Question No. 518 answered with Question No. 510.

Question No. 519 answered with Question No. 488.

Grant Payments

Ceisteanna (520)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

520. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a partial depopulation grant for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37651/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The information required to answer this query is not readily available at present as the file in question has been archived. 

A response will issue to the Deputy as soon as possible after receipt of the necessary information.

Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (521)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

521. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a payment for ANC will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37664/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Payments under the 2019 Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme are due to commence this week.

Payment under the Scheme can only issue where a number of scheme requirements have been met.  One such requirement is the maintenance of an annual average of 0.15 livestock units calculated over the 12 months of the calendar year.   Once the person name has met this stocking requirement and all other scheme requirements have been complied with, payment will issue as soon as possible.

Beef Industry

Ceisteanna (522)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

522. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the progress in the resumed talks in addressing the issues facing the beef sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37702/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

There have been a series of formal negotiations with beef stakeholders, facilitated by my Department, since early August, culminating in an agreement being reached between stakeholders on Sunday 15 September. I have also had ongoing contacts with farming organisations, representatives and individual farmers to try to seek a resolution to this dispute.

The parties to the Agreement reached on 15 September are:

- Meat Industry Ireland

-Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association

- Macra na Feirme

- Independent Farmers Organisation of Ireland

- Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association

- Beef Plan Movement

- Irish Farmers Association

- Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association

The full text of the Agreement is available at:

https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/farmingsectors/beef/Agreement15September170919.pdf.

The Agreement involves a number of interventions which will provide immediate benefit for beef producers, as well as a range of strategic measures which seek to address structural imbalances in the sector.

As part of the deal, beef producers will benefit from an immediate increase in a range of bonuses, as follows:

- an increase of 66% in the current in-spec bonus for steers and heifers from 12c/kg to 20c/kg;

- the introduction of a new bonus of 8c/kg for steers and heifers aged between 30 to 36 months, which meet all non-age related existing in-spec criteria, and which up to now have not received any bonus;

- the introduction of a new in-spec bonus of 12c/kg for steers and heifers under 30 months in the categories of grade O- and fat score 4+ , which currently do not qualify for any bonus.

- the in-spec 70 day residency requirement will be reduced to 60 days on the last farm.

These measures offer an immediate financial benefit for beef farmers. They both increase the level of bonus being paid and increase significantly the number of animals which are eligible for a bonus. The cumulative effect is that over 70% of all steer and heifers slaughtered will now be eligible for a bonus on top of the base price paid.

A Beef Market Task Force will be established to provide leadership to develop a sustainable pathway for the future of the beef sector in terms of economic, environmental and social sustainability. I will appoint an independent Chair for the Taskforce, which will include my Department, relevant State agencies and nominees from farm organisations and the meat industry. The Taskforce will provide for a robust implementation structure for commitments entered into in this Agreement, with timelines and stakeholder engagement. Furthermore, the Beef Market Taskforce will offer a suitable platform for strategic engagement with key stakeholders, including retailers and regulatory authorities.

My Department is proactively engaging with several potential beef Producer Organisations, which have to potential to strengthen the bargaining power of beef farmers in the supply chain. The first beef Producer Organisation was approved by my Department last week.

A number of actions in the area of market transparency, beef promotion and strengthening the position of the farmer in the supply chain are included in the Agreement. For example:

- an immediate scientific review of the Quality Payment Grid by Teagasc;

- an independent review of market and customer requirements, specifically in relation to the four in-spec bonus criteria currently in operation in the Irish beef sector;

The agreed measures set a course towards greater clarity for all stakeholders involved in the beef supply chain, primarily farmers. The entry into force of the Agreement is contingent on the cessation of all protests and blockades. All parties to the Agreement took responsibility for ensuring that this would happen, by recommending the Agreement to those they represent. I would appeal to all those still protesting to consider the agreement carefully and to give it a chance to take effect, in the interest of their fellow farmers and the future of the beef sector.

Beef Industry

Ceisteanna (523)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

523. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has had discussions with the stakeholders in relation to the serious problems facing the beef sector; if the retail sector has been involved in such discussions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37703/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

There have been a series of formal negotiations with beef stakeholders, facilitated by my Department, since early August, culminating in an agreement being reached between stakeholders on Sunday 15 September. I have also had ongoing contacts with farming organisations, representatives and individual farmers to try to seek a resolution to this dispute.

The parties to the Agreement reached on 15 September are:

- Meat Industry Ireland

- Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association

- Macra na Feirme

- Independent Farmers Organisation of Ireland

- Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association

- Beef Plan Movement

- Irish Farmers Association

- Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association

The full text of the Agreement is available at:

https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/farmingsectors/beef/Agreement15September170919.pdf.

The Agreement involves a number of interventions which will provide immediate benefit for beef producers, as well as a range of strategic measures which seek to address structural imbalances in the sector.

As part of the deal, beef producers will benefit from an immediate increase in a range of bonuses, as follows:

- an increase of 66% in the current in-spec bonus for steers and heifers from 12c/kg to 20c/kg;

- the introduction of a new bonus of 8c/kg for steers and heifers aged between 30 to 36 months, which meet all non-age related existing in-spec criteria, and which up to now have not received any bonus;

- the introduction of a new in-spec bonus of 12c/kg for steers and heifers under 30 months in the categories of grade O- and fat score 4+ , which currently do not qualify for any bonus.

- the in-spec 70 day residency requirement will be reduced to 60 days on the last farm.

These measures offer an immediate financial benefit for beef farmers. They both increase the level of bonus being paid and increase significantly the number of animals which are eligible for a bonus. The cumulative effect is that over 70% of all steer and heifers slaughtered will now be eligible for a bonus on top of the base price paid.

A Beef Market Task Force will be established to provide leadership to develop a sustainable pathway for the future of the beef sector in terms of economic, environmental and social sustainability. I will appoint an independent Chair for the Taskforce, which will include my Department, relevant State agencies and nominees from farm organisations and the meat industry. The Taskforce will provide for a robust implementation structure for commitments entered into in this Agreement, with timelines and stakeholder engagement. Furthermore, the Beef Market Taskforce will offer a suitable platform for strategic engagement with key stakeholders, including retailers and regulatory authorities.

My Department is proactively engaging with several potential beef Producer Organisations, which have to potential to strengthen the bargaining power of beef farmers in the supply chain. The first beef Producer Organisation was approved by my Department last week.

A number of actions in the area of market transparency, beef promotion and strengthening the position of the farmer in the supply chain are included in the Agreement. For example:

- an immediate scientific review of the Quality Payment Grid by Teagasc;

- an independent review of market and customer requirements, specifically in relation to the four in-spec bonus criteria currently in operation in the Irish beef sector;

The agreed measures set a course towards greater clarity for all stakeholders involved in the beef supply chain, primarily farmers. The entry into force of the Agreement is contingent on the cessation of all protests and blockades. All parties to the Agreement took responsibility for ensuring that this would happen, by recommending the Agreement to those they represent. I would appeal to all those still protesting to consider the agreement carefully and to give it a chance to take effect, in the interest of their fellow farmers and the future of the beef sector.

Beef Environmental Efficiency Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (524)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

524. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of applications to the beef environmental efficiency pilot scheme by the closing deadline by county; the number of applications approved by county; the number not approved by county; the number of approved applications in which payments have issued by county; and the number of approved applicants that have not been paid by county in tabular form. [37716/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

In January of this year, I launched the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP), with a funding provision of €20m in 2019.  BEEP targets the weaning efficiency of suckler cows and calves, measuring the live weight of the calf pre-weaning as a percentage of the cow's live weight. BEEP had been announced in Budget 2019 as part of the €78m Brexit package for the agri-food industry. As well as clear environmental and climate benefits, BEEP will provide additional farm income at a time of market volatility and uncertainty relating to Brexit.

Some 19,131 farmers have registered their interest in participating in the Pilot and they will qualify for payment provided they comply with the requirements to weigh each cow and calf and provide the requisite data to ICBF in accordance with the Terms and Conditions. The €20 million funding available will allow for payment of up to a maximum of €40 per calf.  Payments are scheduled to commence towards the end of this year.

COUNTY

APPLICANTS

CARLOW

269

CAVAN

923

CLARE

1,483

CORK 

1,412

DONEGAL

912

DUBLIN

55

GALWAY

2,070

KERRY

965

KILDARE

217

KILKENNY

526

LAOIS

514

LEITRIM

645

LIMERICK

610

LONGFORD

574

LOUTH

182

MAYO

1,762

MEATH

454

MONAGHAN

648

OFFALY

477

ROSCOMMON

1,119

SLIGO

801

TIPPERARY

852

WATERFORD

292

WESTMEATH

591

WEXFORD

462

WICKLOW

316

 

Beef Environmental Efficiency Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (525)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

525. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of cows registered to the beef environmental efficiency pilot scheme by county in tabular form. [37717/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

In January of this year, I launched the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP), with a funding provision of €20m in 2019.  BEEP targets the weaning efficiency of suckler cows and calves - measuring the live weight of the calf pre-weaning as a percentage of the cow's live weight. BEEP had been announced in Budget 2019 as part of the €78m Brexit package for the agri-food industry. As well as clear environmental and climate benefits, BEEP will provide additional farm income at a time of market volatility and uncertainty relating to Brexit.

Some 19,131 farmers have registered their interest in participating in the Pilot and they will qualify for payment provided they comply with the requirements to weigh each cow and calf and provide the requisite data to ICBF in accordance with the Terms and Conditions. The €20 million funding available will allow for payment of up to a maximum of €40 per calf. The details of the potentially eligible calves under the Pilot registered to those 19,131 holdings are broken down by county here:

COUNTY

REGISTERED CALVES

CARLOW

8,723

CAVAN

20,968

CLARE

35,963

CORK 

35,025

DONEGAL

15,464

DUBLIN

2,013

GALWAY

47,489

KERRY

20,330

KILDARE

7,401

KILKENNY

18,858

LAOIS

18,068

LEITRIM

10,177

LIMERICK

15,982

LONGFORD

13,966

LOUTH

5,615

MAYO

32,168

MEATH

15,892

MONAGHAN

13,773

OFFALY

15,637

ROSCOMMON

24,915

SLIGO

14,586

TIPPERARY

27,471

WATERFORD

10,624

WESTMEATH

18,445

WEXFORD

16,851

WICKLOW

10,376

 

Agriculture Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (526)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

526. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of eligible farmers under the beef emergency aid measure scheme by county; the number of applications to the scheme; the number of approved applicants; the number of applicants whose applications were refused; the number of approved applicants that have received funding by county in tabular form; and if he will consider extending the deadline to ensure the maximum number of persons can apply to the scheme and drawdown funding. [37718/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The object of the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) is to provide temporary exceptional adjustment aid to farmers in the beef sector in Ireland subject to the conditions set out in EU Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1132. BEAM is funded by a combination of EU exceptional aid and Exchequer support, provided in light of the difficult circumstances that Irish beef farmers have been facing as a result of market volatility and uncertainty.

Under the scheme, aid will be paid on adult cattle slaughtered between September 24, 2018, and May 12, 2019, at a rate of €100 per animal subject to a maximum of 100 finished animals per herd.  Aid will also be paid on suckler cows that calved in 2018, at a rate of €40 per animal subject to a maximum of 40 sucklers per herd.

In order to be eligible for payment applicants needed to be a participant on one of the following schemes;

- Organic Farm Scheme (OFS)

- Green Low Carbon Agri-Environmental Scheme (GLAS)

- Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP)

- Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP)

or

- Be a participant or agree to join the Bord Bia – Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS)

Applications for BEAM were accepted from the 19th August with the deadline for applications passing on midnight of the 15th  September.  At the date, there were 32,525 approved applications received and these will be subject to validation and controls prior to any payment being made. A further 481 applications have been submitted under appeal from applicants that have been deemed ineligible but who have requested to be considered for inclusion in the scheme. Payments under BEAM are scheduled to commence in December 2019.

Following consultation with stakeholders, I have now reopened the online application facility and applications can now be submitted up until 5pm on Friday 20th September.  I am also happy to facilitate potential applicants at my Department’s stand at the National Ploughing Championships where I will have a dedicated team on site each day to answer any queries applicants may have and assist them in submitting their applications.

The county breakdown of potentially eligible herds as defined in the scheme Terms and Conditions is as follows:

COUNTY

Number of  Eligible Herds

Carlow

877

Cavan

3,356

Clare

4,584

Cork

5,825

Donegal

4,102

Dublin

259

Galway

8,517

Kerry

3,689

Kildare

1,270

Kilkenny

1,754

Laois

1,914

Leitrim

2,437

Limerick

2,948

Longford

1,826

Louth

778

Mayo

7,222

Meath

2,273

Monaghan

2,878

Offaly

2,120

Roscommon

4,227

Sligo

2,670

Tipperary

3,708

Waterford

1,046

Westmeath

2,181

Wexford

1,732

Wicklow

1,119

 

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (527)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

527. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on comments (details supplied) that in the event of a no-deal Brexit there will be checks on goods and live animals, with some taking place near the Border. [37719/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Taoiseach and the Government have maintained a clear and consistent position on this issue. It has been, and remains, that the Government's preferred outcome is a deal on the basis of the Withdrawal Agreement. This is the best way to ensure an orderly withdrawal, protect the Good Friday Agreement and avoid a hard border. Without a Withdrawal Agreement, avoiding a border would become more complex and challenging. There are no easy answers, and any solution will be suboptimal compared to the backstop contained in the Withdrawal Agreement.

The Brexit Contingency Action Plan Update of July 2019 makes it clear that a no-deal Brexit would result in far-reaching change on the island of Ireland. The Government is working closely with the European Commission to meet the shared, twin objectives of protecting the Single Market and Ireland's place in it, and avoiding physical infrastructure at the border. This work is looking at the necessary checks to preserve Ireland's full participation in the Single Market and Customs Union, and this work is on-going. 

Avoiding the return of a hard border is a Government priority. The Government must protect peace on the island and the success of the all-island economy. This is why the backstop continues to be a critical component of the Withdrawal Agreement, unless and until a realistic, legally-binding, and practical alternative is found. As the Taoiseach made clear in his comments, no such proposal has been received to date.

Land Issues

Ceisteanna (528)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

528. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the estimated quantity of land in hectares nationally and by county that is not eligible for current CAP pillar 1 payments which is high in biodiversity and that his Department has indicated to the European Court of Auditors should be eligible for pillar 2 payments under the Rural Development Programme per an article (details supplied) in tabular form. [37720/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The data requested by the Deputy is currently being compiled, and will be forwarded directly to the Deputy as soon as this has been completed.

Better Energy Homes Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (529)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

529. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the processing time for new applications under the SEAI warmer homes scheme in counties Meath and Louth. [37233/19]

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. My Department does not currently have a breakdown of processing times by county.

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (530)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

530. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the national broadband plan contractor will be able to claim compensation for the additional premises connected by Eir under the commitment agreement. [36963/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Since July 2013, my Department has engaged in an ongoing and extensive process of mapping and monitoring of broadband availability in Ireland. This has been supported by a number of public consultations from 2014 to date. My Department is now conducting a consultation (see link here ) which provides an opportunity for broadband infrastructure operators to review the NBP Map to ensure that it correctly represents the information provided by them in the course of past mapping and public consultation exercises.

The consultation also seeks to assist the Department in its ongoing monitoring of commercial roll out. eir has reported that an additional circa 34,000 premises outside but contiguous to the 300,000 rural deployment have also been passed at the end of June 2019. However, as these premises are not covered by the Commitment Agreement signed by eir in April 2017, they have to date remained in the Intervention Area i.e. represented as AMBER on the High Speed Broadband Map. Where eir demonstrates that these premises are in fact passed and subject to providing sufficient assurances that at least 95% of orders received from these premises will be connected at the standard regulated connection charge, the NBP map could be revised to reflect this. The consultation also seeks to identify premises where commercial plans have not materialised and, similar to the update to the NBP Map in 2017 where 84,500 premises were brought back into the Intervention Area, premises previously marked as commercially served could be brought into the Intervention Area as part of this consultation process.

Fuel Poverty

Ceisteanna (531, 532)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

531. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has or is conducting a review into fuel poverty in accordance with the priority recommendation on page 48 (details supplied) of the 2019 report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Action. [37063/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

532. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the Department which is undertaking a review into fuel poverty in accordance with the priority recommendation on page 48 (details supplied) of the 2019 report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Action; the groups or stakeholders the review has or is consulting; and when the review will be completed and circulated to members of the Houses of the Oireachtas. [37064/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 531 and 532 together.

The Government published the first Climate Action Plan on 17 June. The plan sets out, for the first time, the actions Ireland needs to take to reach our 2030 targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and also puts Ireland on the right trajectory towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

I welcomed the report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action which worked for months to establish a broad cross party consensus on a number of difficult issues, including a recommendation in favour of increasing the carbon tax to €80/t by 2030. The Government then adopted a similar commitment in the Climate Action Plan, as one action of the over 180 actions in the Plan. In so doing, the Joint Oireachtas Committee and the government are acting on the best advice of the Climate Change Advisory Council.

At a recent meeting of the Budget Oversight Committee, the Chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council stated that "a massive body of evidence from across the world shows that carbon taxes are essential. There are very few carbon tax deniers in the economics community. A recent statement by a large number of American economists, including 27 Nobel prize winners, identified carbon taxes as essential for the US and the world."

The government has been taking a number of steps to combat energy poverty:

- €26.3m funding between 2016 and 2019 for the Warmth and Wellbeing Scheme which targets those suffering from chronic health conditions.

- The eligibility criteria for the Warmer Homes Scheme was expanded to capture more people suffering deprivation. Deeper measures are also now provided under the scheme. A total of €105.7m has been provided for this scheme between 2016 and 2019 supporting over 20,500 energy efficiency upgrades during that period.

- €79m in funding has been provided to the Better Energy Community Scheme between 2016 and 2019 which has supported innovative, community-led initiatives, some of which have helped to address energy poverty.

- The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has ensured that competitive energy markets are working for all consumers, including those in, or at risk of, energy poverty.

The Climate Action Plan commits to reviewing ways to improve how current energy poverty schemes target those most in need. That work is underway.

The Department of Finance is also completing a distributional analysis of an increase in the carbon tax trajectory and the impact this will have on different groups, including those in poverty.

The question of how the carbon tax will impact on different income cohorts was examined in the recently published ESRI report titled ‘Carbon taxation in Ireland: distributional effects of revenue recycling policies’. This report is available at: https://www.esri.ie/publications/carbon-taxation-in-ireland-distributional-effects-of-revenue-recycling-policies.

A public consultation to ascertain the views of the public on the options for the use of revenues raised from increases in the Carbon Tax recently concluded. The Department of Finance consultation paper identified a range of potential options including a number of fuel poverty options. A copy of the consultation paper can be downloaded from: https://assets.gov.ie/9384/b078dbb6c7614c748b897ba01b481532.pdf

Landfill Sites

Ceisteanna (533, 541)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

533. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 546 of 21 May 2019, if a shortlist of candidates have been invited to tender for the project; the closing date for receipt of tenders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37088/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

541. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 546 of 21 May 2019, if a shortlist of candidates have been invited to tender for the project; the closing date for receipt of tenders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37304/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 533 and 541 together.

In December 2018, Kildare County Council, the contracting authority, invited tenders for the remediation of Kerdiffstown landfill. The closing date for submissions was extended until 14 February 2019 on foot of requests for more time made on the eTenders procurement website.

This process of evaluation is still underway and Kildare County Council have now shortlisted tenders received from interested parties who have engaged in the tendering process, with a view to awarding a successful tenderer by the end of this year. The procurement process is being managed by Kildare County Council in accordance with the Office of Public Procurement guidelines and regulatory framework. Information is available on the Kildare County Council website (Kerdiffstown Park) at http://www.kildare.ie/countycouncil/kerdiffstownpark/.

Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (534)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

534. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the Minerals Development Act 2017 is fully enacted; if not, the legislation that pertains to minerals development; the environmental protection laws that apply to the Act in force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37135/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Minerals Development Act 2017 was enacted on the 26th July 2017 however it is not yet commenced. The legislation relating to minerals development is covered in the Minerals Development Acts 1940 to 1999 as amended. There are three separate State consents required to develop a mine:

- An Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) Licence is required from the Environmental Protection Agency;

- Planning Permission is required from the Local Authority (including preparation of a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to support their application for Planning Permission); and

- A Mining Lease/Licence is required from the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (535)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

535. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the roll out of broadband to a premises (details supplied). [37172/19]

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. The premises referenced by the Deputy is located 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.

The State intervention is the subject of the procurement process to engage a company to build, operate and maintain the NBP State intervention network. In May 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 of 7 May 2019 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to the Bidder. This award is subject to contract close. The finalisation of financial closure and legal requirements are progressing towards contract award. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network will commence shortly after that.

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

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

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

Work continues on finalising the contract and in parallel to this work, I am considering the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Communications Committee report which was published recently. I will bring my deliberations of the report to Government in due course.

Fishing Industry

Ceisteanna (536)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

536. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his attention has been drawn to fines being issued by Inland Fisheries Ireland to anglers fishing without possession of a midlands regional fishing permit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37213/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Midlands Fisheries Permit applies to fisheries in the ownership of the ESB which are defined as private fisheries. The ESB’s midlands fisheries are managed by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) by agreement with the ESB including and arrangement for IFI to use the permit fees, due to ESB as fishery owners, from these fisheries to fund the management costs. These costs are additional to IFI’s costs for managing State owned fisheries. ESB charge similar fees for its directly managed fisheries.

The practice of charging permit fees is long established and angling clubs that licence a fishery from the State may also charge a permit for anglers, not a member of the club.

It is important to note that a significant portion of the permit revenue is redistributed by IFI into the catchments by way of the Midlands Fisheries Fund which provides funding to angling clubs, community groups etc. to enhance those fisheries.

Annual permit fees amount to 86c per week for adults, 48c per week for senior citizens and 38c per week for juveniles. Permits for shorter periods are also available.

Section 178 of the Fisheries Consolidation Act 1959 provides that it is an offence to fish in a private fishery without the required authorisation. IFI are charged with enforcing this section and section 80 of the Inland Fisheries Act 2010 provides that a fixed charge notice may be issued in respect of such offences.

Salmon Management Report

Ceisteanna (537)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

537. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his attention has been drawn to a recent article (details supplied); if his Department is committed to the salmon conservation programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37216/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The media report referred to by the Deputy does not in any way reflect the context or content of the conversation which took place at a meeting at which I was present on 23 July last.

My Department is fully committed to fisheries conservation and protection. Salmon in all waters in Ireland are afforded specific protection via established fisheries policy, licensing, tagging, the opening, closing or catch and release provisions for fisheries based on the state of their individual stock and annual conservation legislation initiated by the Department. All of this is underpinned by annual scientific assessment of each of Ireland’s more than 140 genetically distinct salmon fisheries. Ireland’s protection of salmon is considered best in class internationally and aligns fully with the EU Habitats Directive and the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) principles.

The salmon management regime also applies to sea-trout over 40cms in length and the potential to extend similar protection policies to other salmonid species could be considered to afford particular protection to salmonids generally.

Medical Waste Disposal

Ceisteanna (538)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

538. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the position regarding introducing a bin charge waiver for households that have to dispose of incontinence wear; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37220/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Since mid-2017, a range of charging options have operated, which encourage householders to reduce and separate their waste. This provides flexibility to waste collectors to develop various service-price offerings that suit different household circumstances. Mandatory per kilogramme 'pay by weight' charging was not introduced. A Price Monitoring Group (PMG) was established in mid-2017 to monitor the on-going cost of residential waste collection to homeowners across Ireland as the ‘flat-rate structure’ was being phased out. While fluctuations in prices and service offerings have been observed, the overall trend has been relative price stability. My Department has engaged with relevant stakeholders, including representative organisations and public bodies, in an effort to see how best to provide a financial support to persons with long-term incontinence with respect to the disposal of medical incontinence wear.

While there are complex issues at play in this area, which are understandable given the sensitive nature of the medical data in question, my Department is continuing to examine options to address this issue.

Broadband Service Provision

Question No. 541 answered with Question No. 533.

Ceisteanna (539, 540)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

539. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if fibre broadband will be supplied to an area (details supplied). [37289/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Robert Troy

Ceist:

540. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if fibre broadband will be supplied to an area (details supplied). [37290/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 539 and 540 together.

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.

Both premises referenced by the Deputy are located 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 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 of 7 May 2019 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to the Bidder. This award is subject to contract close, including finalisation of financial and legal documents. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network will commence shortly 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.

Work continues on finalising the contract and in parallel to this work, I am considering the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Communications Committee report which was published recently. I will bring my deliberations of the report to Government in due course.

Question No. 541 answered with Question No. 533.

Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (542, 543, 544)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

542. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of broadband provision for a property (details supplied). [37316/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

543. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of broadband provision for a property (details supplied). [37317/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

544. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of broadband provision for a property (details supplied). [37318/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 542 to 544, inclusive, together.

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.

The premises referenced by the Deputy are all located 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.

The State 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. The finalisation of financial closure and legal requirements are progressing towards contract award. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network will commence shortly after that.

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

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

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