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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 547-569
 Header Item Aquaculture Licence Appeals
 Header Item National Broadband Plan
 Header Item Climate Change Adaptation Plans
 Header Item Renewable Energy Generation
 Header Item Medical Waste Disposal
 Header Item Energy Efficiency
 Header Item Bituminous Fuel Ban
 Header Item Broadcasting Sector Regulation
 Header Item Inland Fisheries Data
 Header Item Postal Services Provision
 Header Item Bituminous Fuel Ban
 Header Item Renewable Energy Incentives
 Header Item Departmental Reviews
 Header Item Departmental Information
 Header Item Mobile Telephony Services
 Header Item National Broadband Plan
 Header Item Ministerial Meetings

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 984 No. 5

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 547-569

Aquaculture Licence Appeals

 547. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed when a decision will be made with respect to an appeal made against a decision to grant an aquaculture licence (details supplied) at Gaoth Dobhair Bay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28217/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board (ALAB) is the independent statutory body established for the purpose of determining appeals against aquaculture licensing decisions. In accordance with standard practice, my Department has been notified by ALAB that it has received appeals against the decision to grant the aquaculture licence referred to by the Deputy for the cultivation of oysters at a site on Braade Strand, Co. Donegal.

As ALAB is currently considering the appeals referred to by the Deputy as part of the statutory process, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on the matter pending the conclusion of that process.

National Broadband Plan

 548. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on the claims by Eir that the objectives of the national broadband plan can be met at a cost of €1 billion and that it would succeed in delivering 100% coverage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27988/19]

 549. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on whether Eir is credible in its claim that the national broadband plan can be delivered for less than €1 billion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27989/19]

 568. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on whether the claim of Eir that the policy objectives of the National Broadband Plan can be delivered for under €1 billion is credible; the reason for his views in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28019/19]

 571. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he has considered the recent proposal by a company (details supplied) in relation to the provision of broadband nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28184/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 548, 549, 568 and 571 together.

I would like in the first instance to clarify that Eir has made no formal proposal to Government to replace or supersede the National Broadband Plan.

At its appearance at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Eir's CEO outlined Eir's view on the value for money of the NBP. Eir's CEO made certain observations with regard to Eir's own model for delivery of rural broadband, which could only be delivered outside of the current procurement process. My Department requested a detailed outline from Eir setting out the assumptions made and the financial model underpinning Eir's assumptions. Eir provided further information to my Department at close of business on Friday 28 June and my Department and its NBP advisers are currently analysing this information.

Climate Change Adaptation Plans

 550. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if costed proposals were submitted to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform regarding the climate action plan 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27492/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I refer to the reply to Questions Nos. 575, 586, 594 and 608 of 25 June 2019. The actions contained in the Climate Action Plan fall broadly into four categories:

  - Public funding provided in the annual estimates process and in Project Ireland 2040;

  - Measures such as setting a long-term trajectory for the carbon tax, in order to change long-term behaviour and decision to encourage investment in more sustainable choices;

  - New regulations to end certain practices (e.g. phasing out oil and gas boilers in homes or introducing low emission zones in cities) and

  - Actions to promote public and community engagement and participation in reducing our emissions.

  The Exchequer and other public funding costs of the Plan will be met through Project Ireland 2040, which provides €30 billion for low carbon and sustainable mobility investments in the period to 2027.

  The exact costs of some actions will be determined from the detailed policy design work, which will consist of a mix of regulations, taxes, and subsidies which the Government may choose to deploy to achieve the targeted abatement range in each sector.

  Under the Climate Action Plan, each sector shall have a carbon budget, which will be the total amount of emissions which are permitted in a particular period.

  My Department had an ongoing engagement with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in the preparation of the Climate Action Plan 2019, and the two Departments will continue to cooperate closely in the context of implementation of the Plan.

Renewable Energy Generation

 551. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if an application for a licence (details supplied) has been received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27503/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Seán Canney): Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney I refer the Deputy to my replies to Question Nos 206 of 26 June and 1204 of 8 May 2019. The position is unchanged.

Medical Waste Disposal

 552. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton when those with a disability will be able to utilise the bin waiver scheme; and if it will be backdated to the date his predecessor announced it. [27534/19]

 553. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the groups he has met since his appointment in regard to the bin waiver scheme for persons with incontinence and a disability. [27535/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 552 and 553 together.

Since mid-2017, a range of charging options have been operated, which encourage householders to reduce and separate their waste, and provides flexibility to waste collectors to develop various service-price offerings that suit different household circumstances. Mandatory per kilogramme 'pay by weight' charging was not introduced. ​A Price Monitoring Group (PMG) was established in mid-2017 to monitor the on-going cost of residential waste collection to homeowners across Ireland as the ‘flat-rate structure’ was being phased out. While fluctuations in prices and service offerings have been observed, the overall trend has been relative price stability.

My Department has engaged with relevant stakeholders, including representative organisations such as Family Carer’s Ireland, Age Action, the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, the Irish Wheelchair Association, Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland and public bodies such as the National Disability Authority, the HSE and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection , in an effort to see how best to provide a financial support to persons with long-term incontinence with respect to the disposal of medical incontinence wear.

Notwithstanding the complex issues at play, which are understandable given the sensitive nature of the medical data in question, I would like assure the Deputy that I continue to be committed to addressing this issue.

Energy Efficiency

 554. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if the home energy grant schemes will be extended to houses constructed since 2006 to bring them up to a higher energy efficiency standard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27647/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department funds a number of home energy efficiency schemes that are administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The aim of the schemes is to improve the energy efficiency of our built environment, in a way which represents the best possible use of Exchequer funding. This involves making difficult decisions and targeting supports in particular ways such as by limiting certain grants to homes built before 2006. As new homes are already required to meet specific energy performance standards and to incorporate renewables under Building Regulations, grant support is currently focussed on improving the condition of existing dwellings. Grant funding further works in more recently built homes that already meet certain levels of energy performance would not represent a cost-effective use of Exchequer funds.

However, grant funding for renewable measures under the Better Energy Homes Scheme is available to homes built before 2011. Additionally, the year of build is not considered as part of the application process for the Deep Retrofit Pilot Programme. This pilot, which provides 50% funding for deep energy upgrades, instead assess the energy uplift that can be achieved.

The recently published Climate Action Plan commits Government to developing a new retrofitting delivery model, which will group retrofits together to achieve economies of scale, leverage private finance, and ensure easy pay-back methods. The area based retrofit programme will seek to capitalise on critical mass that will benefit both householders and the supply chain. This programme will focus on designated areas in both rural and urban environments and could be designed and delivered to include local authorities, approved housing bodies or other strategic delivery partners.

Bituminous Fuel Ban

 555. Deputy Declan Breathnach Information on Declan Breathnach Zoom on Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the measures he will take post the nationwide ban on smoky coal to ensure smoky coal from Northern Ireland, which has a lower VAT rate and no carbon tax, is not sold here; when the ban will be coming into effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27713/19]

 556. Deputy Declan Breathnach Information on Declan Breathnach Zoom on Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if concerns have been raised regarding smoky coal bought in Northern Ireland, which has a lower VAT rate, no carbon tax and a higher percentage content of sulphur following the introduction of the smoky coal ban; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27714/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 555 and 556 together.

The ban on the marketing, sale and distribution of bituminous coal, or ‘the smoky coal ban’ as it is commonly known, was first introduced in Dublin in 1990, and subsequently extended to our major cities. Following a public consultation process, it was further extended in 2012, and now applies in 26 urban areas nationwide. The ban has proved very effective in reducing particulate matter and sulphur dioxide levels and has had the effect of significantly improving public health. Research indicates, for example, that the ban has resulted in over 350 fewer annual deaths in Dublin alone.

I am disappointed that a number of coal firms have indicated that they would challenge the decision of two former Ministers to expand the smoky coal ban nationwide. Banning the use of smoky coal would have a positive impact on air quality and public health, particularly in built up areas.

I am working with the Attorney General to finalise a legally robust plan which will improve air quality by reducing particulate matter in the air. High levels of particulate matter arise from a number of sources, including the burning of smoky coal.

In the meantime Local Authorities are primarily responsible for the enforcement of legislation on solid fuel, including the ‘smoky coal’ regulations, within their functional areas. The powers that Local Authorities have in this area are extensive. For example:

- Local Authority staff may undertake inspections of premises and vehicles being used for the sale and distribution of solid fuel as well as collect samples

- A Local Authority may bring a prosecution under the Air Pollution Act for breaches of the Regulations.

- The maximum fine amounts for breaches of the Regulations is €5,000 on summary conviction

- Fixed payment notices (or ‘on the spot fines’) applied by the Local Authority are in operation for alleged offences relating to the marketing, sale and distribution of prohibited fuels in Low Smoke Zones (LSZs)

Complaints regarding the sale of prohibited fuels, smoky emissions or other breaches of the regulations should, in the first instance, be reported to the relevant Local Authority.

In addition to the measures available to Local Authorities outlined above, my officials are currently examining other enforcement options to ensure the success of the ban, including the establishment of multiagency teams. This is in line with other areas of environmental enforcement such as waste, where such an approach has proved successful.

Broadcasting Sector Regulation

 557. Deputy Seán Haughey Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has public oversite of the online aspects of RTÉ; if a mechanism can be put in place to deal with regulatory complaints from members of the public in respect of this online component; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27821/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) establishes the framework for the regulation of audiovisual media services in the European Union. The current Directive applies to linear broadcasting services - i.e. traditional television, and in a limited way to non-linear services, i.e. on-demand services such as the RTÉ Player. The Broadcasting Act 2009 established the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland as the independent regulator for linear broadcasting services, both television and radio in Ireland. On-demand services are currently subject to a co-regulatory Code of Conduct overseen by the On-Demand Audiovisual Services Group (ODAS), which was established under the auspices of IBEC. The Code of Conduct applies to all on-demand audiovisual service providers operating in the state and provides for a complaints mechanism in relation to content on on-demand services.

In terms of the Code’s operation, the BAI’s only role is that its statutory Compliance Committee acts as an appeals body, where a complainant is not satisfied with the decision of the on-demand service provider, on complaints relating to content. In this regard, a Memorandum of Understanding is in place between the BAI’s Compliance Committee and ODAS. The BAI does not have a role in relation to any complaints appeals in respect of commercial communications. This appeals function is carried out by the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI).

In May 2016, the European Commission published its proposal to revise the AVMSD. The text of the revised Directive has been adopted by the EU and was officially published on 27 November 2018. The revision of the AVMSD will require an increase in the level of oversight by Member States of on-demand audiovisual media services. In early March, I announced that Government would address harmful online content through the development of new legislation, an Online Safety & Media Regulation Bill, which will also transpose the revised AVMSD. I launched a public consultation on these proposals which concluded last month. The submissions received in respect of this consultation have been published on my Department's website and will inform the preparation of legislation, including in respect of on-demand services.

Inland Fisheries Data

 558. Deputy Shane Cassells Information on Shane Cassells Zoom on Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if specific appropriate assessment, AA, screening as set out under Article 6 of the habitats directive appropriate assessment screening report has been carried out in relation to a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [27825/19]

 559. Deputy Shane Cassells Information on Shane Cassells Zoom on Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the consultation which took place on a project (details supplied); and the reason the project was exempt from planning. [27826/19]

 560. Deputy Shane Cassells Information on Shane Cassells Zoom on Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if items (details supplied) are the one project or two separate projects that do not overlap; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27827/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Seán Canney): Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney I propose to take Questions Nos. 558 to 560, inclusive, together.

The projects referred to by the Deputy are administered by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

I am advised by IFI that project SCF-17-0038 refers to in-stream works near Carnaross Bridge on the Kells Blackwater, a tributary of the River Boyne. A screening for appropriate assessment for the works contained in the project was carried out in 2016.

IFI have also confirmed that projects C1551 and SCF-17-0006 are two separate projects. Both are projects on the Owenmore River in Altnabrocky in Co. Mayo. Project C1551 was completed in 2016. Following this, the developers sought funding to carry out a separate project to enhance the spawning opportunities for Salmon in the Owenmore River. SCF-17-0006 was approved for funding and the works were completed in 2018.

For clarification, the reference number of the Ray River project, located in Falcarragh, Co. Donegal is NSADF-017-0141. IFI consulted with Donegal County Council, the Planning Authority in the relevant area, on this project. The Planning Authority certified that the project did not require planning permission. The reason for this certification is a matter for the Planning Authority and neither I nor IFI have any function in the matter.

In view of the number of questions tabled recently by the Deputy in relation to IFI funding schemes, I would be happy to ask IFI to fully brief him on these matters.

Postal Services Provision

 561. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding the future operations of An Post; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27854/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Government is committed to supporting a post office network that meets the needs of communities across the country, particularly in rural areas. A modernised post office network will provide a better range of financial services and e-commerce services for shoppers and small businesses.

Reflecting our commitment to sustaining a nationwide post office network and daily mails service, the Government made €30m available in State funding to An Post which is being used to support the renewal of the post office network (€15m) and the continued fulfilment of a 5 day per week mails delivery service (€15m). As An Post is a commercial State body, this support was provided by way of a loan.

The past financial challenges facing An Post have been well documented primarily due to the impact of email and other forms of online communication on mail volumes. Mail volumes have decreased some 40% since 2007. In 2018 alone mail volumes declined by 7.6%. In response, the An Post Board have put in place a strategic plan setting out a transformation of the company in both the mails and retail business.

An Post recorded an operating profit of €41.2m for 2018 compared to €8.4m for 2017. This represents the second year of significant financial improvement bringing the Group out of its loss making position of €12.4m in 2016. This reflects the significant amount of work that has gone into restructuring the company and modernising its network.

On 17 January 2019 the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection renewed her Department’s contract with An Post to provide pensions, Child Benefit and other social welfare payments in cash at Post Offices. The current terms of the contract between the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and An Post were agreed in 2013 for an initial two year period, with an option to extend annually up to the end of 2019. Further contracts are a matter for the Department for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and An Post.

The Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2017 includes an amendment to allow for the tendering of TV Licence fee collection. The Bill is currently at an advanced drafting stage. In the meantime, there will be no change to the existing TV licence fee arrangements and An Post continues to work as my issuing agent in accordance with Section 145 of the Act.

As part of its consideration of the financial position of An Post, the Government agreed that further opportunities for Government business through the Post Office Network should be explored. The first practical step that the Government took was the launch of the Digital Assist pilot initiative. Government funding of €80,000 was allocated to the scheme which has seen 10 post offices kitted out to assist citizens with online Government interactions. The pilot will provide data and insight in relation to the provision of offline Government services to citizens. A review of the initiative will be carried out shortly.

On 4 September 2018, the Government approved the establishment of an interdepartmental group to identify options, including procurement frameworks, for delivering services to those citizens who do not wish to use, or are unable to use, digital services.

Bituminous Fuel Ban

 562. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will meet with a group (details supplied) to discuss the decision not to implement a nationwide smoky coal ban in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27865/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I am disappointed that a number of coal firms have indicated that they would challenge the decision of two former Ministers to expand the smoky coal ban nationwide. Banning the use of smoky coal would have a positive impact on air quality and public health, particularly in built up areas. I am working with the Attorney General to finalise a legally robust plan which will improve air quality by reducing particulate matter in the air. High levels of particulate matter arise from a number of sources, including the burning of smoky coal.

My officials who will be in contact with the group in the near future to offer a meeting with officials.

Renewable Energy Incentives

 563. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the grants or assistance available to community groups to install renewable energy sources in community centres and facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27868/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton A number of schemes funded by my Department and administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland can assist in the installation of renewable energy sources in community buildings and facilities.   The Better Energy Communities Scheme funds community based partnerships to improve the energy efficiency of the building stock in their area, including community buildings and facilities. Renewable energy solutions like wind turbines, biomass plants, and photovoltaic systems are eligible where included as part of a broader retrofit under this scheme.

  In 2019, I have allocated €23m to the scheme. In 2018, 37 projects were funded with an Exchequer investment of €19.9m. Further information can be found at https://www.seai.ie/grants/community-grants/project-criteria-and-funding/

  The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) is designed to support the switch from fossil fuels to renewable heating systems. The SSRH has been developed to financially support the adoption of renewable heating systems by commercial, industrial, agricultural, district heating operators and other non-domestic heat users not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System. The SSRH supports eligible projects through one of the following support mechanisms:

  - An installation grant, of up to 30% of the installation cost, for ground, water, or air source electric heat pumps; or

  - Ongoing operational support for a period of up to 15 years, on the basis of prescribed tariffs, for biomass boilers and anaerobic digestion heating systems.

  The National Development Plan includes an allocation of €300 million for the rollout of the scheme for the period up to 2027.

  The SSRH is administered by SEAI and full details, including how to apply, are available on SEAI’s website at https://www.seai.ie/sustainable-solutions/support-scheme-renewable-/

Departmental Reviews

 564. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the studies, reviews and research undertaken or commissioned by him; and the date by which each study, review and research is scheduled to be completed. [27877/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department administers a very diverse, complex and technical brief across critical and strategic sectors of the Irish economy.

  Studies, reviews and research are currently being undertaken by my Department which contribute to project delivery and informed, robust and evidence based policy making. Details of these are set out in the following table.

Details of Study/Review/Research Scheduled date of completion
National study into how Ireland can achieve 90% collection rate for single use beverage containers (PET and aluminium) Q3 2019
Research survey on consumer attitudes to waste July 2019
Review of Year 1 of Operation of Compliance Scheme for tyres Q3 2019
An independent analysis of the Warmth and Wellbeing Scheme carried out by the London School of Tropical Medicine 2021
Tsunami inundation mapping pilot study (Geological Survey Ireland) August 2019
Geological Survey Ireland funded research reports Ongoing up to end 2020
Pilot Study on Landslide Hazard mapping October 2019
Review by ComReg of aspects of Analysys Mason Report on “Pricing and Access Arrangements for the MANs” The ComReg review is expected to be completed in September, 2019.
A social, environmental and economic analysis of the effects of Galmoy and Lisheen Mines on their respective communities October 2019
Report of the Interdepartmental Group on the Delivery of "Offline" Government Services H2 2019
BAI 5 Year Review of Public Service Broadcasters Completed 2018 (not yet published)
Working Group on the Future Funding of Public Service Broadcasting Completed 2019
Research in relation to Online Safety commissioned by the National Advisory Council for Online Safety End 2019


  Last month, I published the Government's Climate Action Plan To Tackle Climate Breakdown which is available on my Department's website.

Departmental Information

 565. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the documents published by his Department since 1 January 2016 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27901/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department administers a very diverse, complex and technical brief across critical and strategic sectors of the Irish economy. Following clarification with the Deputy's office, details of the 32 current policy documents and strategies published by my Department during the period 2016 to date are set out in the following table.

Name of Policy Document/Strategy Year Published
Statement of Strategy 2019-2021 2019
Annual Report 2017 2018
National Adaptation Framework 2018
Geoscience Ireland Strategic Review 2018-2022 2018
An Economic Review of the Irish Geoscience Sector 2017
Geological Survey Ireland Research Roadmap 2016 2016
Climate Action Plan 2019 To Tackle Climate Breakdown 2019
Seventh National Communication Ireland: A report under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2018
Third Biennial Report Ireland: A report under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2018
Annual Transition Statement 2018 2018
Investing in the Transition to a Low-Carbon and Climate-Resilient Society: 2018 - 2027 2018
National Mitigation Plan 2017
Annual Transition Statement 2017 2017
Annual Transition Statement 2016 2016
The Sustainable Development Goals- National Implementation Plan 2018-2020 2018
Public Sector Energy Efficiency Strategy 2017
Long term renovation strategy 2017
Strategy to Combat Energy Poverty 2016
National Energy Efficiency Action Plan 2017
Support Scheme for Renewable Heat - Scheme Overview 2017
Biofuels Obligation Scheme Policy Statement 2018
Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce Progress Report 2018
Report of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce 2016
Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce Implementation Review 2017 2018
Mobile Phone & Broadband Taskforce Focus Group Report on Mobile Coverage 2018
Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce Implementation Review 2018 2019
Ireland’s National Roadmap on the Use of the 700MHz Frequency Band 2019
Residential Solid Fuel and Air Pollution Study (jointly commissioned with the Department of Environment for Northern Ireland) 2016
Electromagnetic Fields in the Irish Context 2016
Clean Air Dialogue with EU Commission Conclusions document 2017
National Radon Control Strategy – Phase 2 (2019 – 2024) 2019
Ireland’s National Programme under Directive 2011/70/EC establishing a Community framework for the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste 2019
BAI Report on Ownership and Control of Media Businesses 2015-2017 2019
Open Policy Debate on Online Safety Report 2018
Review of the Impact of ‘Opt-Out’ Advertising 2018
BAI Report on Ownership and Control of Media Businesses 2012-2014 2016

Mobile Telephony Services

 566. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the basis on which his Department has established that there are no discernible health implications from the roll-out of 5G here; and the extent to which medical guidelines underpinning same are updated and kept under review.  [27986/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton In 2015, the Government commissioned a report by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment of the Netherlands (RIVM), which examined and synthesised existing peer-reviewed research on the potential health effects of electric and magnetic fields arising from high voltage power lines, and electromagnetic fields from base stations for mobile communication. The report, published in 2016 and entitled“Electromagnetic Fields in the Irish Context”, reaffirms the overall conclusion of an earlier 2007 report, “Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields”, that there is insufficient evidence to establish a causal relationship between exposure to low-frequency electromagnetic fields and adverse health effects.

  Irish policy in this area continues to be informed by a substantial volume of internationally recognised scientific research and evidence. This includes the guidelines set down by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). These guidelines provide scientifically-based limits that are applicable to both public and occupational exposure from electromagnetic fields (EMF), including 5G. ICNIRP guidelines apply up to a frequency of 300 gigahertz (GHz), well above the maximum frequencies being considered for 5G. ICNIRP guidelines are based on evidence gathered from all peer-reviewed scientific literature and not on the conclusions of any single scientific paper, event, or other source.

  In this regard, I have recently assigned a new statutory function to the Environmental Protection Agency to provide general information to the public on matters pertaining to public exposure to non-ionising radiation, to monitor international scientific developments, and to provide independent advice to my Department in this area.

National Broadband Plan

 567. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton when he expects the contract to be signed for the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28018/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I recently brought a recommendation to Government to confer Preferred Bidder status on Granahan McCourt, the remaining bidder in the NBP procurement process and the Government agreed to this at its meeting on 7 May. This is an important step towards achieving the overarching goal of the National Broadband Plan, which is to provide access to high speed broadband to every home, farm, school and business in Ireland, no matter where they are located.

The Government decision on 7 May 2019 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to the bidder, subject to contract close, including the finalisation of financial and legal documents. A period of final due diligence on all elements of the contract is part of the normal conclusion of a procurement process.

NBI will be supported by a number of experienced subcontractors and is currently tasked with finalising negotiations on contracts with approximately 40 subcontractors to assist in the delivery of the NBP. In order to support deployment it is anticipated that a subset of approximately 15 to 20 of these subcontracts will be required prior to contract close. The State Aid notification in relation to the NBP will also be submitted to the European Commission.

It is anticipated these elements will require a number of months, with contract close expected later this year and deployment commencing shortly after that.

Question No. 568 answered with Question No. 548.

Ministerial Meetings

 569. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton when he last had a formal meeting with the chairperson of Inland Fisheries Ireland; the issues discussed; when he will next meet formally with them; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28091/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Seán Canney): Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney As Minister with delegated authority for the Inland Fisheries sector, I have regularly met formally with the Chair and senior management of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) across a range of issues. I am also in regular communication with the Chair. On Thursday last, 27 June, I met with the Board of IFI for a wide ranging discussion in advance of the Board's next 5 year strategic planning period. The discussions focusssed on the consensus that the primary goal is protection, development and enhancement of the inland fisheries resource. In addition, we had constructive dialogue in relation to broadening participation in angling particularly among young people, the potential of inland fisheries for rural development and tourism, the threat of climate change on fisheries and the operational and resource requirements of IFI.

I have also met with fisheries staff on the ground to see first hand the work carried out by IFI around the country and the dedication of operational and support staff. I consider this as important as Board engagement.

I intend to maintain a positive liaison with the Board and will continue my regular formal and informal engagement with the Chair and senior management.


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