Plastic Bag Levy

Ceisteanna (460)

John Curran

Ceist:

460. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to increase the plastic bag levy; the detail of the proposed increase; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46581/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

My Department published a consultation paper on 6 November 2019 which outlines proposals with regard to environmental levies. This consultation will help inform the development of a new range of environmental levies on a phased basis over the period 2020-2025, aimed at encouraging positive environmental behavioural change and climate action. The proposals regarding the plastic bag levy are:

To increase the plastic bag levy from the current rate of 22c to 25c; and

To remove the current exemption from the plastic bag levy enjoyed by medium weight plastic bags.

True ‘bag for life’ bags will remain exempt.

The public consultation process on these proposals closes on 20 December 2019. The consultation document is available on the Department’s website at: https://dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/environment/consultations/Pages/Public-Consultation-on-the-Proposed-Introduction-of-New-Environmental-Levies.aspx.

Departmental Advertising Campaigns

Ceisteanna (461)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

461. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the role his Department is playing in the winter ready campaign; the expenditure his Department will incur in this campaign; and the details of expenditure on external consultancy and advertising or communication. [46624/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The ‘Be Winter Ready’ campaign is coordinated by the Office of Emergency Planning, under the remit of the Department of Defence. This year the theme of the campaign is Met Éireann colour coded weather warning system.

While my Department does not run ‘Be Winter Ready’ information campaigns aimed directly at the public, agencies operating in the sectors for which the Department has responsibility, such as ESB, GNI and EirGrid, engage in extensive winter preparations.

My Department does not incur any direct costs in relation to promotion of the ‘Be Winter Ready’ campaign. Promotional costs for the campaign are incurred by the Department of Defence.

Regional Road Network

Ceisteanna (462)

Joe Carey

Ceist:

462. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position in relation to a low cost safety 2020 funding application made in respect of a project (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46007/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of Clare County Council, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the Council.

An application has been received for a safety improvement scheme in respect of Cree Bridge, Cree, County Clare as part of Clare County Council's 2020 funding submission under the Safety Improvement Grant Programme.

Grant allocations under the Safety Improvement Grant Programme will be announced in early (i.e. January or February) 2020.

Bus Services

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (463, 464)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

463. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when passengers will be allowed to use their travel card on the LocalLink bus in view of the fact that the lack of free travel is affecting persons with disabilities and older persons, especially in rural areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46008/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

464. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason the LocalLink service has changed its procedure in relation to charging passengers that attend day care services; the reason it did not provide passengers with adequate notice of the changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46009/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 463 and 464 together.

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public transport services nationally. It also has national responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including management of the Rural Transport Programme, which now operates under the 'Local Link' brand.

In light of the NTA's responsibilities in this matter, I have referred your questions to the NTA for direct reply to you. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Road Safety

Ceisteanna (465)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

465. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if consideration is being given to the introduction of a scheme to protect cyclists similar to that which was introduced in London recently (details supplied); and if further measures to increase the minimum standards for trucks, which would protect both cyclists and pedestrians, will be part of the annual CVRT. [46053/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I welcome any improvements in safety standards to protect vulnerable road users.

However, while I am not familiar with all the details of the scheme referred to, there appears to be some misunderstanding regarding its nature. 

First of all, it is not a change to the minimum standards for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) that apply in the UK.  These standards are set at present, as they are for Ireland, at the level of the European Union as a whole, as they are integral to the Single Market. 

This scheme rather relates to local bye-laws imposed by the relevant local authorities in London. These require HGVs to have permits when moving within Inner London, as a condition of which they must meet certain visibility (and presumably other) standards. 

The scheme is therefore similar to but perhaps less strict than the current provisions in Dublin City which ban vehicles with five or more axles during the hours of 07.00-19.00 seven days a week from a designated cordon area – between the canals - and provide a limited permit scheme for such vehicles that need to load or unload within the city centre area.

In any case, the regulation of traffic movements is a matter for the relevant local authority, as it is in the United Kingdom.

However, my Department along with the Road Safety Authority are constantly working to improve road safety and as such I am pleased to note that the EU updates its standards on an ongoing basis, including new standards for visibility in HGVs which will come into effect from 2022.   We will monitor the situation as it develops.

Bus Éireann

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (466)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

466. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will direct Bus Éireann to grant an exemption to persons over 70 years of age to be permitted to drive school buses on routes operated by their contractors in view of the difficulties in sourcing drivers. [46057/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport in Ireland. The issue raised is a matter for Bus Éireann and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Departmental Reports

Ceisteanna (467)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

467. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number, date of publication and details of post-enactment reports published by his Department since March 2011, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46100/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I refer the Deputy to PQ 41572/19 answered on 10/10/2019 and wish to advise that the details provided are unchanged.

Air Services Provision

Ceisteanna (468, 469, 470, 471)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

468. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the process by which fifth freedom aviation agreements are set out. [46123/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

469. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the process through which the safety standards of partner airlines that are applying for or have been granted fifth freedom flight rights are verified and assessed. [46124/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

470. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of permits issued to airlines outside the State under the fifth freedom over the past five years. [46125/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

471. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the granting of fifth freedom traffic rights to an airline (details supplied) for the Dublin to Madrid route; his views on whether the decision potentially creates a competitive distortion in view of the different obligations on an airline with such rights; the policy in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46126/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 468 to 471, inclusive, together.

Ireland traditionally has a liberal aviation policy and remains positively disposed towards the development of competitive air services. In that context, my Department continues to seek to include unrestricted fifth freedoms in any bilateral air services agreement it is in the process of negotiating or with regard to any EU comprehensive agreements with third countries.

The Ireland - Ethiopia Bilateral Air Services Agreement, signed in 2014, allows for the granting of fifth freedom air traffic rights for airlines of both countries, on a reciprocal basis, and subject to the approval of the relevant aeronautical authorities.

The route to Addis Ababa is important in terms of global connectivity, and remains Ireland’s only service to a hub airport in Africa. The 5th freedom sectors play an important part in contributing to the overall sustainability of the route. It additionally provides competition in the market which has a wider benefit for Irish consumers.

Over the past five years my Department has authorised a number of non-EU airlines to operate fifth freedom passenger flights. These include:

- Addis Ababa - Dublin - Los Angeles with return;

- Beijing - Edinburgh - Dublin with return;

- Addis Abba - Madrid - Dublin with return; and

- Shanghai (Pudong) – Helsinki – Dublin with return.  

Authorisation has also been granted for fifth freedom cargo flights, these include:  

- Istanbul - Shannon - Chicago;

- Istanbul - Shannon - New York; and

- Istanbul - Shannon - Atlanta.  

The European Single Aviation Market rules provide that EU airlines operating fifth freedom flights within Europe do not require authorisation from my Department.  

Non-EU airlines operating air services into EU Member States are required to hold a valid Third Country Operator (TCO) number, issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). This number serves as an indication that the airline has met the safety and oversight requirements as outlined in EU Regulations, which are themselves based on international standards and recommended practices, associated procedures, guidance material and safety related practices.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is responsible for aviation safety regulation in Ireland and is authorised to perform ramp inspections on aircraft for compliance with European and International safety standards.

Sports Capital Programme

Ceisteanna (472, 474)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

472. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason there is no application process for a 2019 sports capital programme underway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46191/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

474. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when allocations under the sports capital programme will be announced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46285/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 472 and 474 together.

2,337 applications were submitted under the 2018 round of the Sports Capital Programme 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 in May.

Work is now being finalised on the remaining applications for capital works and I expect the allocations to be announced shortly.  As soon as these grants have been announced a review into the operation of the 2018 SCP will be undertaken.  Part of the review will include consideration of timing of the next round but it is anticipated that the SCP will be open for applications again in the coming months.

Tourism Promotion

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Question No. 474 answered with Question No. 472.

Ceisteanna (473)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

473. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the cost of extending the Púca Halloween festival to each county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46220/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

My Department's role in relation to tourism lies primarily in the area of national tourism policy development.  Although it provides annual funding to Fáilte Ireland to invest in festivals and participative events, among other things, my Department has no role in the administration of related programmes.  These are operational matters for Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority.

Accordingly, I have asked Fáilte Ireland to reply directly to the Deputy with further information relevant to the Deputy's query, including information on any plans (and related costings) for the further development or expansion of the Púca festival.  Please contact my private office if you have not received a reply within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A
Question No. 474 answered with Question No. 472.

Departmental Offices

Ceisteanna (475)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

475. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of vacant desk spaces available in accommodation allocated to his Department in civil service accommodation outside Dublin city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46302/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Office of Public Works (OPW) is responsible for the provision of office accommodation for Government Departments.

My Department currently has a total of 8 vacant desk spaces in its office accommodation outside of Dublin City. It is anticipated that these desks will be filled in line with normal recruitment procedures.

Public Transport Expenditure

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (476)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

476. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the budgeted spend in each of the next five years to make public transport wheelchair accessible including vehicles, stations and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46303/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

Under the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for promoting the development of an integrated, accessible public transport network.

In light of the NTA's responsibilities in this matter, I have forwarded your question to the NTA for direct reply to you.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Public Transport Provision

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (477, 478)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

477. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the timeframe in which he plans to make public transport wheelchair accessible including vehicles, stations and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46304/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

478. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the incentives or grants in place to make taxis and hackneys wheelchair accessible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46305/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 477 and 478 together.

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

Under the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for promoting the development of an integrated, accessible public transport network.

In light of the NTA's responsibilities in this matter, I have forwarded your questions to the NTA for direct reply to you.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Public Transport Provision

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (479, 480)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

479. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of additional routes planned to be tendered in the public transport network; the detail of the routes; the planned timetables for tendering; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46311/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

480. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the public transport routes tendered to non semi-State companies; the date on which the contracts end; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46310/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 479 and 480 together.

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport in Ireland. The issues raised are a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) and I have forwarded the Deputy's questions to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A