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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 251 to 260
 Header Item Hydraulic Fracturing Policy
 Header Item Hydraulic Fracturing Policy
 Header Item Departmental Properties
 Header Item Telecommunications Infrastructure
 Header Item Household Benefits
 Header Item Internet Safety Issues
 Header Item Salmon Hardship Scheme
 Header Item Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Water and Sewerage Schemes Status

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 802 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 89 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 251 to 260

Hydraulic Fracturing Policy

 251. 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 Forfás is pre-empting the publication of the Environmental Protection Agency report on hydraulic fracturing by suggesting that the development of a new energy framework to facilitate the development of gas storage and new and diverse sources of gas, for example, fracking to ensure that Ireland has cost effective, secure and diverse electricity fuel into the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21227/13]

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 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is an independent Agency, is in the process of finalising Terms of Reference to engage the appropriate expertise to undertake scientific research into the potential environmental impacts of unconventional gas exploration and extraction. The key questions to be addressed by this research are, whether this technology can be used while fully protecting the environment and human health, and what the best environmental practice in using this technology might be. A report in this regard is not anticipated before early 2015.

In the meantime, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and I have both publicly confirmed that no application proposing the use of this technology would be considered nor would exploration licences in this regard be granted prior to publication of the EPA report and consideration of its findings.

Statements with regard to the development of new and diverse sources of gas do not alter this position in any respect.

Hydraulic Fracturing Policy

 252. 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 landowners are informed if their land is in a licence option area for hydraulic fracturing; the way they are informed; the timescale in which they are informed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21228/13]

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 As I have advised on a number of occasions, if any company were to apply for an exploration licence that proposes hydraulic fracturing their application would be subject to an environmental impact assessment including a public consultation phase.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive plays a central role in the assessment of such applications as it ensures that the public is involved in the decision–making process.

The public consultation phase will afford local community groups and the general public an opportunity to comment on any project and its potential environmental effects, including potential socio-economic impacts before a decision is made.

Departmental Properties

 253. 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 his Department and agencies under its aegis, who own or rent property in commercial developments are in compliance with their responsibilities under the Multi-Unit Development Act 2011; if he will outline those agencies who have representation on the boards of owners management companies; if he will provide a list of the agency, the relevant management company and its associated property but not the name of the individual representing the said agency; and his views on the implementation process of the Multi-Unit Development Act within his Department.  [21241/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department does not own or rent any residential or mixed residential/commercial property. In terms of buildings occupied by my Department, such properties are held in the ownership of or rented by the Office of Public Works on behalf of the Department and my Department is not a member of any property management company.

The operation of any owned or leased property by agencies under my Department is an operational matter for the individual agency in the first instance and I have no function in this regard. I have notified the agencies under the aegis of the Department of the question and have requested them to respond directly to the Deputy with their replies.

Telecommunications Infrastructure

 254. Deputy Michelle Mulherin Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the status of an application by Emerald Pipeworks and-or PiPiper for consent to run fibre optic cable from County Mayo to County Galway in ducting laid alongside the Bord Gáis pipeline network; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21269/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The telecommunications duct network referred to runs alongside the Bord Gáis Éireann pipeline network from Bellanaboy in County Mayo to Ballymoneen in County Galway, which also consists of a spur off the main network to Castlebar and Westport, County Mayo.

  Since this duct network was funded by my Department, State Aid approval is needed in order to bring the network into use. My Department is currently engaged in a State Aid process with the European Commission with a view to bringing the duct to market and my officials are working to bring the matter to a conclusion as quickly as possible.

  It is my intention that the network would be completed as an open access network that would be available to allow licensed telecoms operators to provide services along this network.

No application has been received from any party for consent to run fibre along the duct network concerned.

Household Benefits

 255. Deputy Ciarán Lynch Information on Ciaran Lynch Zoom on Ciaran Lynch asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if it is intended that the proposed broadcasting charge will replace the TV licence charge as part of the household benefits package; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21376/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte As the Deputy will be aware, responsibility for the Household Benefit Package falls under the remit of the Department of Social Protection. Exemptions from the liability to pay the existing TV licence arise by virtue of eligibility for the Household Benefits Package, which automatically gives the right to a free licence.

That said, I would like to emphasise that the proposed charge would replace the existing TV licence system and it is my expectation that the current exemptions in relation to pensioners and those entitled to the Household Benefit Package will continue to apply.

Internet Safety Issues

 256. Deputy Arthur Spring Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if websites promoting eating disorders, also referred to as pro mia and pro ana websites, can be censored here if the target market of the site is considered to be under the age of 18; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21422/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte As Minister for Communications Energy and Natural Resources, I have policy responsibility for providing a supportive legislative and regulatory environment to facilitate the development of high quality communications infrastructure and services. However, I do not have sole responsibility for addressing how that infrastructure is used. Responsibility of certain potentially harmful content rests with a number of Departments and Agencies including with the Department of Justice and Equality and the executive agency of that Department, the Office for Internet Safety.

It is clear that there are no simple answers to the challenges posed by the positioning of certain potentially harmful content on Internet websites, not least because of the international basis of services and because any possible policy response falls across a range of Departments.

In recognition of this complexity my Department maintains open and regular contact with all Departments and State agencies. My Department also monitors international developments with a view to ensuring domestic policy within its remit reflects best practices and that the regulatory framework is amended as necessary.

You will be aware that the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications recently held a number of hearings on the use of the Internet and its potential effect on people. I look forward to receiving the report of the committee in due course.

Salmon Hardship Scheme

 257. Deputy Emmet Stagg Information on Emmet Stagg Zoom on Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 279 of 11 December 2012 and 423 of 30 June 2009, the reason the information promised in relation to the 1,171 applicants for the salmon hardship scheme has not been provided by An Bord Iascaigh Mhara on the Loughs Agency.  [21433/13]

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 As stated in my earlier replies on this issue the information requested by the Deputy is not held in my Department.

  As advised in my reply to Parliamentary Question No 279 of 11 December 2012, I have passed the Deputy’s question to An Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and the Loughs Agency requesting that they reply directly to the Deputy.

I will again advise the bodies concerned of the interest of the Deputy in the matter and request that they reply directly to the Deputy.

Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee

 258. 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 the qualifications of each member of the local electoral area boundary committee; the fees paid to each member to date since their appointment; the fees that remain outstanding; if the positions on the committee were advertised; when he will make their recommendations available to the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21096/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I established a Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee on 15 November 2012 , in accordance with sections 28, 32 and 33 of the Local Government Act 1991, to review and make recommendations on the division of each council area, other than Cork City, into local electoral areas, and to make recommendations on the number of members of each council to be assigned to each local electoral area. The Committee was requested to submit its report as soon as possible and, in any event, not later than 31 May 2013.

The Committee members are Mr G Kearney (Chair), former Secretary General in the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Professor Gary Murphy, Head of the School of Law and Government at Dublin City University; Mr Peter McCann, former Principal Officer in the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government; Mr J Beirne, former Director of Services in Mayo County Council; Ms Marian Vickers, Chief Executive, Northside Partnership Dublin. No fees are payable to the members of the Committee. Expenses, which arise in the case of one member of the Committee, are payable in accordance with normal Civil Service rates.

As required under the Local Government Act 1991, I will publish the Committee’s report after it has been submitted to me.

Planning Issues

 259. Deputy Jack Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan his views on a submission (details supplied) regarding quarries; his plans to address this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21154/13]

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 In response to the Judgment of the European Court of Justice in case C215/06, a new Section 261A was inserted into the Planning and Development Acts 2000 - 2112. Under this Section each planning authority was asked to determine which quarries in its administrative area would, having regard to the dates of implementation of the EIA Directive and the Habitats Directive, respectively, have required an EIA, a determination in relation to EIA, or an appropriate assessment in relation to possible effects on the integrity of a European site, but which were not subject to such assessment/determination. Where a planning authority determined that a quarry comes within this category, the planning authority is required to make a further decision in relation to the planning status of the quarry, including registration status. Flowing from this decision, the planning authority must then either require an application for substitute consent or take enforcement action requiring the quarry to cease operations. The determination of the planning authority that EIA, a determination in relation to EIA, or an appropriate assessment were required but not carried out/made is reviewable by An Bord Pleanála, as is the decision on the planning/registration status. While the process has been challenging for some quarry operators, my Department has engaged extensively with industry representatives to ensure that the provisions, which were required for purposes of compliance with the ECJ judgment, are implemented fairly and consistently. I am considering making a number of small modifications to the practical operation of the 261A process to ensure its effectiveness. 

Water and Sewerage Schemes Status

 260. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if his Department has given consideration to the approval to proceed to construction for the extension of Cornalghta reservoir and the water treatment plant at Moneyduff as part of the north Leitrim regional supply scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21164/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Water Services Investment Programme 2010 – 2013 provides for the development of a comprehensive range of new water services infrastructure in County Leitrim. The Programme includes contracts under construction and to commence to the value of some €29 million in County Leitirm during the period of the Programme.

The North Leitrim Regional Water Supply Scheme is included in the Programme as a scheme to advance through planning. This scheme included a Design Build Contract for the upgrade of the existing Water Treatment Plant at Moneyduff. However, it did not include the Cornalaghta Reservoir Extension.

I understand from Leitrim County Council that they have recently submitted an Environmental Impact Statement to An Bord Pleanála for the scheme. The Council must await certification from An Bord Pleanála before they can proceed with the tender process for the upgrade of the existing Water Treatment Plant at Moneyduff.

The Council has also submitted a proposal to my Department for the inclusion of the Cornalaghta Reservoir Extension as a contract to start in the existing Water Services Investment Programme at an estimated cost of €0.369 million. This submission is being examined in my Department and a decision will be made as soon as possible.


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