Greyhound Industry

Ceisteanna (358)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

358. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if an investigation has been initiated into allegations of breaches of greyhound welfare as highlighted in the media (details supplied); the stage the investigation is at; the actions that have been identified from the investigation; and the enforcement actions and prosecutions that have resulted from same. [40884/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

A number of serious concerns were brought to light by the programme in question. A series of legal notices in relation to the euthanizing of greyhounds are being enforced by my Department on a number of knackeries following the broadcasting of the programme. In the case of the transporter identified in the programme, a letter of sanction has been sent to the said transporter in the aftermath of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain enquiry.

Common Agricultural Policy Negotiations

Ceisteanna (359)

Pat Casey

Ceist:

359. Deputy Pat Casey asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the most recent proposals put forward at the EU Agriculture Council on the need to ensure there is no reduction in funding for CAP post 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40915/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The European Commission has proposed, as part of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027, that funding for the Common Agricultural Policy should be set at €365 billion. This equates to a cut of approximately 5% to the CAP budget in the next MFF period 2021 - 2027. I have previously stated that the proposed cut is unacceptable for Ireland.

Negotiations on the MFF proposals have commenced and are running in parallel to the CAP post-2020 negotiations. The MFF is a critical matter for all Member States and its agreement requires unanimity at the EU Council. It is clear that there are divergent views among Member States on the appropriate level for the budget. While some Member States (including Ireland) have indicated their willingness to increase their contributions once they contribute towards areas of added European value, there are others who feel equally strongly that the current proposals, such as they are, are too costly.

Brexit further compounds the budgetary issue, with some €12 billion per annum in UK net contributions being removed from the budget post-2020.

I continue to work at building consensus among my agriculture colleagues in Europe with regard to maintaining the CAP budget. In May last year, I co-signed a Joint Memorandum in Madrid, which calls for the CAP budget to be retained at current levels for the EU 27 post-2020. The memorandum has been supported by up to 20 other EU Agriculture Ministers. We will continue to work together on this issue as the negotiations for the CAP post-2020 and its budgetary allocations progress.

At the Council of Agriculture Ministers, I have consistently called for an adequate CAP budget to meet the increasing demands being placed on farmers in the context of the post-2020 CAP proposals, for example, in achieving greater climate ambition. Indeed, I made this point most recently at the last Informal Council meeting in Helsinki on 24 September 2019.

Ireland will continue to work closely with its EU colleagues to build a consensus around the need to fight for a strong CAP budget as the negotiations progress.

Food Imports

Ceisteanna (360)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

360. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the estimated full-year cost of purchasing six extra trained food detector dogs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40919/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department continuously reviews its various arrangements with regards to import control checks of which the use of food detector dogs is one part. Whilst a possible expansion of our team of food detector dogs is under consideration, no formal decision has been taken in this regard.

Any purchase of trained food detection dogs would, of course, be subject to normal procurement rules.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (361)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

361. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of times in 2018 and to date in 2019 he has met with the CEO and-or equivalent from each State agency under the remit of his Department in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40920/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I regularly meet the CEOs of each of the State Bodies under my remit on a formal basis both bilaterally and in the context of policy and consultative committee structures such as the Foodwise 2025 committee, which I chair. I also meet them frequently on an informal basis at conferences, industry events and trade missions.

I and my officials work closely with the State Bodies under my remit and they are represented at senior management level on relevant Stakeholders Committees and Interdepartmental Subgroups.

My officials are in regular contact with officials of each State Body and hold formal governance meetings throughout the year, as required by the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies.

Organic Farming Scheme

Ceisteanna (362)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

362. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he is considering reopening the organic farm scheme to new entrants for specific commodity sectors that are in deficit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40994/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) is part of Ireland's Rural Development Plan and has met all targets for the present programming period in terms of intake and area.

A Strategic Review of the Organic Sector was carried out to assess the justification for reopening the OFS, looking to best economic and environmental outcomes. Based on this assessment, the scheme was reopened in December 2018 for a limited period focusing on areas that are in deficit, namely organic horticulture, tillage and dairy.

I have no plans, therefore, to reopen the current Organic Farming Scheme for applications but will review this position in light of the next CAP. In this regard, I would encourage all stakeholders to engage with the current consultation process on the next CAP to make their views known on which types of schemes should be included.

Agriculture Scheme Payments

Question No. 364 answered with Question No. 348.

Ceisteanna (363)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

363. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason a person (details supplied) has not received a headage payment; the steps that can be taken to rectify the problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41002/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

An application under the 2019 Basic Payment/Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme was received from the person named in my Department on 8th April 2019.

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

Payments under the Basic Payment Scheme are due to commence in mid-October.

Question No. 364 answered with Question No. 348.

Trade Missions Data

Ceisteanna (365)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

365. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the details of the expenditure relating to a promotional trip by Bord Bia to China in May 2019; the name of private sector companies included on the trip; the number of persons who travelled from each company; if the companies contributed to the cost of the trip; if so, the details of same in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41057/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

China is a hugely valuable market, already in our top three export destinations for Irish pork and dairy, and with a strong reputation in terms of our seafood offering. As part of my 2019 Trade Mission schedule, I led a week-long extensive Government agri-food trade mission to China in May of this year.

While there I was delighted to see at first hand the real enthusiasm of Chinese trade buyers and consumers for Irish beef, dairy and pigmeat, and the innovative ways in which these quality products can be adapted to suit Chinese cuisines and consumer tastes. There is real evidence that Irish companies are further gaining an even stronger foothold in the Chinese market, from which they can grow and develop further.

The Chinese market also represents a significant opportunity for the Irish sheep sector, and during my meeting with Vice Minister Zhang Jiwen of the General Administration of Customs (GACC), I took the opportunity to discuss the process for sheepmeat. During the meeting we obtained an agreement for an inspection visit to progress sheepmeat access, and this visit took place in August. The Vice Minister also agreed an accelerated process for inspection and registration of a further tranche of beef plants.

Fifteen Irish agri-food companies participated in the trade mission. Some of these were pigmeat and beef companies exhibiting at Sial Shanghai food fair, while others were dairy company representatives from Irish companies based in China. However, due to commercial sensitivities, it would not be appropriate to name these companies. All expenses, including travel and hotel costs, were covered directly by the companies in question.

Food Exports

Ceisteanna (366)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

366. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the announcement by the United States of America that it will begin applying WTO tariffs on certain EU goods beginning 18 October 2019 which will result in tariffs on Irish exports of butter, cheese, milk, yoghurt, pork and liqueurs; the discussions he has had with the US authorities, other member states and the Commission in this regard to ensure that this does not take place; the discussions with Irish companies that will be impacted by these tariffs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41150/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

As a small, open exporting economy, Ireland is sensitive to any change in global trading conditions. The imposition of tariffs by the U.S. authorities will therefore pose significant challenges for Irish exporters of agri-food products to the US.

I am deeply disappointed to see the level of tariffs proposed, particularly as they come as a result of a WTO Dispute to which Ireland is not a party. Irish products including cream liqueurs and cordials, butter, cheeses and pork products will be subject to the 25% tariff.

Since the beginning of this dispute, and in particular since the US released their first list of prospective goods to be tariffed in April 2019, my Department has been in regular contact with our colleagues in the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI), the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and industry representatives.

DBEI (which leads on trade matters for Ireland) wrote to all relevant parties outlining the process that interested parties could use to engage with USTR in relation to their proposed tariff list. In parallel, we have highlighted our concerns at EU level as well as at appropriate bilateral engagements with US interlocuters in Dublin and Washington. The US authorities have been made aware of the disproportionate impact on Ireland of these tariffs, relative to other EU member states, primarily through our Embassy in Washington.

Ireland and the EU have underlined the point that mutual retaliation is in neither side’s interest and have proposed to the US that we negotiate a fair and balanced outcome that would end this dispute, and are prepared to engage immediately. In tandem, Ireland's lobbying at political, diplomatic and official levels continues.

Waste Disposal Charges

Ceisteanna (367, 376)

Mary Butler

Ceist:

367. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to introduce an allowance for adults with incontinence and who are dependent on social welfare to offset the increase in bin charges introduced under the pay by weight scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40527/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

376. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to introduce a refuse waiver for persons with disabilities; the specific GDPR obstacles in respect of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40608/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 367 and 376 together.

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.

A number of models of delivery have been explored, but challenges arose in all options. Significant personal data concerns, under the new GDPR arrangements, were raised in one case. 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 Stocks

Ceisteanna (368)

Peter Fitzpatrick

Ceist:

368. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the position regarding the large amount of fish being reported as unrecognisable as normal fish (details supplied) in the north east; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40597/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Following reports of salmon returning to Norway and Scotland with a skin disease in spring 2019, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) have been proactive in relation to this issue as regards Irish rivers and waters.

IFI issued an alert on 17th June 2019, informing anglers that small numbers of salmon showing signs of bleeding and skin ulceration were also being observed returning to Irish rivers and appealed to anglers and fishery owners to report any incidences of affected salmon encountered. Anglers and fishery owners were asked to report incidences of salmon with rash like symptom to help determine the scale of the problem nationally.

I am advised by IFI that salmon first began appearing in Irish rivers with these symptoms in early June and by mid-June, there were reports of fish with ulceration in at least six rivers, both on the east and west coast of Ireland.

The affected salmon show signs of bleeding, ulceration and haemorrhaging mainly along the area on the belly of the fish and on the head and the tail. Secondary fungal infection can set in and be fatal. IFI advised that until the cause of the disease was determined and the risk of spreading the disease established, affected salmon should not be removed from the water. Anglers who captured salmon with these symptoms were advised to follow normal biosecurity procedures and disinfect tackle, waders and equipment.

IFI set up a dedicated email (salmon.symptoms@fisheriesireland.ie) for anglers to report any incidence of diseased salmon encountered in Irish rivers and provide photographs. Anglers were also advised to contact Inland Fisheries Ireland’s 24 hour confidential hotline number on 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24 in this regard. Inland Fisheries Ireland collaborated with the Fish Health Unit in the Marine Institute in Galway and provided, for disease testing, a live salmon with symptoms of the disease captured in the upstream trap from the National Salmonid Index Catchment on the river Erriff.

A freshly caught salmon with disease symptoms was also provided from the river Lee for disease testing. Salmon were also collected from the River Boyne by IFI staff and given to specialist fish veterinary group in Galway for examination. No responsible disease was identified in any of these samples that could explain the symptoms observed in Irish and other salmon.

The vast majority of reports of disease salmon were from June and July with small numbers of reported incidences since that time. Analysis also suggests that the number of fish which died from the disease was small with east coast rivers such as those in the North East appearing to be most affected.

Given the international dimension to the issue, IFI scientists consulted with their colleagues in Norway and Scotland since early June in an effort to establish the cause of the disease. To date no laboratory in Europe has definitively identified the cause of the disease symptoms observed although it is thought that there may be some link to a change in salmon diet at sea and a related vitamin deficiency which is being investigated further as a possible contributing factor.

In this context, an IFI scientist will attend an international workshop in Norway shortly and present the available information on the disease outbreak in Ireland. The workshop will cover exchange of observations and knowledge about the disease between countries, results of disease testing and the identification of knowledge gaps and potential future collaboration.

Inland Fisheries Regulation

Ceisteanna (369, 370)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

369. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the way in which the process of appropriate certification from a professional engineer works in terms of Inland Fisheries Ireland instream enhancement works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40576/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

370. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the process of appropriate certification from a professional engineer works in terms of Inland Fisheries Ireland instream enhancement works became part of policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40577/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 369 and 370 together.

As outlined in reply to a number of previous Questions, planning is a matter for the planning authorities and planning requirements are set out in the various Planning Acts and regulations. As also previously outlined, the EU Habitats Directive and recent case law has reinforced the need for strict adherence to environmental requirements.

Before awarding public funds, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) seeks to ensure that due diligence in ascertaining the planning status of projects is exercised by the project promoters (including IFI).

Applicants for works projects involving the disbursement of public funds are, in the first instance, required to ascertain whether any proposed works require planning permission from the relevant Planning Authority. This can be done with relative ease via a pre planning meeting with the Planning Authority or appropriate certification from a professional Engineer. IFI policy, in this regard, supports compliance by all project promoters with the requirements of the Appropriate Assessment (AA) and Natura Impact Statement (NIS) processes envisaged under the EU Habitats Directive particularly where planning consultation is required. Therefore, in common with other public bodies, IFI accepts the certification of the professional Engineers, acting for works project applicants, that planning permission is not required.

Inland Fisheries Ireland

Ceisteanna (371, 372)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

371. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason the instream enhancement project carried out in Trim, County Meath, in September 2018 by the OPW in connection with the local Inland Fisheries Ireland eastern region Drogheda section and supervised by the Trim anglers did not require planning from the local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40578/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

372. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on whether it is best practice for Inland Fisheries Ireland's technical instream supervision for the OPW to be carried out by members of a local angling club; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40579/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 371 and 372 together.

I understand that the project in question was delivered by the Office of Public Works (OPW) under legislation appropriate to that body and was undertaken following a request from the local angling club. In that context, the delivery of these works is a matter for the OPW and associated planning issues are also a matter for OPW in conjunction with the relevant Planning Authority.

I can confirm that Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), in discussion with OPW and in line with the agreement between OPW and IFI, assisted in the selection of habitat appropriate materials for the project.

I also understand that OPW assign professionally qualified staff to supervise works they undertake and undertake supervision in a diligent and responsible manner. I am advised that OPW consider requests from local stakeholders to observe the progress of project works.

The shared agreement between IFI and the OPW specifically identified that a small number of proposals could be examined annually within the Environmental River Enhancement Programme in the context of river enhancement. The Agreement also envisages the involvement of local clubs and I support any strategy to involve local stakeholders where feasible.

Inland Fisheries

Ceisteanna (373)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

373. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will consider making instream design and delivery services to the OPW a priority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40580/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I refer the Deputy to the reply to Question No. 750 of 11 June 2019.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) is responsible for delivering Ireland’s statutory drainage objectives. It is an existing priority for my Department and Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) that, in line with our statutory remit, the advice and guidance to OPW under agreement between the bodies seeks to ensure that these objectives are achieved with an appropriate focus as regards protection of fishery habitats and resources.

IFI and OPW currently work under a shared agreement, signed in 2018. I understand that the OPW published 'Environmental Guidance: Drainage Maintenance & Construction' in 2019. The aim of this document is to help OPW Drainage Maintenance staff to carry out their activities in an environmentally sensitive and sustainable manner, and where relevant to implement this guidance for construction works. IFI continues to support OPW in this regard.

Air Pollution

Question No. 376 answered with Question No. 367.

Ceisteanna (374, 375)

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

374. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the steps he will take to address the concerns of the EPA regarding the rising levels of pollution and the failure to meet health-related guidelines in this area as set out by the World Health Organisation; his views on the recent EPA report which states that air pollution is responsible for an estimated 1,180 premature deaths each year; his strategy to address the serious public health issue of rising levels of pollution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40603/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

375. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his strategy for dealing with rising levels of nitrogen dioxide caused by transport emissions in urban areas and the serious risk it poses to public health; his views on the progressive steps that several EU countries and cities are taking to address emissions by making public transport free to encourage persons to use private vehicles less; if he will consider same in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40604/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 374 and 375 together.

With regard to air pollution levels, including nitrogen dioxide caused by transport emissions, I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 450 of 1 October. The position is unchanged.

Questions in relation to the cost of public transport should be directed to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Question No. 376 answered with Question No. 367.

Energy Prices

Ceisteanna (377, 378)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

377. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he or his officials have examined proposals to give the Commission for Regulation of Utilities additional powers to ensure that savings in gas and electricity prices are passed on to customers; if he will provide an overview of the current regulatory framework for both wholesale and retail energy markets; the national and EU legislation in this area; and if there are proposed EU regulations being discussed to regulate gas and electricity prices for consumers. [40677/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Robert Troy

Ceist:

378. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he or his officials examined proposals to empower the Commission for Regulation of Utilities by the use of price caps for gas and electricity prices as other jurisdictions have availed of; and the details of work ongoing in this area. [40678/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 377 and 378 together.

The regulatory framework for the Irish electricity market is mainly contained in the Electricity Regulation Act, 1999, as amended. This has been amended inter alia to reflect successive EU energy regulation legislative packages. In this regard, the EU Energy acquis, including the recently negotiated Clean Energy Package, continues to shape the design, operation and regulation of the Irish electricity and gas wholesale and retail markets.

In line with those packages, responsibility for the regulation of the electricity and gas markets in Ireland is solely a matter for the statutory independent energy regulator, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), which was assigned responsibility for the regulation of the electricity market following the enactment of the Electricity Regulation Act, 1999.

Consistent with European energy regulation policy, the electricity and gas markets in Ireland are commercial, liberalised, and competitive. The CRU ended its regulation of retail market prices for electricity in 2011 and for gas in 2014. The position of successive Governments is that competitive energy markets result in greater choice for consumers and businesses, in terms of suppliers, products and prices. Government policy on energy costs is focused on supporting the competitive market to drive down prices and supports for energy efficiency. Data from approved price comparison sites, Bonkers.ie, Switcher.ie and Power to Switch.ie show that consumers can make significant savings by switching energy suppliers. A reversion to regulatory electricity and gas retail market price controls would not be consistent with either national or EU energy regulatory policy. Accordingly any such proposals for the CRU in that regard are not being considered.

As part of its statutory functions, including under SI 630/2011, the CRU carries out various market monitoring and reporting functions in association with its responsibility to ensure that the market operates competitively for the benefit of the consumer. Under the SI, the CRU may take actions that it considers necessary to ensure that final customers benefit from competition in the supply of electricity and gas. It also published two reports in this regard in 2017, in line with an action in the 2015 Energy Policy White Paper. The first report was a consumer focussed assessment of the development of competition in retail markets and its impact on prices . The CRU then followed up with an analysis of energy supply costs to understand the drivers for changes in supply costs and increase transparency around these costs.

As the Deputy is aware, the CRU is accountable to a committee of the Oireachtas for the performance of its functions.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (379)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

379. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the date for his forthcoming meeting with the chief executives of the ESB and Bord na Móna to set out a future direction for a power station (details supplied) following the refusal of planning by An Bord Pleanála; when he last held a meeting with each chief executive on the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40783/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I met the Chief Executives of ESB and Bord na Móna on 26 July 2019 following the An Bord Pleanála decision with regard to West Offaly Power Station. My officials are in ongoing contact with both companies as options are evaluated. I intend to meet with the CEOs of both companies in the coming period.

A Just Transition for regions impacted by climate change is an integral part of the Climate Action Plan. In response to the challenges arising from the exit from peat extraction for energy consumption, a whole of Government response is being prepared to ensure a Just Transition for the Midlands and the for Bord na Mona employees impacted.

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (380, 381)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

380. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will report on the challenge to the map of the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40789/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

381. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will report on the state aid issues which have been raised with regard to the national broadband plan; if these issues are related to the provision of a subsidy in an area in which a commercial service is in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40790/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 380 and 381 together.

As a State intervention, the National Broadband Plan must comply with the requirements of the European Commission’s Guidelines on the application of the State aid rules to broadband networks.

The Guidelines require, amongst other things, that Member States carry out a detailed mapping exercise and public consultation process in particular to identify as far as reasonably possible those areas where intervention is required.

Since July 2013, the 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. This process has included a review of operator networks in line with the assessment criteria published in 2015.

The Department recently consulted publicly to close the ongoing mapping exercise, seeking submissions from operators who wish to have their existing high speed broadband networks or who have developed plans to invest in high speed broadband networks over the next 7 years to be included on the Department’s High Speed Broadband Map. That consultation closed on 30 September.

In addition, the Department has identified approximately 46,000 premises in commercial areas of the Map where high speed broadband services have not materialised and have sought information in relation to these or other similar premises from operators or the public.

As part of the consultation, over 180 submissions have been received from a variety of stakeholders, including 30 from large and small telecoms operators, and the remainder from local authority broadband officers and members of the public.

Operator submissions will be assessed against the Department’s published assessment criteria. Operators submitting planned investments were required to sign a declaration that they would enter into a Commitment Agreement with the Department if their plans satisfied the assessment criteria and were accepted by the Department as being concrete and credible.

Following the conclusion of the Department’s assessment, the non-confidential versions of all submissions will be published, as soon as possible, on the Department’s website together with the outcome of the assessment.

The outcome of the consultation will form part of the continuing engagement of the Department with DG Competition as part of the compliance with State Aid Rules.

Electric Vehicles

Ceisteanna (382)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

382. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the grants available to service station owners nationally to enable them to develop high speed 100 kWh electric car fast charging points at their service stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40796/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Climate Action Plan, published in June, sets out a range of actions to support the delivery of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. These actions include developing the electric vehicle charging network necessary to support the growth of EVs and set a target for the supply of infrastructure to stay sufficiently ahead of demand.

Businesses, including service stations, can already avail of accelerated capital allowances for the purchase and installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. This enables businesses to invest in energy efficient equipment, including electric charging infrastructure, and write down the cost of such equipment in the year of purchase rather than over 8 years.

Projects that involve the provision of fast charging were eligible to apply under the first call for applications by the Climate Action Fund. ESB ecars were successful in this process and will receive up to €10m support for the development of the public charging network including new fast chargers - many of which may be located at service stations. As set out in the Climate Action Plan, the provision of fast chargers will be eligible to apply under the next call for applications under the Climate Action Fund.

The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government is in the process of transposing the latest revisions to the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive which, by March 2020 at the latest, will set the following requirements:

- New residential buildings (and those undergoing major renovation) with more than ten parking spaces will be required to install ducting to provide for the future installation of charge points in all parking spaces.

- New non-residential buildings (and those undergoing major renovation) with more than ten parking spaces will be required to install at least one charge point and ducting to provide for the future installation of charge points in at least one in every five parking spaces.

- From 2025, all non-residential buildings with more than twenty parking spaces will be required to install a minimum number of charge points.