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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 21-31
 Header Item Wind Energy Generation
 Header Item Connemara Oil Field
 Header Item Oil and Gas Exploration
 Header Item Sale of State Assets
 Header Item Seirbhísí Leathanbhanda
 Header Item Corrib Gas Field Issues
 Header Item Renewable Energy Generation Targets
 Header Item Wind Energy Generation
 Header Item Postcode Implementation
 Header Item Electricity Generation

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 818 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 92 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 21-31

Wind Energy Generation

 21. Deputy Anthony Lawlor Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he will ensure that a full cost benefit analysis of job creation in the wind industry is carried out; the likely job creation for north Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45034/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte A full cost benefit analysis is under way to determine if it is mutually beneficial for Ireland and the United Kingdom to enter an Inter-Governmental Agreement in early 2014 to facilitate trade in renewable energy. A key part of this analysis is the potential for job creation in Ireland.

A preliminary cost-benefit analysis completed by NewERA ahead of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Kingdom last January indicated employment creation arising from a 3 Gigawatt project would be expected to be in the order of 3,000 to 6,000 job years in the construction phase, with the actual number dependent on the construction schedule to 2020. NewEra also advised that there would be about €1 billion of construction spending on civil engineering works over 2 to 3 years. There would also be additional jobs created in the on-going maintenance of turbines over a 20-year operating life. Further employment opportunities would arise if turbines or components were manufactured in Ireland. All relevant State agencies, particularly in the enterprise area, will be required to co-ordinate their activities early in the process to ensure Ireland maximises the employment potential of export projects. This opportunity has already been identified by the IDA and Enterprise Ireland in their clean technology growth strategies.

Deployment of wind generation to meet our domestic targets has already begun to realise economic benefits. A recent Irish Wind Energy Association member survey indicated that 3,400 people are currently employed in the sector. Employment creation will be further strengthened as we continue to deploy renewable energy and related technologies for the domestic and, potentially, the export market. With Ireland's strong capabilities in areas such as engineering and ICT, there will also be opportunities to develop new products across the information technology, remote communications and software sectors.

Connemara Oil Field

 22. Deputy John Halligan Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he will provide the details of an oil find by Statoil in 1997 in the Connemara field; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45049/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Fergus O'Dowd): Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd The Connemara Oil Field is located in Block 26/28 in the Porcupine Basin, approximately 165 km offshore the west of Ireland, and was discovered by BP in 1979. In 1997, as part of a planned full field development for the Connemara Field, Statoil Exploration Ireland Limited drilled two appraisal wells on the field. The first well was aimed at testing the main reservoir sands of Upper Jurassic, Oxfordian age. The second well was drilled to test the stratigraphically higher sandstone reservoir of Upper Jurassic, Portlandian age.

The results of the appraisal programme did not meet expectations. The first well revealed poorer reservoir characteristics than anticipated and also encountered low flow rates together with rapid declining well pressure and slow pressure build-up. The second well encountered a thinner than expected Portlandian reservoir and consequently, was not tested.

On the basis of the results of the appraisal programme the wells were plugged and abandoned and Statoil decided not to proceed with the development of the Connemara Field. Statoil relinquished the Connemara Field acreage in October 1999.

Oil and Gas Exploration

 23. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the progress he has made in developing a new fiscal and regulatory framework for the oil and gas exploration industry in Ireland; the persons he has consulted in developing this new framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [44956/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte On 9 May 2012 the former Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture published its Report on Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration. The Report contained a number of recommendations in respect of the fiscal and regulatory framework applying to oil and gas exploration in Ireland. At my request the Report was debated in Seanad Éireann on 27 June 2012 and in Dáil Éireann on 14 May 2013, with the debate concluding on 9 July 2013. During the course of the Dáil debate I stated my intention to seek further independent expert advice on the "fitness-for-purpose" of Ireland's fiscal terms, such expert advice to focus on what level of fiscal gain is achievable for the State and its citizens and, equally important, on the mechanisms best suited to produce such a gain.

On 24 September 2013 my Department issued a request for tenders on the public procurement website etenders.gov.ie for the provision of expert advice on Ireland's oil and gas exploration development and production fiscal terms. The deadline for receipt of tenders was 15 October 2013. My officials are currently evaluating the tenders received.

Sale of State Assets

 24. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he will provide an update on the proposals to sell the energy section of Bord Gáis Éireann; if the division of Bord Gáis Éireann debt between the two proposed new companies has been decided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44980/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Bord Gáis Éireann is in the process of selling its energy business, Bord Gáis Energy. BGÉ and its advisors, working with NewERA, who are advising the Government in relation to the sale, are currently assessing the latest bids received for Bord Gáis Energy. The Deputy will understand that, as the process is ongoing, it would be inappropriate for me to make any further public comment on either the transaction or the way in which debt may be treated as part of the transaction.

Seirbhísí Leathanbhanda

 25. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan den Aire Cumarsáide, Fuinnimh agus Acmhainní Nádúrtha Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte cad iad na pleananna atá aige chun forbairt a dhéanamh ar an ngréasán idirlín leathanbhanda sa Ghaeltacht; an leagfaidh sé amach an dul chun cinn atá déanta ar fhorbairt an ghréasáin sin go dtí seo; an dóigh leis go bhfuil tionchar ag an easpa idirlín leathanbhanda ar chruthú post; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [38492/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Tá margadh teileachumarsáide na hÉireann saortha go hiomlán ó 1999 de réir riachtanais Threoracha cheangailteacha ón AE. Is cúram don earnáil phríobháideach, a oibríonn sa mhargadh lánsaortha, faoi rialáil rialtóra neamhspleách, An Coimisiún um Rialáil Cumarsáíde (ComReg), é na seirbhísí teileachumarsáide a sholáthar, lena n-áirítear seirbhísí leathanbhanda, ar an gcéad ásc. Tá seirbhísí leathanbhanda á soláthar ag roinnt soláthraithe tráchtála seirbhísí, ar ardáin éagsúla lena n-áirítear DSL (.i. thar línte teileafóin), fosaithe gan sreang, soghluaiste, cábla, snáthoptach agus saitilít. Tá sonraí faoi na seirbhísí leathanbhanda atá ar fáil ó chontae go contae ar shuíomh idirlín ComReg ag www.callcosts.ie.

Tá sé mar aidhm i bPlean Náisiúnta Leathanbhanda an Rialtais, a d'fhoilsigh mé i mí Lúnasa 2012, athrú ó bhonn a dhéanamh ar chóras leathanbhanda na hÉireann d'fhonn a chinntiú go mbeidh leathanbhanda ardluais ar fáil ag gach saoránach agus gach gnólacht, lena n-áirítear iad siúd i gceantair Ghaeltachta. Bainfear an sprioc seo amach mar seo a leanas:

- creat beartais agus rialála a sholáthar a chabhróidh le hinfheistíocht tráchtála a bhrostú agus a spreagadh, agus

- infheistíocht faoi threoir an Stáit i gceantair nach mbeadh buntáiste tráchtála iontu don mhargadh.

Ó foilsíodh an Plean tá infheistíochtaí á ndéanamh ag an earnáil tráchtála i seirbhísí líne fhosaithe agus i seirbhísí ardluais gan sreang, i gceantair uirbeacha agus leathuirbeacha go háirithe. Ní féidir leis an Stát idirghabháil a dhéanamh ach le rochtain ar sheirbhisí leathanbhanda a chinntiú i gceantair ina dteipeann ar an mhargadh iomaíoch na seirbhísí sin a sheachadadh. D'fhonn an infheistíocht faoi threoir an Stáit a chur chun cinn do na ceantair nach bhfuil bhfuil leas tráchtála le baint ag an margadh astu, ní mór próiseas soláthair a dhearadh agus faomhadh Cúnaimh Stáit an AE a fháil.

Tá feachtas cuimsitheach larscáilíochta ar bun ag mo Roinn faoi infheistíocht reatha agus ionchasach na hearnála tráchtála le fáil amach cad iad na háiteanna ina bhfuiltear ag súil go mbeidh seirbhísí leathanbhanda ardluais á seachadadh sna blianta atá romhainn. Úsáidfear torthaí an fheachtas léarscáilíochta seo le léiriú go cruinn cad iad na ceantair ar gá díriú orthu le hinfheistíocht faoi threoir an Stáit mar atá beartaithe faoin bPlean Leathanbhanda Náisiúnta.

Tá dianullmhúcháin teicniúla, airgeadais agus dlí ar bun lena n-áirítear idirbheartaíocht le páirtithe leasmhara. Cuirfear an próiseas soláthair i gcrích don idirghabháil fhaofa de réir rialacha soláthair na hÉireann agus an AE agus táthar ag súil go seolfar é i 2014.

Tá feidhmiú an Phlean Náisiúnta Leathanbhanda á chomhlánú ag an Straitéis Náisiúnta Digiteach a sheoil mé i mí Iúil seo caite. Tá an chéad chéim den Straitéis Náisiúnta Digiteach dírithe ar theascáin shonracha den phobal, ar an nglacadh digiteach a fheabhsú agus leis na sochair eacnamaíocha agus shóisialta a thagann le teicneolaíochtaí digiteacha a fhíorú. Aithnítear sa straitéis chomh luachmhar is atá sé do phobail, do shaoránaigh agus do ghnólachtaí glacadh leis an idirlíon. Mar shampla, léiríonn taighde a rinneadh don Choimisiún Eorpach go bhfásann gnólachtaí a bhfuil láithreacht shuntasach acu ar líne dhá uair chomh mear, go n-easpórtáileann siad a dhá oiread agus go bhfostaíonn siad a dhá oiread daoine. Tá togra ag an Straitéis Náisiúnta Digiteach mar sin le cabhrú le gnólachtaí beaga trádáil ar líne.

Trí fheidhmiú an Phlean Náisiúnta Leathanbhanda agus an Straitéis Náisiúnta Dhigiteach, déanfaidh mé dhícheall a chinntiú go mbeidh rochtain ar leathanbhanda ardluais ag gach cuid d'Éirinn agus go mbeidh gach saoránach agus gach gnólacht in ann a bheith rannpháirteach go hiomlán i ngeilleagar agus i sochaí a bheidh cumasaithe go digiteach, agus an leas is mó a bhaint as.

Corrib Gas Field Issues

 26. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if it is true that a tunnelling expert sent by the Department to investigate claims by residents around Srahwaddaconn Bay that there was bubbling in the Srahwaddaconn estuary over the area where Shell was tunnelling as part of the Corrib project and that an expert was denied access to the tunnel by Shell where weeks later a Shell employee died when a compressed air pipe attached to the tunnel boring machine exploded; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45047/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte A representative for Environ, the independent consultants appointed by my Department to assist in the oversight and monitoring of the conditions of consent to construct the Corrib Gas pipeline, conducted a site visit during the 2nd and 3rd of July this year. The purpose of this brief visit to the Corrib Project, which did not require access to the tunnel, was to:

a) Review the points raised during the previous visit;

b) Assess the possible reasons behind the “depressions” in Sruwadaccon Bay that had been recently reported; and

c) Examine what lessons have been learned from these incidents.

  The Environ report of the visit, dated 8th July, 2013 confirmed that there was an opportunity to view the site, but due to the need to be certified for confined space work, there was no opportunity to visit the tunnel. The confined space course is of two day duration and as the Environ representative had not completed such safety training it was not possible on safety grounds for him to enter the tunnel.

  It should be noted that matters with regard to workplace health and safety are a matter for the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and are beyond the remit of Environ.

  Tunnelling works are currently suspended due to the recent fatal incident referenced by the Deputy. Investigations into the incident are being carried out by both the HSA and by Shell E&P Ireland Ltd itself. It should be noted that Shell is not under investigation, the employer in this instance is the German tunnelling company Herrenknect which is subcontracted to companies Wayss & Freytag and BAM Civil who are responsible for tunnelling operations.

Renewable Energy Generation Targets

 27. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the extent to which he expects to be in a position to facilitate the development of the wind energy sector within the context of achieving previously identified targets; if the development of the sector will be governed by specific or particular planning guidelines, statutory regulations or instruments; if he will set out the merit of clean and safe energy production in comparison with the use of fossil fuels or other forms of electricity generation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45163/13]

 45. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte his plans to meet the 2020 European targets for renewable energy; his plans to provide incentives for the installation of renewable energy products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45028/13]

 46. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the areas of priority identified by his Department in developing the renewable energy sector here; the targets set by his Department for the proportion of Ireland's energy stock to be provided by wind power, tidal power, solar power and biofuels, respectively, in 2016; the level of progress achieved by his Department to date in meeting these targets since the Government entered into office; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45044/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte I propose to take Questions Nos. 27, 45 and 46 together.

The overarching objective of the Government's energy policy is to ensure secure and sustainable supplies of competitively priced energy to all consumers. Ireland is currently heavily reliant on imported fossil fuels to meet our energy needs. While it is acknowledged that fossil fuels will remain part of the energy mix for some time to come, progress is being made towards increasing the share of renewable energy in our energy requirements.

The 2009 EU Renewable Energy Directive set Ireland a legally binding target of meeting 16% of our energy requirements from renewable sources by 2020. In order to meet this target, Ireland is committed to meeting 40% of electricity demand, 12% of heating and 10% of transport power from renewable sources, with the transport target also being legally binding. The Directive also requires that Member States set out in a National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) their trajectories towards meeting these targets. Ireland's NREAP, which can be downloaded from my Department's website, assumes Ireland's 16% target will be met incrementally at around 1% per annum. Provisional figures for 2012 indicate that 6.9% of our overall energy requirements were met from renewable sources, made up of 19.5% in electricity, 5.1% in heat and 2.3% in transport. A second progress report on the NREAP is due for completion by the end of this year.

To date wind energy has been the largest driver of growth in renewable electricity, contributing most towards the achievement of the 2020 target. In 2012, 15.5% of Ireland's electricity demand was met by wind generation. At the end of quarter three this year, the total amount of renewable generation connected to the grid was just over 2,100 MW. It is estimated that a total of between 3,500 and 4,000 MW of onshore renewable generation capacity will be required to allow Ireland to meet its 40% renewable electricity target. The primary support mechanisms for renewable electricity in Ireland are the Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (REFIT) schemes. In order to facilitate the rate of build of renewable generation capacity required to meet the 2020 target, a number of changes to the REFIT 1 and 2 schemes were introduced in 2013. Full details of the revised terms and conditions of these schemes can be found on my Department's website. Currently, 3,000 MW of renewable generation has taken up connection offers under the Gate 3 grid connection programme.

Renewable heat deployment is underpinned by current policies such as REFIT3 which supports Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants, ensuring an increase not only in the amount of heat from renewable sources but also in the amount renewable electricity produced. This builds on the increases in renewable heat which were achieved by the Greener Homes Scheme, the Renewable Heat Deployment Programme (ReHeat) and the CHP Deployment Programme. In the transport sector, the penetration of renewable energy will grow mainly with the increased use of sustainable biofuels but also from the deployment of electric vehicles. My Department is also currently finalising a Bioenergy Strategy following intensive cross-Departmental and stakeholder engagement. The strategy will set out the actions required to optimise the contribution that energy from biomass can make to the 2020 renewable energy targets.

As we look beyond 2020 and towards the goal of a low carbon energy system, the need to expand the renewable generation portfolio is apparent. This will include technologies still at the pre-commercial stage such as wave and tidal, and their development will be considered in the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan which will be published shortly by my Department. In addition, analysis undertaken by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland of the case for support for solar power is currently under review.

As regards planning guidelines for the wind energy sector, the development of all wind farms in Ireland is subject to planning legislation, which include requirements for public consultation. In addition, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, in conjunction with my Department and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, is undertaking a review of the Wind Energy Guidelines which will address the key issues of noise (including separation distance) and shadow flicker. Draft guidelines will be published for public consultation by end-November 2013 with a view to finalising guidelines by mid–2014. The revised guidelines will apply to all wind farm development in Ireland.

Ireland's excellent renewable energy potential can also be developed for export. Expert advice and evidence shows that Ireland has the capability to achieve its national targets for renewable electricity from onshore renewable generation alone, with capacity to spare. Work is progressing very well on signing an Inter-Governmental Agreement between Ireland and the United Kingdom in early 2014 to facilitate trade in renewable energy. This means that there is potential for projects of scale aimed at export markets. Planning permission for such projects, which will be determined by An Bord Pleanála, must await the putting in place of a clear national planning policy framework and I have asked my Department to prepare such a framework. The policy framework will provide the opportunity to integrate relevant EU Directive requirements (including Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment), trans-boundary dimensions and stakeholder participation within the context of a national framework.

The outcome will be a high level development framework taking its lead from the Inter-Governmental Agreement, EU Directive requirements and relevant national, regional and local planning policy considerations in conjunction with wider policies, objectives and requirements. It will incorporate a vision and strategy coupled with technical parameters and a spatial element. The development of the framework will be progressed by my Department over the 12 to 15 months and will provide confidence and certainty for all stakeholders through an open, fair, balanced and consultative process. The initial phase of public consultation has now commenced and all interested parties and members of the public have been formally invited to make written submissions on the export project which will be taken into consideration in preparing the framework. Details can be found on a new dedicated section on my Department's website, exclusive to the project, and which will be updated as the project progresses.

  Question No. 28 answered with Question No. 14.

Wind Energy Generation

 29. Deputy Anthony Lawlor Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the steps he is taking to ensure that communities are fully engaged in the wind energy planning and development process in the context of the current national debate on wind energy; if the proposed national renewable energy export policy and framework which will guide An Bord Pleanála will also include the domestic market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45035/13]

 34. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he is satisfied that the concerns expressed by communities regarding wind energy development have been properly addressed by wind energy companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45032/13]

 36. Deputy Charles Flanagan Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he is satisfied that the concerns expressed by communities regarding wind energy development have been properly addressed by wind energy companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45037/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 34, and 36 together.

I am aware of the concerns expressed by certain communities regarding wind energy development for export and I have spoken publicly on this matter on a number of occasions. Some of these concerns have been needlessly exacerbated by poor communications and misinformation and I have emphasised the need for developers to engage with local communities in an effective and timely manner. The views of local communities must be at the heart of the transition to renewable energy. Industry can go a long way towards achieving public acceptance by addressing and mitigating human, environmental and landscape impacts and delivering the best possible engineering solutions. It is also important that developers communicate fully and accurately the local as well as the national socioeconomic benefits flowing from investment projects. A recent Government policy statement on the matter acknowledges the need for social acceptance and for project developers to examine appropriate means of building community gain considerations into project planning and budgeting.

One of the key requirements for proposals of a significant scale for wind energy export will be the achievement of the necessary planning consents in Ireland. Planning permission for such projects, which will be determined by An Bord Pleanála, must await the putting in place of a clear national planning policy framework and I have asked my Department to prepare such a framework. The policy framework will provide the opportunity to integrate relevant EU Directive requirements (including Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment), trans-boundary dimensions and stakeholder participation within the context of a national framework. The outcome will be a high level development framework taking its lead from an Inter-Governmental Agreement, EU Directive requirements and relevant national, regional and local planning policy considerations in conjunction with wider policies, objectives and requirements. It will incorporate a vision and strategy coupled with technical parameters and a spatial element.

The development of the framework will be progressed by my Department over the next 12 to 15 months and will provide confidence and certainty for all stakeholders through an open, fair, balanced and consultative process. The initial phase of public consultation has now commenced and all interested parties and members of the public have been formally invited to make written submissions on the export project which will be taken into consideration in preparing the framework. Details can be found on a new dedicated section on my Department's website, exclusive to the project, and which will be updated as the project progresses.

In addition, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, in conjunction with my Department and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, is undertaking a review of the Wind Energy Guidelines which will address the key issues of noise (including separation distance) and shadow flicker. Draft guidelines will be published for public consultation by end-November 2013 with a view to finalising guidelines by mid–2014. The revised guidelines will apply to all wind farm development in Ireland.

Postcode Implementation

 30. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if the new national postcode system will reflect the Irish or English place names of cities, towns and townlands in the codes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44953/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte On 8 October I announced that the Government has approved, subject to contract, the launch of a national postcode system in 2015. A postcode operator will design and run the postcode under license for an initial ten year period extendable at the discretion of the Minister for Communications by a further five years. The new postcode system will provide a unique code to every postal address in Ireland, including individual apartments. The Postcode will be a 7 character code in the format A65 B2CD, with the first three characters relating to a general area or postal district in which the address is located. The code denoting the general area will not be based on a placename and, therefore, will be language neutral. In Dublin, the existing postcodes will appear as the first three characters of the 7 character code.

Electricity Generation

 31. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he will ensure that there is a real and meaningful engagement process between EirGrid and residents in the areas affected by the Grid Link project who have very serious concerns about the impact that this major project will have on their communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45031/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The Government Policy Statement on the Strategic Importance of Transmission and Other Energy Infrastructure (July 2012) emphasised the importance of early transparent engagement and consultation with local communities and stakeholders by developers of large infrastructure projects.

I am aware that EirGrid is committed to public consultation and that they have been engaging in a comprehensive process in regard to the Grid Link project. EirGrid's consultations have involved opening five regional information centres, a lo-call project information telephone line (1890 422 122), local radio advertising, and national and local print advertising. I understand that thirty-three open days were held within the project area over the last 16 months and that since autumn 2012 the Grid Link Project team has visited marts, shopping centres and agricultural shows, attending over 120 events to date where thousands of stakeholders have engaged with the team. I am also aware that the project team briefs and updates County Councils, Town Councils, Chambers of Commerce and other local organisations and national and local politicians regularly and have done so since the launch of the project in April 2012.

I understand the company welcomes observations and views in relation to the Grid Link Project which is still at an early stage. The identification of route corridor options is a key opportunity for public input given that the decision regarding the final route of this electricity line is yet to be made. I would encourage members of the public and stakeholders to participate in the consultation process, as such participation makes for better project implementation overall.


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