National Broadband Plan Implementation

Ceisteanna (197, 198, 199)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

197. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when construction will commence on providing fibre optic cable to the home; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48464/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

198. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the first home will be connected to fibre optic to the home broadband under the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48465/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

199. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will publish in full the European Commission state aid decision in relation to the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48466/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 197 to 199, inclusive, together.

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) contract, which was signed on 19 November, provides that a future proofed high speed broadband network will be deployed by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) to people living and working in nearly 540,000 premises in the intervention area over the next 25 years. Work will begin immediately and over 90% of premises in the State will have access to high speed broadband within the next four years.

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.

I understand that the non-confidential version of the European Commission's decision will be published on the European Commission's website shortly.

Electric Vehicles

Ceisteanna (200, 201)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

200. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to introduce new fast electric car chargers in the Sligo area; the grants he will make available for businesses to develop these chargers privately; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48475/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

201. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to make additional electrical resources and capacity available off the grid network system to power fast electric chargers for service stations and other major destinations located in the northwest region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48476/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 200 and 201 together.

The Climate Action Plan, which set a target of 936,000 electric vehicles to be on the road in Ireland by 2030, includes a range of actions to support the uptake of electric vehicles. These actions include developing the charging network to stay sufficiently ahead of demand.

There are currently over 650 standard public charge points and 96 fast chargers (the majority of which are operated by the ESB) in Ireland. A real-time map showing the ESB charge point locations, including the status and availability of these charge points, is available on the ESB's website at www.esb.ie/ecars.

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. This project includes the installation of 140 fast chargers consisting of 90 150kW chargers (each of which will be capable of charging two vehicles simultaneously) and upgrading 50 existing standard chargers to 50kW chargers The project will also involve replacing over 500 existing standard charge points with next generation high reliability models.

This is a multi-annual project and is expected to be fully completed by 2022. The locations of the chargers that will be installed as part of this project have not been finalised. However, a provisional map of the planned network, showing indicative locations, was developed by the ESB and has been published on my Department’s website.

Budget 2020 provided €36 million in funding to my Department to support the uptake of electric vehicles and supporting charging infrastructure. In August, I announced funding to support the rollout of on-street public charge points for electric vehicles. A total of €2 million has been provided in Budget 2020 to support the installation of up to 400 on-street chargers in 2020. All Local Authorities can now apply for funding to the SEAI for this support to develop on-street charging infrastructure.

Businesses 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 deduct the full cost of such equipment in the year of purchase rather than over 8 years.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Funding

Ceisteanna (202)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

202. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will consider the recent reports by the EPA regarding inadequately treated sewage at treatment plants in counties Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal; his plans to grant funding to upgrade the system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48481/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

This is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government in the context of his responsibilities regarding water quality. I have no function in this regard.

Recycling Policy

Ceisteanna (203)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

203. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to support local communities in rolling out the reverse vending recycling machine capabilities; his plans for such machines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48483/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I refer to the reply to Question No 193 of 13th November 2019. The position is unchanged.

Community Development Projects Funding

Ceisteanna (204)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

204. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to support local community groups to protect natural sand dunes in areas such as Strandhill, County Sligo; the funding available to support same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48485/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I have no function in relation to this matter. I understand that responsibility for issues arising at specific locations falls across a number of public bodies, including the National Parks & Wildlife Service and the relevant Local Authority.

Tourism Policy

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

Ceisteanna (205)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

205. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to enhance the tourism experience in Kells, County Meath. [45283/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Fáilte Ireland provides a wide range of supports for tourism businesses and attractions throughout the country to help create new experiences and enhance existing ones; extend the season and enhance the skills and business capability of tourism enterprises.   At county and regional level, the regional tourism experience brands provide the overarching context for marketing, enterprise supports and tourism product development.  For County Meath, including the town of Kells, the relevant brand is Ireland’s Ancient East. 

I have asked Fáilte Ireland to respond to the Deputy directly with further detail on specific plans to enhance tourism experience in Kells, County Meath.  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

Cycling Facilities Funding

Ceisteanna (206)

John Curran

Ceist:

206. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the fact that cycling receives less than 2% of the €384 million increase in Budget 2020 in relation to the Climate Action Plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42159/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I am aware there has been some confusion since Budget 2020 in relation to announcements made in relation to expenditure on active travel related programmes.

On Budget Day I announced allocations of €114 million toward active travel/greenways, comprised of -

- €91million toward active travel related programmes

- €23million toward greenways.

Those allocations included €9million divided equally between across active travel and greenways and sourced from the revenue derived from carbon tax receipts. This additional allocation from carbon tax receipts gave rise to a misunderstanding that active travel’s total allocation for 2020 was just €9million, which is completely incorrect.

I can inform the Deputy that since announcement of Budget 2020’s overall funding parameters and as we move toward finalisation of allocations, and expected project level commitments next year, that there is likely to be an upward shift in the active travel related allocations for next year, with the two principal active travel related programmes now to be allocated just over €100million in total as opposed to €91million. (As already noted, there is also the announced allocation for greenways, which is additional to the €100 million.)

Within my Department active travel is also separately supported through funding provided under the BusConnects programme and the roads programme.

However, that does not capture the totality of taxpayer support for active travel as funding is also made available through other funding programmes such as the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund and the Cycle to Work Scheme.

Road Projects Status

Ceisteanna (207)

John Curran

Ceist:

207. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the funding allocated and the amount drawndown to date on the M50 enhancing motorway operation services project; the status of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46891/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I refer the Deputy to my response which issued to Oral PQ 48179:

Firstly, I would like to explain that, as Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  However, under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design, construction and operation of individual national road projects is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the Local Authorities concerned.

I would also like to stress that I fully recognise the demand pressures on the M50.

Demand management measures.

TII, along with other relevant stakeholders, has completed a number of measures on the M50 to manage demand and optimise operational efficiency, including:

- enhanced vehicle recovery services;

- establishment of an Inter-agency Incident Coordination Group;

- changes to merging and diverging layouts at junctions;

- establishment of signed Emergency Diversion Routes; and

- improved access for incident support and emergency services.

[Enhancing Motorway Operation Services (EMOS)]

TII has also commenced a project entitled ‘Enhancing Motorway Operation Services (EMOS) to which the Deputy refers. This project will include Variable Speed Limits, referred to as VSLs and Lane Control Signalling.

[Variable Speed Limits (VSLs)]

The VSL regime on the M50 is intended to improve the operational efficiency of the motorway by

- smoothing traffic flow,

- improving journey time reliability, and

- reducing the number of traffic collisions.

As I mentioned, lane control signalling will also be installed as part of the project which will allow the rapid closing off of lanes.

Status of the project.

With regard to the status of the EMOS project, my Department is progressing the legislative arrangements to provide TII with the powers to operate VSLs.  The legislative proposals will be contained in the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.  A General Scheme of the Bill has been approved by Government for formal drafting, subject to two items  being examined further. 

These two items - for graduated speeding penalties and the carrying of driving licences - have now been examined in detail at Cabinet Committee and I shall be referring them back to Government shortly.  In the meantime, work on drafting the other provisions of the Bill is under way in the Office for the Attorney General.  I hope to publish the Bill before the end of the year. 

I am also advised that, in order to progress this important measure, TII is extending the motorway traffic control centre at Dublin Tunnel to cater for the additional workload from introduction of VSLs.  Phase 1, which includes the new Control Room, is expected to be handed over before the end of this month (November 2019). Tender competitions to procure the management systems and hardware for the operation and roll-out of VSLs for the M50 are progressing. Tenders for the software were returned at the end of last month (October 2019) and the tenders for the hardware are due back this week.

All the preparatory technical and logistical frameworks will need to be put in place by TII before VSLs can be introduced and become operational.  As I have just explained, this work is ongoing and I  expect that the first phase will be completed in mid-2020.

Public Transport Role

In addition, Project Ireland 2040 identifies a number of key public transport priorities including the BusConnects programme, MetroLink and the DART expansion programme. These will be delivered by the National Transport Authority (NTA) progressively and steadily over the short, medium and long term, to deliver a comprehensive public transport network that will match transport demand, alleviate congestion, provide an alternative to private car use and deliver a range of benefits over the next decade, all of which will have a positive effect on the M50.

Funding allocated and amount drawn down to date.

In 2019, TII provided an allocation of €16.75m to progress this project.

Approximately €12m has been drawn down to-date in 2019.

I very much support this project and look forward to its introduction.

Penalty Points System Offences

Ceisteanna (208)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

208. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he is considering measures to ensure that in circumstances in which a person is found guilty of a penalty point offence, the correct number of penalty points are endorsed on their licence. [40157/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Section 22 of the Road Traffic Act 2002 provides for the recording of driving licence details in such cases in order to ensure that the record of the conviction can be connected to a licence record and the appropriate penalty points endorsed on that record. That section provides that the presiding judge shall require the person to produce his or her driving licence or learner permit to the registrar, clerk or other principal officer of the court, and the court shall record whether or not the licence/learner permit has been produced and the details of same

Following from difficulties with the working of the original section 22, I amended this section to alter the procedure via the Road Traffic Act 2016.  This was done in consultation with the Courts Service, in order to ensure that the procedure was optimised.    

In addition to legislation, there are also procedural matters to consider.  Following the transmission of the relevant Court Order by the Courts Service to the Road Safety Authority (RSA) the information is placed on the National Vehicle Driver File (NVDF). A programme of work is underway to streamline this process involving my Department, the RSA and the Courts Service.

Primarily this programme will automate the current manual process for sending notification of driver disqualifications by the Court Services. Automation of this process will reduce the time taken to update my Departments National Vehicle Driver File (NVDF) with details of driver disqualifications. This reduction in time will reduce the risk of disqualified drivers obtaining licences because the National Driver Licensing Service (NDLS) were unaware of a disqualification. It will also help reduce any errors due to manual updating of disqualification notifications and driver records.

The programme of work involved is to be undertaken in two Phases. Phase I will automate records of disqualified drivers where a driver number has been captured while Phase II will cover all remaining records. Phase I is expected to be complete by the end of this year while Phase II will commence in 2020.

The average time for uploading a Court Notice taking account of the of its transmission from the Courts Service and uploading on the NVDF is 6 weeks, this includes the period of 14 days which is allowed for a driver to appeal the disqualification.

Road Projects

Ceisteanna (209)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

209. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if discussions have taken place within his Department on providing funding for the East-West link road and rural roads in general; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46619/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As I have previously outlined to you on 9th July, 23rd July, and 17th October 2019, proposals to deliver an upgraded East-West route linking Dundalk to Sligo, taking in Cavan, involve linking elements of the national road network and regional roads along as direct a route as possible. Essentially the route involves upgrade/realignment works on the regional routes from Dundalk to Cavan and on national routes from Cavan to Sligo. As regards regional road aspect of the proposal, the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads in its area is a statutory function of local authorities in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act, 1993. Works on such roads are a matter for the relevant local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants.

My Department provided funding to Cavan County Council (acting as lead authority with Monaghan and Louth County Councils) with over €2m in the period 2007-2014 to progress the regional road element of the project to preliminary design.

My Department has discussed the project with Cavan County Council and this year I gave an allocation of €100,000 to the Council to enable it to undertake a detailed appraisal, in line with the current requirements in the Public Spending Code and the Capital Appraisal Framework, of the Cavan to Dundalk section of the route. The aim of the detailed appraisal would be to assess the extent to which the scheme or elements of it can be justified in terms of appraisal and advanced for further consideration in relation to schemes for future development. Preparation of the appraisal is the responsibility of the Council.

As regards investment in rural roads more generally, Exchequer funding of €483 million has been made available this year to assist local authorities. Grant allocations for 2020 will be announced in January/February next year.

In relation to the national road element of the east- west route, as Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, construction and operation of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. I have, therefore, referred your Question to TII for direct reply. If you do not receive a reply within 10 working days please advise my Office.

Sports Capital Programme Applications Data

Ceisteanna (210)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

210. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide feedback on applications (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48284/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Sports Capital Programme is the primary vehicle for Government support for the development of sports and physical recreation facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment throughout the country.

The 2018 round of the Sports Capital Programme closed for applications on Friday 19th October 2018. By the closing date, 2,337 applications were submitted seeking a total of €162m in funding. This was the highest number of applications ever received. 186 of these applications were for projects that were deemed invalid under the 2017 round of the programme that subsequently submitted corrected documents. These applications were assessed first and approximately €7m in allocations to 170 projects were announced on the 17th January. 619 equipment only applications were assessed next and 466 allocations with a value of €9.8m were announced to these organisations in May. The final allocations for capital works were announced in the last week with a total of €39.5m allocated to 1,009 projects.

My Department will be writing to all applicants, including the organisations referred to by the Deputy, in the coming days with details of the outcome of the assessment of their application. All unsuccessful applicants will also be invited to appeal the Department's decision if they believe that their application was not correctly assessed according to the published assessment manual.

Bus Éireann Services

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

Ceisteanna (211)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

211. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the cost to Bus Éireann of restoring the Dublin to Derry bus service on the previous basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48291/19]

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 the National Transport Authority (NTA) in conjunction with Bus Éireann and I have forwarded the Deputy's question 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

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (212)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

212. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of times he has met with insurance companies and Insurance Ireland since 1 January 2016; the date of each meeting; the persons or bodies he met with; the purpose of each meeting in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48309/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Since becoming Minister I have had two meetings involving Insurance Ireland.

On 16th November 2016 I met with Insurance Ireland and the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) for a general discussion on motor insurance.

On 28th March 2019 I met with Insurance Ireland and the MIBI to discuss Brexit Contingency Planning (Green Cards).

I have had no meetings with individual Insurance Companies.

Railway Stations

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

Ceisteanna (213, 224)

James Lawless

Ceist:

213. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the measures he is taking to address the lack of parking at Sallins and Naas railway stations (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48404/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

224. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which parking and-or other facilities are adequate and need to be provided respectively to serve the Sallins and Hazelhatch rail route to Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48508/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 213 and 224 together.

As the Deputies are aware, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure and services in the Greater Dublin Area. Iarnród Éireann receive Exchequer funding via the NTA in relation to the provision of car parking at train stations on the heavy rail network in the GDA, including Hazelhatch and Sallins and Naas railway stations.

Noting its responsibility in the matter, I have forwarded the Deputies 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

Sports Capital Programme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (214)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

214. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a club (details supplied) is eligible to apply for sports capital funding or other funding from his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48408/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Sports Capital Programme (SCP) is the primary vehicle for Government support for the development of sports and physical recreation facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment throughout the country.

It is open to any organisation with a suitable project to apply for SCP funding. As a first step the organisation referred to by the Deputy should register at www.sportscapitalprogramme.ie. More details about the Programme, including a guide to the registration process, can be found on the website along with all of the general terms and conditions of the scheme.

Even if a club does not own land, it is possible to receive funding under the SCP. Clubs which do not own land can still apply for funding towards sports equipment. Furthermore, if a club does not own land but has a registered lease in place with at least 15 years remaining at application stage, the club can apply for any works that comply with the general terms and conditions of the SCP.

It is anticipated that the next round of the SCP will be open for applications in the coming months.

Public Transport Data

Ceisteanna (215)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

215. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the current and capital expenditures for land transport broken down into the various sub categories from 2016 to date; the ratio of public transport and active travel measures to private transport in the case of both capital and current expenditures in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48432/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The 'Where your Money Goes" website, produced by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, available at the following link provides details of the Irish Government's expenditure data by sector including Transport. It provides interactive charts with drill-down capabilities to Land Transport and trend analysis of expenditure over the last ten years.

https://whereyourmoneygoes.gov.ie/en/ 

The following table sets out the investment in Road Improvement/Maintenance versus the investment in PSOs and Public Transport combined from 2016 onwards (figures in millions):

Subhead

Investment Type

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020 Budget

B3

Road  Improvement/Maintenance

720,073

781,334

908,853

1,033,052

1,162,171

B7+B8

PSOs and Public   Transport Combined

596,897

634,562

700,908

783,118

1,015,468

 

Approximate Ratio

55%:45%

55%:45%

56%:44%

57%:42%

53%:47%

In the area of active travel measures, as the Deputy may be aware, my Department has recently launched a public consultation to review Ireland’s sustainable mobility (active travel and public transport) policy. The review work arises from a commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government to review public transport policy “to ensure services are sustainable into the future and are meeting the needs of a modern economy”. The public consultation is designed to give stakeholders, interested parties and the general public the opportunity to reflect on the information and analysis in the papers, to share their views, and to contribute to the development of a Sustainable Mobility Policy Statement.

Taxi Data

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

Ceisteanna (216)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

216. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of taxi drivers operating illegally; the measures he is taking to follow up on such taxi drivers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48452/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The regulation of the small public service vehicle (SPSV) industry, including measures against operators of illegal taxi services, is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the provisions of the Taxi Regulation Act 2013.

Accordingly, I have referred your question to the NTA for direct reply to you. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days.

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