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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 134-140
 Header Item Deer Hunting
 Header Item Rural Recreation Promotion
 Header Item Bord na Móna Operations
 Header Item Internet Access
 Header Item Renewable Energy Projects
 Header Item Electromagnetic Fields Studies

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 818 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 134-140

  Question No. 134 answered with Question No. 118.

Deer Hunting

 135. Deputy Eric Byrne Information on Eric J. Byrne Zoom on Eric J. Byrne asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the shooting licences available to persons to stalk deer in the Dublin-Wicklow mountains.  [45323/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan Annual licences to hunt deer are issued by my Department to individuals under the Wildlife Acts. The hunting season for deer is regulated by the Open Seasons Order, which prescribes the periods for the hunting of various deer species. These periods vary depending on the gender and age of the deer. My Department has issued some 4,200 deer hunting licences to date to individuals for the current hunting season, which commenced on 1 September 2013. On average, about 20% of deer hunting licences are granted to individuals in the counties of Dublin and Wicklow.

I should point out that individuals who have a deer hunting licence also require a Firearms Certificate issued by An Garda Síochána for the weapon used to hunt deer.

Rural Recreation Promotion

 136. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan if he will provide an update on the round Lough Lein trail, County Kerry; the anticipated timeline for the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [44912/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan In July 2012, I convened a Steering Group comprising of representatives from the key stakeholders in the Lough Leane trail project and charged the Group with the planning and development of the trail. To date, the Group has met on seven occasions and a further meeting is scheduled next month. Most of this trail will be inside the boundary of Killarney National Park and, because of the associated ecological issues, the task of delivering this project will require careful consideration and planning.

To ensure that the project is delivered as efficiently and quickly as possible, it has been broken down into various modules, which will allow the advancement of some sections of the trail while the necessary consultations, assessments and planning and any land acquisitions as may be required for the more complicated aspects of the plan are moved along in parallel. Final completion of the trail will depend on the progress made on advancing all of these issues and a final deadline has not been set at this stage. I am satisfied that significant progress is being made and, insofar as possible within the constraints of the public finances, I will seek to ensure that there are no avoidable delays in bringing the project to completion.

Bord na Móna Operations

 137. 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 if he will prevent the downgrading of Bord na Móna at Boora works, Leabeg, Tullamore, County Offaly (details supplied).  [44991/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte This is a matter for Bórd na Mona and one in which I, as Minister, have no function.

Internet Access

 138. Deputy Jim Daly Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the percentage of the Irish population that have access to the Internet; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [44904/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Considerable progress has been made in recent years in both the coverage and speeds of national broadband infrastructure, with a multiplicity of commercial operators providing services over a diverse range of technology platforms. The Government has also undertaken a number of initiatives to bring broadband to those parts of the country where commercial operators have been unable to offer services. The combination of private investment and State interventions such as the National Broadband Scheme means that Ireland has met the EU Commission's Digital Agenda for Europe target of having a basic broadband services available to all areas by 2013. Accordingly, every citizen should have access to at least a basic broadband service.

  The Government's National Broadband Plan, which I published in August 2012, aims to radically change the broadband landscape in Ireland by ensuring that high speed broadband is available to all citizens and businesses. This will be achieved by providing:

- a policy and regulatory framework that assists in accelerating and incentivising commercial investment, and

- a State-led investment for areas where it is not commercial for the market to invest.

  In order to progress the State-led investment for areas where it is not commercial for the market to invest, a full procurement process must be designed and EU State Aids approval must be obtained. My Department is engaged in a comprehensive mapping exercise of the current and anticipated investment by the commercial sector to identify where the market is expected to deliver high speed broadband services over the coming years. The results of this mapping exercise will inform the precise areas that need to be targeted in the State-led investment as envisaged in the National Broadband Plan. Intensive technical, financial and legal preparations, including stakeholder engagement, are on-going. The procurement process for the approved intervention will be carried out in accordance with EU and Irish procurement rules and it is expected that it will be launched in 2014.

  Through the implementation of the National Broadband Plan, I am committed to ensuring that all parts of Ireland have access to high speed broadband, with a view to ensuring that all citizens and businesses can participate fully in, and maximise the benefits of a digitally enabled economy and society. While all citizens should now have access to at least a basic broadband service, statistics show that some 65% of households have a broadband subscription. This highlights the need for the range of demand-led measures contained in the recently-published National Digital Strategy.

Renewable Energy Projects

 139. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he will outline the details of the environmental assessment in respect of a wind turbine project in the midlands; the way this assessment will differ from an environmental impact assessment; and if he will consider seeking an environmental assessment of other energy projects, including the EirGrid Grid West project; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45054/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte A Renewable Energy Export Policy and Development Framework (with a spatial dimension) is currently being prepared by my Department and will facilitate An Bord Pleanála in making planning decisions on individual proposed renewable energy developments, regardless of location, of significant scale for export. It will be underpinned by a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) which is a formal, systematic evaluation of the likely significant environmental effects of implementing a plan or programme before a decision is made to adopt the plan or programme. The SEA will be carried out by my Department based on the findings of an Environmental Report. This is in accordance with the provisions of the relevant EU legislation, including Directive 2001/42/EC and the European Communities (Environmental Assessment of Certain Plans and Programmes) Regulations, 2004, as amended by the European Communities (Environmental Assessment of Certain Plans and Programmes) (Amendment) Regulations, 2011.

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) differs from an SEA in that it is an environmental assessment examining the impact a particular development project, such as a wind farm, will have on the receiving and surrounding environment. The EIA is carried out by the appropriate competent planning authority on a project specific basis. Typically, an individual wind farm project is subject to an EIA where the wind farm has greater than 5 turbines or a generating capacity greater than 5MW. Therefore, any party wishing to submit a planning application for a proposed project of significant scale for renewable energy export will be required to compile an Environmental Impact Statement to support the application. In considering such applications, An Bord Pleanála will take account of the Renewable Energy Export Policy and Development Framework underpinned by the SEA completed by my Department, as well as the project level EIA, before making its decision on whether or not to grant planning permission.

EirGrid, as with any public or private sector organisation, is required to comply with all EU Directives on environmental and appropriate assessment in progressing transmission projects, including Grid West, through the planning process.

Electromagnetic Fields Studies

 140. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte with regard to the data and report of the expert monitoring panel on electromagnetic field, EMF, emissions in respect of the east-west interconnector, if he considers that a similar report on potential EMF emissions from the Grid West project is necessary; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45055/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte My Department has no function in respect of any aspect of the matter of potential health effects of EMF. Responsibilities previously held by the then Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources in relation to such effects of EMF became the responsibility of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government from 1 May 2007, with a view to non-ionising radiation becoming part of the remit of the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII).

I am, however, aware that Ireland has taken a precautionary approach on this issue and adopted international guidelines for exposure to electromagnetic radiation developed by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. These guidelines are set at levels which are many times less than the experimental levels at which no adverse effects have been established. Ireland has also participated in the work of the International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety, which sets standards in this area. I have full confidence in the State energy companies' commitment to complete the Gridwest project and other projects under the Grid25 programme to the highest safety standards and without risk to the health and safety of local communities.


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