Renewable Heat Incentive

Ceisteanna (1486)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

1486. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding anaerobic digesters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34987/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat has been developed to financially support the adoption of renewable heating systems by commercial, industrial, agricultural, district heating and other non-domestic heat users not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System.

The first phase of the scheme, an installation grant for heat pumps, opened for applications in September 2018. Following EU State aid approval, I opened the second phase of the SSRH, an operational support for biomass boilers and anaerobic digestion heating systems, in June of this year. Under this phase of the scheme, eligible renewable energy technologies will be supported through a multi-annual payment, for a period of up to 15 years, on the basis of prescribed tariffs. Under Project Ireland 2040, the National Development Plan sets out an allocation of €300 million for the roll-out of the scheme for the period up to 2027.

Renewable electricity output from anaerobic digesters will also be eligible for support under the forthcoming Renewable Electricity Support Scheme. The high level design of this scheme was approved by Government in July 2018 and the scheme will require State aid approval.

In November 2018, I announced the seven successful projects from the first Call for Applications under the Climate Action Fund. One of the successful projects, the Gas Networks Ireland GRAZE Gas project, involves the installation of a Central Grid Injection facility for renewable gas produced from the anaerobic digestion of wastes, including agriculture wastes such as slurry.

My Department is also examining potential options to support the production of biomethane from anaerobic digestion and its injection into the gas grid.

Warmer Homes Scheme

Ceisteanna (1487)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

1487. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to expand the warmth and well-being pilot scheme being operated in Dublin 8, 10, 12, 22 and 24 to other parts of the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35052/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Warmth & Wellbeing Scheme is a joint policy initiative between my Department and the Department of Health under the Government’s Strategy to Combat Energy Poverty and the Healthy Ireland Framework. The main aim of the Scheme is to validate, in an Irish context, the strong international evidence that making homes warmer, drier and more energy efficient can have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of people living with chronic respiratory conditions. The scheme was launched in 2016 as a time bound pilot for 3 years, but has remained open for applications into 2019 in order to recruit a sufficient sample of participants for the health impact evaluation of the scheme. The Scheme is being delivered by a team comprised of officials from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and Health Service Executive (HSE). Over €23 million has now been invested in upgrading over 1,100 homes in the pilot area.

The process of evaluating the Scheme is on-going and is being overseen by a Steering Group comprised of my Department, the Department of Health, SEAI and HSE. Initial reports from the HSE have indicated that the upgrades are delivering benefits to the health and wellbeing of participants. An initial review of the energy impacts of the scheme has shown that the average Building Energy Rating of participating homes improved from a D2 to a B3 with carbon emissions reducing by on average 2.2 tCO2/year.

It is expected that an interim report on the health impacts of the scheme, which is being undertaken by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, will be completed this year with the final evaluation scheduled for completion in 2021. The interim report will inform decisions in relation to the future of the scheme.

The retrofitting of 500,000 homes, to make them warmer and more energy efficient, is a key action under the Climate Action Plan. The Plan also commits to enhancing the approach and supports for households with lower incomes to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of their homes. This work will be informed by the experience from existing schemes in Ireland and other jurisdictions, as well as evidence gathered from pilot schemes including the Warmth and Wellbeing scheme.

Warmer Homes Scheme Waiting Times

Ceisteanna (1488)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

1488. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will facilitate the hiring of more contractors in order to reduce the waiting times for the SEAI warmer homes scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35053/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme provides energy efficiency upgrades to the homes of people living in or at risk of energy poverty. These upgrades are provided free of charge to the homeowner. The Scheme is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) on behalf of my Department. The initial Warmer Homes Scheme budget allocation for 2019 was €24 million. However, following a mid-year capital review conducted by my Department and SEAI, the budget has been increased to €39.8 million for 2019.

Approvals under the scheme can be granted within a number of days of the SEAI receiving a completed application. The home is then scheduled for a technical survey and subsequently allocated to a contractor to carry out the works. The most recent data available indicates that the average waiting times from date of application to date of works completion is 8 months for shallow measures and 11 months for deeper measures.

Although the budget for the scheme has been significantly increased in recent times, the current very high level of demand does directly impact waiting times. This is partly due to changes to the scheme introduced in June 2018 which expanded and enhanced the range of energy efficiency measures available to include ‘deeper’ measures which are more expensive and take longer to install. These deeper measures can include external or internal wall insulation, central heating and replacement windows when the technical assessment considers them necessary. Managing the enhanced package of measures has required careful monitoring and programme management by SEAI within available resources. In addition, changes to the eligibility rules introduced in 2018 expanded to the pool of eligible homeowners to include those in receipt of the Carer's Allowance and Domiciliary Care Allowance.

The Warmer Homes Scheme is delivered through a panel of contractors, appointed through a competitive tendering process. The SEAI has informed my officials that it does not consider contractor capacity to be the biggest influence on waiting times at present. SEAI will however, be renewing its contract with Warmer Homes Scheme contractors in 2020, through a competitive procurement process.

Television Licence Fee Collection

Ceisteanna (1489)

Michael Harty

Ceist:

1489. Deputy Michael Harty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the legislative powers of enforcement enacted to support the successful bidder for television licence fees to reach higher levels of collection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35094/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Broadcasting Act 2009 provides for both civil and criminal enforcement powers to tackle TV licence fee evasion. The legislation is being amended to provide for a public procurement process for licence fee collection. A tender will issue as soon as the enabling legislation has been enacted. It is intended that the successful bidder will have a fixed term contract of 5 years which will incentivise investment in the collection system which will in turn help to reduce evasion levels.

In the meantime, An Post continues to act as my agent for licence fee collection. It will be open to An Post to tender for the contract.

Prospecting Licences

Ceisteanna (1490, 1550)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

1490. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he is satisfied with the standard of assessment of an ecological impact assessment carried out by a company (details supplied) in connection with the grant of a prospecting licence to a company to prospect for base metals in County Galway in view of the high sensitivity of the surrounding Natura 2000 sites; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35112/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

1550. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of an application for a prospecting licence by a company (details supplied) to prospect for base metals in County Galway; his plans to grant the licence; the timeframe for same; the process involved in the grant or refusal of the licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36895/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1490 and 1550 together.

A Prospecting Licence application was made to my Department by MOAG Copper Gold Resources on 27 November, 2018. The application requests consent to prospect in a number of townlands in County Galway. This application was published in the Connacht Tribune on 6 June 2019 and was open for public consultation for a period of 30 days.

The application remains under consideration as the Department is assessing the submissions received by members of the public and is also awaiting additional information requested from the Company. It is expected that it will be a number of weeks before all of the issues raised have been fully considered and the additional information from the company is assessed. Following on from this, a final decision will be made on the application.

I am satisfied with the standards of ecological assessments applied to Prospecting Licence applications, including the assessments undertaken in regard to this application.

All applications for prospecting licences are subject to screening for Appropriate Assessment by my Department in compliance with the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 (SI 477 of 2011). Should a licensee propose to undertake prospecting activities within or near a designated Natura 2000 site, it is a requirement that an Appropriate Assessment Screening Report, which would include an ecological assessment, shall be carried out and submitted as part of any application for approval to undertake such works. My Department also consults with the National Parks and Wildlife Service before any such proposed works are approved.

National Broadband Plan Data

Ceisteanna (1491)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

1491. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount expended on hosting meetings, entertainment and related services associated with the national broadband plan in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019, by amount, service provider and services engaged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35116/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The NBP process has, by its nature, involved a significant level of interaction with each of the bidders that participated in that process since Competitive Dialogue commenced in July 2016. This has included over 800 hours of meetings with all bidders since that date. This procurement process is ongoing, with continued meetings with the Preferred Bidder to ensure all necessary financial and legal requirements are in place prior to financial close and award of contract. As part of this engagement the NBP team has incurred expenditure totalling approximately €5,450 for costs including light refreshments and room hire when necessary. There has been no expenditure on entertainment. A breakdown of the costs is set out in the following table.

Year

Costs incurred

2017

€993.00

2018

€2,285

2019 to date

€2,172

Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (1492)

James Lawless

Ceist:

1492. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will address a matter regarding the provision of broadband at a location (details supplied). [35119/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The premises referenced 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. In May of this year I 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 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 that.

The Bidder has indicated that the NBP State intervention will take an estimated 7 years from the beginning of deployment.

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

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

In regards to eir's commercial roll out of high speed broadband to 300,000 predominantly rural premises, this is in line with a Commitment Agreement signed with my Department in April 2017.

With regard to the Deputy's reference to a nearby commercial deployment of high speed broadband, eir’s deployment is an entirely commercial undertaking, and not part of the planned State Intervention network. Although the deployment is monitored under the terms of the Commitment Agreement, it is not funded by the State and it is not planned, designed or directed by my Department in any capacity.

Decisions made by private telecommunication operators relating to the roll out and siting of infrastructure to provide high speed broadband services throughout Ireland are undertaken on a commercial basis. I have no statutory role or function in such commercial decisions of private operators, and therefore cannot direct operators regarding infrastructure installation or delivery of services.

National Broadband Plan Data

Ceisteanna (1493)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

1493. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 2280 of 23 July 2019, if he will provide a schedule of the more than 300 meetings to date between the national broadband plan procurement team and representatives of the preferred bidder since the competitive dialogue commenced in July 2016 that were attended by and-or representatives of persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35122/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

As I advised the Deputy in reply to Question No. 2280 on 23 July last, the NBP process has, by its nature, involved a significant level of interaction with each of the bidders that participated in that process, including more than 300 meetings to date between the NBP Procurement Team and representatives of the Preferred Bidder since Competitive Dialogue, which forms part of the procurement process, commenced in July 2016. This procurement process is ongoing, with continued meetings with the Preferred Bidder to ensure all necessary financial and legal requirements are in place prior to financial close and award of contract.

The NBP Procurement Team has not met with the first named individual referenced by the Deputy. The team has met with the second named individual in the context of his direct involvement with the lead bidder Granahan McCourt and has had extensive engagement with the bid team.

Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (1494)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

1494. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his Department has examined a technology in respect of providing broadband (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35172/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

My Department keeps appraised of new technology advances on an ongoing basis through regular industry engagement, expert advice and international industry conferences. The recent emergence of Low Earth Orbit satellites as a technology is being monitored by my Department.

Illegal Dumping

Ceisteanna (1495)

James Lawless

Ceist:

1495. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the expenditure on the anti-dumping initiative to date; the number of drones purchased for enforcement purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35281/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

In recognition of the impact of illegal dumping on communities across the country, my Department developed the Anti-Dumping Initiative (ADI) to identify high risk or problem areas, develop appropriate enforcement responses and carry out clean-up operations in partnership with local authorities and community organisations. My Department has provided funding of €1.2 million and €1.8 million to the ADI in 2017 and 2018 respectively. A further allocation of €3 million is being made available this year which will support over 280 projects across the country.

Details of this year’s allocations and the projects funded by the ADI in 2017 and 2018, including SMART enforcement initiatives to target illegal dumping such as drones, can be accessed on my Department's website at the following link:

https://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/environment/topics/waste/enforcement/anti-dumping-initiative/Pages/AntiDumpingInitiative.aspx

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (1496)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

1496. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount expended on the renewal of licences (details supplied) by his Department since 2009 to date in 2019; the amount projected to be spent on the renewal of such licences by his Department over the next five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35336/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

My Department uses the Lotus Notes application primarily to interact with the Lotus Notes application services provided by the Houses of the Oireachtas. The continued use of this application over the next 5 years is dependent on the continuing availability of these services. It is not expected that the cost of licence renewal will increase to any significant extent in the next 5 years above that paid in previous years.

The licence costs associated with Lotus Notes renewal for the years 2009 to 2019 is outlined in the following table.

Year

2009

0

2010

4,413

2011

4,549

2012

4,765

2013

4,765

2014

4,623

2015

5,002

2016

5,002

2017

5,002

2018

5,002

2019

5,002

Warmer Homes Scheme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (1497)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

1497. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will address a matter regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35359/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme provides energy efficiency upgrades to the homes of people living in or at risk of energy poverty. The Scheme is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) on behalf of my Department. These upgrades are provided free of charge to the homeowner. To be eligible to receive works under the scheme, an applicant’s property must have been built and occupied before 2006. One of the aims of the scheme is to improve the energy efficiency of our built environment, in a way which represents the best possible use of Exchequer funding. This involves targeting supports in particular ways such as by limiting certain grants to homes built and occupied before 2006.

While the Department has no function in relation to individual grant applications, officials in the Department have contacted SEAI regarding this application.

The SEAI have examined the details for this property and have confirmed that the electricity meter was not connected until March 2006. Therefore it is very unlikely that the property was occupied before 2006. The scheme rules must be applied consistently to all applicants to ensure fairness as well as value for money for the Exchequer. Therefore the SEAI is unable to proceed with this application. I understand that the SEAI have written to the applicant directly communicating the position.

SEAI operate under a Customer Charter and a complaints and appeals procedure is in place. If after following this procedure an applicant is not satisfied with the outcome, they can ask the Office of the Ombudsman for an independent review of the complaint. Further details are available here: http://www.seai.ie/customer-charter/

Broadcasting Legislation

Ceisteanna (1498)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

1498. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will consider adding the FAI cup final to the list of events that must be shown on free-to-air television; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35362/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

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

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

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

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

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

Prospecting Licences

Ceisteanna (1499)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

1499. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if compensation will be payable under the provisions of the CETA trade agreement with Canada in the situation in which a Canadian company with a prospecting licence that found a viable quantity of minerals to mine was refused a mining licence on scenic and environmental grounds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35369/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Responsibility for international trade agreements, including the manner in which the compensation provisions of the Canada EU Trade Agreement might apply to particular situations, is a matter for the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Prospecting Licences

Ceisteanna (1500)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

1500. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if an environmental impact statement will be required before a current applicant for a prospecting licence or a renewal of a prospecting licence is permitted to carry out invasive operations such as trenching, boring and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35370/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

In the case of all applications for Prospecting Licences or renewals of Prospecting Licences, my Department screens (i.e. assesses) the proposed prospecting activities submitted in relation to the areas specified and makes a determination as to whether the activities may have the potential to have a significant effect on the environment.

Screening of any potential impact on Natura 2000 sites (Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs)) is undertaken in compliance with the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 (SI 477 of 2011). For any proposed prospecting works within or in close proximity to such sites, my Department consults with the National Parks and Wildlife Service before the proposed works are approved.

If, on the basis of a company's preliminary exploration activities and analysis, specific locations for drilling or 'drill targets' are identified, any such proposed drilling would be subject to a further screening assessment under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations and determination.

In the case of the application referred to by the Deputy there is no requirement at this stage for an EIA as no specific drill targets have been proposed.

Biofuel Obligation Scheme

Ceisteanna (1501, 1515)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

1501. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to extend the biofuel obligation to home heating oil; if not, the reason therefor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35371/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

1515. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has considered introducing a biofuels obligation in the home heating sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35630/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1501 and 1515 together.

The Biofuels Obligation Scheme, administered by the National Oil Reserves Agency, is the principal support for the uptake of biofuels in Ireland. The scheme was introduced in 2010 and requires suppliers of liquid road transport fuel to ensure that biofuels make up a certain percentage of annual fuel sales.

My Department carried out a public consultation on the Biofuels Obligation Scheme that ran from December 2017 to January 2018. This consultation included a specific question in relation to the potential for an obligation scheme (similar to the Biofuels Obligation Scheme) in the heat sector. The majority of submissions received in response to this consultation did not support the introduction of such an obligation at that time. The submissions received in relation to this consultation are published on my Department's website.

As set out in the Government’s Climate Action Plan, a public consultation will be carried out later this year on the development of the Biofuels Obligation Scheme in the period 2021-2030. This consultation will, similar to the previous consultation, raise the potential of an obligation in the heat sector. The submissions received in response to this consultation will help inform the development of a future obligation on the heat sector in Ireland.

Energy Conservation

Question No. 1504 answered with Question No. 1468.

Ceisteanna (1502, 1503, 1508, 1520, 1539)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

1502. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland has no more funding available for its deep retrofit pilot programme; if applicants for the programme have been informed; the actions he will take to assist applicants in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35451/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

1503. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of applications received by the SEAI for the full deep retrofit grant not proceeding due to lack of funding; if additional funding will be provided to the scheme for 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35531/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

1508. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the scheme for deep retrofitting (details supplied) will be properly financed and opened again; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35562/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joan Burton

Ceist:

1520. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the deep retrofit pilot grant programme; when he expects the completion of the evaluation of the programme; his plans to assist those wishing to refurbish their homes to make them as energy efficient and environmentally friendly as possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36034/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

1539. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the position regarding funding for the SEAI deep retrofit scheme; if all applications will be processed; if adequate funding is available to meet all commitments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36532/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1502, 1503, 1508, 1520 and 1539 together.

The Deep Retrofit Pilot Scheme was launched in 2017 as a time bound pilot to investigate the challenges and opportunities of deep retrofit in Ireland. The scheme was intended to run for 3 years and closed for applications on 19th July in line with the published Application Guidelines.

The scheme is funded by my Department and operated by the SEAI. The Pilot provides 50% funding for energy upgrades to an A BER rating with 95% funding provided for low-income households. The total budget for the scheme this year is €10 million – double the amount spent on the scheme last year. The latest data available indicates that €1.2 million has been paid in grants under the scheme in 2019.

The scheme operates via a lead applicant, or Service Provider, which could apply for support for projects involving 5 or more homes. SEAI evaluates each project against the scheme criteria and offers funding to successful applications via a grant approval letter of offer.

The 54 applications that were received before the July 19th closing date are currently under evaluation by the SEAI. I expect Service Providers to be informed of the status of their application later this month. All successful applications will be funded from within my Department’s budget allocation for energy efficiency retrofit schemes in 2019 and 2020. Works on homes should not commence until a grant approval letter of offer is received.

The Government’s Climate Action Plan commits to reviewing and redesigning the existing grant schemes to ensure alignment with Government climate objectives and value for money. The Plan also sets an ambitious target of 500,000 energy efficiency retrofits by 2030. Achievement of this target will be supported by the Project Ireland 2040 allocation of €3.7bn as well as the range of measures identified in the Plan.

I recently announced the establishment of a Taskforce that will drive the achievement of this target. The Taskforce will primarily be responsible for the development of a new retrofitting delivery model, which will, inter alia, group retrofits together to achieve economies of scale, provide supports for households with lower incomes, and leverage private finance and grant support. Development of the new model will be informed by the experience from existing schemes in Ireland including the Deep Retrofit Pilot as well as best practice in other jurisdictions.

Question No. 1504 answered with Question No. 1468.

Warmer Homes Scheme Waiting Times

Questions Nos. 1506 and 1507 answered with Question No. 1484.

Question No. 1508 answered with Question No. 1502.

Ceisteanna (1505)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

1505. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the waiting time under the warmer homes scheme from the date of application to the approval of the application by the SEAI; the number of applications received under the scheme in each year since 2014; the number approved and the amount drawn down, respectively; the number of applications on hand in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35536/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme provides energy efficiency upgrades to the homes of people living in or at risk of energy poverty. These upgrades are provided free of charge to the homeowner. The Scheme is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) on behalf of my Department. The initial Warmer Homes Scheme budget allocation for 2019 was €24m. However, following a mid-year capital review conducted by my Department and SEAI, the budget has been increased to €39.8m for 2019.

Approvals under the scheme can be granted within a number of days of the SEAI receiving a completed, valid application. The home is then scheduled for a technical survey and subsequently allocated to a contractor to carry out the works. The most recent data available indicates that the average waiting times from date of application to date of works completion is 8 months for shallow measures and 11 months for deeper measures.

The following table sets out the number of eligible applications received under the Scheme, the cancellations, works undertaken including costs, and associated waiting lists for 2014 – 2019 (to date).

Year

Eligible Applications received in each year

Cancelled - No works possible*

Works Completed in each year

Cost (€) of Works Completed in year

Waiting List at year-end

2014

12,284

N/A

9,056

19,283,531

3,247

2015

8,852

3,079

6,867

18,136,198

4,531

2016

8,146

2,574

6,743

20,680,000

3,153

2017

12,863

5,140

6,555

22,620,901

4,652

2018

7,408

1,699

5,328

35,512,000

4,355

2019 (as at 31 July)

4,106

119

2,355

19,225,861

5,762

* ‘No works possible’ means that the measures provided under the scheme are not suitable for the home.

Questions Nos. 1506 and 1507 answered with Question No. 1484.
Question No. 1508 answered with Question No. 1502.

Television Licence Fee Collection

Ceisteanna (1509)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

1509. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a matter (details supplied) in relation to identification for public service workers will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35567/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

My officials have been in contact with An Post who act as issuing agent for licence fee collection. An Post confirmed that Inspectors do not have braille ID, and advised that this issue has not been raised with any of their Inspectors. It is worth noting also that some persons who are legally blind may qualify for free licences under the household benefits scheme administered by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. Where individuals are recorded on the TV Licence database as qualifying for free licences, no inspection visits are necessary.

Consultancy Contracts Data

Ceisteanna (1510)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

1510. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the names of external consultancies that delivered and continue to deliver advice and training on all aspects of GDPR in the context of preparedness and ongoing upskilling of staff regarding the regulation; the cost expended on the external advice and training of same to date in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35571/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

In preparation for GDPR, my Department arranged training for all staff in the form of an e-Learning programme, which covers the general elements of GDPR, as well as information on Departmental data protection policies and procedures. This training continues to be available for new staff or existing staff who wish to refresh their knowledge of GDPR.

Targeted training courses have also been provided to staff in the Data Protection Unit in my Department and to certain staff who work in areas where an advanced knowledge of GDPR is required.

The information requested in relation to external consultants is outlined in the following table.

External Consultant

Amount

IACT

€14,776.00

CMG Professional Training

€2,934.67

Public Affairs Ireland

€2,160.00

PDP

€1,940.25

Institute of Public Administration

€1,350.00

Legal Island

€1,100.00

Olas

€790.00

Allone Solutions

€350.00

Irish Centre for European Law

€160.00

€25,560.92