Climate Action Plan

Ceisteanna (247)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

247. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the details on the appointment of the Just Transition Commissioner; the remuneration involved; the term of the commissioner's contract; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48258/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Mr. Kieran Mulvey has been appointed as Ireland's first Just Transition Commissioner. The Commissioner will help ensure a co-ordinated and effective approach to a Just Transition for communities and workers affected by the imminent ending of peat harvesting for power generation in the Midlands region. The Terms of Reference for the Just Transition Commissioner set out that the secretariat support for the Commissioner will be provided by my Department or the Midlands Transition Team as appropriate. Further details such as the remuneration of the Commissioner and the term of the contract are currently being finalised.

Together with my ministerial colleagues the Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe T.D., the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan T.D and the Minister of State for the Office of Public Works Kevin Moran T.D., I recently met with workers affected by the recent announcements from both Bord na Móna and ESB as well as Union representatives and Oireachtas members.

The Government has also prioritised a number of initiatives for the Midlands in the context of Budget 2020 including:-

- €6 million for a Just Transition Fund, targeted at the Midlands, to support the retraining and reskilling of workers and to assist local communities and businesses in the Region to adjust to the low carbon transition. In recognition of their longstanding relationship with communities in the Midlands, the ESB has agreed to contribute an additional €5 million to this fund bringing its total value to €11m. While details around the allocation of this fund are still being finalised, it is expected that it will support retraining and reskilling workers and assist local communities and businesses in the Midlands to adjust to the low carbon transition. There will be further consultation with the structures in place in the Midlands, including the Midlands Transition Team, on the application of the funding.

- €5 million for a National Parks and Wildlife Service bog restoration and rehabilitation programme to restore 1,800 hectares of bog to their natural habitat, ensuring the return of these bogs to carbons sinks once again and creating 70 to 100 jobs.

- €20 million targeted at the Midlands, to deliver a new model to group housing upgrades, as set out in the Climate Action Plan, which will support an estimated 400 direct and indirect jobs, as well as significantly upgrading the social housing stock in the region.

Electric Vehicles

Ceisteanna (248)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

248. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to introduce supports or grants for small businesses to install electric vehicle charging points on their premises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47877/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Providing adequate charging infrastructure is critical to ensure the continued growth in the uptake of electric vehicles. Businesses can already avail of accelerated capital allowances for the purchase and installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure on their premises. This enables businesses to invest in energy efficient equipment, including electric charging infrastructure, and deduct the full cost of such equipment from their profits in the year of purchase rather than over 8 years.

This support is part of a range of supports available for the development of charging infrastructure which include a home charger grant of up to €600 to support the purchase and installation of a home charger for purchasers of electric vehicles and grants available to local authorities for the development of on-street public charge points. Funding of €6 million will be available in 2020 for these schemes.

In addition, under the first call for applications from the Climate Action Fund, I approved funding of up to €10 million which will support the ESB to develop a nationwide, state-of-the-art electric vehicle fast charging network, with the ESB also investing €10 million.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (249)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

249. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount spent on purchasing mobile phones for staff within his Department for work-related business in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by grade; if his Department has a contract with a mobile phone company (details supplied) to supply mobile phones if needed; if so, the name of the company; the date on which the contract for the supply of mobile phones to his Department is next due to expire; and the robust steps taken to ensure that the costs incurred on work related phones are the best value for the taxpayer. [47916/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The information requested by the Deputy is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible. Following a competitive procurement process my Department awarded a contract to Vodafone in 2011 to supply mobile voice and data services and associated products. The contract is currently operated on a rolling month by month basis. It is intended to run a mini competition under the current Office of Government Procurement framework for this service in 2020.

Public Service Obligation Levy

Ceisteanna (250)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

250. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to extend the REFIT PSO for biomass burning until 2023 alongside a new proposal for a PSO for bog rehabilitation; the way in which the proposed PSO will not duplicate bog rehabilitation that is required under the EPA licence at Edenderry; his views on whether such a PSO to be another form of carbon taxation levied on electricity customers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47933/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The support scheme for use of biomass in electricity generation, REFIT3, runs until 2030. Both of the ESB-owned Midlands electricity generation stations, West Offaly Power and Lough Ree Power, and the Bord na Móna-owned plant at Edenderry were allocated support for fuelling the plants with up to 30% biomass. Bord na Móna currently co-fires its plant with 30% biomass. Due to the failure to obtain planning permission for West Offaly to co-fire with biomass beyond the end of 2020, and the decision by ESB to withdraw its application for planning for Lough Ree, the allocations under the support scheme for these plants are unlikely to be taken up. It is now proposed to put in place a new PSO for the enhanced rehabilitation of the Bord na Móna bogs over and above what Bord na Móna is obliged to do under its EPA licences. The support will be ring-fenced and used specifically for bog rehabilitation. It is expected that the proposed enhanced restoration and rehabilitation scheme will have benefits accruing from biodiversity provision, water quality, and increased carbon storage and sequestration.

The proposed scheme is not a tax on carbon. It is a scheme to support biodiversity and to ensure the bogs revert to their natural state as the most efficient carbon stores.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (251)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

251. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of staff in his Department by gender and pay grade in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47942/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The following sets out the number of staff currently serving in my Department by grade and gender:

Grade

Male

Female

Secretary General

1

0

Assistant Secretary

4

1

Principal Officer

27

15

Assistant Principal

67

46

Administrative Officer

20

17

Higher Executive Officer

32

37

Executive Officer

28

40

Clerical Officer

19

34

Service Officer

6

1

Total Males/Females

204

191

Total

395

Ministerial Advisers Data

Ceisteanna (252)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

252. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the political advisers used by Ministers and Ministers of State in his Department since the commencement of this Government; the commencement and cessation dates in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47959/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The information requested by the Deputy is outlined in the following tables:

Minister Denis Naughten

Name

Commencement

Cessation

Suzie Coogan

27/06/2016

12/10/2018

Ross Elwood

13/06/2016

31/03/2018

Jean Andrews

23/05/2018

12/10/2018

Minister Richard Bruton

Name

Commencement (with DCCAE)

Cessation

Sarah O’Neill

16/10/2018

N/A

Patrick Cluskey

16/10/2018

N/A

Minister of State Sean Canney

Name

Commencement (with DCCAE)

Cessation

Robert Hughes

02/01/2019

N/A

All of the appointments were made in accordance with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s Instruction to Personnel Officers – Ministerial Appointments for the 32nd Dáil.

Departmental Data

Ceisteanna (253)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

253. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of complaints of bullying and sexual harassment, respectively received by his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form. [48032/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

My Department received one complaint pursuant to the Dignity at Work Policy in 2019.

Better Energy Homes Scheme

Ceisteanna (254)

Pat Deering

Ceist:

254. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the grants and supports available to homeowners that need to carry out deep retrofit work on their homes to complete multiple energy upgrades to achieve a BER A rating on the property; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48052/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) administers a number of schemes on behalf of my Department which are aimed at supporting householders to retrofit their homes. Approximately €100 million has been allocated to these schemes in 2019. An overview of what is available is set out below. The Better Energy Homes Scheme provides grants covering up to 30% of the cost of home energy upgrades. The measures covered by this scheme, such as cavity wall insulation, attic insulation, solar thermal, heating controls and a BER certificate, were expanded over the last year to include deeper measures such as external wall insulation and heat pumps. €22 million was allocated in 2019 with 14,361 homes receiving funding for upgrades to end of October.

The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households who meet the defined eligibility criteria and who are vulnerable to energy poverty. The measures were expanded in 2018 to include internal and external insulation. In 2019, €39.8 million was allocated to the scheme with 2,891 homes upgraded by end of October.

The Better Energy Communities Scheme funds community based partnerships to improve the energy efficiency of the building stock in their area – homes, including those at risk of energy poverty, community facilities and businesses. It also encourages innovative measures and solutions. These partnerships can be between the public and private sectors, domestic and non-domestic sectors, commercial and not-for-profit organisations and energy suppliers. The scheme leverages considerable additional private investment. In 2019, €23 million was allocated to the scheme, with 57 projects granted approval including 685 homes.

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 Retrofit Taskforce, chaired by my Department, is driving the achievement of this target. A key part of the Taskforce’s work will be designing a national retrofit delivery model that groups homes together to achieve economies of scale and provides smart financing options and easy pay back methods. Achievement of this target will be supported by the Project Ireland 2040 allocation of €3.7 billion as well as the range of measures identified in the Plan.

Budget 2020 has allocated €146 million for retrofitting homes and businesses which will support the upgrade of 24,000 properties in 2020.

Departmental Staff Recruitment

Ceisteanna (255)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

255. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the estimated full-year cost of recruiting three extra whole-time equivalent petroleum exploration specialists in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48060/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The information requested by the Deputy is outlined in the following table.

Grade

Estimated Gross Annual Salary Cost (1st Point of PPC Scale )

No. of Grade

Total Gross Cost

Petroleum Exploration Specialists

€78,790.00

3

€236,370

My Department does not currently have Petroleum Exploration Specialists vacancies and does not currently plan recruitment at this grade.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (256)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

256. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of employees of his Department that were dismissed in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date 2019; the reason for the dismissal of each employee; the number of employees suspended in the same period; and the reason for the suspension of each in tabular form. [48067/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

There have been no employees dismissed or suspended by my Department from 2016 to date.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (257)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

257. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount spent on public relations, promotion and advertising for the National Development Plan 2018-2027 and Project Ireland 2040 since its publication in February 2018 by category (details supplied) in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48119/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Expenditure by my Department on public relations, promotion and advertising on the National Development Plan as part of Project Ireland 2040, is detailed by category in the table below:

Expenditure from February 2018 to date

Amount (incl. VAT)

Creative Design and Production Fees

€13,583

Video Production and Design

€34,141

Press Launches

€4,502

Total

€52,226

Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (258, 259)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

258. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to extend high-speed fibre broadband to a household (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48153/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

259. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his Department has received an email from a person (details supplied) in County Donegal outlining the need for high-speed fibre broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48154/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 258 and 259 together.

The National Broadband Plan is the government’s plan to rollout high speed broadband to the 1.1 million people living and working in the nearly 540,000 premises including 100,000 businesses and farms, and over 600 schools, where commercial operators will not commit to deliver the service.

The Deputy's Questions relate to one premises which is located in the AMBER area on the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map, which is available on my Department's website at www.broadband.gov.ie. The AMBER areas represent the areas to be served by the network to be deployed under the NBP State led Intervention, the contract for which was signed on 19 November with National Broadband Ireland (NBI). The NBP will rollout high speed broadband to people living and working in nearly 540,000 premises which include almost 100,000 businesses and farms and 695 schools where commercial operators will not deliver this service.

Approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) will be deployed across all counties during 2020. The BCPs will be located in community centres, schools, library hubs and local GAA halls and will enable communities to get free public access to high speed broadband. The BCP locations are available to view on the High Speed Broadband Map on the Department’s website www.dccae.gov.ie.

NBI will pass approximately 10,000 premises by the end of 2020. By the end of 2021, NBI plans to pass approximately 115,000 premises, with 70,000 - 100,000 passed each year thereafter until rollout is completed. NBI has indicated that the network rollout will take an estimated 7 years from the beginning of deployment. A deployment plan will be made available by NBI shortly. Over 90% of premises in the State will have access to high speed broadband within the next four years.

I can confirm that an email from the person referred to by the Deputy was received in my Department on 6 September 2019 and a reply was issued on 24 September 2019.

With regard to the eir fibre rollout close to the premises referred to by the Deputy, eir’s rural deployment of high speed broadband is a commercial undertaking and not part of the planned State Intervention network. It is not funded by the State and is not planned, designed or directed by the Department in any capacity. The decision as to what areas and premises are served is a matter for eir.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (260)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

260. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount spent on bottled water and disposable coffee cups by his Department to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48185/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

My Department purchases bottled water in two ways - from the in-house caterers, when requested, for meetings and under an Office of Government Procurement contract for a single bottle fed water dispenser, which is in the lobby in my Department's head quarters on Adelaide Road, Dublin. The total cost for the period 1st January to 30th October 2019 was €918.

My Department does not purchase disposable coffee cups.

Freedom of Information Data

Ceisteanna (261)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

261. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the date of each review and revision of the material published under the publication scheme of his Department as outlined in section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48202/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Freedom of Information (FOI) publication scheme for my Department was first published in 2016 and was revised and updated in July of this year. This is in line with the requirement of the FOI Act 2014, which requires each body to review and update its publication scheme 3 years after publication and not later than every third year thereafter. Separately, as part of the move to the www.gov.ie central portal for government services and information, my Department is in the process of conducting a complete review of all its website content, including a further review of its FOI Publication Scheme.

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (262, 263, 264)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

262. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will confirm that his Department has agreed to remove already connected premises from the intervention area of the national broadband plan. [48227/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

263. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will confirm that further commitment agreements entered into in the intervention area of the national broadband plan would be in line with those set down in managing the high speed broadband map and the previous commitment agreements entered into by commercial operators.; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48228/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

264. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he plans to add additional unbuilt premises to the intervention area of the national broadband plan; the reason these premises were not included in previous maps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48229/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 262 to 264, inclusive, together.

As a State intervention, the NBP must comply with the requirements of the European Commission’s Guidelines on the application of State aid rules for 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.

Having consulted with industry on an ongoing basis over the past four years, my Department recently conducted a final public consultation to close the mapping exercise in advance of the award of the NBP contract. Having evaluated the submissions received, approximately 38,000 premises were removed from the intervention area as commercial operators provided evidence that these premises can now access a high speed broadband service from an existing network.

The commitment agreement entered into in 2017 in respect of the eir 300k fibre network, related to premises that were removed from the intervention area on the basis of a future concrete plan by a commercial operator for a network that was yet to be built. The purpose of that commitment agreement was to provide an appropriate level of assurance that a planned network build would be given effect to.

Following the recent public consultation, approximately 37,000 premises originally identified as being served by commercial operators have now been included in the intervention area for the NBP, as commercial operators plans to serve these premises have not materialised. The map has also been updated for approximately an additional 2,000 premises identified in the latest Ordinance Survey Ireland data.

I can confirm that the final Intervention Area now covers 537,596 premises.

The NBP contract, which was signed yesterday, provides that the future proofed high speed broadband network to be deployed by National Broadband Ireland will also pass and connect new premises built in the intervention area over the next 25 years.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (265)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

265. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount spent on public relations, promotion and advertising, including multimedia, in his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019 (details supplied) in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48241/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

My Departmental remit includes complex policy areas, oversight of State regulation and service provision across key strategic services such as energy and public service broadcasting, as well as regulation of sectors such as mining and hydrocarbon exploration. Given the technical complexity, economic significance and community interest in these areas, there is a requirement to disseminate information and to address specific issues as they arise. My Department therefore necessarily incurs some expenditure on a number of advertising campaigns to promote its policies / programmes from time to time. In procuring these services, my Department always seeks to ensure value for money and the keeping of expenditure to the minimum necessary.

The expenditure incurred includes the promotion of a number of significant programmes/campaigns associated with my Department such as the Trading Online Voucher Scheme, the Waste Campaign and the Tellus project run by the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI).

The information requested is outlined in tabular format below:

2016

2017

2018

To date 2019

Total expenditure on public relations, promotion and advertising including multi-media

€171,407

€791,987*

€340,442

€473,253

*VAT not payable on €450 of this amount