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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 132-139
 Header Item Broadcasting Sector Regulation
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Motor Tax Exemptions
 Header Item Motor Tax Exemptions
 Header Item Alternative Energy Projects
 Header Item Dog Breeding Establishments

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 822 No. 4

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Written Answers Nos. 132-139

Broadcasting Sector Regulation

 132. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the measures in place to ensure that broadcasters do not undermine the validity of the compliance procedure of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [51038/13]

 133. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if the podcast of a radio show that the compliance committee of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has upheld a complaint about should still be made available on a radio station website; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [51039/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte I propose to take Questions Nos. 132 and 133 together.

  The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) is the statutory independent body responsible for regulation of the broadcasting sector, which includes oversight of compliance in relation to broadcast content. The monitoring and enforcement of compliance by broadcasters with the various codes and standards established by the Authority is a matter for the Compliance Committee of the BAI, which is also independent in its functions. The Committee is charged, inter alia, with accepting complaints from the general public in relation to a range of issues relating to broadcasting content. The grounds and procedures for making complaints are set out in Section 48 of the Broadcasting Act 2009.

  If a member of the public has concerns regarding on-air content subsequent to a determination of the Compliance Committee being read out by the broadcaster, and they believe that the content is in breach of the BAI’s Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality or any other codes or statutory provisions, they can make a complaint, in the first instance, to the broadcaster. If they are dissatisfied with the decision of the broadcaster, they can refer the matter to the BAI. Details relating to the complaints process are available on the BAI web-site at www.bai.ie. With regard to podcasts of radio programmes, the position is that the BAI does not have any regulatory power in respect of on-line content, including on-line content provided by broadcasters. I have asked my officials to discuss this matter further with the BAI to see, if possible, how it might be addressed.

Departmental Expenditure

 134. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the amount that has been spent on legal costs, that is, fees, expenses and so on by his Department and any agencies under his remit; and if he will provide a breakdown of the individual agencies and costs incurred by them for the years 2009 to 2012, inclusive.  [51075/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte My Department administers a very diverse and complex brief. Its remit includes oversight of very complex policy areas and direct procurement of major services where protection of the State’s interest must be paramount. This situation necessarily requires my Department to procure specialist external professional advice in legal areas to enable it to discharge its responsibility to deliver quality services and protect the interests of the State and the taxpayer. In procuring specialised legal services, my Department always seeks to ensure value for money and the keeping of expenditure to the minimum necessary. The table below sets out the total legal costs incurred by my Department in the years 2009 to 2012.

2009 2010 2011 2012
€494,683.64 €568,601.48 €335,335.74 €102,228.88


The information sought regarding the agencies under the aegis of my Department is an operational matter for each Agency. I have notified the relevant agencies of the Question and have requested them to respond directly to the Deputy on the matter.

Motor Tax Exemptions

 135. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if an extension will be granted to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 who missed the 1 October 2013 deadline to declare their car off the road, but is permanently unable to drive their car due to physical disabilities resulting from a serious accident.  [51060/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Motor tax is payable in respect of vehicles used in a public place, and is not payable where the vehicle owner does not intend so to use it. It is open to the owner of a vehicle to declare it will be kept off the road, either during the final month of validity of an existing vehicle licence or off-road declaration, or upon payment of outstanding arrears plus a minimum of three months motor tax.

The new arrangements as provided for in the Non-Use of Motor Vehicles Act 2013, only allowing for the making of future declarations, are fully in force since 1 October 2013. Exemptions are not provided for in individual cases, given that there was a well-publicised transition period of 3 months from 1 July 2013 to allow vehicle owners to bring their motor tax status up to date by making both a retrospective and prospective off-road declaration, including a specific procedure to allow those who were incapacitated to put their motor tax affairs in order by nominating a friend or relative to attend at a Garda Station on their behalf to have the required form stamped in respect of a past period of non-use. Vehicle owners generally who did not avail of the transition arrangements must now pay arrears in motor tax where these arise.

Motor Tax Exemptions

 136. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if any provisions are in place for a car that is not in use but is not off the road as the owner does not have sufficient space to store a car (details supplied) and can this car remain untaxed as it is not in use; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [51080/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Vehicles are required to be taxed if they are in use in a public place. Motor tax legislation provides that reference to the use of a vehicle includes keeping or leaving a vehicle stationary. The Non-Use of Motor Vehicles Act 2013 did not change the law in this regard and accordingly, making a declaration of non-use in respect of a vehicle kept in a public place does not affect the requirement for such a vehicle to be taxed.

Alternative Energy Projects

 137. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan his plans to develop a national strategy to assist the processing of food waste in the production of biogas for biofuel. [50879/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I introduced the European Union (Household Food Waste and Bio-waste) Regulations 2013 in April 2013. These Regulations, which build on the commercial food waste regulations introduced in 2009, are designed to promote the segregation and recovery of household food waste, in line with the national policy and the Waste Framework Directive objectives of maximising the resource which can be extracted from waste and minimising the disposal of waste.  They will increase the amount of food waste that is recovered through the production of energy, compost and digestate, thereby creating opportunities for added jobs and value. The Regulations will also facilitate the achievement of the targets set out in the Landfill Directive (Directive 99/31/EC) for the diversion of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill sites, by directing source-segregated household food waste to composting and to other forms of treatment.   

  The Regulations impose obligations on both householders and waste collectors. Householders are obliged to segregate their food waste, and make it available for separate collection. Alternatively householders may compost the food waste at home; or bring it themselves to authorised treatment facilities (such as civic amenity sites or anaerobic digestion sites).   

  In respect of the end-product from the treatment of food waste as it relates to the purpose of energy production, policy measures and strategy in relation to the production of biogas for bio-fuel are matters for my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. However, I understand that academic and industry research suggest there is a potentially significant role for biogas and biomethane in meeting our renewable energy requirements, particularly in the challenging heat and transport sectors and biogas can be utilised to generate electricity, heat or as a transport fuel.

  There are already a number of supports in place for the use of biogas. Electricity production using anaerobic digestion of biodegradable feedstock, including food waste, is supported under the REFIT 3 scheme, with 50MW of the 310MW dedicated to this technology. REFIT 3 in its support for combined heat and power also supports the generation of renewable heat from such feedstock. In the transport sector, biogas may also be used to meet the obligations set under the Biofuels Obligation Scheme.   

  Given the relatively early stage of technology development and cost, detailed economic analysis is required before any additional supports for biogas and biomethane appropriate to Ireland can be considered. This analysis will be carried forward in the context of implementing the forthcoming Bioenergy Strategy which is currently being finalised by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

Dog Breeding Establishments

 138. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will publish the number and size of dog breeding establishments that have registered in 2010, 2011 and 2012 by county under the Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2010. [50881/13]

 139. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he has reviewed the enforcement of welfare standards in each county since the implementation of the Dog Breeding Establishment Bill 2010. [50892/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I propose to take Questions Nos. 138 and 139 together.

  It is the responsibility of each local authority to maintain the register of dog breeding establishments in their functional area. However, some data concerning the dog control functions of local authorities are available on my Department’s website at http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/StatisticsandRegularPublications/DogControl/.  This includes, inter alia, information on the number of dog breeding establishments registered by each local authority in 2012. The Dog Breeding Establishments Act, 2010 came into operation on 1 January 2012, so there were no registrations in 2010 or 2011. The information published by my Department does not include the size of the establishments, but this information can be examined in the registers which are available for inspection at each local authority.

  Welfare standards regarding dog breeding establishments have been provided for through the guidelines issued when I commenced the Act. Each local authority is responsible for the monitoring of these standards with regard to the registration of such establishments .

  More generally, the enforcement of welfare standards regarding all animals is a matter for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the local authorities and one in which my Department has no direct role.


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