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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 122-128
 Header Item Broadcasting Charges
 Header Item Renewable Energy Exports
 Header Item Wind Energy Guidelines
 Header Item Communications Masts
 Header Item Departmental Legal Costs
 Header Item Housing Assistance Payments Eligibility
 Header Item Waste Management Regulations

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 804 No. 3

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Written Answers Nos. 122-128

Broadcasting Charges

 122. Deputy Michael Colreavy Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the amount he estimates will be returned to the State each year if the new broadcasting charge is introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24907/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte As I have outlined to the Deputy in a previous response, my Department has conducted a Value for Money Policy Review on the proposed introduction of a Public Service Broadcasting Charge. This Report was submitted to me recently and I am giving due consideration to the Report and its recommendations.

The replacement of the existing funding system based on the collection of television licence fees with one based on the imposition of device-independent charge on eligible households and businesses is a complex process and the logistics involved require thorough attention. Issues such as identifying those liable for the charge, together with the most appropriate collection method, exemptions and enforcement mechanics require detailed consideration and have a bearing on projected revenue.

Moreover, decisions in respect of the level of the charge have not yet been made. I am unable, therefore, to provide an estimate of potential revenue at this stage in the process. That said, the proposed new arrangements must, at a minimum, be capable of sustaining existing funding levels.

Renewable Energy Exports

 123. Deputy Michael Colreavy Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the amount he intends to spend on renewable energy projects that will export energy to Britain; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [24908/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte On 24 January 2013, I signed a Memorandum of Understanding on energy cooperation with the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Edward Davey.  Detailed work is now underway to consider how Ireland’s renewable energy resources, both onshore and offshore, might be developed to the mutual benefit of Ireland and the United Kingdom. This will determine whether it is beneficial for both countries to enter into an Inter-Governmental Agreement under the Renewable Energy Directive to provide for renewable energy trading. The mechanism for remunerating any wind farms that may in the future export renewable energy from Ireland to the United Kingdom has yet to be decided but will not involve any subsidy costs being imposed on the Irish State or consumer. Any Inter-Governmental Agreement will also have to ensure an adequate return to the Irish Exchequer.

Wind Energy Guidelines

 124. Deputy Michael Colreavy Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if there will be a social clause included in the wind farm project in Mount Lucas, County Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24909/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The Mount Lucas wind farm is being developed by Bord na Móna. The matter to which the Deputy refers is a day to day operational matter for the company and not one in which I have a function. I have been advised however, that as part of the planning permission granted by Offaly County Council for the Mount Lucas wind farm project there is a development contribution fee in the order of €253,000 payable by Bord na Móna and, over the entire operational lifetime of the Mount Lucas project, Offaly County Council will receive in the region of €600,000 per annum in rates from this project.

In preparation for the construction of the wind farm, Bord na Móna upgraded 6.5 kilometres of local roads, increasing their residual design life to 20 years. The construction phase of the wind farm provides approximately 150 jobs at peak with a further 12 full time jobs when the project is in full commercial operation. Approximately 45,000 households will be provided with wind generated electricity when the Mount Lucas project comes on stream and the very significant investment by Bord na Móna in this project will contribute to the achievement of Ireland’s renewable energy targets.

Communications Masts

 125. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte his views on reports of an increasing number of cancer cases in a locality where a phone/communications mast is erected. [24918/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Issues relating to the potential health effects of non-ionising radiation and electro-magnetic fields are a matter for the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.

It is a condition of various Wireless Telegraphy Licences issued by the telecommunications regulator, ComReg, that mobile and telecommunications licensees must ensure that non-ionising radiation (NIR) emissions from transmitters are within limits set down in international guidelines.

In order to assess compliance ComReg has put in place a Programme of Measurement of Non-Ionising Radiation Emissions, under which surveys are conducted near a sample number of licensed transmitter sites nationwide each year. Each survey involves measurement of emission levels at the point of highest emissions (in a public area) associated with the transmitter. I understand that the emissions levels continue to be within the limits set by the internationally agreed guidelines.

Departmental Legal Costs

 126. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte his views on whether sufficient progress is being made in reducing the State's legal bill in his Department and any State agencies under his aegis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25163/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte My Department seeks to reduce its legal bill to a minimum by ensuring that legal issues are managed an efficient and cost effective manner. To this end, my Department maintains a small in-house legal team and consults with the Chief States Solicitors Office and the Offices of the Attorney General on legal matters and only engages external legal services when absolutely necessary.

The management and control of legal fees in respect of State Agencies under the aegis of my Department is a day to day operational matter for those organisations and I would expect them to ensure that they obtain full value for money in any legal expenditure.

Housing Assistance Payments Eligibility

 127. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if there are any supervised housing project organisations that help mental health patients who need supported accommodation on the north side of Dublin.  [24835/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I refer to the reply to Question No. 194 of 16 May 2013 which sets out the position in relation to the provision of accommodation for persons with a specific housing need.

Waste Management Regulations

 128. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the reason no action is being taken to save jobs at a company (details supplied) in Coolock, Dublin 17.  [24940/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Issues concerning the enforcement of waste management legislation are a matter for the appropriate regulatory authority and should therefore be pursued with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the relevant local authority, as appropriate. The Office of Environmental Enforcement within the EPA has a mandate to deliver enhanced environmental compliance both through enforcement of Agency licences issued to waste, industrial and other activities, and also through the supervisory role which it exercises in respect of the environmental protection activities of local authorities. In this regard, the Office acts as a resource to members of the public who have exhausted all other avenues of complaint.

Under section 60(3) of the Waste Management Act 1996 the Minister is precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to the performance by the Agency or a local authority, in particular circumstances, of a statutory function vested in it.

Under planning legislation, the decision as to whether to grant a planning application, with or without conditions, is a matter for the relevant planning authority or An Bord Pleanála in the case of an appeal. In making decisions on planning applications, planning authorities must consider the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, having regard to the provisions of the development plan, any submissions or observations received, relevant ministerial or Government policies, including any guidelines issued by the Department. Under section 30 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 the Minister is specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned.


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