Organic Farming Scheme Data

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (492)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

492. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the financial allocations on an annual basis under the 2014-2020 RDP for the organic farming scheme; the annual amount expended on the scheme in each year since established; the number of active participants in the scheme; the number of approved applicants that subsequently withdrew from the scheme; the number of successful applicants in each year of the scheme; the number of unsuccessful applicants in each year of the scheme to date; the appeals process in place; the number of approved applicants in the scheme that received payments in each year of scheme by advance and balancing payments approved applicants that did not receive payments in each year by advance and balancing payments in tabular form; and if he is considering reopening the organic farm scheme. [47681/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The details requested by the Deputy are currently being compiled but will take some time to complete. The answer will be provided directly to the Deputy as soon as complete.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A
I refer to Parliamentary Question 47681/19 of 19 November 2019 that you raised with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The information requested regarding the Organic Farming Scheme is set out below and in the following table.
The Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) under the current RDP 2014-2020 was launched in 2015. There are currently 1,530 participants in the OFS which includes applicants who availed of the opportunity to extend their contracts. For those farmers who were unsuccessful in the tranche that reopened in November 2018, details of the appeals process were included in the letters informing them of the decision. Each unsuccessful applicant was offered the right to appeal the decision to the Organic Section within ten working days of the date of their letter. If dissatisfied with the outcome of that review they could then appeal the decision to the Agriculture Appeals Office.
It is important to note that this was a targeted re-opening and that the Minister fully expects that there will be a new Organics Scheme under the next CAP. The Minister would encourage all stakeholders to make their views known on the shape of this future scheme as part of the wider CAP consultation process.
Organic Farming Scheme

-

Financial

Allocation

Expenditure

Withdrawals

Successful applicants

Unsuccessful applicants

Advance

Payments

Made

Balancing Payments

Made

Advance Payments not yet made

Balancing Payments not yet made

2015

€12m

11

942

1580

1580

2016

€10m

€8m

29

380

1664

1664

2017

€10.5m

€8.8m

14

1575

1573

3

3

2018

€10.5m

€10.5m

17

1483

1450

8

15

2019

€11m

€8.6m

3

55

111

1279

216

 
Note: 2019 expenditure is at 30 November 2019. All eligible participants are contracted to receive a payment in respect of 2020. The advance payments for 2020 will commence in the 4th quarter of 2020 with the balancing payment issuing in 2021.
It must also be noted that 2014 Organic Farming Scheme payments were also issued from this budget.

Organic Farming Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (493)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

493. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the funding allocated to new entrants when the organic farming scheme was re-opened for a brief period in November 2018 for 30 days; the number of successful applicants that applied to the scheme in this period; the number of unsuccessful applicants; the number of applicants that successfully appealed to be included in the scheme when it reopened in this period; the number that were unsuccessful with their appeal in tabular form; the original number of participants targeted to subscribe to the scheme; and if the scheme been oversubscribed. [47682/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Organic Farming Scheme is one of the most successful schemes under our current Rural Development Programme. A budget of €56m was allocated to fund the Scheme opened during the period 2014 to 2020 which was the largest allocation ever to an Organics support scheme.

The Scheme has more than achieved its targets in terms of new land converted and the maintenance of organic land. The area of land under organic production has expanded dramatically as a direct result of my Department's investment. Latest figures indicate that there are now some 72,000 hectares under organic production, an increase of nearly 50% on the position at the start of the Programme in 2014.

Indeed, the target for the RDP was to attract some 16,000 hectares of new land into production and to support 46,000 hectares of converted land. These targets have been more than exceeded

As a further vote of confidence in the organics sector by this Government, my colleague Minister Doyle established an Organics Strategy Group last year comprising relevant stakeholders and state bodies. Part of the remit of the Strategy Group was to consider the case for a possible re-opening of the Organic Farming Scheme. They recommended that it should be re-opened but on a targeted basis. The areas targeted were areas for which there is a clear market demand, and which are critical to the further development of the Organic Sector, namely horticulture, cereals and dairy. This recommendation acknowledged that the budget was very limited given the success of the current scheme and the overall spending within the RDP.

It is important to note that this is a targeted re-opening and that I would fully expect that there will be a new Organics scheme under the next CAP. I would encourage all stakeholders to make their views known on the shape of this future scheme as part of the wider CAP consultation process.

As regards the re-opening, the Scheme remained opened for applications up to the 19 December and a total of 225 applications were received. A total of 58 applications were either withdrawn or were deemed ineligible. Following the ranking and selection process, one applicant withdrew, 55 were successful and 111 farmers received letters informing them that they had been unsuccessful. All unsuccessful applicants were given a right of appeal to the Organic Unit of my Department. 34 appeals have been received to date.

Agriculture Industry

Ceisteanna (494)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

494. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department has examined the proposal to ban the below-cost selling of agricultural produce, including beef; and the way in which this could be achieved with existing national and EU legislation. [47683/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The legislative powers to tackle the matters mentioned are under the auspices of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, together with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. The Commission, which was established on 31 October 2014, is the statutory body responsible for enforcing consumer protection and competition law in Ireland.

Previous legislation, the Restrictive Practices (Groceries) Order, 1987 was introduced under the auspices of the Department of Industry and Commerce (now Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation). The Order banned the selling of goods below their invoice price and was introduced to prevent small shops being driven out of business by large supermarket chains. Following public debate and consultation, this Order was rescinded in 2006.

Price levels agreed between retail outlets and their suppliers, and charged by retail outlets, are a commercial matter. Whilst it is not my role to set supermarket prices for agricultural products or to be involved in price negotiations, I very much encourage greater co-operation and discussion between all parties in order to ensure the viability of the Irish food sector.

Legislative Programme

Ceisteanna (495)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

495. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of the publication of the sea fisheries and maritime jurisdiction (amendment) Bill as indicated in the autumn 2019 legislative programme. [47685/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The main purpose of the proposed legislative amendments is to provide for a points system for masters of fishing vessels for serious infringements of the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy, as required by Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009. The draft amending legislation would resolve some typographical errors in the Principal Act of 2006 and introduce other miscellaneous and technical amendments.

My Department has been in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General on certain matters pertaining to the proposed amendments. Legal advice from that Office was recently received in this regard and is under consideration at present.

Once these matters have been finalised, it is intended to submit a Memorandum to Government seeking approval for the drafting of a Bill along the lines of the General Scheme, and forwarding the General Scheme for consideration to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine in the context of Pre-legislative Scrutiny prior to its submission to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for drafting.

Food Marketing Programme

Ceisteanna (496)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

496. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of the initiatives being funded by his Department and the agencies under his remit to market suckler beef as a premium product and increase the return for the primary producer. [47686/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Bord Bia is the state agency responsible of the marketing and promotion of Irish food and drinks worldwide, including suckler beef. Its remit involves the promotion of Irish agricultural products across the world, especially those covered by national quality schemes such as the Quality Assurance Scheme, via trade fairs, public relations activities, publications & presentations with factual research data & information showing the virtues of Irish Beef and other products.

Ministerial Trade Missions expand the global reach and reputation of Irish food and drink exports worldwide. For instance, earlier this month, I visited China for the fourth time, building on the recent approval of 14 additional beef plants to supply product to the Chinese market, bringing to 21 the total number of Irish beef plants listed with the General Administration of Customs in China. This trade visit included the announcement by Bord Bia of a retail promotion for Irish beef with Chinese online retailer, JD.com, China's second largest online platform with over 320 million annual customers and the world's third largest Internet company by revenue.

In addition, under the EU Promotion of Agricultural Products Regime, Bord Bia has secured EU co-funding for promotion of Irish beef and other meat products over the last few years, including campaigns on key markets in Asia.

My Department continues to consult with relevant stakeholders and the European Commission regarding the development of a Protected Geographical Indicator(PGI) for Irish beef.

Beef Producer Organisations are a mechanism which DAFM have legislated and provided financial assistance for, to enhance the position of the primary producer in the supply chain. Two Beef Producer organisations have been recognised by my Department to date. My Department is engaging extensively with stakeholders in promoting the establishment of beef producer organisations, to strengthen the position of the primary producer in the supply chain.

Fishing Industry

Ceisteanna (497)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

497. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he is taking to protect Irish fishing interests at EU level; the status of the latest discussions ahead of the December 2019 EU Council meeting of fisheries Ministers at which 2020 total allowable catches and quotas will be agreed; the bilateral discussions he has had to date in 2019 with counterparts in this regard. [47687/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Discussions take place with a number of parties in the run up to December Fisheries Council including high level meetings with the Commission, the Presidency and other Member States as part of the preparation for the Council as well as a number of important technical meetings. These meetings allow my officials to understand the priorities of other Member States and also gauge where Ireland can build relationships to help deliver our priorities at Council.

While the process of deciding on Total Allowable Catch (TAC) levels concludes at the December Council, the preparation for this goes on throughout the year. Scientific data used to inform the negotiations is collected continuously over a 12 month period. This data, upon which the Commission bases its proposals, generally becomes available from June onwards and it gives a strong indication of what the proposal might look like. This data is informed by the work of the Marine Institute, amongst others, who work closely with the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES).

As part of our Sustainability Impact Assessment, I have launched a public consultation on the Commission's proposals for 2020 and I look forward to the outcome of that process which I intend to lay before the Oireachtas next month.

I am always conscious of the immediate impacts the decisions taken at the December Fisheries Council have for so many communities around our coast. This is why I believe the advance preparation should be as comprehensive and inclusive as possible, involving my own Department as well as Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the Marine Institute, all industry representatives and the Environmental Pillar. I will be meeting with these stakeholders next week to discuss the proposals. This process is invaluable and helps me identify the key areas of concern.

It is important to note that the December Council doesn't happen in isolation from other fisheries negotiations. A range of international meetings that effectively decide the quotas for some very important stocks such as mackerel, blue whiting, Atlanto-Scandian herring and albacore tuna also take place at this time of year. Ireland is an active participant at all of these negotiations and they form part of a broader picture for our fishing opportunities that is sometimes overlooked in the activity leading up to December Council.

I can assure the Deputy that the fishing industry is a key priority for this Government. Ireland is well prepared and I will do my utmost to ensure that the final outcome is one that is good for the industry and the long term sustainability of the stocks.

Forestry Sector

Ceisteanna (498)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

498. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a forestry application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47741/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named submitted two applications for felling licences in June, 2019 The applicant has recently been requested to provide a harvest plan for one of the applications referenced, so no further processing on this application can take place until that is received. Both applications will be fully assessed under new Appropriate Assessment procedures which have been introduced on foot of recent changes in environmental regulations.

All forestry licence applications, including tree felling licences, must be carefully assessed by my Department to ensure that any potential impact on the surrounding environment is carefully considered. These new procedures have led to temporary disruption in terms of delivery times, but the actions now being taken will improve will improve the environmental sustainability of the process and will make for more timely decision-making in the future.

Forestry Sector

Ceisteanna (499)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

499. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a forestry application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47742/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Applications for the Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme for the reference numbers provided, were submitted by the registered forester and acknowledged in March, 2019. Afforestation licence approvals for both applications issued to the applicant and their registered forester in August.

They were both appealed to the Forestry Appeals Committee, which is independent of my Department. The licences are currently suspended pending the outcomes of the appeals.

Beef Industry Irregularities

Ceisteanna (500)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

500. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 426, 427 and 428 of 12 November 2019, the month in which the factory concerned breached the excess carcase trimming specification; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47745/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

In January 2019, one factory was fined for excess carcase trimming of three carcasses. Similar to last year, it is proposed to publish the names of all factories penalised for non-compliance with the regulation in December.

Farm Inspections

Ceisteanna (501)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

501. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 211 of 10 October and 242 of 17 October 2019, stating that his Department did not carry out investigations into environmental concerns at a location (details supplied) in County Donegal, the nature of the investigation by the AES division of his Department that led it to state the contrary in correspondence to the specialised farm services division on 26 June 2018 released under Freedom of Information; and the conclusion arrived at in relation to this matter arising from the concerns with a range of supporting photo evidence referred to in the correspondence. [47749/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Deputy's previous questions were understood to have related to digestate and were answered in the context of public and animal health under Regulation 1069/2009.

However, I can confirm that separately my Department is conducting an investigation under the Environmental Impact Assessment regulations (SI 456/2011) in County Donegal but cannot comment further while matters are under investigation. I apologise for any confusion caused.

Organic Farming Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (502)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

502. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of applications received under the organic farming scheme in 2018 and 2019; the number of unsuccessful applications; the number of appeals registered to date; the amount allocated to the most recent organic farming scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47804/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Organic Farming Scheme is one of the most successful schemes under our current Rural Development Programme. A budget of €56m was allocated to fund the Scheme opened during the period 2014 to 2020 which was the largest allocation ever to an Organics support scheme.

The Scheme has more than achieved its targets in terms of new land converted and the maintenance of organic land. The area of land under organic production has expanded dramatically as a direct result of my Department's investment. Latest figures indicate that there are now some 72,000 hectares under organic production, an increase of nearly 50% on the position at the start of the Programme in 2014.

Indeed, the target for the RDP was to attract some 16,000 hectares of new land into production and to support 46,000 hectares of converted land. These targets have been more than exceeded

As a further vote of confidence in the organics sector by this Government, my colleague Minister Doyle established an Organics Strategy Group last year comprising relevant stakeholders and state bodies. Part of the remit of the Strategy Group was to consider the case for a possible re-opening of the Organic Farming Scheme. They recommended that it should be re-opened but on a targeted basis. The areas targeted were areas for which there is a clear market demand, and which are critical to the further development of the Organic Sector, namely horticulture, cereals and dairy. This recommendation acknowledged that the budget was very limited given the success of the current scheme and the overall spending within the RDP.

It is important to note that this is a targeted re-opening and that I would fully expect that there will be a new Organics scheme under the next CAP. I would encourage all stakeholders to make their views known on the shape of this future scheme as part of the wider CAP consultation process.

As regards the re-opening, the Scheme remained opened for applications up to the 19 December and a total of 225 applications were received. A total of 58 applications were either withdrawn or were deemed ineligible. Following the ranking and selection process, one applicant withdrew, 55 were successful and 111 farmers received letters informing them that they had been unsuccessful. All unsuccessful applicants were given a right of appeal to the Organic Unit of my Department. 34 appeals have been received to date.

Beef Industry Irregularities

Ceisteanna (503)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

503. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of non-compliance cases in regard to carcase trim specifications, that inspectors have identified in beef plants each month from January 2018 to date; the name of the plants involved; the amounts of the payments made to individual farmers supplying the animals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47844/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

In 2018, my Department conducted almost 550 unannounced, on-the-spot inspections in 32 factories on classification and carcase presentation. There were an average of 18 inspections per factory which significantly exceeds the legal minimum requirement of 8 inspections per year. At each inspection, 85 carcases on average are checked.

In 2018, non-compliance was identified in 3 factories where a total of 19 carcasses were deemed non-compliant. In December 2018, my Department published on their website the names of the factories involved.

To date in 2019, there has been non-compliance found with the carcase trim specification in relation to three carcases in a single plant. An on-the spot fine was issued in relation to this incident. Details of this non-compliance will be published on the Department's website in December.

Any payments made to a Farmer Supplier, including in relation to issues such as this, are a matter between the Farmer/Supplier and the Processor/plant.

EU Regulations

Ceisteanna (504)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

504. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he will take to ensure an application for recognition by an organisation (details supplied) pursuant to Article 14 and 16 of Regulations (EU) No. 1379/2013 is reviewed on the basis that its rejection was based solely on the fact that it failed to meet the mandatory criteria enforced at the moment; the steps he will take to ensure that the organisation is recognised as a producer organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47861/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department is obliged in its role as competent authority under EU Regulation 1379/2013 on the Common Organisation of the Market in Fishery and Aquaculture products (CMO) to ensure that an application for recognition as a fisheries or aquaculture Producer Organisation complies with the requirements of Article 14 of the CMO Regulation.

One of those requirements set out in paragraph 1(b) of article 14 requires that an applicant must be "sufficiently economically active in the territory of the Member State concerned or a part thereof, in particular as regards the number of members or the volume of marketable production". This requirement is expressed in broad terms in the Regulation and so requires definition or elaboration by each Member State, in accordance with its national policies or local circumstances, via national recognition criteria. Each Member State has adopted such national recognition criteria for this purpose.

Ireland has previously adopted national recognition criteria for the purpose of implementing a similar requirement of the previous CMO Regulation. Those national recognition criteria were not rescinded or replaced by any new criteria since Regulation 1379/2013 came into force, and so, they remain the adopted criteria in Ireland.

The organisation in question submitted an application for recognition as a Fishery Producer Organisation earlier this year. Following an evaluation of the information provided by the organisation to support the application, my Department declined recognition as the application did not show that the organisation meets the above mentioned mandatory criteria.

My Department is presently preparing proposals for a possible revision of the mandatory criteria for recognition and I hope to publish these for public consultation shortly. However, for now, any application for recognition must be decided on the basis of the national recognition criteria currently in place.

It is open to the organisation to submit a new application when it is satisfied that it meets current recognition criteria or any future recognition criteria that may be introduced following the process outlined above.

Building Energy Rating Administration

Ceisteanna (505)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

505. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the projected cost to retrofit all public buildings to a passive zero carbon standard. [47228/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Government is committed to ensuring that the public sector continues to play a leadership role in tackling climate change through the achievement of energy efficiency gains and carbon emissions reductions. This commitment is supported by a key Government objective in the Climate Action Plan (CAP) for Public Buildings to reach a “B” Building Energy Rating by 2030. To achieve this, my Department is working with the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform to avail of expertise under the EU Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS). This exercise will inform the design and development of a Framework for implementing a comprehensive public sector building upgrade Programme. It will also entail consultation with key stakeholders on the issues and barriers to be overcome. Developing the Framework will also need to have regard to issues such as project selection, prioritisation, appropriate governance structures as well as the potential to use Energy Performance Contracting models where appropriate. A key part of this project will also be to assess the scale of investment needed and to recommend the optimal mix of funding options which will inform scheduling of Exchequer funding support. A total of €800 million has been provided under Project Ireland 2040 for public building energy retrofit, along with further funding for school energy retrofits, third level building renovations, and public transport fleet replacement.

Building Energy Rating Administration

Ceisteanna (506)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

506. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the projected cost to retrofit all homes to passive zero carbon standards. [47229/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The passive house standard is a voluntary energy efficiency standard for buildings. The retrofitting of existing dwellings to this new standard is challenging both technically and economically. There are very few examples of large scale passive house retrofit projects internationally. For that reason, it is difficult to place a precise estimate on the likely cost of upgrading all homes in Ireland. The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, as required by the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2010/31/EU), has introduced new requirements for home renovation which came into force on 1 November 2019. The impact of this regulation is that when buildings are undergoing a renovation of more than 25% of the surface of the building envelope, the entire building will have to be brought up to a higher energy performance standard. The Directive also requires that all new buildings are nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB) by 31 December 2020.

The Climate Action Plan has committed to increasing the scale and depth of retrofit activity in order to meet our emissions reduction targets from the Built Environment. This will involve 500,000 homes being upgraded to a BER B2/cost optimal or carbon equivalent by 2030. A cost-optimal analysis commissioned by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Cost Optimal Residential Report Ireland 2018) estimated the cost to achieve a B2 rating from a starting point of a D/E rating to be in the range of €21,000-€39,000. The cost is higher for homes with lower energy ratings and lower for those with higher ratings.

To deliver our Climate Action Plan target of 500,000 housing upgrades by 2030, we will develop a new retrofitting delivery model. Our plan will:

- Group homes in the same area together to drive down cost

- Start with social homes owned by the local authorities, but will embrace privately owned homes in the wider community

- Develop smart finance options (e.g. loan guarantee models)

- Introduce easy pay back models (e.g. through your utility bill)

Budget 2020 provided €20m to commence this process, starting with groups of social homes in the Midlands to be upgraded at the same time, and expanding to cover privately owned homes also.

The selection of the Midlands to start rolling out this plan is ideal because of the structural changes occurring there and the commitment of regional skills fora to provide the skilled workers.

Budget 2020 has also allocated €146 million for retrofitting homes and businesses through SEAI administered schemes. This record level of investment is an important step towards realising the Government’s Climate Action Plan targets for building retrofits.

Maoiniú Chraoltóirí Seirbhíse Poiblí

Ceisteanna (507)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

507. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Dara Calleary den Aire Cumarsáide, Gníomhaithe ar son na hAeráide agus Comhshaoil an ndéanfaidh sé cur síos ar an tacaíocht a thabharfaidh sé maidir le todhchaí RnaG agus TG4 toisc go bhfuil ról tábhachtach acu ó thaobh teanga agus seirbhísí craoltóireachta poiblí de. [47083/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Foráiltear don chraoltóireacht seirbhíse poiblí i gCuid 7 den Acht Craolacháin 2009. Leagtar amach san Acht sainchúram, oibleagáidí agus príomhchuspóirí na gcorparáidí craoltóireachta seirbhíse poiblí, RTÉ agus TG4, agus a gcuid oibleagáidí reachtúla. Mar a leagtar amach in Alt 114 agus in Alt 118 den Acht, tá dualgas reachtúil ar an dá chraoltóir seirbhíse poiblí réimse cuimsitheach clár a chur ar fáil a léiríonn éagsúlacht chultúrtha oileán na hÉireann uile agus aird ar leith a bheith acu ar na hairíonna a shainíonn an cultúr sin agus go háirithe ar an nGaeilge.

Leagadh amach sa Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge roinnt gealltanas chun craolachán trí mheán na Gaeilge a chur chun cinn, mar shampla, an Ciste Craolacháin a mhéadú ó 5% go 7% den mhaoiniú ón táille cheadúnais, rud a chuaigh chun tairbhe do léirithe neamhspleácha sa Ghaeilge. Tá RTÉ agus TG4 tar éis réimse leathan gealltanas eile a chur i gcrích go dtí seo agus bhí siad ag plé go díreach leis an Roinn Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta chun tuilleadh gníomhartha atá le déanamh a shainaithint i bPlean Gníomhaíochta 2018-2022 a d’fhoilsigh an tAire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta i mí an Mheithimh anuraidh.

Faoi phlean gníomhaíochta Gaeilge 5 bliana RTÉ, sheol RTÉ aip Raidió na Gaeilge agus bíonn nuacht náisiúnta, idirnáisiúnta agus réigiúnach i nGaeilge ar a shuíomh gréasáin nuachta agus ar a aip News Now anois. Sheol TG4 suíomh gréasáin athdheartha le mórghnéithe nua dóibh siúd a bheidh á úsáid sa tír seo agus ar fud na cruinne. Cinntíonn sé sin go mbeidh fáil ag lucht féachana ar fud na cruinne ar chláir Ghaeilge ar ghléasanna éagsúla.

Chun tacú leis na tionscnaimh, d’éirigh sa Roinn seo agamsa méadú €9.245m ar mhaoiniú poiblí foriomlán na craoltóireachta a bhaint amach i gCáinaisnéis 2019. Tá RTÉ ag fáil €8.6m den leithdháileadh méadaithe sin in 2019. Leithdháileadh caiteachas reatha €34.233m agus caiteachas caipitiúil €2m ar TG4 in 2019. Is méadú €443,000 ar chaiteachas reatha é sin le hais leithdháileadh 2018. Ina theannta sin, leithdháileadh deontas caipitil aon uaire €985,000 ar TG4 in 2018 le haghaidh an chaiteachais i dtaca le Bliain na Gaeilge.

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (508, 509, 512, 517)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

508. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of operator submissions and-or operators referred to the European Commission to determine whether state aid issues arise in the context of a mapping exercise for the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47101/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

509. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when his attention was drawn to the fact that commercial operators were of the view they can provide broadband to 137,000 premises included in the national broadband plan. [47102/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

512. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he is satisfied that the national broadband plan is compliant with EU guideline 2013/C 25/01; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47108/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

517. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if commercial operators have signed a declaration that they will enter into a commitment agreement with the Department within the intervention area of the national broadband plan in 2019; if commercial operators have expressed an interest in entering into such a commitment agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47281/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 508, 509, 512 and 517 together.

As a State intervention, the NBP must comply with the requirements of the European Commission’s Guidelines on the application of the State aid rules on broadband networks. The Guidelines require, amongst other things, that Member States carry out a detailed mapping exercise to identify as far as reasonably possible those areas where intervention is required.

My Department recently conducted a public consultation 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 was extended twice at the request of operators, resulting in a total nine week period for submissions, and it closed on 30th September, 2019.

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

Operator submissions are assessed against the Department’s published assessment criteria. Operators submitting planned investments are required to sign a declaration that they will enter into a Commitment Agreement with the Department if their plans satisfy the assessment criteria and are accepted by the Department as being concrete and credible. Such declarations form part of the consultation findings.

The findings of the consultation will ensure that the State Intervention Area is up to date and that it reflects commercial operators’ plans and the responses from householders and businesses, in advance of a contract being awarded. This is an important element in the State Aid approval process with the European Commission.

On 15 November the European Commission announced its approval of €2.6billion of public support for the National Broadband Plan under EU State aid rules.

National Broadband Plan Expenditure

Ceisteanna (510)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

510. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount spent on consultancy fees for the national broadband plan to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47106/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The amount of expenditure on consultancy fees for the National Broadband Plan to date in 2019 is €3,585,776 (including VAT).

National Broadband Plan Expenditure

Question No. 512 answered with Question No. 508.

Ceisteanna (511)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

511. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount spent on advertising across each platform for the national broadband plan to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47107/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

There has been no expenditure on advertising for the National Broadband Plan to date in 2019.

Question No. 512 answered with Question No. 508.