contributions to the Local Authority Community Fund. In addition, the wind industry has committed to contributing to community benefit funds established under my Department’s Code of Practice for Wind Energy Development in Ireland - Guidelines for Community Engagement. In parallel with the new Community Framework to be delivered under the RESS, it is expected that projects delivered under corporate power purchase agreements will make community benefit contributions in line with the Guidelines, as well as meeting strengthened provisions for community benefit to be set out in the revised Wind Energy Guidelines.

Proposed Legislation

Ceisteanna (50)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

50. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the timeline for the introduction of legislation for a digital safety commissioner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28528/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

In early March, I announced that Government would address harmful online content through the development of new legislation, an Online Safety & Media Regulation Bill, which will also transpose the revised Audio Visual Media Services Directive. I launched a public consultation on these proposals which has now concluded. This Bill will establish, for the first time, a clear expectation for online platforms to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their users in relation to online content, especially in respect of children. It will provide for regulatory oversight of these measures through the establishment of a strong and robust Online Safety Commissioner. In preparing this Bill, I am conscious of the need to ensure an appropriate balance of fundamental rights including freedom of expression.

I want to thank all those who contributed to the public consultation on the legislative proposals, including NGOs, industry players, experts and member of the public. In total, 84 submissions have been received and these were published on 27 June on my Department's website. They have raised a number of complex policy and legal issues which we are currently examining and which will inform the development of the legislation. I am determined to advance the legislation at the earliest possible date.

Renewable Energy Generation

Question No. 52 answered with Question No. 42.

Question No. 53 answered with Question No. 40.

Ceisteanna (51)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

51. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has commissioned an analysis on the sustainability of the use of biomass material in co-fired power stations. [28482/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Decisions regarding the sourcing biomass would be operational matters for the power plant operators, Bord na Móna or ESB. However, I have been advised that Bord na Móna’s BioEnergy division sources sustainable biomass used at the Edenderry power station and that up to 80% of the biomass used in the plant is from domestic sources. However, in the event that all three of the electricity generating plants referred to co-fire peat with biomass, it is unlikely that there will be sufficient amounts of indigenous biomass to meet the demand. In addition to the three power stations, there is demand for biomass for use in industry and in residential heating, and the Government’s Support Scheme for Renewable Heat will also create a demand for biomass supplies in the coming years. Therefore international sources of biomass will be required.

Use of appropriate sustainability criteria will help to ensure that use of biomass does not have a detrimental effect on the world’s forests. EU-wide sustainability criteria have been introduced in the revised Renewable Energy Directive, which includes provisions to ensure that energy biomass will be required to emit significantly less carbon than the fossil fuel equivalent. This Directive excludes certain types of biomass from contributing to a member state’s renewable energy performance such as biomass from areas of high biodiversity, areas designated for nature protection purposes and areas designated for protection of rare, threatened or endangered ecosystems or species.

Furthermore, I am advised Bord na Mona sources sustainable biomass used at the Edenderry station, based on a set of sustainability principles, aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Question No. 52 answered with Question No. 42.
Question No. 53 answered with Question No. 40.

Internet Safety

Ceisteanna (54)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

54. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on the ease of access to pornography for children online; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28529/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Children's access to online pornography is a matter of serious concern, even where that content is not illegal. As stated by the Taoiseach in the Dáil recently, it is a matter of concern to all of us that many young people learn about sex through pornography, particularly as such material is not an accurate representation of what is healthy or appropriate behaviour. Exposure to such material at a young age is certainly inappropriate and potentially harmful.

The United Kingdom has proposed to introduce age verification requirements for commercial pornography providers, to be overseen by the British Office of Film Classification. This is a difficult area and there are many important concerns regarding data protection, privacy and proportionality.

The Government will engage with the UK on their proposals when they have been in operation for a period.

Climate Change Adaptation Plans

Ceisteanna (55, 60)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

55. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his attention has been drawn to an organisation (details supplied) and its recent report into alternative ways to achieve the climate mitigation target of 1.5 degrees limit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28431/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

60. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has engaged with an organisation (details supplied) and its response to the IPCC report and recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28432/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 55 and 60 together.

Ireland participates in UNFCCC negotiations in its capacity as a Party to the Convention, and also as a Member State of the European Union. Representatives of civil society, such as the organisation to which the Deputy refers, may attend meetings of the UNFCCC as observers to the negotiation process. While I have not engaged directly with this particular organisation, Ireland’s delegation to the UNFCCC regularly meets representatives of civil society, in particular organisations from Ireland, that attend the annual Conference of the Parties.

I note that the report, published by the organisation referred to, shares the conclusions of the IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5C, published in October 2018, on the urgency of ambitious action to tackle the challenges of climate change. Addressing climate change, whether through decarbonisation of our economy, or preparing to adapt to the impacts of climate change such as through low-risk land-sector approaches as highlighted in the report, is one of the most significant challenges of this century. The IPCC, through its reports, has confirmed the absolute urgency of achieving deep cuts in our greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades.

I recently published the Government’s Climate Action Plan 2019, which puts Ireland on a trajectory to meet our 2030 target for greenhouse gas emissions, and puts us on a pathway to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Plan reaffirms Ireland’s commitment to becoming a leader in responding to climate change and to supporting increased climate ambition at national, EU and international levels.

As land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) emissions will be integrated into the EU framework for compliance with national emissions targets from 2021, it is essential that Ireland has robust policies in place to manage emissions and enhance removals from relevant LULUCF sectoral categories. The Climate Action Plan, therefore, includes 34 individual actions to facilitate the development and implementation of policies to manage emissions and enhance removals from the Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use sectors.

Ireland’s new policy for international development, ‘A Better World’, which was published earlier this year by the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, also includes climate action as a core priority. By supporting solutions for those most affected by climate change, the new policy will seek to ensure the Ireland continues to champion the needs of those most vulnerable to climate change, especially those in the least developed and small islands states.

Climate Change Policy

Question No. 57 answered with Question No. 35.

Ceisteanna (56)

Joe Carey

Ceist:

56. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the way in which the Climate Action Plan 2019 will maintain a green image of agriculture here while meeting the national policy objective of carbon neutrality; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28559/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Climate Action Plan identifies the long-term challenge for the agriculture sector to meet the national policy objective, set out in the 2014 National Policy Position on Climate Action and Low Carbon Development, of an approach to carbon neutrality which does not compromise our capacity for sustainable food production.

The Plan notes that achieving this objective will involve greenhouse gas emissions reductions, but also increased emissions removals. Given the contribution of agriculture to overall national greenhouse gas emissions, achieving this objective will be a significant challenge facing Irish agriculture over the coming decades. In this context, the Plan separately commits to evaluating the changes which would be necessary in Ireland to achieve a net zero emissions target by 2050.

In the context of the period to 2030, the Plan commits the sector to delivering 16.5 - 18.5 Mt CO2 eq. cumulative abatement from agriculture as well as achieving 26.8 Mt CO2 eq abatement through Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry Actions over the period 2021 to 2030. To achieve these targets, the Plan sets out a range of actions to reduce emissions on farms, promote afforestation and diversification of land use, develop opportunities in the bio-economy and in the supply of substitutes for fossil fuels, promote better management of peatlands and soils, and develop clusters of best practice.

Implementation of these actions will, collectively, help to further underpin the environmental credentials of the Irish agriculture sector and better position it to meet the evolving expectations of both domestic and international markets. This, in turn, will help prepare the sector for longer-term restructuring and adaptation that will be required to meet our carbon neutrality objectives.

Question No. 57 answered with Question No. 35.

Housing Issues

Ceisteanna (58)

Joan Collins

Ceist:

58. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on a recent report (details supplied) that the capacity, condition and connectivity of housing here is of serious concern and that 600,000 persons are living in damp or rotting homes. [28582/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I welcome the publication of the Engineers Ireland review of housing and infrastructure in Ireland. While housing and housing standards are issues that fall under the remit of the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, a number of recommendations do have relevance for programmes and initiatives on which my department leads. Improving the energy efficiency of a home, in line with NSAI standards for retrofitting, can help to combat the problems associated with damp housing such as mould and rot. Upgrading the insulation of a damp house can also have significant benefits for the indoor air quality and health of the occupants.

My Department funds a number of grant schemes to help people to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Work carried out under these schemes must meet NSAI standards and be carried out by an SEAI registered contractor.

My Department is also working to improve the energy efficiency of our rental sector. These homes are more likely to be less energy efficient than owner occupied homes, and therefore more prone to the types of issues highlighted by the Deputy. A cross Departmental Advisory Group has been established to examine potential policy options and make recommendations to Government. A public consultation on this matter is currently in development and will be published later in 2019.

While I understand the report considers connectivity in a broad sense, in relation to broadband connectivity, the Government decision on 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.

Climate Change Adaptation Plans

Question No. 60 answered with Question No. 55.

Ceisteanna (59, 389)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

59. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the key elements of the Climate Action Plan 2019; and the consultation and rolling review of the actions of the plan which will ensure its successful implementation. [28563/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

389. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to implement the governance structures recommended in the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Action report. [25210/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 59 and 389 together.

I published the Government's Climate Action Plan on 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 Plan represents a significant step-up in ambition, with a target abatement range for each of the key sectors that contribute to Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions: Electricity, Enterprise, Built Environment, Transport, Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use, Waste and the Circular Economy, and the Public Sector. The analysis set out in the Plan shows that it is not only technically feasible to meet our 2030 EU targets, but that it is also economically achievable, with the majority of necessary abatement measures being, over their life-time, either cost-neutral or resulting in net savings to society.

The Plan also sets out new governance arrangements that will be put in place to provide effective oversight of implementation of the Plan, and which also align with the relevant recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action.

These include:

- a Climate Action Delivery Board jointly chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, holding individual Departments and agencies to account

- the publication of a quarterly report on the implementation of actions set out in the Plan

- a statutory basis for establishing carbon budgets with clear sectoral targets

- a strengthened Climate Action Council

- a strengthened Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action to hold the Government to account on the implementation of climate policy

The Climate Action Plan 2019 also proposes enhanced engagement with citizens and communities through more coherent mobilisation of existing structures and initiatives to inform, engage, motivate, and empower individuals and communities to take climate action. The Plan recognises that individuals and communities will be at the heart of the low-carbon transition, and will seek to promote positive choices that will ultimately bring long-term benefits to communities across Ireland.

Furthermore, recognising that the pace of technological, scientific, societal and economic changes, the Plan will be updated every 12 months, underpinned by consultation with key stakeholders.

In this context, I am currently undertaking a series of nationwide consultative meetings, to explain the approach, hear views and take on ideas from members of the public on the implementation of the Climate Action Plan. The first of these events took place in University College Cork on 21 June and a second event will take place this coming Friday in Thurles, County Tipperary. Further meetings are being planned for Galway, the Midlands, Dublin and Donegal before the end of July.

Question No. 60 answered with Question No. 55.

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (61)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

61. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the roll-out of the Eir contract with his Department will be completed; the number of premises expected to be passed under this contract; the number passed to date; the method by which in future it is planned to obtain information on the number of premises that have a connection to high speed broadband; his plans to request the CSO to survey this information as part of the household surveys carried out by it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28299/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

In accordance with the April 2017 Commitment Agreement signed between eir and my Department, my officials engage regularly with eir in relation to its ongoing rural fibre deployment of high speed broadband to 300,000 premises. According to Quarter 1 2019 figures verified by my Department, the company has passed 250,965 premises as part of this deployment. According to information provided by eir to my Department, eir plans to complete the vast majority of the deployment by mid-2019.

While the CSO provide information on Internet usage through the Quarterly Household Survey a further useful source of information can be found in ComReg's quarterly key data reports which highlight trends in the telecommunications industry. This includes the number of subscriptions in Ireland to high speed broadband services by speed (e.g. download speeds of 30 megabits per second) and by platform (fibre, cable, VDSL etc.). The latest report can be found in the following link: https://www.comreg.ie/publication/quarterly-key-data-report-q1-2019/

Wind Energy Generation

Ceisteanna (62)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

62. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the way in which he can he progress the establishment of offshore wind farms to complement the grid such as the success of onshore wind farms and other renewable forms of energy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28335/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Ireland has some of the best offshore renewable energy resources in Europe at 900,000 square kilometres. Because of Ireland’s location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. There is enormous potential for Ireland to utilise these resources to generate carbon free renewable electricity.

The Climate Action Plan launched recently sets out the necessary policy measures to help meet our 2030 targets, cut our reliance on fossil fuels and put Ireland on a clear pathway to meeting our 2050 objectives. A key component of this will be the development of Offshore wind.

The Climate Action Plan contains specific actions to develop Offshore Wind with the aim of connecting at least 3.5GW by 2030.

In order to realise Ireland’s ambition for large-scale development of offshore wind, significant progress is required on the three key pillars:

- Development management process

- Grid development model

- Route to market

The enduring consenting model/development management process will fall under the aegis of the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill and the National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) as well as a revised grid connection policy to be developed by the CRU.

To support the delivery of the national ambition to further decrease our dependence on foreign fossil fuels my Department is developing a new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) which will assist Ireland in meeting its renewable energy contributions out to 2030 and will be designed to achieve its targets in a cost competitive way.

The Climate Action Plan is available on my Department’s website.

My Department published the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP) in 2014 which set out policy for the sustainable development of our abundant offshore renewable energy resources. An interim review of the OREDP was published in May and is available on my Department’s website: www.dccae.gov.ie. The Offshore Renewable Energy Steering Group, which oversees the implementation of the OREDP is progressing the recommendations of the review and continuing the work of implementing the actions and enablers set out in the Plan.