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Gnáthamharc

Tuesday, 1 Jun 2021

Written Answers Nos. 158-183

Electricity Grid

Ceisteanna (158)

John Paul Phelan

Ceist:

158. Deputy John Paul Phelan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the guidelines of his Department for the erection of electricity infrastructure; the policy on establishing new pylon routes versus upgrading existing routes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29196/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

Government does not have any role in the delivery of electricity infrastructure on the ground. This is consistent with the 2012 Government Policy Statement on the Strategic Importance of Transmission and Other Energy Infrastructure which states: ‘The Government does not seek to direct EirGrid and ESB Networks or other energy infrastructure developers to particular sites or routes or technologies’. Planning conditions for particular projects are a matter for the relevant planning authority. EirGrid's role as the designated Transmission System Operator (TSO) includes the operation, maintenance and development of the electricity transmission network in Ireland. EirGrid's expenditure in this role is regulated by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) through a five year price control review process. ESB Networks is the Transmission Asset Owner and, under direction from EirGrid, it carries out all of the relevant tendering and procurement processes taking into account compliance with planning conditions arising from the consenting process in Ireland.

EirGrid is carrying out a public consultation on “Shaping our Electricity Future” and is engaging with communities and stakeholders across Ireland on improving the electricity grid and making it more flexible so that it can carry more renewable generation in the future. EirGrid’s consultation aligns with Ireland’s existing strategy to further reduce carbon emissions from the electricity sector which will be updated in this year’s revision to the Climate Action Plan.

Data Protection

Ceisteanna (159)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

159. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the nature of the data breaches experienced by his Department since 2018. [29307/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

I refer to my reply to Question 210 of 18th May 2021 in which I provided details on the number of data breaches experienced by my Department since 2018. All data breaches are reported to and assessed by the Department’s Data Protection Officer (DPO) in accordance with  Articles 33-34 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and guidance issued by the Data Protection Commission.

For operational and security reasons, it is not considered appropriate to disclose any further details of the nature of breaches experienced by my Department.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Ceisteanna (160)

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

160. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the obligations in respect of greenhouse gas reduction that have been set for public bodies; and the way delivery is being monitored. [20337/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

The Climate Action Plan 2019 set a target for the public sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030. The Programme for Government increased this ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030.  

Work is well progressed on a methodology to assign each public sector body with an individual greenhouse gas emissions reduction target and I expect to bring this methodology to Government for approval shortly. A decarbonisation strategy for the public sector will follow the approval of this methodology. This Strategy will translate the analytical measurement and methodology work into policies, measures and actions to support the public sector meet their targets.  

The Monitoring and Reporting (M&R) System, established by the Sustainable Authority of Ireland (SEAI) on behalf of my Department, allows all public bodies to report annually on their energy usage and actions taken to reduce consumption and meet their 2020 energy efficiency targets. In order to facilitate the reporting and tracking of progress towards the targets in the Climate Action Plan 2019 and the Programme for Government, the SEAI is currently redeveloping and enhancing the M&R system.  The new system will introduce a robust approach for public bodies to track progress towards their targets, including their greenhouse gas emissions and other reporting requirements such as the Clean Vehicles Directive.

Closed-Circuit Television Systems

Ceisteanna (161)

Patricia Ryan

Ceist:

161. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if there is a legislative barrier to local authorities using CCTV to prosecute illegal dumping; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29440/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

I refer to the reply to Question No [ PQ 27311/21] of 20th May 2021. The position remains unchanged.

Waste Management

Ceisteanna (162)

Patricia Ryan

Ceist:

162. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications his plans to ensure a glass collection service is made available throughout the State by all private domestic waste operators; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29446/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

In 2018, the most recent year for which data is currently available, Ireland's recycling rate for glass was 82%, well above the EU Packaging Directive targets of 70% by 2025 and 75% by 2030. For further information please see www.epa.ie/our-services/monitoring--assessment/waste/national-waste-statistics/packaging/.  Given how well the current system is operating in relation to glass recycling, there are no plans to mandate the provision of a household glass collection service.

Local Authorities

Ceisteanna (163)

Denise Mitchell

Ceist:

163. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the budget allocation for the local authority anti-litter and anti-graffiti awareness grant scheme in each of the years 2019, 2020 and 2021, in tabular form. [29481/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

The table below sets out the information sought.  

LOCAL AUTHORITY ANTI-LITTER & ANTI-GRAFFITI AWARENESS GRANT SCHEME 2019-2021

YEAR

ALLOCATION

2019

€771,500

2020

€744,739

2021

€750,000

Departmental Schemes

Ceisteanna (164)

Michael Collins

Ceist:

164. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the number of warmer homes applications awaiting survey in Cork city and county; the number of applications awaiting works in Cork city and county; the waiting time for new applicants for both surveying and works in Cork city and county; the number of companies engaged in surveying and works in Cork city and county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29508/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households vulnerable to energy poverty. To date, over 142,000 homes have received free upgrades under the scheme, and the average value of the energy efficiency measures provided per household in 2020 was over €14,800. I have secured additional resources this year to expand the capacity of the SEAI to deliver the scheme. Funding for the energy poverty retrofit schemes has also increased to over €109 million in 2021. This is an increase of €47 million on the 2020 allocation. In addition, delivery capacity has increased due to a new, broader contractor panel that commenced at the end of 2020.

There are currently over 7,800 homes on the scheme work programme. 782 of these homes are in Cork. This includes homes that: are currently undergoing works; have been allocated to contractors for works; completed an initial home survey and are awaiting allocation to a contractor or are awaiting initial survey. The scheme operates nationally on a first come first served basis. SEAI data indicates that for homes completed in 2020, the average time from application to completion for homes in Cork and nationally was approximately 18 months. The average wait times are expected to increase significantly in 2021 due to the extensive COVID-19 related restrictions on construction activity between March and June of last year as well as between January and 12 April of this year when the scheme was fully paused in line with Government guidelines.  Works under the scheme have now recommenced in line with activity in the residential construction sector.

The SEAI has advised me that the average wait times should only ever be used as a general guide and that wait times vary, based on the demand for the scheme at the time of application as well as other factors including the scale of works to be completed, access to the property, availability of materials and the weather.

The SEAI has established a panel of contractors to deliver the installation of energy efficiency measures in eligible homes nationwide under the scheme. There are 33 contractors on this panel including 4 contractors that have their businesses based in Cork. All contractors can deliver measures nationwide as per the requirements of appointment to the panel.

A further €112.5 million will be spent on expanding other existing SEAI residential and community grant schemes and introducing new initiatives. This will support an increased level of retrofit activity in 2021. 

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (165, 185)

Violet-Anne Wynne

Ceist:

165. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the status of the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan. [29467/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

185. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the extent to which the provision of broadband is progressing and in such a way as to enhance the competitiveness of the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29805/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 165 and 185 together.

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) State led Intervention will be delivered by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) under a contract to roll out a high speed and future proofed broadband network within the Intervention Area which covers 1.1 million people living and working in over 544,000 premises, including almost 100,000 businesses and farms along with 695 schools. The Government recognises that the NBP will be a key enabler to many of the policies envisaged in the Programme for Government particularly around increased levels of remote working and remote service delivery and adapting to an evolving economy and competing internationally.

Despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, National Broadband Ireland has made steady progress on delivery of the new high speed fibre broadband network under the National Broadband Plan. I am advised by National Broadband Ireland that as at the 27 May over 220,000 premises have been surveyed across all counties.

This survey work has enabled detailed designs to be developed for each deployment area. The detailed designs are then used to initiate the ‘make ready’ project with Open eir, where Open eir ensure any poles and ducts being reused are fit for purpose and the make ready of other required infrastructure. This step also informs decisions on equipment ordering. Survey data is also needed to initiate pre-works which pave the way for the deploying of fibre. Pre-works involve construction of new duct routes, erection of poles, building chambers and tree trimming. On completion of these pre-works, the main construction works can commence.

The first fibre to the home connections are successfully connected in Carrigaline, Co Cork and Cavan with almost 4,000 premises passed and available for connection to date. Premises in Galway and Limerick are expected to be available for connection in the coming months. I am advised that build works are continuing across the country in 12 deployment areas covering townlands in Carrigaline, Ballinasloe, Cavan, Clare, Dundalk, Galway, Limerick Monaghan, Roscommon, Tipperary, Tralee, Wexford and Carlow. In addition, "make ready" work is underway in a further 15 Deployment Areas.

Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) are a key element of the NBP providing high speed broadband in every county in advance of the roll out of the fibre to the home network. As of 27th May, 317 BCP sites have been installed by NBI and the high speed broadband service will be switched on in these locations through service provider contracts managed by the Department of Rural and Community Development for publicly accessible sites and the Department of Education for school BCPs.

My Department continues to work with the Department of Education to prioritise schools with no high speed broadband, within the Intervention Area, for connection over the term of the NBP. In this regard, an acceleration of this aspect of the National Broadband Plan was announced in December which will see some 679 primary schools connected to high speed broadband by 2022, well ahead of the original target delivery timeframe of 2026.  Further details are available on the NBI website at nbi.ie/primary-schools-list/.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (166)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

166. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the role his Department will play in the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility given the significant amount of funds ring-fenced for climate. [29557/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

My Department has worked closely with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Finance and the Department of the Taoiseach in the preparation of Ireland’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) as required to access funding under the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), which is the centrepiece of Next Generation EU, the Union’s €750 billion response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The objective of the facility is to provide support to Member States to assist in their recovery from the COVID-19 crisis whilst also supporting the investments and reforms that are necessary to prepare economies for the green and digital future. The NRRP will enable us to move beyond the pandemic and to invest in the future in key areas such as climate action and the digital transition. Two projects from my Department were selected for inclusion in the under NRRP Priority 1: Advancing the Green Transition:

(i) Derisking a Low-Cost Residential Retrofit Loan Scheme; and

(ii)  Enhanced Rehabilitation of Bord na Mona Peatlands previously harvested for commercial purposes

In addition, under this Priority, Ireland is committed to implementing reforms by progressing the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021.

These projects will support actions in respect of the climate and environmental priorities of the Union and the ‘do no significant harm’ principle, and contribute to achieving the 2030 climate and energy targets and climate neutrality by 2050, as well as other environmental goals. The draft Plan will now undergo a formal assessment by the European Commission before being submitted to the Council of the European Union.

Health Service Executive

Question No. 168 answered with Question No. 167.

Ceisteanna (167, 168)

Johnny Guirke

Ceist:

167. Deputy Johnny Guirke asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the estimated amount it will cost the State to fix the ransomware issue at the HSE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29581/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Johnny Guirke

Ceist:

168. Deputy Johnny Guirke asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the amount of information that was taken from HSE by the cyber-attack; the amount to date it has retrieved from the ransomware attack; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29582/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 167 and 168 together.  

The Health Service Executive is an Agency under the remit of the Department of Health. The Department of the Environment, Climate, and Communications has no operational responsibility for the Health Service Executive. Each Government Department and Agency has responsibility for the security and integrity of its Information and Communications Technology systems.  

Question No. 168 answered with Question No. 167.

Cybersecurity Policy

Ceisteanna (169, 195)

Johnny Guirke

Ceist:

169. Deputy Johnny Guirke asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if the current wage structure for the Director of the National Cyber Security Centre will be increased from €106,000-€127,000 per annum to the reported €220,000-€290,000 per annum and with benefits between €150,000-€200,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29583/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Alan Farrell

Ceist:

195. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the status of the recruitment of a Director of the National Cyber Security Centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29821/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 169 and 195 together.

Last year as, as part of the ongoing development of the NCSC, it was decided to create two new positions of Director and Chief Technology Officer on the NCSC senior management team. Following an open competition, the CTO role was filled early this year. An open competition was also held for Director of the NCSC. At the conclusion of the competition process, the preferred candidate did not accept the offer of employment. It is intended to re-advertise this role in the near future and the salary to be offered will be decided in the context of that competition.

The capacity of the National Cyber Security Centre has been increased from 7 in 2016 to 29 today.  A Capacity Review of the NCSC which is due to report shortly, will inform the future development of the NCSC and the extent of any additional resources required in order for the NCSC to continue to deliver its mandate. 

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (170)

Ruairí Ó Murchú

Ceist:

170. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications his engagements with local authorities in relation to the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan specifically in relation to pole infrastructure and road opening licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23058/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

The Deputy will be aware that the rollout for the National Broadband Plan is now well underway.  National Broadband Ireland (NBI) is now active across all counties.  The work starts with surveys of premises within the Intervention Area. From this, detailed designs are then drawn up and thereafter the necessary build work can commence.  Once NBI have settled on designs on how the network will be built in a particular area, these plans are submitted to the relevant local authority in order to obtain the necessary licences or permissions that may apply, for example with respect to road opening, or Section 254 licences which apply to certain developments exempt from planning. Given the scale of the NBP rollout there is significant engagement by NBI with all the local authorities.  With this in mind a number of stakeholders collaborated recently to publish a Guidance document on the Process of Engagement between NBI and the Local Authorities on the Application for Section 254 Licences . Last month Minister Ryan addressed a webinar for representatives of all local authorities to launch the guidance document. Speaking at the webinar, Minister Ryan stressed the importance of effective and timely consent processes to ensure that the NBP network is deployed as early as possible to support individuals and businesses in rural Ireland and commended  the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA), the County & City Management Association (CCMA), the Road Management Office (RMO) and NBI for their collaboration in developing the guidance document.

Protected Disclosures

Ceisteanna (171)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

171. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the number of protected disclosures made to his Department in each of the past five years and to date in 2021. [29633/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

The Information requested by the Deputy is outlined in the table below

YEAR DISCLOSURE RECEIVED IN MY DEPARTMENT

NUMBER OF DISCLOSURES RECEIVED

2017

1

2018

1

2019

3

2020

4

2021

3

Since the Protected Disclosure legislation was introduced in 2014, my Department has received 12 Protected Disclosures as set out in the table above.

Section 16 of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 imposes an obligation to protect the identity of the discloser and as such I am unable to provide specific information on the nature of disclosures received or information relating to the person(s) who made these disclosures.

Departmental Schemes

Ceisteanna (172, 175, 198)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

172. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the measures being taken to reduce the current long wait times for surveying and commencement of works under the warmer homes scheme, free energy upgrades for eligible homes; when applications under this scheme will be open for second-time applicants given that certain works are now available that were not available on their initial uptake of this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29682/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Ceist:

175. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the actions that will be taken to clear the backlog of SEAI applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29753/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Claire Kerrane

Ceist:

198. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will seek increased resources for the SEAI to improve waiting times for the warmer homes scheme; the current average wait time from initial application to works being completed; the number of persons waiting for works to be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29854/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 172, 175 and 198 together.

The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households vulnerable to energy poverty. To date, over 143,000 homes have received free upgrades under the scheme and in 2020 the average value of the energy efficiency measures provided per household was over €14,800.

I have secured additional resources this year to expand the capacity of the SEAI to deliver the scheme. Funding for the energy poverty retrofit schemes has also increased to over €109 million in 2021. This is an increase of €47 million on the 2020 allocation. In addition, delivery capacity has increased due to a new, broader contractor panel that commenced at the end of 2020.

The scheme operates nationally on a first come first served basis. SEAI data indicates that for homes completed in 2020, the average time from application to completion was approximately 18 months. The SEAI has advised me that wait times vary, based on the demand for the scheme at the time of application as well as other factors including the scale of works to be completed, access to the property, availability of materials and the weather.

The average wait times are expected to increase significantly in 2021 due to the extensive COVID-19 related restrictions on construction activity between March and June of last year as well as between January and 12 April of this year when the scheme was fully paused in line with Government guidelines.  Works under the scheme have now recommenced in line with activity in the residential construction sector.

There are nearly 8,000 homes on the Warmer Homes Scheme work programme.  These homes have not previously received any free upgrades under the scheme and for that reason are the priority to receive upgrades.  Recommendations on the implementation of changes to the scheme to better target those most in need are being developed and I anticipate that they will be finalised shortly.

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (173)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

173. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the engagement he has with National Broadband Ireland to escalate the roll-out of fibre broadband for areas in County Cork still awaiting on survey stage given that surveys are ongoing in certain areas in the County by National Broadband Ireland; the measures that are being taken to progress the roll-out given the commitment on remote working; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29683/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

There are 79,668 premises in the Intervention Area in County Cork under the National Broadband Plan that will receive access to high speed broadband.   Government investment in Cork in the NBP will be €314 million. As of 27 May, 22,765 (28.57%) premises in the Intervention Area in  County Cork have been surveyed by National Broadband Ireland (NBI). Surveying is the first step towards delivering the new fibre network and informs design solutions for provision of the fibre network:  build works have started in rural parts of Cork. The first homes have been connected in Carrigaline, Co Cork where almost 4,000 premises are available for connection. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of good reliable broadband to ensure that citizens across Ireland can avail of remote working, education and other essential online facilities.  The Programme for Government commits to seek the acceleration of the roll out of the National Broadband Plan.  My Department continues to engage with NBI to explore the feasibility of accelerating aspects of this rollout to establish to possibility of moving premises which are currently scheduled in years 6 and 7 of the plan to an earlier date.

A dedicated team in NBI is investigating the acceleration of the rollout from its current contracted schedule of seven years.  As part of this investigation NBI is engaging with current build partners (eir and enet) to reschedule build activities and to review potential additional build partners as an option to speed up the build process.  Exploring the potential to accelerate the network rollout is being undertaken in parallel with the measures required to mitigate delays arising as a result of Covid-19.

Further details are available on specific areas within Cork through the NBI website which provides a facility for any premises within the intervention area to register their interest in being provided with deployment updates through its website www.nbi.ie.

Human Rights

Awaiting reply from Department.

Question No. 175 answered with Question No. 172.

Ceisteanna (174)

Jennifer Whitmore

Ceist:

174. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he has responded to the legal proceedings brought by six young persons from Portugal against Ireland and 32 other countries in the European Court of Human Rights given the deadline of 27 May 2021; if he is supporting or contesting the case; his views on whether human rights are engaged by climate change; if he will expedite the publication of the State's reply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29712/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra
Awaiting reply from Department.
Question No. 175 answered with Question No. 172.

Grant Payments

Ceisteanna (176)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Ceist:

176. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications further to Parliamentary Question No. 206 of 18 May 2021, if the BER criteria will be reviewed for accessing the PV scheme given currently the grant is only available if a house is grade C or higher; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29754/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) is responsible for the operation of the grant scheme to help homeowners install rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) equipment.  

My Department recently outlined proposals for a new Micro-generation Support Scheme (MSS) in a public consultation that closed on 18 February last. Within the public consultation, the issue of minimum Building Energy Rating (BER) was reviewed and two questions (numbers 11 & 12 refer) regarding the proposal to include a minimum BER C requirement were included. The MSS public consultation is available on the Department's website.

An analysis of the submissions is underway by my Department, with a view to publication of a summary of responses along with the submissions themselves on the Department website in the coming weeks. The findings from the public consultation will inform the final design of the Micro-generation Support Scheme.

National Postcode System

Ceisteanna (177)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Ceist:

177. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if the case of persons (details supplied) in County Cork will be expedited with regard to obtaining an Eircode given that they have been waiting a substantial period of time for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29755/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

Capita Business Support Services Ireland, trading as Eircode, assigns Eircodes to new property addresses using a valid postal address and verified geo-locations. An Post collects information on new and existing buildings, as well as changes to existing addresses and Ordnance Survey Ireland provides the geo-locations for these buildings.  An Post GeoDirectory, a subsidiary company of An Post and Ordnance Survey Ireland, issue a new release of the GeoDirectory database file on a quarterly basis to Eircode in accordance with their licence agreement. Each new postal address assigned an Eircode is published on the free to use Eircode Finder website, a notification letter is issued to the property occupant containing the Eircode of that address and an updated Eircode Database is provided to licenced businesses for their use. Eircode have informed my Department that over 141,000 property addresses have been assigned an Eircode since the launch in 2015.

Eircode has advised my officials that they have raised a case with An Post GeoDirectory in relation to this address and my officials have requested Eircode to liaise directly with the individual in question regarding the assignment of an Eircode for this property address.

Early assignment of Eircodes is contingent on An Post facilitating the increased frequency of new and changed addresses in the GeoDirectory database from quarterly to monthly to Eircode through their subsidiary An Post GeoDirectory. My officials are working with An Post, Ordnance Survey Ireland, An Post GeoDirectory and Eircode to expedite the process of assigning Eircodes for new properties with postal addresses and geo-locations.

Climate Change Policy

Ceisteanna (178)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

178. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the extent to which his Department continues to meet climate change targets in conjunction with the protection of the agri-food business; the main issues of conflict if any, that exist with his proposals for resolution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29798/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

The 2009 Effort Sharing Decision 406/2009/EC (ESD) sets annual binding emission reduction targets for EU Member States for the period 2013-2020. These targets cover emissions from sectors outside of the EU Emissions Trading System, including agriculture, transport, buildings and waste. For the year 2020, the target set for Ireland was that emissions should be 20% below their value in 2005. The 2020 greenhouse gas emissions estimates report, published by the EPA in January 2021, indicates that emissions from those sectors of the economy covered by the ESD could be 8% below 2005 levels by 2020. According to this report, Ireland will cumulatively exceed the carbon budget implied by our ESD targets by 11-12Mt and will need to avail of flexibilities in order to comply with our obligations. Pre-COVID19 estimates of the additional costs of purchasing carbon credits for compliance with these targets were in the region of €6 million to €13 million, depending on the price and final quantity of allowances required.Looking forward, the Programme for Government commits to an annual average 7% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to 2030 (a 51% reduction over the decade), while our current 2030 EU target is a 30% emissions reduction by 2030. The European Commission will publish their “Fit for 55” package this July, which is expected to propose higher EU targets for all Member States, including Ireland, in line with the new EU ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. While Irish agriculture has a positive international reputation in terms of producing high quality, sustainable produce, emissions from the agri-food sector have continued to increase. The long-term challenge for the sector is to achieve carbon neutrality, while not compromising our capacity for sustainable food production. The Government is committed to finding the balance between environmental, climate and biodiversity needs, and supports for farmers.The Climate Action Plan 2019 includes a range of policy and measures to be delivered in order to ensure we meet our existing EU targets. My Department launched a public consultation in March 2021 to inform the Climate Action Plan 2021, and to identify additional policies and measures necessary to meet the Programme for Government ambition. As well as developing the next Climate Action Plan, we are evaluating the potential climate contributions from land use improvements, to set in train the development of a land-use strategy. Land-use offers significant potential to sequester additional carbon and may provide a new source of family farm income and rural economic benefit.We recognise the interlinked role the agriculture and agri-food sectors have with the waste sector and are also committed to supporting the agri-food sector to evolve Ireland’s capability as a leader in circular economies. We are investing in research in the agri-food sector to prioritise investment in climate and the bio-economy and will implement the National Policy Statement on the Bio-economy, providing the agri-food sector with new opportunities using biological resources in a sustainable and circular manner. With the correct policy choices in the agriculture sector, we can reward farmers for sequestering carbon, restoring biodiversity, improving water and air quality, producing clean energy, and developing schemes that support results-based outcomes. In the Climate Action Plan 2021, far reaching policy changes will be developed across every sector that set us on the path of systemic change that is required for Ireland to become a climate-neutral and climate-resilient society and economy by 2050 at the latest.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Ceisteanna (179)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

179. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the success to date in meeting carbon reduction targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29799/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

The 2009 Effort Sharing Decision 406/2009/EC (ESD) sets annual binding emission reduction targets for EU Member States for the period 2013 to 2020. These targets cover emissions from sectors outside of the EU Emissions Trading System, such as agriculture, transport, buildings and waste. For the year 2020 itself, the target set for Ireland is that emissions should be 20% below their value in 2005.  The Effort Sharing Decision 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. The 2020 greenhouse gas emissions estimates report published by the EPA in January 2021 indicates that emissions from those sectors of the economy covered by the ESD could be 8% below 2005 levels by 2020. According to this report, Ireland will cumulatively exceed the carbon budget implied by our ESD targets by 11 to 12Mt and we will need to avail of flexibilities in order to comply with our obligations. Pre-Covid estimates of the additional costs of purchasing carbon credits for compliance with these targets were in the region of €6 million to €13 million, depending on the price and final quantity of allowances required.

As a follow up to the ESD, the EU Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) sets binding emission reduction targets for Member States for the period 2021-2030. The final agreement sets Ireland a target of 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. It is important to recognise that this target will be amended following the European Commission’s plan to increase ambition from its existing EU wide 2030 target of 40% reduction to at least 55%, compared to 1990 levels. Legislative proposals to implement the new EU 2030 target will be presented by July this year, and additional effort will be asked of all Member States, including Ireland.

As Minister for Climate Action, I will lead on delivering this ambition, which will more than halve our carbon emissions over the course of the decade. With the increased scale and depth of this ambition, new strategies will be needed to sustain a reduction trajectory that will increase over time. I am working with colleagues across Government to develop a new Climate Action Plan, with additional initiatives in every sector to bring about the significant change needed to transform our society. The Climate Action Plan will require annual revisions to address the need for intensive and regular monitoring and updating of policy actions to ensure we remain on track and within our emission limits, and will act as a further review mechanism and opportunity to adjust and refocus actions, as required.

In line with EU ambition, Ireland has committed to achieve an average 7% per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030, and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. This objective will be set in law by the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021, which was published on 23 March 2021. The Bill will support Ireland’s transition to net zero and achieve a climate neutral economy by no later than 2050. It will establish a legally binding framework with clear targets and commitments set in law, and ensure the necessary structures and processes are embedded on a statutory basis to ensure we achieve our national, EU and international climate goals and obligations in the near and long term.

Environmental Policy

Ceisteanna (180)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

180. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the main areas of environmental protection requirements deemed at present to be urgent; the action to date in hand or proposed to deal with any such issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29800/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

In November 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its seventh State of the Environment report.  These reports are important milestones for Ireland, as they provide a snapshot of the environment at a particular point, as well as showing trends and changes in the environment over time. The reports assess progress in meeting the main environmental challenges facing the country and evaluate how national policies are being implemented, and if they are operating and delivering as intended.   A copy of the report is available at www.epa.ie/our-services/monitoring--assessment/assessment/irelands-environment/state-of-environment-report-/ The most recent State of the Environment report recognised climate change as an urgent challenge in terms of Ireland’s environment.  Other areas highlighted in the report, including air quality, waste and energy are all being addressed within the remit of my Department.

Earlier this year my Department published its Statement of Strategy for the period 2021-2023, Le Chéile, setting out our strategic goals in line with the Programme for Government and our long-term vision of a climate neutral, sustainable, and digitally connected Ireland. The statement identified five strategic goals which were set out at a high level and are complemented by a broader list of deliverables for the Department in the year concerned. A copy of the Statement of Strategy is available at gov.ie

Cybersecurity Policy

Ceisteanna (181)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

181. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the extent to which he and his Department have in hand further enhanced measures to ensure the protection of all Departments and bodies under their aegis from any cyber-attacks in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29801/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

The National Cyber Security Strategy includes measures to support Government Departments and other public bodies to improve the resilience and security of their Network and ICT systems. Through its work, the NCSC supports public bodies, including a number of commercial and non-commercial State bodies to improve their cyber security posture and fulfil their obligations under the European Network and Information Security Directive.

Electricity Generation

Question No. 183 answered with Question No. 182.

Ceisteanna (182, 183)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

182. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the extent of the shift away from fossil fuels for the generation of electricity; if this is in line with targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29802/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

183. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the extent to which the national grid currently relies and draws on renewable energy as a percentage of total requirement; if he has specific new proposals in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29803/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 182 and 183 together.

Under the Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC Ireland committed to meeting a target of at least 16% of gross final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. To assist in meeting this target, Ireland set a national target of achieving 40% of electricity produced from renewable sources.

In 2019, 36.5% of electricity in Ireland was generated from renewable sources, based on the calculation methodology set out in the Renewable Energy Directive, compared to 15.6% in 2010. Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) provisional figures for 2020 show 38.9% of electricity in Ireland was generated from renewable sources.

More information on Ireland's renewable energy use can be found in the SEAI report Energy in Ireland 2020 which is available at www.seai.ie. The Energy in Ireland report is updated on an annual basis and published in the last quarter of the year. Information on energy use for the year 2020 may be found in the 2020 Provisional Energy Balance, which is also available on the Authority's website.

EirGrid's Generation Capacity Statement, which is published annually, sets out the expected levels of electricity generation and demand for each year over the coming decade.  EirGrid is also currently undertaking a 'Shaping our Electricity Future' consultation across the three dimensions of electricity networks, power system operation, and electricity markets with the aim of developing an integrated vision of the 2030 power system and electricity market. The draft strategy comprises four approaches to achieving this, as well as meeting the projected increased demand for electricity over the coming years.

The Programme for Government 2020 sets a target of at least a 70% renewable share in electricity production by 2030. This will contribute to meeting the Programme for Government target of reducing Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 51% by 2030, meeting the long-term target of climate neutrality by 2050, and to meeting the EU-wide binding target, under the recast Renewable Energy Directive (EU) 2018/2001, of 32% of the overall share of energy to come from renewable sources by 2030.

Question No. 183 answered with Question No. 182.
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