Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (478, 479, 480)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

478. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of homes in the intervention area that are connected to high speed wireless Internet; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49724/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

479. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of homes in the intervention area that will be connected to high speed wireless Internet following the consultation process on the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49725/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

480. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a company (details supplied) will be paid by the State if fibre optic is run to a home but is not connected or used by the resident of the home; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49726/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 478 to 480, inclusive, together.

As a State intervention, the National Broadband Plan (NBP) must comply with the requirements of the European Commission’s Guidelines on the application of the State aid rules on broadband. 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.

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 details of the commercial operator submissions and the outcome of the Department’s assessment of these submissions were shared with ComReg and also the European Commission prior to the Commission reaching its decision approving State Aid on 15 November 2019.

Operator submissions that met the assessment criteria were removed from the Intervention Area. The revised Intervention Area of 537,596 premises represents only those areas where there are no commercial operators providing a high speed broadband network that meets the necessary criteria.

It should be noted that no operator made a submission with respect to a future plan in line with the rules of the consultation.

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.

The network deployment is planned on the basis of 110 areas across the country of approximately 5,000 premises each. The subsidy will be paid to National Broadband Ireland (NBI) in arrears as each of the 110 areas is completed. The subsidy is broken down into payments for premises “passed” and premises “connected”. Subsidy for connecting premises is only paid after a high speed broadband service has been ordered for the individual premises.

The NBP network will be predominately fibre, but other technologies including wireless technology may be also be used.

The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) publishes a quarterly report, which highlights trends in the telecommunications industry. This includes the number of subscriptions in Ireland to high speed broadband services by speed (e.g. download speeds of 30 megabits per second) and by platform (fibre, cable, VDSL etc.). The latest report can be found at https://www.comreg.ie/publication/quarterly-key-data-report-q2-2019

Climate Action Plan

Ceisteanna (481)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

481. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the extent to which the climate action programme will move closer to international targets in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49773/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Under the 2009 Effort Sharing Decision 406/2009/EC (ESD), which put in place binding annual emissions targets for each year between 2013 and 2020 for sectors outside the EU Emissions Trading System, Ireland must achieve a reduction of 20% relative to 2005 levels of emissions. Under the latest projections of greenhouse gas emissions, published earlier this year by the EPA, emissions from those sectors of the economy covered by the ESD could remain between 0% and 1% below 2005 levels by 2020. The ESD allows Member States to meet their targets by means of unused emissions allowances from earlier years, or through purchasing allowances from other Member States or on international markets. Ireland has already acquired a portion of the additional allowances that will be required for compliance. However, I am advised that Ireland will need to purchase additional allowances to meet projected shortfalls in 2019 and 2020. My Department currently estimates the cost of this requirement to be in the region of €6m to €13m, depending on the price and final quantity of allowances required. Provision will be made in my Department's Vote for this purpose.

This cost estimate is in addition to the costs already incurred from previous purchases and agreements entered into by the State, amounting to some €121m in total since 2007, a proportion of which was used to meet Ireland's obligations under the Kyoto Protocol in the period 2008-2012.

To address the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland, I published the Climate Action Plan on 17 June. The Plan sets out, for the first time, how Ireland can reach its 2030 targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (482)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

482. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he and or his officials attended a function at a location in the past ten days (details supplied); if so, if he will provide a schedule of costs regarding this function; the reason for the function to be held; the persons that attended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49805/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Neither I, nor my Officials, arranged, or attended, a function at the location mentioned.

Better Energy Homes Scheme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (483)

Joan Collins

Ceist:

483. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 178 of 6 February 2019, if consideration has been given to homes receiving a second round of works under the warmth and well-being scheme as stated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49851/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme is funded by my Department and administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The Scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households vulnerable to energy poverty, who meet the defined eligibility criteria. The initial Warmer Homes Scheme budget allocation for 2019 was €24 million. However, following a mid-year capital review conducted by my Department and SEAI, and acknowledging the pressure on the scheme from increased demand the budget was increased to €39.8 million for 2019. Budget 2020 announced further increases in the budget for the scheme to €52.8 million. The additional budget is to be made available from revenues arising from the increase in the carbon tax.

Even with increased budgets demand for the scheme is extremely high, reflecting the shift to deeper measures, and is impacted by longer delivery times associated with these types of works and the available budget. The homeowners on the waiting list have never received any form of free upgrade from SEAI under the scheme.

The Climate Action Plan includes a commitment to review ways to improve how current energy poverty schemes target those most in need. This review, which is due to be completed by the end of the year, will include a recommendation in relation to the issue of revisits for additional works under the Warmer Homes scheme.

The Warmth and Well-being scheme is a separate pilot scheme. Deeper measures have always been available to all eligible applicants under that scheme.

Departmental Reports

Ceisteanna (484)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

484. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of external consultant reports commissioned by his Department in each year from March 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the cost of each report; the company involved; and the title and publication date by report in tabular form. [49899/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

My Department administers a very diverse, complex and technical brief across a range of strategic sectors. The technical, commercial, legal complexity and evolving nature of sectors with which the Department deals requires access from time to time to external professional expertise to assist in discharging its functions. In procuring these specialised services, my Department always seeks to ensure value for money and that these services contribute to project delivery and informed, robust and evidence based policy making. The bulk of the studies commissioned are technical and specialist in nature and were necessary to address specific issues as they arose and enable the Department to discharge its policy and project responsibilities in the areas concerned.

Details of external consultant reports commissioned by my Department in each of the years concerned are set out in the attached table contained in the following link.

Consultancy Names

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (485)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

485. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a full historical schedule of fees paid to a company (details supplied) will be provided by the number of projects and or assignments the company was engaged on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49947/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Details of fees paid since January 2007 by my Department to Analysys Mason are set out in the Table below. In procuring these services my Department always seeks to ensure value for money.

Project

Expenditure €

Cost Benefit Analysis and Public Service Benchmark calculation of the National Broadband Scheme

43,934

Training provided to the Department (Telecommunications Development Unit)

4,003

Next Generation Networks Expert Advice

54,356

One Stop Shop Analysis

5,000

Assistance in implementation of the National Broadband Scheme

676,971

Next Generation Networks

30,522

Project Kelvin

67,250

Advice on procurement of a new Emergency Call Answering Service provider

408,801

Galway Mayo Pipeline Project

106,992

National Broadband Plan

4,680,035

Metropolitan Area Networks – Pricing & Access Review

110,700

Total

6,188,564

Education and Training Boards Administration

Ceisteanna (486)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

486. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if education training boards are bodies for the purposes of section 15 of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50065/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Section 15(2) of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 provides that a relevant Minister may give a direction to a relevant public body requiring it to submit a report specifying the measures it has adopted to have regard to, in the performance of its functions, - the most recent approved national mitigation plan, national adaptation framework, or approved sectorial adaptation plans;

- the furtherance of the national transition objective; and

- the objective of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change in the State.

The references to ‘a relevant body’ in Section 15 of the Act stem from the Freedom of Information Act 2014 and are made to capture the widest range of bodies to which the provisions of this Section may apply.

Section 6 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 ensures that any entity defined as a public body under the original 1997 Act continues to be subject to the FOI regime from when the 2014 Act came into force. Thus Education and Training Boards (ETBs) continue to be subject to the FOI regime under the 2014 Act because they had been subject to it under the 1997 Act. Section 6 (2) (a) of the 2014 Act exempted certain ETB records from the FOI regime where they would enable the compilation of information (not otherwise publically available) on the comparative performance of schools in respect of the academic achievement of students.

Taking into account this qualification under the FOI Acts, I am satisfied that ETBs may be included in the definition of a relevant body under Section 15 of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015.

Data Centres

Ceisteanna (487)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

487. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to ensure that large data farms make sufficient financial contributions for the required supporting infrastructure including power generation and transmission; his views on whether their purchasing of renewable electricity may be restricting the availability of renewable electricity to residential consumers; and if he will consider regulating to ensure that their waste heat is used and not wasted. [50069/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Government policy in relation to the Role of Data Centres in Ireland's Enterprise Strategy is primarily a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation in the first instance. The Government Statement on the role of data centres in Ireland's Enterprise Strategy, 2018 recognises that a plan-led approach is needed to develop a range of measures to promote regional options for data centre investment, minimising the need for additional grid infrastructure. While data centres have until recent time accounted for less than 2% of Ireland’s total electricity demand, EirGrid, in their Generation Capacity Statement 2019-2028, project that demand from data centres could account for 29% of all demand by 2028. EirGrid, in its capacity as the transmission system operator, continually model and forecast the predicted future growth of electricity demand in their published analysis such as Tomorrow's Energy Scenarios, which is available on their website at www.eirgrid.com

While data centres consume very large amounts of energy they have a flat, predictable demand profile meaning that they use the same amount of electricity day and night and therefore require a range of generation technologies to meet their demand. Significant increases in volumes of generation capacity, including from renewable energy sources, will be required to meet Ireland’s electrification objectives and demand from heat pumps, electric vehicles and data centres. The Climate Action Plan sets out a number of actions to ensure that data centres are accommodated in a sustainable manner.

Corporate power purchasing of renewable energy by large energy users that is unsubsidised by the state will also be critical to supplying data centre demand, as will ensuring that large demand connections are regionally balanced to minimise grid reinforcements and the costs to consumers.

Air Quality

Ceisteanna (488)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

488. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on the lack of permanent air quality monitoring in the north inner city areas of Dublin city; his plans to provide same; and if the presentation of data in a manner that is more accessible to the general public will be included. [50070/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Ambient air quality monitoring in Ireland is carried out in accordance with the requirements of the 2008 Clean Air for Europe (CAFE) Directive (Directive 2008/50/EC) and the Fourth Daughter Directive (Directive 2004/107/EC of 15 December 2004). These Directives include rules on how Member States should monitor, assess and manage ambient air quality. Under the Directives, EU Member States must designate “zones” for the purpose of managing air quality. For Ireland, four zones were defined in the Air Quality Standards Regulations, 2011. The zones in place in Ireland are Zone A: the Dublin conurbation; Zone B: the Cork conurbation; Zone C: comprising 23 large towns in Ireland with a population of more than 15,000; and Zone D: the remaining area of Ireland. The numbers and locations of the monitoring equipment for each pollutant are determined by the requirements of the Directives for ambient air monitoring in each zone, along with the ongoing expansion of the network under the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme 2017-2022. There are currently 47 monitoring stations in the network from which data is reported to the Commission under the Directives, of which 17 are in Dublin. In addition, a further 25 monitoring stations are planned under the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme, including one on Amiens Street in the north inner city.

This monitoring network is augmented by a number of other monitoring stations operated by Local Authorities, which do not meet the criteria set out in the Directives, but which provide additional useful information on local air quality conditions.

It is open to Local Authorities to also install additional air quality monitoring stations, should they wish to do so.

With regard to the presentation of data to the general public, real-time information from air quality monitoring stations is available online at www.epa.ie/air/quality/. Data is presented in a colour-coded system using a scale of 1 (good) to 10 (very poor) to indicate the current level of air quality at each location and is now displayed as part of a station based Air Quality Index for Health (AQIH). Clicking on any individual location provides detailed figures of the latest available measurements for a number of pollutants at that location. In addition, people may sign up to the EPA's air quality twitter feed (@EPAAirQuality), in which case they will receive twice daily updates on air quality, with hourly updates if the air quality deteriorates to poor or very poor status.

North-South Interconnector

Ceisteanna (489, 490)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

489. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the outcome of the most recent discussions he and or his officials had with their counterparts in Northern Ireland on the proposed North-South interconnector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50173/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

490. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the planning application in Northern Ireland for the proposed North-South interconnector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50174/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 489 and 490 together.

The North South Interconnector is critical to improving the efficient operation of the Single Electricity Market and increasing security of electricity supply across the island of Ireland. It will also help us to move towards 70% renewable electricity. A resilient and well connected energy infrastructure is vital for Ireland’s economic well-being and the ability to respond to the future needs of energy consumers.

As I understand the situation in Northern Ireland, in January 2018 full planning permission was granted for the section of the line that lies there. Legal proceedings were taken against the planning permission and in February 2019 the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland asked the High Court to quash the planning permission given so the planning application could be re-determined under new legislation introduced by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in November 2018. On 24 July SONI/EirGrid submitted an addendum to the Environmental Statement to the Department for Infrastructure. That Department subsequently carried out a consultation process in Northern Ireland to provide members of the public with the opportunity to review and comment on the addendum and is now reviewing the submissions received.

Since the suspension of Stormont the office of the Minister for the Economy is vacant. However my officials have regular engagement with their counterparts on a range of North South issues.

North-South Interconnector

Ceisteanna (491)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

491. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the procurement processes undertaken to date by EirGrid for the proposed North-South interconnector; if departmental approval was necessary to allow procurement to proceed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50175/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

EirGrid is the designated Transmission System Operator and its role includes the operation, maintenance and development of the electricity transmission network in Ireland. The construction of the North South Interconnector, and all related procurement activities, is an operational matter for EirGrid and ESB Networks and one in which I have no function. I am advised that due to the very long lead times that can arise in relation to projects of this nature and the benefits of a single joint procurement process to be undertaken and managed by ESB Networks, EirGrid sought approval from the regulators in Ireland and Northern Ireland to commence procurement. Following this approval, in September 2017 ESB Networks commenced a number of procurement processes in relation to the project.

In June 2019 ESB Networks awarded a framework contract for the design, test and supply of steelwork in relation to the project. However under this framework there will be no supply of materials and no critical procurement process for construction will be concluded until the planning process in Northern Ireland is complete.

Better Energy Homes Scheme Administration

Ceisteanna (492)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

492. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the measures that have been put in place to clear the backlog of applications for the warmer homes scheme under the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. [50192/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme is funded by my Department and administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The Scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households vulnerable to energy poverty, who meet the defined eligibility criteria. The initial Warmer Homes Scheme budget allocation for 2019 was €24 million. However, following a mid-year capital review conducted by my Department and SEAI, and acknowledging the pressure on the scheme from increased demand the budget was increased to €39.8 million for 2019. Budget 2020 announced further increases in the budget for the scheme to €52.8 million. The additional allocation is to be made available from revenues arising from the increase in the carbon tax.

Notwithstanding increased budgets for the scheme, the current very high level of demand does directly impact waiting times. This is partly due to changes to the scheme introduced in June 2018 which expanded and enhanced the range of energy efficiency measures available to include ‘deeper’ measures which are more expensive and take longer to install.

These deeper measures can include external or internal wall insulation, central heating and replacement windows when the technical assessment considers them necessary. Managing the enhanced package of measures has required careful monitoring and programme management by SEAI within available resources.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (493)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

493. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the funding allocated to an area (details supplied) in each of the years 2011 to 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50244/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Details of the funding allocated to are set out in the table below. The amounts set out in the table relate to funding provided for Westmeath as a whole unless Moate is specified. The contract to deliver the National broadband Plan was signed on 19 November. This provides for approximate investment of €46m over the 25 years of the National Broadband Plan State Intervention providing high speed broadband to 11,634 premises in Co Westmeath.

Name

*The Digital Skills for Citizen Scheme replaced the BenefiT scheme which was operated by the Department between 2008-2016. Figures are not available at a County level for this scheme.

**Better Energy Warmer Homes - expenditure data is not available for this scheme on a county basis prior to 2014. Therefore, expenditure figures for 2011-2014 are estimated as a proportion of the total annual scheme spend, taking account the proportion of total homes completed in Westmeath in the relevant year. The Better Energy Communities Scheme also provides funding nationwide but expenditure data is not available on a county by county basis. For that reason, it is not included.

Recycling Policy

Ceisteanna (494)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

494. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if regulations will be introduced in order that waste management companies will be obliged to offer a recycling service to residents (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50257/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Waste Collection Companies must hold a waste collection permit in order to collect waste in line with the Waste Management (Collection Permit) Regulations 2007, as amended. Waste collection permits are issued by the National Waste Collection Permit Office. Under the permit conditions, household waste collectors are obliged to provide a separate receptacle for each waste fraction, namely residual, recyclables and where appropriate, food and bio-waste. Waste from apartments is considered to be household waste and the permit conditions for household waste collection apply. Enforcement of the regulations and the waste collection permit conditions are a matter for the relevant local authority, who have significant powers under the Regulations to secure compliance by all parties.

Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (495)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

495. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of Bills sponsored by his Department that have been enacted since November 2013, in tabular form. [50314/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Since November 2013 there has been 13 Bills sponsored by my Department that have been enacted, they are as follows:-

Bill

Date/ Year Bill Enacted

ACT

Minerals Development Bill 2015

2017

Minerals Development Act 2017

Radiological Protection (Amendment) Bill

2018

Radiological Protection (Amendment) Act 2018

The Communications Regulation (postal Services) (Amendment) Bill 2015

2015

The Communications Regulation (Postal Services) (Amendment) Act 2015

Communications Regulation (Postal Services) (Amendment) Bill 2016

2017

Communications Regulation (Postal Services) (Amendment) Act 2017

Gas Regulation Bill 2013

2013

Gas Regulation Act 2013

Energy Bill 2016

2016

Energy Act 2016

Inland Fisheries (Amendment) Bill

2017

Inland Fisheries (Amendment) Act 2017

Telecommunications Services (Ducting and Cables) Bill 2018

2018

Telecommunications Services (Ducting and Cables) Act 2018

Petroleum (Exploration and Extraction) Safety (Amendment) Bill

2015

Petroleum (Exploration and Extraction) Safety Act 2015

*Prohibition of the Exploration and Extraction of

Onshore Petroleum Bill

2016

Petroleum and Other Minerals Development (Prohibition of Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing) Act 2017

Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014

2015

The Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015

Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015

2015

Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015

ESB (Electronic Communications Networks) Bill 2013 (Bill 135 of 2013)

2014

ESB (Electronic Communications Networks) Act 2014

*This was a Private Members Bill supported by the Government.