Agriculture Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (199)

Pat Breen

Ceist:

199. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when an application will be processed for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40082/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

A 2019 Basic Payment/Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme application in respect of the person named was received in my Department on 8th March 2019.

Processing of this application has recently been completed and a payment under the Area of Natural Constraints Scheme will issue shortly.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (200)

John Deasy

Ceist:

200. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a payment will issue to a person (details supplied) under the disadvantaged areas scheme. [40083/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named submitted a 2019 Basic Payment/Areas of Natural Constraints Schemes application on the 1st May 2019. EU Regulations governing the administration of these schemes require that full and comprehensive administrative checks, including in some cases, remote sensing (i.e. satellite) inspections, be completed before any payments issue.

The application of the person named was selected for a Remote Sensing eligibility inspection. This inspection is currently being processed with the intention of issuing any payments due as soon as possible. In the event that any queries arise, officials in my Department will be in contact with the person named.

Electric Vehicle Grants

Ceisteanna (201, 202)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

201. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the funding spent and number of cars covered by the electric vehicle purchase grant in each year since its creation by month, by hybrid cars, plug hybrid cars and fully electric vehicles to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39996/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

202. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the annual expenditure on the electric and hybrid vehicle scheme since its inception; and the number of each class of vehicle that has been granted a subsidy in each year in tabular form. [40001/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 201 and 202 together.

The electric vehicle purchase grant, introduced in April 2011, provides grant aid of up to €5,000 towards the purchase of a new battery electric vehicle or new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. The scheme does not support the purchase of standard hybrid vehicles.

From the introduction of the scheme to date, grant support has been provided for the purchase of a total of almost 8,400 new vehicles to the value of nearly €39 million. Approximately two-thirds of the grants have been provided to battery electric vehicles with the remaining one-third to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

SEAI, who operate the grant, have provided detail of the number of grants paid in each month and the annual spend since the scheme commenced. This is set out in the following table.

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Jan

0

2

1

14

38

0

20

61

0

Feb

0

0

6

27

89

69

131

135

566

Mar

0

8

5

30

44

127

93

153

588

Apr

0

3

2

22

72

88

88

153

662

May

0

18

4

24

64

46

83

211

425

Jun

23

23

6

9

27

42

59

159

307

Jul

5

10

5

19

41

32

51

58

301

Aug

11

14

7

22

71

93

112

475

573

Sep

2

6

5

33

66

54

86

221

394

Oct

0

17

3

25

20

42

55

210

Nov

0

64

2

17

17

27

84

82

Dec

1

18

7

14

6

18

46

83

Total Number of grants

42

183

53

256

555

638

908

2001

3816

Amount paid (€m)

0.198

0.767

0.242

1,203

2.648

3.039

4.262

9.134

17.344

I have also requested the SEAI to follow up with the Deputies to provide further detail as requested in their questions.

Proposed Legislation

Ceisteanna (203)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

203. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason for the delay in progressing the long-promised Aarhus Convention Bill; if the Bill will allow for financial assistance for community and environmental groups to seek expert advice in relation to planning and environmental issues in view of the fact that major planning applications contain detailed and technical documents which can be hard for lay persons to properly understand and critique; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40012/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (The Aarhus Convention) was adopted on 25 June 1998. Ireland ratified the Convention on 20 June 2012. The Aarhus Convention and related EU Directives had, prior to ratification, been given legal effect in Ireland by over 60 pieces of legislation and additional subsequent legislation has further reinforced its integration into Irish law. These provisions have significantly expanded the public’s access to information and justice on the environment.

Due to the far-reaching nature of these legislative changes which gave effect the Aarhus Convention in Ireland, and in order to take due cognisance of the ongoing evolution of environmental law through judgements of national and EU Courts, my Department is preparing the general scheme of a Bill to consolidate and amend certain existing provisions in a single Aarhus Convention Bill, with the intention of providing greater legal clarity.

Progress of this Bill has been dependent on a number of outside factors, particularly the necessity of awaiting a number of Aarhus-related judgements from both the national courts and of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

I look forward to publishing the General Scheme at the earliest possible date.

Waste Disposal Charges

Ceisteanna (204)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

204. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the annual support payment of €75 will be introduced for persons with lifelong, long-term medical incontinence as promised some time ago to help meet the average annual cost of disposal of incontinence products; if this payment will be administered through the HSE at local level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40067/19]

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 the HSE, 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.

My Department has been examining this issue in detail, however, there are complex issues at play in this area, which are understandable given the sensitive nature of the medical data in question.

Inland Fisheries Ireland

Ceisteanna (205, 206, 207)

John Lahart

Ceist:

205. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Inland Fisheries Ireland waited for over 15 years to implement the planning and development regulations contained in the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 pertaining to instream fishery work; the reason it took so long to implement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40132/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Lahart

Ceist:

206. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason Inland Fisheries Ireland is not availing of their potential exemptions as referred to in Parliamentary Question No. 499 of 21 May 2019; if exemptions have been availed of; the details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40133/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Lahart

Ceist:

207. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason Inland Fisheries Ireland is referring instream fishery works that are within an Office of Public Works drainage scheme to local planning authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40134/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 205 to 207, inclusive, together.

The principal statutory function of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is the protection, management and conservation of the inland fisheries resource.

Similarly to all bodies and individuals, IFI has an obligation to abide by statutory and EU requirements and consults appropriately with the Planning Authorities when necessary. There is a requirement that sponsors of fisheries development projects, to whom planning exemptions are not available, simply ascertain whether proposals, involving the expending of public funds, might require planning permission.

Specifically, IFI has obligations under national and EU legislation to ensure that projects that it oversees and licences that it grants, have due regard for the environment and environmental legislation. IFI introduced its Environmental Assessment Process (EAP) on foot of recent environmental legislation relating to the EU Habitats Directive (2011). The primary legislation related to the EAP pertains to Appropriate Assessment and Environmental Impact Assessment, guidance on which is provided respectively by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

IFI’s has set out a guidance document describing the EAP and procedures in place within IFI to facilitate fisheries development and conservation works in inland and coastal waters. This is available publically on IFI’s website: www.fisheriesireland.ie. It also outlines the internal and external review/screening processes for environmental assessment of plans and projects, and details the procedures that are in place to ensure that these works are carried out in compliance with the relevant EU and national legislation.

It should be noted that the vast majority of Ireland’s inland fishery waters are included in, hydrologically connected to, or adjacent to Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). Development in, connected to, or within 15 kilometres of, an SAC requires screening for Appropriate Assessment (AA) under the EU Habitats Directive and this necessitates consultation by the project promoter with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the NPWS.

The Deputy may also be aware that since the European Court of Justice, ruling in the “People over Wind” case, in April 2018, screenings for AA can no longer include mitigation. This means that, since 2018, many more AAs have had to proceed to Natura Impact Statement (NIS) stage than was previously the case. When a project includes an NIS, it has to have the consent of the Planning Authority. Consequently, the number of fisheries development projects that require consultation with Planning Authorities has increased since 2018.

IFI provides grant aid for fisheries related work which may or may not be in OPW drained channels. The funding is available to angling clubs, community groups and Local Authorities and is subject, like all public funding schemes, to all statutory conditions being met and relevant statutory permissions/consents obtained. Grantees wishing to avail of such public funding are requested to provide confirmation of planning status (as opposed to obtaining planning permission), in many cases planning may not be required and a preplanning meeting with the relevant local authority will easily confirm same.

As outlined in the response to Question No. 499 of 21 May last, the potential exemptions available to IFI, under the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 (Statutory Instrument 600 of 2001) are very narrowly constrained. There are a very limited number of potential exemptions available directly to IFI and these are tightly restricted to a small range of project types.

Such projects are usually undertaken by IFI or under IFI supervision in view of its statutory role. It is long standing IFI policy and practice, as a responsible public body, to consult with the relevant Local Authority and other statutory bodies in relation to projects it is undertaking, notwithstanding potential exemptions in domestic law. I would also emphasise that the application of such exemptions is ultimately a matter for the Planning Authority who, consequently, must be consulted.

IFI and my Department have consistently briefed stakeholders who have raised this issue and, despite this, some persist in the mistaken view that a broad range of exemptions is available under the Planning Regulations referred to and do not consider that EU environmental requirements have moved on in the 18 years since the 2001 Planning Regulations were enacted.

The environmental demands placed on IFI and others engaged in development work has become increasingly complex and, I therefore offer the Deputy a comprehensive briefing with IFI.

Haulage Industry

Ceisteanna (208)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

208. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will consider bringing forward incentives for the haulage sector such as grants and capital allowances in order to increase the pace of transition of the national heavy goods vehicle fleet to Euro VI standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40041/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Climate considerations have been placed at the heart of Government’s policy-making and decision-making processes.  The Climate Action Plan clearly recognises that Ireland must significantly step up its commitments to tackle climate disruption. The transport sector, which accounts for a fifth of Ireland's greenhouse emissions annually and which has a heavy reliance on fossil fuel usage, has an important role to play in this national decarbonisation effort.

The movement of goods by road is the second biggest source of transport emissions after private car use. According to the most recent emissions inventory, heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) alone contributed over 18% of Ireland's total land transport emissions in 2017. Clearly, emissions from the freight sector are difficult to address – HDVs account for only around 5% of vehicles on EU roads but they are responsible for some 25% of all EU road transport emissions. Without significant policy action, their emissions trajectory is projected to continue to rise by almost a fifth between 2010 and 2050.  This trajectory may be even steeper in Ireland where there has been a steady annual increase in road freight activity levels and the number of additional new goods vehicles being licensed in recent years.  Accordingly, developing measures to help address emissions from this sector is critical.

The quickest way to avoid freight emissions is to streamline operations and ensure that vehicle loads and journey routes are optimised.  Freight companies are adept at optimising logistical operations and these practices should be encouraged to continue. In tandem, using the most efficient and lowest emitting vehicles is also essential in limiting freight emissions. For this reason, Ireland was very supportive of the introduction of new EU Regulations that set maximum fleet emission averages for new HDVs. New vehicles must emit 15% and 30% less CO2  by 2025 and 2030 respectively relative to average emissions over the period July 2019 to June 2020.  Similar legislation has proved to be a very effective approach in other jurisdictions (e.g. Japan, the USA and Canada) and has already been demonstrated to deliver marked emission reductions with cars/vans in Europe. 

As well as making the vehicles more efficient, lower emitting fuels must be employed. Although the Euro VI standard for HDVs represents a considerable improvement over older and more polluting Euro standards, for climate and air quality reasons Ireland must begin to move beyond the use of fossil fuels.  A range of new alternative fuel solutions are emerging across the fleet spectrum. The Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce recently concluded its deliberations on the potential role of alternative fuels, including compressed natural gas (CNG) as a pathway to biomethane, biofuels, and hydrogen in the freight sector. The Taskforce has made recommendations to help accelerate the uptake of alternative fuels and technologies, which are being presented to the Government.  This is especially important as new vehicles entering the fleet over the coming years will likely remain in the fleet for most or all of the coming decade.   

At present there are a number of incentives in place to encourage the uptake of lower emitting alternatives, namely:

- a low excise rate for natural gas and biogas for a period of eight years;

- an accelerated capital allowance scheme for gas-propelled vehicles and related equipment; and

- support for the roll-out of refuelling infrastructure for alternative fuels and technologies.

In addition, my Department is supporting a range of research into decarbonising the freight sector.  Two freight projects are also approved for funding under the Climate Action Fund.

We are focusing our finite resources on supporting the uptake of new lower emitting alternatives.  Furthermore, more energy, fuel and emissions efficient fossil fueled vehicles should have no purchase price premium and lower running costs for operators and, accordingly, should need no incentive from Government to support uptake.  Accordingly, I have no immediate plans to introduce a grant or capital allowance scheme to assist road haulage companies to buy new diesel vehicles.

Heavy Goods Vehicle Levy

Ceisteanna (209)

James Lawless

Ceist:

209. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the practice will continue to allow UK commercial vehicles to use the road network system here free of charge excluding toll roads; if a daily tax certificate system will be introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39981/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Road charging systems for HGVs have been introduced in a number of EU Member States under Directive 1999/62/EC, as modified by Directives 2002/38/EC and 2011/76/EU. These Directives set out the legal basis for charging HGVs for the use of road infrastructure and authorise Member States, if they so wish, to levy user charges, which can be time-based, for example per day, week or year, or distance-based, calculated on the number of kilometres driven. Any such charges must apply to all HGVs, both domestic and foreign, using the Member State’s road infrastructure. 

The Irish Government raised serious concerns about the introduction in April 2014 of the HGV road user levy in the UK, including Northern Ireland, and lobbied the UK authorities to exempt Northern Ireland from the charge because of the potential impact on cross-Border trade. However, the UK Minister for Transport rejected this proposal and opted to give only very minor exemptions from the levy to Northern Ireland. While it is appreciated that the road user levy has imposed significant additional costs on Irish hauliers operating across the region, its application is a matter for the UK authorities. 

There are no plans at present to introduce a road charging regime in Ireland, over and above the various toll roads in operation.  Any such plans would have to be considered having regard to the impacts on business and the economy, on the environment including climate change, and for the most efficient use of infrastructure as well as the social impacts.

Sports Capital Programme Applications

Ceisteanna (210)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

210. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the sports capital grant application by a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40008/19]

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, 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.

Question No. 211 answered with Question No. 63.

Sports Capital Programme Applications

Ceisteanna (212)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

212. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of a grant application by a club (details supplied); if this application will be awarded; if he will make a statement on the matter. [40080/19]

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, 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.

Sports Capital Programme Applications

Ceisteanna (213)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

213. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of a grant application by a club (details supplied); if the application will be awarded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40081/19]

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, 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.  

Road Toll Data

Ceisteanna (214)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

214. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the estimated cost to buy out the operator of the M1 toll at Gormanstown; the number of years left to run in the contract; the estimated cost to buy out the Drogheda interchange ramp tolls; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40137/19]

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 and management of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. Therefore, matters relating to the day to day operations regarding national roads, including toll roads and the establishment of a system of tolls, are within the remit of TII.  More specifically, the statutory power to levy tolls, to make toll bye-laws and to enter into agreements with private investors are vested in TII under Part V of the Roads Act 1993 (as amended).

Noting the above position, I have referred the question to TII for a more detailed and direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Road Projects Status

Ceisteanna (215)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

215. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when works are expected to commence on a bypass (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40139/19]

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 planning, design and construction of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. 

Noting the above position, I have referred your question to TII for a direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (216)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

216. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the degree to which he remains satisfied that the euro routes will continue to reach their destinations on the continent notwithstanding Brexit orderly or disorderly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40144/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

While the full implications of Brexit for our air and maritime transport are not yet clear, I do not anticipate that direct maritime or direct air services by community air carriers between Ireland and continental Europe will be affected, even in a no-deal Brexit scenario. 

However, both I and my colleagues in Government remain concerned about the impacts of a no-deal Brexit for Irish trade using the UK landbridge for accessing EU markets. This is something that remains under active consideration.

A significant proportion of our goods, estimated at €21 billion, destined for or coming from EU markets are transported via the UK landbridge. The landbridge is the fastest route to continental Europe and as such is relied upon for the transport of time-sensitive products, such as those in the agri-food/perishable goods sector, just-in-time and high value goods.  Any delays or barriers will be detrimental for these sectors in particular. 

Recent reports from the UK indicate the potential for significant reductions in traffic volumes through key ports such as Dover and Holyhead as a result of the additional requirements for customs and other regulatory documentation and procedures. Significant new infrastructure, and associated staffing, is in place in Dublin Port and Rosslare Europort to implement the additional customs, agriculture and environmental health controls that will be required in Dublin and Rosslare when the UK leave the EU. While these are are designed to minimise the level of disruption that may arise from the additional checks, some disruption can be expected. 

The main alternative to the UK landbridge is the direct shipping routes to continental EU ports. Following a series of meetings between my officials and the major ferry companies operating at Irish ports, I am assured that sufficient capacity exists on direct services and that shipping companies can adapt to changing market demands that may arise. 

We have seen the evidence of additional capacity and services recently with the increase in shipping capacity on direct routes to continental ports. These services include the MV Celine which was last year launched from Dublin Port and will serve routes to Rotterdam and Zeebrugge and the MV WB Yeats, on the Dublin – Cherbourg route from March 2019 for the summer season.  Additionally, a new ferry route to Santander in Spain commenced from the Port of Cork in 2018.

If disruption to the landbridge does arise, it is likely to be most acute in the immediate period following the UK exit. My Department, along with IMDO, is implementing a number of mitigating actions to encourage a market response in a timely manner. This includes a focussed awareness campaign for shipping companies, importers and exporters aimed at creating a dialogue to identify new market demands as early as possible. On the 4th September, my Department in conjunction with the IMDO, hosted a workshop in relation to Maritime connectivity.  A range of stakeholders attended, such as importers, exporters, ferry companies, haulage companies and business sectors. The aim of this workshop was to provide a forum to consider the risk posed by the UK Landbridge and the options for future direct connectivity to continental ports.

However my Department is continuing to monitor and to assess the potential implications on connectivity to EU markets in the lead up to a potential no-deal Brexit.

Sport and Recreational Development

Ceisteanna (217, 218)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

217. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he expects to offer grant-aid to the various sporting and recreational groups nationally with particular emphasis on the development of supports to encourage a health conscious population; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40145/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

218. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of sporting and recreational bodies or groups nationally to which he awarded major or minor capital grants over the past three years; the extent to which this investment has generated an improved awareness to sporting and reactional activity with consequence benefit to the health of the population; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40146/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 217 and 218 together.

The Sports Capital Programme (SCP) as operated by my Department  provides funding to voluntary, sporting and community organisations for the provision of sports and recreational facilities and the purchase of sports equipment. Over 12,000 projects have now benefited from sports capital funding since 1998, bringing the total allocations in that time to close to €1 billion.  The programme has transformed the sporting landscape of Ireland with improvements in the quality and quantity of sporting facilities in virtually every village, town and city in the country.   

The Programme’s objectives are to:

- Assist voluntary and community organisations, national governing bodies (NGBs) of sport, local authorities and Education and Training Boards and schools to develop high quality, accessible, safe, well-designed, sustainable facilities in appropriate locations and to provide appropriate equipment to help maximise participation in sport and physical recreation.

- Prioritise the needs of disadvantaged areas and groups (such as people with disabilities) in the provision of sports facilities.

- Encourage the sharing of sports facilities by clubs, community organisations and national governing bodies of sport

Details of all allocations under the programme are available on my Department's website at https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/471ed5-sports-capital-allocations/

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.

In relation to larger capital projects, the National Sports Policy which was published last year provided for the establishment of a new Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF). The aim of the fund is to provide support for larger sports facilities where the Exchequer investment is greater than the maximum amount available under the Sports Capital Programme (SCP). These may be projects where the primary objective will be to increase active participation in sport or large scale venues/stadia where the focus is more related to social participation and high performance sport. The new fund is designed to provide a transparent and robust system for funding such projects.  

The Government has provided a capital allocation of at least €100m for the period to 2027 for the LSSIF. The new scheme closed for applications on the 17th April with applications initially confined to local authorities and National Governing Bodies of sport. By the closing date, 72 applications were received. Details of all applications received have been published on the Department's website along with the evaluation procedures and guidelines. 

Assessment work is continuing in the Department but in view of the detailed information contained in each application, it will take a number of months to have all of this work complete.  Accordingly, I expect that it will be towards the end of this year before any allocations are announced.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (219)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

219. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the degree to which he remains satisfied that the main transport routes to mainland Europe are adequately provided for in order to ensure ready, unimpeded access to and from continue to facilitate imports and exports to and from this country post Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40152/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Brexit has been identified as my Department’s highest strategic risk, and the Department along with other Government Departments and key Agencies, has been preparing for Brexit for three years.  Consultations regarding Brexit with key maritime stakeholders has included a Transport and Logistics All Island Sectoral meeting in Dundalk in January 2017, three Brexit Maritime Transport Workshops / Seminars (in April 2017, March 2018, and in January 2019) with a further Brexit Maritime Connectivity ‘Be prepared’ Workshop held on 4th September 2019.  

A significant proportion of our goods destined for Continental European markets are transported via the UK landbridge to access these markets. Brexit could impact on the efficiency of the landbridge route particularly where there are increased border and custom procedures and associated delays, or were the UK to subsequently apply differing standards, road charging or regulatory regimes. The landbridge is the fastest route to continental Europe and as such is relied upon for the transport of time-sensitive products, such as some in the fresh agri-food/perishable goods sector, just-in-time and high value goods. Any delays or barriers to this key route to European markets will be detrimental for certain sectors. Significant work has been and continues to be undertaken through the Landbridge Project Group, chaired by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in seeking to ensure continued access through the landbridge to markets in continental Europe.

Eight Meetings have been held with shipping companies and shipping interests by my Department and the IMDO in January and February 2019.  These discussions with shipping companies have been continued by my Department since then, up to recent days, while the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) who report to my Department have been consulting extensively with the Maritime sector, including shipping, port and other maritime interests regarding Brexit issues on an ongoing basis.  A number of consistent views have emerged from the meetings and consultations with the shipping companies.  Shipping companies remain confident that the market will be responsive in meeting any challenge in a no-deal scenario should there be a switch in demand to direct services.

In the context of Brexit, there has already been a significant market response evidencing the capacity of market participants to respond to shifts in trade patterns resulting from Brexit. This includes:

- In 2018, CLdN lauched MV  Celine, the world’s largest RoRo vessel, and in 2019 launched the MV Laureline  RoRo vessel, significantly increasing capacity on the Dublin-Rotterdam and Dublin-Zeebrugge routes.

- In May 2018, Brittany Ferries  commenced a service from Cork to Santander and Roscoff.

- Irish Ferries investment of €150 million in its newest passenger and freight vessel, MV W.B. Yeats, provides year-round freight capacity between Ireland and France of 165 HGVs per sailing or 60,600 HGVs per annum and a vessel of a similar size is due to be delivered on the Irish sea routes in 2020.

- In July 2019, BG Freight Line announced the commencement of a direct Waterford-Rotterdam route weekly Lo/Lo freight service, which will act as a deep sea feeder through Rotterdam port and onwards to worldwide destinations for Irish importers and exporters.

In the light of my Department’s continued consultations with shipping companies, I am of the view that shipping services can be expected to adapt to changing market demands that may arise as a consequence of Brexit. We have seen the evidence of this over the last few years with the increase in shipping capacity on direct routes to continental ports that I have mentioned.