Energy Efficiency

Ceisteanna (545)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

545. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the process by which 500,000 homes are to be retrofitted to reduce carbon emissions; and if the details of the scheme are available for potential applicants. [37353/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Government’s Climate Action Plan 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 €3.7 billion 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 drive the development of a new national delivery model, which will group homes together, create easy pay back mechanisms and find smart financing. Development of the new model will be informed by the experience from existing schemes in Ireland as well as best practice in other jurisdictions. The first meeting of the Taskforce will take place later this month.

In advance of the introduction of the new retrofitting delivery model, a number of schemes to support energy efficiency upgrades continue to be available from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. Further information on these schemes is available at: www.seai.ie

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (546)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

546. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the projected increase in the gross capital expenditure ceiling applying to his Department in 2020 over 2019; and the projects this increase has been earmarked for. [37453/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The 2020 pre-budget capital ceiling for my Department is €297m, an increase of €24m or nearly 9% on this year's capital allocation of €273m. Final capital provisions for 2020 will be agreed in the context of the Estimates process and will be made public on Budget Day, while detailed allocations by Programme area will be published in the Revised Estimates Volume in December next. My Department and its agencies will continue to progress capital investment programmes in areas of strategic national importance, encompassing climate action, energy efficiency, communications, environment, waste management and natural resources.

In the Communications area, the rollout of the National Broadband Plan will ensure that the opportunities presented by the digital transformation are available to every home and business in the country. There will be continued support for digital entrepreneurship and digital adoption among businesses and citizens.

Increased investment in the Energy area will deliver significant energy savings and reductions in CO2 emissions in the transition to a low carbon economy and society, in line with the all of Government Climate Action Plan. Key funding priorities include energy efficiency upgrades in the residential, commercial and public sectors, the rollout of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat, continued incentivisation of electric vehicles, as well as funding for energy research to accelerate the diversification away from fossil fuels to green energy.

In the Environment area, my Department will continue to provide grant funding for the EPA to ensure it can deliver on its mandate, funding to Local Authorities in relation to the remediation of landfill sites, as well as supports for the transition to a circular and resource efficient economy. Ongoing investment in the INFOMAR and Tellus mapping projects will underpin the sustainable development of Ireland’s natural resources.

Climate Change Advisory Council

Ceisteanna (547)

Noel Rock

Ceist:

547. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the report of third Climate Change Advisory Council annual review on climate change addressed concerns that emissions in Irish agriculture have steadily increased by 14% since 2011; the amount spent to date buying credits; the level of financial provision in the budget for buying carbon credits in 2019 and 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37481/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I welcome the detailed review and assessment of the Agriculture and Land undertaken by the Climate Change Advisory Council in its 2019 Annual Review, published on 17 July. The Council notes that emissions from agriculture represent approximately one third of total emissions and that emissions increased by 2.9% in 2017 compared to 2016, and by 6.9% relative to 2014. The Council's Annual Review notes that this has largely been driven by the removal of quotas on dairy production, resulting in higher dairy cow numbers with an increase in milk production. To address the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland, I published the Climate Action Plan on 17 June. The Plan sets out, for the first time, how Ireland can reach its 2030 targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Plan requires a significant step-up in ambition, with a target abatement range for each of the key sectors that contribute to Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions: Electricity, Enterprise, Built Environment, Transport, Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use, Waste and the Circular Economy, and the Public Sector.

The Plan identifies a 10% - 15% reduction in emissions from agriculture, relative to business as usual projections. It sets out a range of actions to: reduce emissions on farms; promote afforestation and diversification of land use; develop opportunities in the bio-economy and in the supply of substitutes for fossil fuels; promote better management of peatlands and soils; and develop clusters of best practice. Implementation of these actions will, collectively, help to further underpin the environmental credentials of the Irish agriculture sector and better position it to meet the evolving expectations of both domestic and international markets. This, in turn, will help prepare the sector for longer-term restructuring and adaptation that will be required to meet our carbon neutrality objectives.

In relation to the costs of purchasing carbon credits for compliance with Ireland’s emissions targets for the period 2013 to 2020 under the 2009 Effort Sharing Decision 406/2009/EC (ESD), my Department currently estimates the additional costs to be in the region of €6m to €13m, depending on the price and final quantity of allowances required. This is in addition to a total of €120 million that has already been spent as part of Ireland’s strategy to meet its targets under the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2008-2012), arising from which approximately 5,500,000 carbon credits are currently held by the State, which may be used for ESD compliance. I expect that the costs associated with purchasing additional carbon credits will arise over the period to 2022 and that sufficient provision will be made in my Department's Vote for this purpose.

Climate Change Policy

Ceisteanna (548)

Noel Rock

Ceist:

548. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the way in which he plans to deal with carbon storage rather than peatland emissions (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37487/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Climate Action Plan acknowledges that how we manage our land affects how much carbon is emitted to, or removed from, the atmosphere and that switching from one use to another can fundamentally change an area’s capacity to store carbon. The Plan, therefore, includes a range of actions aimed at reducing emissions from agricultural land use, promoting increased rates of afforestation and improving the management of Ireland’s peatlands. Peatlands cover 21% of our land area. A high proportion of this is under agricultural and other uses, with 16% designated for nature conservation purposes. Peatlands represent 64% of our total soil organic carbon stock, representing the largest store of carbon in the Irish landscape. The Climate Action Plan commits to better management of Ireland's carbon sinks with a range of measures such as:

- restoring / rewetting all raised bogs designated as Special Areas of Conservation and Natural Heritage Areas within three cycles of the National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017-2022 . Such restoration measures and hydrological management of our protected peatlands will halt and reduce peat oxidation and carbon loss;

- undertaking further research to assess the potential to sequester, store and reduce emissions of carbon through the management, restoration and rehabilitation of peatlands as outlined in the National Peatlands Strategy ;

- realising the emissions reduction potential of at least 40,000 hectares of grasslands on drained organic soils, yielding up to an additional 0.44 Mt in sequestered carbon dioxide annually between 2021 and 2030. Priority actions include identifying precisely which areas of carbon-rich and drained organic agricultural soils are suitable for water-table-management techniques to reduce carbon losses. This work will inform the development of agri-environment policies, including the new CAP, recognising regionally differentiated strategies may be appropriate; and

- creating additional incentives to adopt carbon-positive, post-production management options on Bord na Móna lands, and similar options on other commercial and private peat extraction sites.

Metropolitan Area Networks Programme

Ceisteanna (549)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

549. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the review of pricing and access arrangements for MANs underway at the Commission for Communications Regulation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37519/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Analysys Mason Review of Pricing and Access Arrangements for the MANs noted that enet was not in compliance with the agreed Code of Practice in relation to its approach to intercompany transfer pricing. In that regard I referred the report in February to the Commission for Communications Regulation, in view of its acknowledged expertise in the area, to undertake a review to:

· Establish whether enet complied with its obligation under the Code of Practice to offer managed services on the MAN's in the context of national end to end services at non-discriminatory prices such that its related company, enet Telecommunications Networks Ltd did not obtain a material unfair advantage.

· Confirm the revised intercompany transfer pricing arrangements in place are in compliance with the Code of Practice.

· Confirm that the Analysys Mason recommendations are being implemented.

· Based on the findings of its review, make recommendations to the Minister.

I understand that the Commission’s work is still ongoing and I await the outcome of the review.

Climate Change Policy

Ceisteanna (550)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

550. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the projected energy need of Ireland in 2050 on a no policy change basis and if Ireland achieves carbon reduction targets, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37522/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Under Article 15 of Regulation (EU) 2018/1999 on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action, Member States are required to prepare, by 1 January 2020, a Long-Term Climate Strategy. This strategy is to have a perspective of at least 30 years and shall include emission reduction pathways in individual sectors. Action 1 under the Climate Action Plan, which I published in June of this year, commits to evaluating in detail the changes required to adopt a more ambitious commitment of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as part of finalising Ireland’s long-term climate strategy by the end of 2019 as per the advice of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the recommendation of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action.

Least cost pathways analysis for Ireland’s energy system, undertaken in 2017 to inform the development of the National Mitigation Plan, provided details on the carbon emissions trajectory in 2050 under both a business as usual emissions scenario and under a scenario where carbon emissions are constrained to at least 80% below 1990 levels in 2050, consistent with Ireland's existing national policy position for 2050, and in the context of achieving Ireland’s non-ETS targets for 2030. The report, entitled ‘Energy Modelling to Inform the National Mitigation Plan,’ is available on my Department’s website at the following link: https://dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/climate-action/topics/national-mitigation-plan/Pages/default.aspx

This report concludes that major individual sectors achieve decarbonisation of between 72% and 89% relative to 1990 by 2050. While the focus of this report was on emissions scenarios rather than energy demand, it is anticipated that updated analysis for Ireland’s energy system in 2050, to be prepared to inform the preparation of the Long Term Strategy, will also seek to consider the implications for Ireland’s final energy use requirements in 2050.

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (551)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

551. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the signing of a contract for the national broadband plan is contingent on upcoming legal challenges to which the bidder and-or partners of the bidder are a party; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37523/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The bidder in the NBP was required to demonstrate its capacity to meet the economic, technical and financial pre-qualification criteria as set out in the Project Information Memorandum. In addition, as with other procurement processes, the bidder was required to confirm it has the legal capacity and is not otherwise constrained (including constraints imposed by funders and/or other stakeholders) in relation to its ability to enter into a contract and to fulfil its role in the delivery of the Project. My Department has the right to verify that these requirements continue to be satisfied as part of its due diligence process prior to contract award.

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (552)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

552. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the breakdown of the 133,000 premises which will be passed by the national broadband plan in the first two years; if each of the 133,000 premises will be passed or connected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37524/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

National Broadband Ireland (NBI) has indicated that the NBP State intervention will take an estimated 7 years from the beginning of deployment. A deployment plan can only be made available by NBI once a contract is signed. As outlined in the Deputy's question NBI 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. Those premises which are passed and whose owners then place an order with a retail service provider will then be connected by NBI.

Energy Policy

Ceisteanna (553, 554, 555, 556)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

553. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when he will carry out a strategic environment assessment of the EU Projects of Common Interest list, including proposed LNG terminals which will be importing fracked gas from the United States of America; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37587/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

554. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has requested the opinion of the strategic environment assessment section of the Environmental Protection Agency to determine if an assessment is required for projects on the EU PCI list. [37588/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

555. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his policy in relation to imported fracked gas or the fracking of gas in Northern Ireland; if his attention has been drawn to recent research by a person (details supplied) which showed that fracking in the United States of America is responsible for at least 50% of worldwide methane emissions increases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37589/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

556. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason the inclusion of fracked gas in the energy mix here is supported in view of IPCC reports that the energy system here should be decarbonised and fossil fuel reserves kept in the ground; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37590/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 553 to 556, inclusive, together.

Successive Governments have underlined the commitment to move from a fossil fuel-based electricity system to a low-carbon power system. Almost two thirds of renewable energy used in Ireland comes from renewable electricity.

The Government has published and started implementing the Climate Action Plan, which sets out the actions which must be taken in order for Ireland to meet its climate targets.

The Climate Action Plan includes a 70% target of our electricity coming from renewable sources. The majority of this target will be delivered by an increase in on-shore and off-shore wind, as well as solar. However, when Ireland meets its renewable electricity target for 2030, having fully removed coal and peat from electricity generation, there will still be a requirement for back-up when the level of wind needed or the level of sunshine is not available.

For example, in a recent 30 day period, 25% of Ireland’s electricity was provided by wind generation. However, over this same period, one day had only 4% of our electricty provided by wind and on another day it provided 62% of our electricty. To ensure that power is still available on a day or a week where there is very little wind, it will be necessary to consider the appropriate fuel mix in reaching 70% renewable electricity.

In all projected transitions to a low carbon economy by 2050, gas will continue to play a role in sustaining the transition. It plays an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the power generation, industrial and commercial, residential and transport sectors by replacing more CO2-intensive fossil fuels.

Furthermore, gas-fired electricity generation is well placed to address the intermittency of wind and solar supplies and provide back-up flexibility and reliability for our electricity supply. While batteries, greater interconnection and demand side response will play a role, gas fired power stations will provide flexible and reliable electricity, particularly when weather powered, intermittent sources of energy can be very low for prolonged periods of time, possibly lasting weeks at a time.

In relation to LNG projects, commercial developers have proposed a number of projects, including the Shannon LNG project and another project in Cork. Final investment decisions for these projects and compliance with any legal and regulatory requirements in relation to consents or permits are the responsibility of the project promoters.

The production, sourcing, buying and selling of natural gas produced outside this jurisdiction would also be an operational matter for the undertakings involved. Any undertaking would be required to comply with EU law in this area. In relation to fracked gas in Ireland, the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development (Prohibition of Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing) Act 2017 provides for the prohibition of exploration for and extraction of onshore petroleum by means of hydraulic fracturing.

All Projects of Common Interest must fulfil the conditions on environmental assessment procedures provided for in both national and European law. EU Regulation 347/2013, which provides for the designation of a project of common interest, does not override the requirement to comply with environmental law. Any legal and regulatory requirements of the permit granting process, including environmental assessment, are the responsibility of the individual project promoters. Decisions on consents for the construction of an LNG plant would be a matter for the relevant consenting authorities, including the Environmental Protection Agency, where appropriate.

My Department will undertake an evaluation of security of energy supply taking into account our transition to a zero carbon world so we can make decisions based on evidence. This review will include a full consideration of international evidence.

Oireachtas Joint Committee Recommendations

Ceisteanna (557)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

557. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the efforts he has made to implement the recommendation regarding assigning overall responsibility for the peatland conservation programme under actions 131 and 134 of the Climate Action Plan 2019 and chapter 8 page 75 of the report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37591/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Better management of peatlands and soils under Actions 131 to 134 in the Plan will support the protection and enhancement of the carbon sink function of peatland landscapes, including through assessment and implementation of mitigation options on post-production, peat extraction sites, and the implementation of measures for peatlands conservation. The Plan recognises the current position that a number of different bodies are responsible for the management of Ireland's peatlands and identifies the relevant lead responsible body and relevant stakeholders in respect of each action. In this respect, I am satisfied that the Plan provides for effective implementation of actions relating to the management of peatlands. The plan also established a Climate Action Delivery Board to oversee the delivery of all actions in the Plan and to hold each Department and public body to account for their responsibilities under the Plan. The Delivery Board, which is chaired jointly by the Secretary General to the Government and the Secretary General of my Department, is required to present a delivery report to the Cabinet Committee and the Cabinet, which will be published on a quarterly basis, with the first quarterly report to cover the period to the end of September 2019.

Commission for Regulation of Utilities Remit

Ceisteanna (558, 559)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

558. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on whether the Commission for Regulation of Utilities functions under the 1999 and 2016 electricity and energy legislation are fit for purpose in view of the likelihood of a net zero carbon target for the power generation sector by 2050; his plans to revise the legislation in order that the functions of the commission include the prioritisation of decarbonised electricity generation and compliance with climate obligations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37592/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

559. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has instructed the Commission for Regulation of Utilities to advise its networks on the need for new business models and investment strategies to achieve a low and ultimately decarbonised carbon power generation sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37593/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 558 and 559 together.

Responsibility for the regulation of the gas and electricity markets is a matter for the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU). It is an independent statutory body, solely accountable to a committee of the Oireachtas for the performance of its functions. The Electricity Regulation Act (ERA), 1999, as amended, sets out the statutory duties, functions and powers of the CRU.

The legislation stipulates, inter alia, that the CRU has due regard of the need to promote the use of renewable, sustainable or alternative forms of energy, and take into account protection of the environment. The CRU also has the duty in the Act to carry out its functions and exercise the powers conferred on it under the Act in a manner which, inter alia, the Commission considers protects the interests of final customers of electricity or gas or both, as the case may be.

The Clean Energy Package is a fundamental update of the EU’s energy policy framework to facilitate the transition away from fossil fuels towards cleaner energy and to deliver on the EU’s Paris Agreement commitments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Package is in the process of transposition and may involve amending CRU’s statutory duties, functions and powers in order to give effect to the Package by the due date.

There are a range of actions in the Climate Action Plan where the CRU has been assigned the lead role and are progressing the actions accordingly

My Department's Statement of Strategy 2019- 2021 includes an action being progressed by CRU to review its regulatory policies, rules and decisions on electricity generation to assess how they support Ireland’s decarbonisation commitments and energy policy objectives.

Accordingly, the necessity for such a specific additional amendment regarding prioritising the functions of the CRU in this way has not been identified and is not being considered.

Regarding a Ministerial instruction to the CRU, Section 10A of the ERA outlines the procedure under which “general policy directions” may be given to the regulator authority, including details on the tasks and inter-alia timelines and consultation requirements with the independent regulator and Oireachtas. The legislation also identifies restrictions on the areas where policy directions may not be given, including a prohibition on a Ministerial policy direction to the regulator for the performance of its functions in relation to individual holders of licences.

In addition, the European energy regulatory regime provides that EU Member States must guarantee the independence of National Regulatory Authorities and that they are expressively forbidden from taking direct instructions from government. The regime also restricts policy directions in the form of general policy guidelines in certain areas that are prescribed regulatory duties and powers in the EU Energy acquis.

The Climate Action Plan (Action 147) includes a commitment to introduce Climate Action Mandates for every public body through the use of Ministerial policy direction, or equivalent power, which in the case of CRU will be aligned with the existing domestic electricity regulatory framework and the EU electricity regulatory regime.

The Deputy may wish to note that in its recently published Strategy Statement 2019-2021 the CRU identified “Delivering sustainable low-carbon solutions with well regulated markets and networks” as the first of its four strategic priorities.

Postal Codes

Ceisteanna (560)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

560. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the provision of an Eircode to a person (details supplied) will be expedited as a matter of urgency in view of the fact that they are unable to obtain the appropriate services into their new house; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37615/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Eircodes are assigned to new property addresses using a valid postal address and verified geo-locations. An Post collects information on new and existing buildings, as well as changes to existing addresses and Ordnance Survey Ireland provides the geo-locations for these buildings. An Post GeoDirectory issues a new release of the GeoDirectory database file on a quarterly basis to Capita Business Support Services Ireland, trading as Eircode, in accordance with their licence agreement. Each new postal address assigned an Eircode is published on the free to use Eircode Finder website, a notification letter is issued to the property occupant containing the Eircode of that address and an updated Eircode Database is provided to licenced businesses for their use. Eircode have informed my Department that 87,700 property addresses have been assigned an Eircode since the launch in 2015

An Post have informed my officials they have updated the individuals postal address and geo-location information in their systems and this information should be included in the next release of data to be issued from An Post GeoDirectory to Eircode. My Department has requested Eircode to contact and liaise directly with the individual in question regarding the assignment of an Eircode for this new property.

Once the Eircode database is updated on a quarterly basis it is then a matter for individual Eircode database providers to provide updates to commercial businesses in accordance with the terms of their licence agreements.

In recognition of the fact that earlier assignment of Eircodes to new builds is desirable, my officials are working with An Post, Ordnance Survey Ireland, An Post GeoDirectory and Capita to improve and expedite the existing process.

Electric Vehicles

Ceisteanna (561)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

561. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to increase the number of e-car charging points in County Kildare and nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37653/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The All of Government Climate Action Plan, which I launched in June this year, sets out a range of actions to support the delivery of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. These actions include: - introducing a capital support that will be provided to Local Authorities for the development of on-street public chargers;

- commencing the ESB Electric Vehicle High Power Charging Infrastructure Development Project, supported by the Climate Action Fund;

- including electric vehicle fast chargers as a category eligible for support in the next call from Climate Action Fund;

- expanding the Electric Vehicle Home Charger Grant to include shared parking (e.g. in apartment blocks);

- developing and implementing planning rules and guidelines across residential and non-residential parking locations for electric vehicle charging infrastructure; and

- developing an overarching charging infrastructure strategy with a view to the supply of infrastructure to stay ahead of demand.

Last month, I announced funding to support the rollout by Local Authorities of up to 1,000 on-street public charge points for electric vehicles over the next 5 years. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland will administer a scheme where Local Authorities can apply for funding to develop on-street charging infrastructure. The detailed terms and conditions for the scheme are currently being developed and I expect the scheme to open for applications shortly.

In addition, we will introduce new regulations to require non-domestic buildings with over 20 car parking spaces to install charging facilities.

In addition, I approved funding of up to €10 million from the Climate Action Fund to support ESB ecars to develop a nationwide, state-of-the-art electric vehicle fast charging network. This project includes the installation of 90 high-power chargers each of which will be capable of charging two vehicles simultaneously, upgrading 50 existing standard chargers to fast chargers and replacing over 250 existing standard chargers with next generation high reliability models. This is a multi-annual project and is expected to be fully completed by 2022. The locations of the chargers that will be installed as part of this project have not been finalised. However, a provisional map of the planned network, showing indicative locations, was developed by ESB ecars and has been published on my Department’s website.

Data Sharing Arrangements

Ceisteanna (562)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

562. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if data held by the State is provided to private air carriers or airports for use in facial scanners in operation in airports here; if so, the nature and source of the data; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37518/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I can confirm to the Deputy that no data held by the State is supplied to private air carriers or airports for use in facial scanners in operation in Ireland’s airports.

I understand that Dublin Airport is at present trialling facial recognition for certain departing flights which involves the biometric data already stored on a chip in a passenger’s passport being linked to their boarding card and baggage tag. This is a closed system and does not involve the transfer or retention of any data. This information is used only for the purposes of boarding a particular flight. Facial recognition technology then cross-references the data at the gate, helping to speed up the passenger's journey.

Facial recognition is also employed at US Preclearance in Dublin and Shannon Airports to verify the identity of travellers about to enter the United States. I can confirm that no data held by the Irish State is supplied to anyone for use in this process.

Road Network

Ceisteanna (563)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

563. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will commence a review into the service station policy for national roads. [36961/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the operation, maintenance and management of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.  

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) is undertaking a review of policy in relation to the provision of service areas on motorway and dual carriageway sections of the national road network. As well as providing safe stop and rest areas for motorists, service areas typically include food, fuel and toilet facilities.

 The current TII Service Area Policy document, which is available on TII's website, was published in 2014, following a comprehensive review of the motorway and dual carriageway networks to identify key locations where service areas were needed. 

 By way of background information, a consultation paper has been prepared which outlines the context for the development of the policy; and the service areas that have opened or are under construction since 2014.

Submissions have been invited by TII and should be marked “Consultation on Service Area Policy”. The submission can be emailed to serviceareapolicy@tii.ie on or before Friday, 27 September 2019. Alternatively, submissions may be posted to TII so that they are received by that date.

Driver Licences

Ceisteanna (564)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

564. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if progress has been made regarding the provision of driver licences for asylum seekers. [36962/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I have no update for the Deputy since my previous reply to him in May.  As I informed the Deputy at that time my understanding is that the Minister for Justice and Equality is seeking background material from the European Migration Network as to interpretation and implementation of Article 12 of Directive 2006/26/EC.

Driver Licensing Exchange Agreements

Ceisteanna (565)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

565. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will review a matter in relation to a person (details supplied); if a solution to same will be provided; if he will consult with the RSA on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36992/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

Sports Funding

Ceisteanna (566)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

566. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of an application for funding by a club (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37052/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The 2018 round of the Sports Capital Programme closed for applications on Friday 19th October last.  By that deadline, a record 2,337 applications were submitted seeking a total of €162m in funding. 

186 of these applications were for projects that were deemed invalid under the 2017 round of the programme that subsequently submitted corrected documents.  These applications were assessed first and approximately €7m in allocations to 170 projects were announced on the 17th January. 

619 equipment only applications were assessed next and 466 allocations with a value of €9.8m were announced to these organisations in May.

Work is now underway in assessing the remaining applications, including an application from the organisation referred to by the Deputy. 

For the first time, applicants who submitted incorrect documentation under this round are being given the opportunity to correct their application during the assessment period. While there will be no undue delay in completing the assessment process, in view of the opportunity to correct documentation, the record number of applications received and the detailed information contained in each application, it is likely to take a further number of weeks to have all applications assessed with allocations announced shortly after that.   As soon as allocations have been made, my Department will carry out a review of all aspects of the 2018 round of the programme to include any possible improvements for the future. This review will include consideration of the timing and scale of the next round but I fully expect that the SCP will again be open for new applications before the end of this year.  

Road Traffic Legislation

Ceisteanna (567)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

567. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the agency responsible for the issuing of licences for the operation of horse-drawn carriages and enforcement of same in Dublin city under current legislation, in view of the fact that the Dublin Carriage Act 1853, the Dublin Amended Carriage Act 1854, the Dublin Amended Carriage Act 1855 and SI No. 198 of 1946 - Dublin Carriage Bye-Laws 1946 still appear to be in force; and when the legal lacuna will be resolved. [37056/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Part 19 of the Local Government Act 2001 provides a general power to a local authority to make bye-laws in relation to its own property or services or to regulate matters of local concern.  It is under this Act that local authorities can choose to regulate horse-drawn carriages that operate for hire or reward.  Some local authorities develop bye-laws to licence horse-drawn carriages operating commercially. Through bye-laws, these local authorities set their own rules and stipulations to govern such operations.

In February 2011, Dublin City Council (DCC) took over responsibility for the licensing of horse-drawn carriage operators and drivers from the Garda Carriage Office. DCC made bye-laws in the same year for the licensing of horse-drawn carriages under the Local Government Act, 2001.

In 2018 DCC became aware that - specifically in relation to Dublin - this legal basis for making such bye-laws could be uncertain, as the Dublin Carriage Acts 1853-55 had vested the power to regulate horse-drawn carriages in Dublin with the Dublin Metropolitan Police Commissioners, to whom An Garda Síochána is the successor.

My Department examined this issue and, following legal advice, is now of the view that the Dublin Carriage Acts 1853-55 remain in force and preclude DCC from enacting the relevant bye-laws.  Also, it seems that a simple repeal of the Victorian legislation alone may not be sufficient to enable DCC to enact bye-laws for horse-drawn carriages.  Therefore, my Department is now working with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to identify how best to empower DCC to regulate this area.

Sports Capital Programme Administration

Ceisteanna (568)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

568. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the timing of the processing of the current round of sports capital grants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37067/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The 2018 round of the Sports Capital Programme closed for applications on Friday 19th October last.  By that deadline, a record 2,337 applications were submitted seeking a total of €162m in funding. 

186 of these applications were for projects that were deemed invalid under the 2017 round of the programme that subsequently submitted corrected documents.  These applications were assessed first and approximately €7m in allocations to 170 projects were announced on the 17th January. 

619 equipment only applications were assessed next and 466 allocations with a value of €9.8m were announced to these organisations in May.

Work is now underway in assessing the remaining applications for capital works.  For the first time, applicants who submitted incorrect documentation under this round are being given the opportunity to correct their application during the assessment period. While there will be no undue delay in completing the assessment process, in view of the opportunity to correct documentation, the record number of applications received and the detailed information contained in each application, it is likely to take a further number of weeks to have all applications assessed with allocations announced shortly after that.  

As soon as allocations have been made, my Department will carry out a review of all aspects of the 2018 round of the programme to include any possible improvements for the future. This review will include consideration of the timing and scale of the next round but I fully expect that the SCP will again be open for new applications before the end of this year.