Basic Payment Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (717)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

717. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of farmers who will receive 2017 basic payment scheme refunds under the financial discipline rule by county; and the value of these refunds by county. [31212/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

In the context of the annual budgetary procedure of the European Union, the financial discipline mechanism which is implemented by the Member States involves a monetary deduction (1.4% for the 2018 reduction) from some direct payments thereby creating a financial Crisis Reserve for the European Union.

The crisis reserve is intended to provide additional support for the agricultural sector in the case of major crises affecting agricultural production or distribution. In the event that the Crisis Reserve is not activated in the financial year, or it is not fully utilised, the balance not used is refunded to farmers in the subsequent financial year. 

The number of farmers and the amount paid to date per county for those cases that have received a financial discipline reimbursement with respect to deductions made the 2017 Basic Payment Scheme year in accordance with EU regulations is provided below.

Additional cases may become eligible for a reimbursement as ongoing processing of cases take place.  Any such cases will be paid when the next reimbursement with regards to the 2017 scheme year takes place.

County

No. of Farmers

Total Financial Discipline Reimbursement as of 09/07/19

CARLOW

1,377

€270,789

CAVAN

3,697

€354,261

CLARE

4,957

€488,800

CORK

10,845

€1,760,633

DONEGAL

5,902

€579,264

DUBLIN

490

€98,525

GALWAY

8,686

€816,378

KERRY

6,068

€700,249

KILDARE

1,667

€360,171

KILKENNY

2,908

€591,159

LAOIS

2,429

€429,352

LEITRIM

2,427

€186,616

LIMERICK

4,092

€550,719

LONGFORD

1,835

€194,835

LOUTH

1,170

€217,734

MAYO

8,087

€657,552

MEATH

2,845

€534,821

MONAGHAN

2,984

€275,307

OFFALY

2,472

€392,524

ROSCOMMON

4,435

€401,590

SLIGO

2,784

€231,085

TIPPERARY

5,874

€1,081,593

WATERFORD

2,011

€428,297

WESTMEATH

2,433

€360,484

WEXFORD

3,378

€672,874

WICKLOW

1,768

€328,118

Totals

97,621

€12,963,730

Bovine Disease Controls

Ceisteanna (718)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

718. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on increased farmers' costs from a programme (details supplied). [31213/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Following Government approval in May 2018, I established a TB Stakeholder Forum in September 2018 tasking it with bringing forward proposals consistent with the objective of eradicating bovine TB by 2030. The Terms of Reference for the Forum outlined that its deliberations should be in line with the principles from the National Farmed Animal Health Strategy:

- Working in Partnership;

- Acknowledging Roles and Responsibilities;

- Prevention is Better than Cure; and

- Reflecting Costs and Benefits 

It is estimated that the total annual net cost of the TB Programme is over €90 million a year of which €45 million is provided by the Exchequer, €35 million from farmers and €10 million from the EU. EU co-funding for the TB Programme peaked at €12.7 million in 2014 but has been falling steadily since then. The EU has capped its contribution at €8.3 million for 2019 marking a 35% reduction in 5 years. All indications suggest further significant cuts are likely requiring this shortfall in funding to be met by the State and farmers. With this is mind and reflecting the Costs and Benefits principle from the National Farmed Animal Health Strategy, I understand the Forum is proposing an independent review into the Costs and Benefits of the TB Programme to inform its future financing.

It is important to note the existing levels of support provided to Irish farmers when they experience a TB restriction. For every reactor (animal identified as infected with TB) taken from a farm, the herdowner is compensated for the open market value of that animal as if it was otherwise healthy. This is referred to as the On Farm Market Valuation Scheme.  The cost of this Scheme increased from €10.5 million in 2017 to €14.3 million (+36%) in 2018. Separately, Ireland operates a number of supplementary compensation schemes which are not replicated in other countries that have a bovine TB Programme. These schemes (Hardship Grant, Income Supplement and Depopulation Grant) are designed to assist farmers with additional costs and consequential losses associated with a TB restriction. Following increases in rates and changes to eligibility for these schemes in 2015, the cost of these schemes has increased by €1.7 million (80%) relative to 2015 when disease metrics have remained broadly stable over that period. 

Currently, approximately 4,000 farm families per annum suffer the hardship and stress associated with a TB outbreak and associated restrictions. Trends to date in 2019 suggest a similar number of farm families will be afflicted with a TB breakdown this year, marking the fifth consecutive year of stagnation in TB herd incidence.  

Clearly, eradicating the disease as quickly as possible will result in significant savings for all affected stakeholders and a reduction in associated stress for herdowners. As outlined above, the direct savings to farmers if the disease were eliminated is estimated at approximately €35 million per annum, and that is before any market or other impacts are factored in.  I am committed to supporting measures which can support this objective.

I understand that the TB Stakeholder Forum's most recent meeting was on June 25th and I expect that the Chairman will send me an Interim Report shortly. I look forward to considering its contents with a view to subsequently launching a TB 2030 Strategy.

TAMS Data

Ceisteanna (719)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

719. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the tranche 13 applications to the TAMS scheme by county; and the number of applications approved and not approved to date. [31214/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The total number of applications received under Tranche 13 of the TAMS II Scheme was 3,209. This was significantly higher than the average number of applications for previous tranches which is 1,800.

As a result, all cases were ranked on the basis of the marking system provided for under each measure and the lowest ranked 20% (just under 700 cases) were rolled over for consideration under Tranche 14 of the scheme.

Approvals have commenced to the cases selected and are continuing to issue on an ongoing basis as the examination of individual applications is finalised. The following table sets out the applications received by county and the approvals that have issued as of today's date.

County

Total Applications in Tranche 13

Total Approved to date in Tranche 13

Carlow

68

19

Cavan

140

32

Clare

97

42

Cork

473

182

Donegal

201

39

Dublin

22

9

Galway

233

68

Kerry

220

90

Kildare

109

35

Kilkenny

113

12

Laois

84

42

Leitrim

57

3

Limerick

142

70

Longford

38

21

Louth

31

17

Mayo

105

16

Meath

112

26

Monaghan

148

18

Offaly

74

47

Roscommon

101

24

Sligo

34

5

Tipperary

231

117

Waterford

85

34

Westmeath

61

22

Wexford

172

62

Wicklow

58

18

Total

3,209

1,070

Bovine Disease Controls

Ceisteanna (720)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

720. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position Ireland will take with respect to the new EU animal health law Delegated Act to impose 30 day pre-movement testing for TB on all herds that are more than six months tested; if he has consulted with farm organisations on this; and the likely increased costs that this regulation will cause. [31215/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

New bovine TB rules are in the Delegated Act (DA) on Part II of Regulation (EU) 2016/429 on surveillance, eradication programmes and free status of animal diseases. The original proposals from the EU Commission were quite severe and would have had a significant negative impact on Irish farmers. The original draft proposals included:

- 12 month minimum TB restriction period

- Prohibition on any inward/outward movement in restricted herds

- Derestriction only to occur following two clear tests 6 months apart

- Compulsory 30-day pre/post movement test in all cases

Over the past year, my officials have engaged intensively with Commission counterparts and experts from other Member States on this issue.  Ireland was successful in achieving considerable changes to the draft TB regulations to the benefit of Irish farmers in negotiations on all points but one. 

The current draft text retains the 30 day pre/post movement test requirement unless the herd and animal have been tested in the last 6 months.  My officials proposed the introduction of risk-based pre/post movement testing, supported by peer-reviewed scientific research undertaken in Ireland. Our analysis shows that this approach would be more effective than across-the-board pre/post movement testing. Ireland has approximately 2.2 million movements (counting farm-to-farm and farm-to-mart-to-farm each as one movement for these purposes) per year. The new rule would mean that these would have to either take place within six months of the herd test, or the herdowner (buyer or seller) would have to have a pre/post movement test carried out.

However, there has been very limited support from other Member States for this position. 

My officials have engaged with farm organisations in respect of the new EU Animal Health Law and are happy to consult further on this issue.

Trade Agreements

Ceisteanna (721)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

721. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the national allocations for Mercosur countries arising from the increased beef access of 99,000 tonnes from the Mercosur deal into the EU. [31216/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

It is unclear at this point what the national allocations of the Beef TRQ among the four Mercosur countries will be.  However, it is our current understanding that the TRQ is likely to be administered on a first-come, first-served basis.  This means that there will be no specific allocation for the four individual Mercosur countries in the final agreement and that it will be up to those countries to make arrangements to manage it appropriately.

Trade Agreements

Ceisteanna (722)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

722. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the Mercosur deal will result in the levy under the Hilton quota being reduced to zero from 20% on beef imports into the EU; and the allocations for Mercosur countries under the quota in addition to prime beef cuts. [31217/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The ‘Hilton’ beef quota is the informal name of the tariff quota for the European Union, regulated by Commission Regulation (EU) No 593/2013, which provides for the opening and administration of tariff quotas for high-quality fresh, chilled and frozen beef and for frozen buffalo meat. The Hilton Quota beef enjoys a duty preference vis-à-vis the European Union Most Favoured Nation import regime.

The quota has been in operation since 2009, with an initial allocation of 65,250 tonnes of high quality fresh, chilled and frozen beef, and 2,250 tonnes of buffalo. As of 2012, the quota consists of 66,826 tonnes of high-quality fresh, chilled and frozen beef, and 2,450 tonnes of buffalo. The suppliers are Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Canada/USA, Australia and New Zealand.

The country breakdown for the Mercosur countries under the Hilton quota is as follows:

Argentina - 29,700 tonnes

Brazil - 10,000 tonnes

Paraguay - 1,000 tonnes

Uruguay - 6,376 tonnes 

The headline political agreement between the EU and Mercosur countries proposes that once the agreement comes into force, it will see the elimination of the in-quota tariff rate, which is currently set at 20%.

Greyhound Industry

Ceisteanna (723)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

723. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if public funding to the greyhound industry will be suspended in view of the revelations contained in a programme (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31231/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Bord na gCon is a commercial state body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry.  Bord na gCon is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Under Section 12 of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, 2001 (No.20 of 2001), the horse and greyhound racing industries receive financial support from the State through the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund (the Fund). Monies are paid out of the fund in the ratio of 80% to Horse Racing Ireland and 20% to Bord na gCon as specified in Section 12 (6) of the Act.  State funding provided through the Fund is pivotal to the survival of the horse and greyhound racing industries.

According to the 2017 Power Report, the greyhound industry provides and supports considerable employment both directly and indirectly across the Irish economy.  It is estimated that in 2016, the industry supported 5,058 full-time and part-time jobs in the economy. In addition, there are 7,313 active greyhound owners. The total number of people deriving economic benefit from the sector is estimated at 12,371.  It is an industry that is ingrained in the social and cultural networks of rural Ireland.

It is worth noting that the Greyhound Sector has undergone a series of reforms in recent times and the Greyhound Racing Act 2019 was signed by the President on 28 May 2019. This legislation strengthens the legal basis for the industry, with a view to fortifying the integrity of the greyhound racing sector and improving provision for greyhound traceability. To this end, I welcome the fact that Bord na gCon will continue to invest significant resources into regulation and greyhound welfare and intends to devote more resources to welfare, re-homing and traceability.

There is no doubt that the recent RTE Programme has undermined the public's confidence in the sector and Bord na gCon is committed to strengthening its role in the areas of traceability, welfare and enforcement.  I am very concerned that steps must immediately be taken to address the issues raised in the programme. However, the suspension of funds would have immediate consequences for employment in the sector and could have unintended consequences for the welfare of dogs used for racing and coursing.

Beef Exports

Ceisteanna (724)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

724. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the timeline for the opening of the South Korean market for beef exports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31246/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The process of gaining access for Irish beef to the South Korean market has been ongoing for a number of years.  Ireland is currently at step five in an eight step process for beef market access. The next step is transmission of our beef file to the National Assembly for their deliberative process.

During my recent trade mission visit to South Korea, high level technical and ministerial meetings took place between my Department and both the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) and the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS).  These meetings were focused on providing and clarifying additional information sought by the Ministries. My Department continues to liaise and cooperate with MAFRA and MFDS, developing strong, collaborative relationships with these key authorities over market access.

I hope provision of this information will allow transmission of the beef access file to the National Assembly soon. However, as the Deputy will appreciate, the timing of access to the Korean beef market remains ultimately the decision for the Korean authorities.

Beef Exports

Ceisteanna (725)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

725. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the quantity of beef products exported to the United States of America in each of the years 2016 to 2018; the expected export level for 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31247/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My officials continue to work towards opening and enhancing access to as many markets as possible. This is a key part of our response to the challenges and uncertainty posed by Brexit, and in line with the market development theme of the Food Wise 2025 strategy.

Ireland was the first EU Member State to secure market access to the US in January 2015, following the lifting of its 15 year ban on beef exports from the EU due to BSE in March 2014.  Following this, Ireland was the first EU country to export beef to the US.  Subsequently, in July 2016, my Department received approval to send BIFG (Beef Intended for Grinding) to the US.

Export data for beef products exported to the United States of America in each of the years 2016 to 2018 are listed in the table - these figures have been sourced from Central Statistics Office (CSO) trade data.

Quantity of Beef Exported to United States

Year

Tonnes

2016

1,772

2017

1,571

2018

2,135

According to CSO trade statistics, Ireland exported approximately 1,322 tonnes to USA in the period January to April this year, exactly double the quantity exported in the same period in 2018. This represents a very positive start to the year and I hope that this growth trend will continue throughout 2019.

The role of my Department is to open up and maintain market access and where possible to remove barriers to trade; industry must then take advantage of these opportunities. The actual levels of exports will depend on a range of factors, including as global supply and demand dynamics, currency fluctuations and individual customer requirements.

Trade Agreements

Ceisteanna (726)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

726. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department carried out an ongoing economic assessment of a proposed Mercosur deal as the talks progressed over the past 12 months; the outcome of such assessments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31256/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

From the outset, Ireland consistently raised concerns about the very negative impact that an agreement would have on the EU’s agriculture sector, and particularly the beef sector.

Ireland’s concerns during the negotiations were substantiated by economic analysis conducted by, or on behalf of, the European Commission (2011 assessment undertaken by Copenhagen Economics, and 2016 Cumulative Impact study by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre) and by comprehensive assessment in November 2017 by Teagasc, which included impact modelling of alternative TRQ volumes for beef. 

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, in conjunction with my Department, also commissioned Copenhagen Economics in December 2017 to undertake a study of the economic impacts and opportunities of recent and prospective EU-Third Country Free Trade Agreements for Ireland.  

Now that political agreement has been reached between the EU Commission and Mercosur, Minister Humphreys will be commissioning a full economic and sustainability assessment to measure its impact.  My Department will assist with that exercise.

Departmental Communications

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (727)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

727. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the oversight of his Department of directives, circulars, advice or requirements issued since 2016; if surveys have been carried out of compliance with these communications to date; if so, the surveys carried out; the results of the surveys; the compliance rate; the actions taken by his Department further to these results; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31317/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The information requested by the Deputy is being compiled and will be sent out to him directly as soon as possible. 

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A
This Department does not publish circulars on website www.circulars.gov.ie. In addition to their statutory responsibilities, both this Department and those bodies under its aegis are subject to normal Civil and Public Service Governance practices and procedures across all areas of operations including Corporate Governance, Finance, Human Resources, and Procurement and are also subject to audit by the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General.
As such, it is standard practice that directives, circulars, advice or requirements issued by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, or where relevant by other Government Departments or Agencies in relation to matters under their remit, are brought to the attention of Department staff and the management of bodies under the remit of the Department. The Department also develops and issues internal guidance, if required, to management and staff to assist in achieving compliance with operating policies.
Compliance with Civil and Public Service policies and procedures, including internal Department policies, is subject to ongoing and periodic monitoring and review by line management and the Department's Internal Audit Unit in keeping with the Corporate Governance Framework. This Department continues to engage with the management of the bodies under its aegis to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies.

Climate Change Policy

Question No. 729 answered with Question No. 689.

Ceisteanna (728)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

728. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the recurring weekly meetings attended by either him or the Secretary General of his Department in 2019 at which climate change and-or preparations within his Department to enact a climate plan has been an agenda item; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31333/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department has played an active role in the whole-of-Government dialogue which led to the recent publication of the Climate Action Plan to Tackle Climate Breakdown.  This document represents a collaborative approach that sets out the vision and pathway to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and meet our 2030 EU targets. The contribution from the agriculture sector to this national ambition is significant. 

My Department was also required to prepare three plans under the National Adaptation Framework for the agriculture, forest and seafood sectors and this Adaption Programme was launched in late June.  

Officials from my Department have been working intensively with colleagues across a number of other Government Departments and agencies over the last number of years in the preparation of these plans and both the Secretary General of the Department and I have been kept fully informed of progress during this time.  This would have involved detailed briefings and presentations as well as regular discussion on the Climate Change issue at the weekly Management Board meeting chaired by the Secretary General.

Question No. 729 answered with Question No. 689.

Veterinary Inspection Service Administration

Ceisteanna (730)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

730. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding the relocation of laboratories under the aegis of his Department; and the timeframe for completion of the relocation. [31416/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department commissioned a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of options that were proposed by a Working Group in 2016 for the future development of the Regional Veterinary Laboratories (RVLs). The team conducting the CBA included internationally-recognised, independent experts in economic analysis and animal disease surveillance. My Department has been presented with the CBA report and senior officials are currently considering the recommendations. Due consideration is also being given to feedback we received following consultation on two separate occasions with our stakeholders - following publication of the 2016 Working Group report and during the CBA process.

A proposal on how best to redevelop the RVLs over the next few years will be informed by both of those consultative processes and by the findings of the CBA. The focus of my Department is now on securing and improving the service to the sector at best value to the tax payer and on securing the necessary capital funding for investment.

Agriculture Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (731)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

731. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of payments outstanding under the various schemes his Department operates in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31417/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

National Broadband Plan Implementation

Ceisteanna (732, 763)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

732. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a company (details supplied) or related companies within the group will be permitted to sell products and-or services outside the intervention area; if he has tested this to ensure compliance with state aid rules; if he or existing operators have engaged with each other on the issue in view of the fact that it creates a State backed competitor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30494/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

763. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a company (details supplied) will be able to build broadband infrastructure in non-intervention areas; if this is in breach of state aid rules; the protections in place that prevent state aid rules being broken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31066/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 732 and 763 together.

The NBP State intervention is a gap funded model.  While National Broadband Ireland (NBI) will be a commercial operator, its primary function will be to deliver the obligations set out in the NBP Contract.  NBI cannot use the State aided network or subsidy in breach of State aid law.

In addition to this function, NBI is also under a general obligation under the contract to comply with State Aid, meaning NBI is required to ensure it does not use any assets subsidised by the State in a manner that would breach State Aid law.  

There are also reporting and monitoring obligations across the NBI contract, such as accounting separation and open book accounting.  This is to ensure there is full transparency regarding proper use of the subsidy year on year.

Cyber Security Protocols

Ceisteanna (733)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

733. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he is satisfied with the staffing deployment in the cybersecurity unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30520/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is located within my Department, and is the primary cyber security authority in the State. The Centre has a number of roles, and is responsible for acting as a conduit for information to constituents, including operators of Critical National Infrastructure, Government Departments and Agencies. The Centre also provides expert advice and analysis on cyber security issues and is involved in coordinating the response to significant incidents. The Centre also acts as a central contact point in the event of a government or nation-wide cyber security incident affecting the State, and has a number of formal roles in the protection of Critical National Infrastructure, including those under the EU Network and Information Security Directive.

The NCSC is composed of highly skilled, specialist technical civilian staff, with skillsets in areas such as computer science, software engineering, malware analysis, information technology forensics, cryptography, software development, and cyber security compliance, as well as general cyber security skills. In terms of resources, additional funding has been secured for a substantial enlargement of the NCSC both in terms of personnel and additional technology in order to address the responsibilities placed upon the State by the Network and Information Security Directive which was transposed last year. The annual allocation of the National Cyber Security Centre in 2019 is now €4,000,000, and staffing levels have increased significantly in recent years. My Department is also finalising a new National Cyber Security Strategy, which will set out the measures that Government will take to meet future challenges in cyber security, both in terms of Government and critical national infrastructure.

Cyber Security Protocols

Ceisteanna (734)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

734. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the cybersecurity protocols under the remit of his Department; if it has had a cybersecurity breach in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30582/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Department applies the relevant cyber security protocols in its network, applications, data, operations, disaster recovery, business continuity and staff awareness through our Shared Service agreement with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The National Cyber Security Centre is part of my Department and has responsibility for the implementation of the Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive. My Department works closely with the NCSC on the department's own internal network security and implements its recommendations as appropriate.

The Department experienced a breach in 2018 involving ransomware, which was identified, isolated and removed.

Inland Fisheries Ireland

Ceisteanna (735, 736, 737)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

735. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if Inland Fisheries Ireland will conduct instream projects in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30602/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

736. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the breakdown of the 32 expressions of interest received by Inland Fisheries Ireland under the 2019 salmon conservation fund between angling groups, stakeholders projects and IFI projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30603/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

737. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if Inland Fisheries Ireland will carry out pre-fishery enhancement surveys in 2020 with a view to carrying out its own instream enhancement programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30604/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 735 to 737, inclusive, together.

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has confirmed its intention to operate a programme of fisheries development including instream projects in 2020, subject to justified need and available resources. It is IFI’s policy to engage in pre-fishery enhancement surveys to enable it to support its interventions and monitor effectiveness thereafter.

I am advised that IFI launched its 2019 funding call in April 2019. In the first instance, applicants were invited to submit Expressions of Interest (EOI) across three funding schemes – the NSAD Capital Grants Scheme 2019, the Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection Fund and the Midlands Fisheries Fund. The final closing date for submission of funding applications was 1 July, however, the EOI process remains open.

Following review of submissions, IFI have advised that 28 of the 32 EOI’s are categorised as aligning to the Salmon and Sea Trout scheme. Of these 11 are third party applications and 17 are IFI submissions.

All applications will now proceed through the evaluation process and those successful will be announced following approval by the Board of IFI.

In response to a number of questions on these matters by the Deputy, and given her interest in fisheries development, I have offered her a briefing from IFI.

National Broadband Plan Implementation

Ceisteanna (738)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

738. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the steps taken towards negotiating a contract with the preferred bidder for the national broadband plan following confirmation of the decision relating to the preferred bidder; the role of his Department in the contract negotiations; the role of external advisers; the timeline for the completion of the negotiations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30611/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Every home, farm, school and business in Ireland will have access to high speed broadband – no matter where they are located – following the Government’s decision to approve the appointment of a preferred bidder to the National Broadband Plan. Under this plan, Ireland will become one of the first countries in the world to ensure that those in rural areas have the same digital opportunities as those in urban areas.

  I recently brought a recommendation to the Government to confer preferred bidder status on Granahan McCourt, the remaining bidder in the NBP procurement process, and the Government agreed to this at its meeting on 7 May.

The Government decision 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.

National Broadband Ireland will be supported by a number of experienced subcontractors and is currently tasked with finalising negotiations on contracts with approximately 40 subcontracts to assist in the delivery of the NBP. It is anticipated that a subset of approximately 15 to 20 of these subcontracts will be required prior to contract close to support deployment. The state aid notification relating to the NBP will also be submitted to the European Commission.

A period of final due diligence on all elements of the contract is part of the normal conclusion of a procurement process.  The Department's specialist team, supported by expert advisors in legal, procurement, commercial, technical and financial areas, are working to close the contract at an early date.

Electric Vehicles

Ceisteanna (739)

Joan Collins

Ceist:

739. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding the installation of home chargers for electric vehicles. [30636/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Climate Action Plan sets out a range of actions to support the delivery of charging infrastructure. This includes introducing a capital support that will be provided to local authorities for the development of up to 200 on-street chargers per annum.

  My Department is currently working with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland to develop this scheme which is expected to be in place later this year. This will cater mainly for electric vehicle owners who rely on on-street parking as their primary means of parking near their homes.

Under the Climate Action Plan, we will develop an overarching charging infrastructure strategy with a target to be set for the supply of infrastructure to stay ahead of demand.

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (740)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

740. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the full name and make-up of the entity listed as the bidder and-or consortium in section A General Information, 4.1 Bidder information on page 13 of the national broadband plan pre-qualification questionnaire; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30650/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The full name of the Lead Bidder as set out in the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire is Granahan McCourt Dublin (Ireland) Limited.

In addition to the Lead Bidder, the Granahan McCourt bid includes a number of other Bidder Members.

Bidder Member is defined in the Project Information Memorandum and includes:

- the Bidder

- members of the Consortium and shareholders (if different); and

- entities that were relied upon by another Bidder Member in its Pre-Qualification Questionnaire Response, to demonstrate its economic and financial standing, or its technical and professional capability.

An entity can therefore be a Bidder Member without having a proposed ownership or equity role (for example, there are key subcontractors that are also Bidder members).

The Granahan McCourt Bidder Members are set out as follows:

- Granahan McCourt Dublin (Ireland) Limited as lead bidder and provider of equity

- Tetrad Corporation and McCourt Global LLC as entities whose resources were relied upon in the PQQ Response

- Enet as a key subcontractor

- Kelly Group as a key subcontractor (Kelly Comms with reliance on resources of Kelly Communications Group Limited and Kelly Integrated Limited)

- Actavo (Ireland) Limited as a key subcontractor

- KN Networks (Ire) Limited as a key subcontractor.

Better Energy Homes Scheme Administration

Ceisteanna (741, 742)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

741. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the average time SEAI better energy warmer homes scheme applicants have to wait before a contractor is allocated to carry out works under the grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30699/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

742. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if there is a variation in waiting times for SEAI better energy warmer homes scheme applicants from county to county; if so, the reason for the variation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30700/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 741 and 742 together.

The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) on behalf of my Department.  The scheme provides free energy efficiency upgrades to the homes of people living in or at risk of energy poverty. 

Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme applications are assessed as they are received by SEAI, regardless of county. Following the receipt of valid applications, SEAI arranges for surveys of the homes to be completed. SEAI generally carry out technical surveys of homes in the order in which the applications are received.  However, to ensure greater efficiency in their delivery, sometimes it is necessary to wait for a group of applications before visiting an area.

Once surveyed, SEAI allocate these homes to one of the contractors on their panel, again taking account of the date of the application. SEAI ensure to the greatest extent possible that all applications have a similar waiting time.

Since the expansion of the scheme in 2018 to include ‘deeper’ measures such as external wall insulation and internal wall insulation, demand for the scheme is very high leading to longer waiting times for all applicants. Currently it can take between 9 and 12 months from the date a homeowner applies to the date a contractor is assigned to their home to carry out the works.