Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (456, 457)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

456. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department provides grant funding for anaerobic digesters; if not, his plans to introduce same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49915/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

457. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department had a consultation with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment on the introduction of grant support for anaerobic digesters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49918/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 456 and 457 together.

My Department recognises the potential environmental and economic benefits of using anaerobic digestion, including climate mitigation, and renewable energy generation as well as supporting a diversification of income for farmers. Research suggests that the biogas produced from AD could potentially play a significant role in the heat and transport sectors.

The role indigenous sources of renewable energy will play in future will become more important as we seek to reduce our reliance on imported fuels and in meeting our challenging renewable energy targets into the future and decarbonising our energy systems by 2050.

The Anaerobic Digestion industry in Ireland is still at an early stage of development when compared to the more established industry in mainland Europe. Models for AD plants in Ireland are varied and are typically stand alone on-farm plants which rely on own-sourced manure from farming activity in addition to other feedstocks such as foodwaste to supply a continued raw material for power generation.

There are many challenges, both economic and operational, to the establishment of a viable Anaerobic Digestion industry in Ireland. The cost efficiency of this technology remains challenging due to the low energy content of farm manure and the seasonality of grass/slurry supply under Irish farming conditions.

The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) aims to bridge this economic gap and will support farms and businesses to adopt renewable heating systems, including biogas heating systems. The SSRH has been developed to financially support the adoption of renewable heating systems by agricultural, commercial, industrial, district heating operators and other non-domestic heat users not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System. Under Project Ireland 2040, the National Development Plan sets out an allocation of €300 million for the rollout of the SSRH for the period of up to 2027.

In June of this year, my colleague Richard Bruton, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, opened the second phase of the SSRH. Details of this scheme including the tariffs that apply are available on the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland's website at the following link: https://www.seai.ie/sustainable-solutions/support-scheme-renewable-/.

While there are currently no grants available for the building of anaerobic digestors, Teagasc is currently developing a feasibility study on the availability of sustainable feedstocks in Ireland which are essential for a viable industry. This report will help to inform the types of support necessary for the future development of the anaerobic digestion industry in Ireland.

Despite these challenges, my Department is committed to working with the Department for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, which is the lead Department in this area, to ensure that the supply of domestic fuels available in the forest and agriculture sectors are mobilised to support energy generation from a range of bioenergy technologies.

Forestry Grants

Ceisteanna (458)

Joe Carey

Ceist:

458. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a forestry application by a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49923/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

An application for the Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme was made on behalf of the person named in June 2019. The assessment of the application is on-going and is being carried out in accordance with recently revised Appropriate Assessment Procedures (AAP). The proposed plantation is in proximity to 12 Natura sites and each of these will require careful consideration during the assessment of the application. The application was therefore referred to my Department’s archaeologist and, in tandem, to the prescribed bodies, for their input.

I acknowledge that changes made to internal Appropriate Assessment Procedures (AAP) has resulted in delays to many files. These are beyond my Department’s control as officials are obliged to implement changes to AAP that were required following important Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decisions and their subsequent interpretation by the Forestry Appeals Committee (FAC) and others. All forestry licences issued by the Department undergo a legal consent process. Since 2017, all forestry licence applications received have been subject to a statutory public notification system and are subject to a statutory appeal system operated by the FAC.

Most appeals have been in connection with our Appropriate Assessment (AA) procedure. The Habitat Directive (Article 6.3) requires that where a plan or project is likely to have a significant effect on a Natura site, either individually or in-combination with other plans or projects, it must undergo an appropriate assessment of its implications for that Natura site.

We have amended the AA procedure in order to introduce a robust and workable system which will address the issues now faced. Introducing this system involves the recruitment of additional ecological expertise and changes in procedures for the forestry inspectorate. The Department is in the process of recruiting additional ecologists and we also have access to external ecological support, which will be supplemented in due course. Inspectors have already undergone training and will receive appropriate support in delivering these new procedures.. A categorisation of files affected by these requirements is also underway in order to best assess further action needed and by whom.

I am fully aware of the concerns of applicants, such as the person named, and other stakeholders in the sector, in relation to the AA process. My officials are in regular communication with stakeholders and they have been fully apprised of the issues involved and of my Department’s efforts to address them. They have also been advised of steps they can take to ensure that applications received are completed to an acceptable standard and to take account of any issues relating to sensitive habitats.

Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (459)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

459. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if medical evidence submitted by a person (details attached) will be considered as force majeure in respect of an area of natural constraints scheme application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49929/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named submitted an application for the 2019 Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) scheme on the 18th April 2019 with a declared forage area of 69.9 hectares.

As set out in the Terms and Conditions for the ANC Scheme, applicants to the scheme are required to meet the minimum stocking density requirements. However, the named individual did not reach the minimum stocking retention requirements in the calendar year 2019.

The medical evidence submitted by the person named on 26th November has now been examined. However, the details provided do not satisfy the requirements for an exemption in this case. A letter outlining this decision will now be sent directly to the person named. This letter will set out the option for a further appeal to the independent Agriculture Appeals Office.

Forestry Grants

Ceisteanna (460)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

460. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a forestry application by a person (details supplied) that was submitted in March 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49941/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

An application for the Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme was received for the person named in March this year. The assessment of the application is on-going and is being carried out in accordance with recently revised Appropriate Assessment Procedures (AAP). The proposed plantation takes in three Natura sites nearby, one of which is a Freshwater Pearl Mussel catchment. It has, therefore, been referred to the Department's archaeologist and, in tandem, to the prescribed bodies for their input.

I acknowledge that changes made to internal Appropriate Assessment Procedures (AAP) has resulted in delays to many files. These are beyond my Department’s control as officials are obliged to implement changes to AAP that were required following important Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decisions and their subsequent interpretation by the Forestry Appeals Committee (FAC) and others. All forestry licences issued by the Department undergo a legal consent process. Since 2017, all forestry licence applications received have been subject to a statutory public notification system and are subject to a statutory appeal system operated by the FAC.

Most appeals have been in connection with our Appropriate Assessment (AA) procedure. The Habitat Directive (Article 6.3) requires that where a plan or project is likely to have a significant effect on a Natura site, either individually or in-combination with other plans or projects, it must undergo an appropriate assessment of its implications for that Natura site.

We have amended the AA procedure in order to introduce a robust and workable system which will address the issues now faced. Introducing this system involves the recruitment of additional ecological expertise and changes in procedures for the forestry inspectorate. The Department is in the process of recruiting additional ecologists and we also have access to external ecological support, which will be supplemented in due course. Inspectors have already undergone training and will receive appropriate support in delivering these new procedures.. A categorisation of files affected by these requirements is also underway in order to best assess further action needed and by whom.

I am fully aware of the concerns of applicants, such as the person named, and other stakeholders in the sector, in relation to the AA process. My officials are in regular communication with stakeholders and they have been fully apprised of the issues involved and of my Department’s efforts to address them. They have also been advised of steps they can take to ensure that applications received are completed to an acceptable standard and to take account of any issues relating to sensitive habitats.

Beef Exports

Ceisteanna (461)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

461. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the protocol of under 30 months in relation to the agreement to export beef to China was at the insistence of the Chinese authorities; if not, the origin of the protocol; if Brazil, Argentina or Paraguay have the right to export beef over 30 months of age to China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49954/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department spent many years working closely with the Chinese authorities in order to secure beef access to this important market. This work included inward and outward trade missions, inspection visits, and various bilateral contacts with officials in relevant Chinese Ministries. The ‘under 30-month’ requirement in the beef protocol between Ireland and China was stipulated by Chinese authorities.

I am not privy to the details of the agreements under which Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay export beef to China.

My Department works continuously on expanding market access for Irish meat and meat products across a range of markets. Where there are stringent technical demands for the export of meat to a Third Country, my Department seeks to continue negotiations with such countries to remove or reduce the impact of the requirement.

Fishery Harbour Centres

Ceisteanna (462)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

462. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number and date of each visit he took to Howth Harbour to date in 2019, in tabular form; the purpose of each visit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50011/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Howth FHC is one of the six designated Fishery Harbour Centres which are owned, managed and maintained by my Department under Statute.

On the 23rd of January this year, I visited Howth Fishery Harbour Centre and inspected the Harbour accompanied by the Harbour Master. I was also briefed on current matters and issues affecting the Harbour by Harbour Management.

Harbours and Piers

Ceisteanna (463)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

463. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will address a matter regarding a pier (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50089/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department owns, operates and maintains six designated State-owned Fishery Harbour Centres, located at Castletownbere, Dingle, Dunmore East, Howth, Killybegs and Ros An Mhíl under statute. In addition, my Department also has responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of North Harbour at Cape Clear, as well as the maintenance of a small number of specific piers, lights and beacons throughout Ireland, in accordance with the Marine Works (Ireland) Act 1902, and piers, lights and beacons constructed under the auspices of the Congested Districts Board.

Renard Pier is owned by Kerry County Council and responsibility for its maintenance and development rests with that Local Authority in the first instance and its parent Department, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government thereafter.

As indicated, my legislative remit does not extend to Renard Pier, and given that the ownership of, and overall responsibility for Renard Pier rests with the County Council, it is the Council who will decide if it wishes to carry out any further development, repair or maintenance.

My Department does however provide limited funding to assist coastal Local Authorities in carrying out small scale projects for the development and repair of Local Authority owned piers, harbours and slipways under the annual Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme, subject to available Exchequer funding and overall national priorities. Since 2014, my Department has provided funding to the value of €280,000 to Kerry County Council for development and maintenance works at Renard Pier.

I have approved funding of €2.2m for the Local Authority element of my Department’s 2019 Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme. Kerry County Council has secured funding to the value of €127,500 for two projects under this year’s programme. No application for funding in relation to Renard Pier was received under this year’s programme.

Should any application be submitted by Kerry County Council in relation to Renard Pier under any future programme, it will be given due consideration, taking into account the terms and conditions of the scheme, the priority attached by the Council and available funds.

Beef Industry

Ceisteanna (464)

Danny Healy-Rae

Ceist:

464. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a group (details supplied) will be included along with the other farmers' representatives in the discussions with the relevant meat factories and retailers; if it will be accepted as part of the taskforce; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50194/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I established the Beef Taskforce to monitor the implementation of the beef sector agreement of 15 September.

The Taskforce is comprised of the Independent chair, Michael Dowling, representatives from my Department and relevant State agencies, established farmer representative organisations and representatives from the processing sector.

I am satisfied that the current composition of the taskforce is sufficiently representative of all parties and I will not be extending membership to any additional groups outside of those already invited to submit nominees.

Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (465)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

465. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of Bills sponsored by his Department that have been enacted since November 2013, in tabular form. [50311/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department has overseen the drafting and enactment of five Bills in the relevant time period. Information requested on these can be found in the following table.

No.

Title of Enactment

Date of Enactment

1

Forestry Act 2014 2014 No. 31

26th October, 2014

2

Johnstown Castle Agricultural College (Amendment) Act 2014 2014 No. 10

22nd June, 2014

3

Horse Racing Ireland Act 2016 2016 No. 2

8th February, 2016

4

Sea-Fisheries (Amendment) Act 2019 2019 No. 9

4th April, 2019

5

Greyhound Racing Act 2019 2019 No. 15

28th May, 2019

Harbours and Piers Funding

Ceisteanna (466)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

466. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount sanctioned in each year for marine works on piers in the charge of Galway County Council in each year since 2012; the piers for which the work was sanctioned; the amount drawn down in each year by the council for the works; the piers or works which were sanctioned and for which there was a partial drawdown or no drawdown; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50392/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department owns, operates and maintains six designated State-owned Fishery Harbour Centres, located at Castletownbere, Dingle, Dunmore East, Howth, Killybegs and Ros An Mhíl under statute.

In addition, my Department also has responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of North Harbour at Cape Clear, as well as the maintenance of a small number of specific piers, lights and beacons throughout Ireland, in accordance with the Marine Works (Ireland) Act 1902, and piers, lights and beacons constructed under the auspices of the Congested Districts Board.

The responsibility for the development and maintenance of Local Authority owned piers, harbours and slipways rests with each Local Authority in the first instance and their parent Department, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government thereafter.

However, as part of my Department’s annual Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme, limited funding is provided to assist coastal Local Authorities in carrying out small scale projects for the development and repair of piers, harbours and slipways in their ownership. Since 2012, my Department has approved funding to the value of €4,973,894 to Galway County Council. Of this, €3,846,200 has been drawn down by the Council. Details of this funding allocation are provided in the following table:

Details of Project

DAFM Funding Allocated

Funding drawn down by Galway County Council

2012

Doonloughan Slipway (2011 Project)

€39,644

€39,644

Inis Ni Pier (2011 Project)

€112,500

€112,500

Caladh Thaidhg

€60,000

€60,000

Inis Ní

€52,500

€52,500

Cul an Chlai Wall

€112,500

€112,500

Dooneen Health & Safety Works

€112,500

€112,500

TOTAL 2012

€489,644

€489,644

2013

Cé Sruthan, Carraroe

€112,500

€112,500

Cé Glinsk, Carna

€112,500

€112,500

Cé Annaghvann, Leitirmore

€112,500

€112,500

Cé Inis Oírr, Inis Oírr, Árainn

€112,500

€112,500

TOTAL 2013

€450,000

€450,000

2014 (including Storm Damage programme)

Cé na Trá Ban, Lettermore

€198,000

€198,000

Cé an Mace, Carna

€90,000

€89,999

Cé Cora Point, Inis Meáin

€135,000

€134,429

Cé Sruthan Pier, Carraroe

€216,000

€216,000

Cé Inis Oírr Slipway, Inis Oírr

€108,000

€107,982

Cé Annaghvaan, Lettermore

€180,000

€180,000

Seán Céibh Spideál

€135,000

€135,000

Cé Spideál Nua

€90,000

€89,962

Cé Inis Oírr Deck, Inis Oírr

€90,000

€22,473

Cé Dolan

€108,000

€108,000

Cé Pointe, An Ceathru Rua

€180,000

€180,000

Cé Sruthan Bui, Rosmuc

€135,000

€135,000

Cé Caladh Thaidh

€108,000

€108,000

Cé Finnis, Finnis Island

€135,000

€107,999

Cé Rossadilisk

€108,000

€108,000

Cé Glinsk ,Carna

€112,500

€112,500

Cé Lettercallow, Lettercallow

€112,500

€112,499

TOTAL 2014

€2,241,000

€2,145,843

2015

Cé Sruthan, Carraroe

€112,500

€112,500

Cé Annaughvaan

€112,500

€0

Cé Finnis, Finnis Island

€27,000

€27,000

TOTAL 2015

€252,000

€139,500

2016

Cleggan Pier

€82,500

€82,500

Bunowen Pier

€60,000

€60,000

Céibh Tuairin/Tooreen, Carraroe

€75,000

€63,503

Fahy Pier, Lower Sky Rd, Clifden

€112,500

€112,500

Annaghvaan, Bealadangan

€75,000

€65,639

Canower, Cashel Bay

€90,000

€86,469

Dooneen Pier, Letterfrack

€78,750

€46,422

TOTAL 2016

€573,750

€517,033

2017

Bealcarra Pier

€112,500

€84,375

Crumpán Pier, Miugh-inis Carna

€112,500

0

Roundstone Pier

€75,000

0

Droim, Leitirmoir

€112,500

0

Ceibh san Ard Thoir

€75,000

0

TOTAL 2017

€487,500

€84,375

2018

Crumpán Pier, Muigh-inis Carna

€112,500

0

Droim, Leitirmoir

€112,500

0

TOTAL 2018

€225,000

0

2019

(expected drawdown figures for 2019)

Crumpán, Lettermullen

€93,750

0

Droim, Leitirmoir

€78,750

0

Roundstone Pier

€82,500

€20,301

TOTAL 2019

€255,000

€20,301

TOTAL 2012 - 2019

€4,973,894

€3,846,200

Air Pollution

Ceisteanna (467)

James Browne

Ceist:

467. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the position regarding smoky fuels that cause air pollution in towns and impact public health; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49782/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I refer the Deputy to the reply to Question No. 12 of 28 November. The position is unchanged.

Energy Efficiency

Ceisteanna (468)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

468. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the grants available towards the installation of an air to water heating system to a home. [50233/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Government currently funds a number of schemes, administered by the SEAI, to assist homeowners in upgrading the energy efficiency of their properties, including switching to new heating systems. These include free upgrades for low income households and fixed grants for those who can invest some of their own money. The grants promote a fabric first approach – advising people to first reduce heat losses by installing insulation and ventilation, making it easier to keep a home warmer and more comfortable for longer periods, before moving to installation of new or renewable heating systems. Since 2000, over 400,000 homes have received direct support under these schemes to carry out work to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. This year, I have allocated €100 million funding for these schemes.

Grants are available to homeowners through the Better Energy Homes Scheme for attic and wall insulation and heating controls, as well as for more environmentally friendly heating sources such as heat pumps (including air to water heat pumps). The heat pump grant is currently €3,500. However, homes must meet a certain level of energy efficiency in order to qualify for the grant. The installation of heat pumps can also be supported as part of a deeper energy efficiency upgrade under the Better Energy Communities Scheme. This 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.

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (469, 470, 471, 472, 473, 474, 476, 477)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

469. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the initial investment in the national broadband plan by companies (details supplied). [49715/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

470. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when a company (details supplied) first indicated that it would be investing in the national broadband plan. [49716/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

471. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the contractual responsibilities of a company (details supplied) in the context of the national broadband plan. [49717/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

472. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the due diligence undertaken of a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49718/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

473. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has met with representatives of a company (details supplied); and if so, the context and the date of the meetings. [49719/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

474. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when his attention was drawn to the fact that a company (details supplied) was no longer a financial backer of the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49720/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

476. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the contract for the national broadband plan requires a company (details supplied) to make further investments in a scenario in which the plan requires additional funding; if they are contained within the signed contract; if the details of the requirements will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49722/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

477. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a company (details supplied) submitted a pre-qualification questionnaire; if so, the date on which it was submitted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49723/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 469 to 474, inclusive, 476 and 477 together.

The Government is committed to delivering high speed broadband to every home, farm, business and school in Ireland. It is vital that we ensure that people of rural Ireland have the same opportunities as people in our towns and cities.

The fundamental building blocks of the project, which is designed to bring fibre to the home to over 1.1 million people in the intervention area, have not changed since the procurement process commenced. The project is led by Granahan McCourt, supported by key subcontractors enet and the Kelly Group, with Nokia as the provider of electronic equipment.

After appointment as the preferred bidder, the sponsors were required to finalise a number of steps before a contract could be signed. The Department was also required to carry out the necessary due diligence.

These steps included:

- Closing out contracts with infrastructure access providers (eir and enet), civil engineering companies and equipment providers

- Concluding the contractual provision in the 3,000 page contract.

- Finalisation of the committed equity documents with the shareholders of the new company, National Broadband Ireland.

As is standard in large projects, including PPPs, the final mix of shareholders to the project is concluded where all contractual documents have been finalised. The NBP process has been no different in this regard.

The procurement process for the National Broadband Plan contract includes a mechanism for the Department to assess and approve, or reject, changes to the membership of bidders. This assessment is carried out by ring fenced teams with similar make up to the teams that carried out the evaluation of the final tender, and overseen by a review panel and the Procurement Board. I have no role in the assessment.

The bidder proposed for contract award that McCourt Global LLC be replaced by Oak Hill. The proposed bidder change was submitted to the Department on 11 November 2019. The entity referred to by the Deputy submitted documentation, as a bidder member, as part of the submission by the lead bidder (Granahan McCourt). The due diligence was carried out against the conditions set out in the assessment process and was approved.

The Project Information Memorandum (PIM) dated December 2015 sets out the procurement process for the NBP. Relevant documents are published on my Department’s website.

As part of the assessment of a change, the relevant bidder is required to demonstrate that it continued to meet the economic and financial standing, together with technical and professional capacity, set out in the original pre-qualification criteria. The Department could not approve a change in bidder composition unless the relevant bidder met those criteria.

The funding commitments of National Broadband Ireland (NBI), including the equity and working capital commitments of €223m, have been contractualised as part of the contract award. The contract is with NBI and not with the entity referred to by the Deputy, which is an equity investor. Neither, I nor my officials have met with the entity referred to by the Deputy.

The fact that any modifications to shareholding made after Final Tender would be reviewed by the Department in advance of Contract Award, was set out in information provided to the Oireachtas after the appointment of NBI as preferred Bidder and this information is included in the report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action and Environment in relation to the NBP.

The maximum possible investment by the State for the NBP contract will be €2.977 billion over 25 years. This includes €480 for contingency costs and includes €354m in VAT, which will be paid to the Revenue Commissioners as subsidy is spent. The contract does not allow NBI to receive any public funding above this cap. The remainder of funding required is a matter for NBI and its equity investors.

National Broadband Plan

Questions Nos. 476 and 477 answered with Question No. 479.

Ceisteanna (475)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

475. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the results of a recent mapping consultation for the national broadband plan will be published. [49721/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Department recently conducted a public consultation to close the ongoing mapping exercise, seeking submissions from operators who wished to have their existing high speed broadband networks, or who had 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. Operator submissions were assessed against the Department’s published assessment criteria. Analysis of the submissions has been completed and the changes made to the NBP High Speed Broadband Map as a result, have been made public. The Department is currently consulting with operators who made submissions in the public consultation, with a view to publishing non-confidential versions of these submissions on the Department’s website in the coming weeks.

Questions Nos. 476 and 477 answered with Question No. 479.