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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 252-260
 Header Item Electricity Transmission Network
 Header Item Wind Energy Generation
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item National Roads Authority Funding
 Header Item Driver Licence Applications
 Header Item National Roads Authority Projects
 Header Item Smarter Transport
 Header Item Road Projects

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 857 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 77 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 252-260

Electricity Transmission Network

 252. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White if he has seen the submission by ESB in relation to the sustainability of EirGrid's expansion plans; his views on the disjoint between the ESB and EirGrid; his further views on the view that the ESB submission indicates Grid25 is no longer a feasible or appropriate response to the State's energy needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42685/14]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The ESB submission referred to in the Question is one of over 1,240 received during the period of public consultation on the Energy Policy Green Paper. That submission, like all those received, is a useful contribution to the process of developing a definitive Energy Policy. ESB and EirGrid are fully in agreement on the need for critical energy transmission and distribution infrastructure. Both companies also acknowledge the need for Irish electricity networks to address citizen and community concerns, to take account of changes in the level of electricity demand due to changing economic circumstances, and to accommodate evolving European energy policy.

ESB and EirGrid work closely together on development and reinforcement of the transmission and distribution systems in order to ensure security of supply and to meet customer and stakeholder needs.

As a matter of course, EirGrid regularly reviews its strategies and projects. Grid 25 was originally developed in 2008 when the macro-economic climate was very different. In line with Eirgrid’s review policy, Grid 25 was updated in 2011, when the scale and scope was reduced to reflect the change in circumstances. As a result the cost was revised downwards from €4 billion to €3.2 billion.

In May this year, EirGrid initiated a further update of Grid25 to take into account the most up-to-date information available, including technical feasibility, future economic and demand projections, and environmental impacts. Following discussions with my Department, this update also includes an independent review to verify the original strategies of Grid25 on the basis of changing circumstances since 2008. EirGrid expects this review to be completed and published early in 2015.

Wind Energy Generation

 253. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White the groups, companies or persons he has met since taking office in relation to wind energy issues, projects or proposals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42686/14]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White Since taking up office as Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, I have met very many interested parties in connection with issues across the energy agenda, including on wind energy, in many different fora. Such interactions are a critical input to policy formation and development. I am keenly aware of the need for on-going communication with all stakeholders if we are to improve understanding of the benefits of realising the potential of our indigenous renewable energy resources. These resources, including wind, can deliver a more secure and sustainable energy supply and contribute to economic growth. This informs the rationale behind a range of public consultation processes on energy issues. Currently, the 1,200 responses received by my Department during the recent consultation on the Green Paper on Energy Policy are currently under consideration. A range of seminars are also being held with interested stakeholders. A consultation on the Strategic Environmental Assessment to be undertaken on the Bioenergy Plan will commence shortly as will the next phase of consultation on the Renewable Electricity Policy Framework. I am keenly aware of the need for balanced input from the full spectrum of interests on energy policy and my officials and I are available, subject to diary constraints, in this regard.

Departmental Expenditure

 254. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White if he will provide the details of average cuts in payments by his Department and those under its aegis to recruitment and temporary employment agencies, that is, the proportion of the fee paid from State funding to such agencies received by the worker and by the agency.  [42704/14]

 255. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White if he will provide an annual breakdown of the fees paid to recruitment and employment agencies by his Department and those under its aegis.  [42717/14]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White I propose to take Questions Nos. 254 and 255 together.

  My Department does not engage the services of employment or recruitment agencies.

  Information in respect of bodies and agencies under the aegis of my Department is a day to day matter for those organisations and my Department does not have the information sought by the Deputy. I will, however, request the relevant Agencies and bodies under the aegis of my Department to respond directly to the Deputy in the matter.

National Roads Authority Funding

 256. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the amount of funding provided by his Department to the National Roads Authority for accommodation works on the M9 near Kilcullen, County Kildare; if he will provide details of the procurement procedures which have been followed in respect of these works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42525/14]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. The construction, improvement and maintenance of individual national roads, including service areas, is a matter for the National Roads Authority under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. In particular, Section 54 of the Roads Act 1993 specifically provides for the National Roads Authority or a local authority to provide and/or operate service areas.  

Within its capital budget, the assessment and prioritisation of individual projects, such as the motorway service area project near Kilcullen is a matter in the first instance for the NRA in accordance with Section 19 of the Roads Act.

Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy’s questions to the NRA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you don’t receive a reply within 10 working days.

Driver Licence Applications

 257. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if, and when, a provisional or other driver's licence may issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Galway whose application has been refused on foot of their residency status; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42563/14]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The operation of the National Driver Licensing Service is the statutory responsibility of the Road Safety Authority, and I have no power to intervene in individual cases.      

  I have therefore referred the question to the Authority for direct reply.  I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response has not been received within ten days.

National Roads Authority Projects

 258. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if he will provide an update on the progress of the proposed M20 Cork to Limerick motorway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42584/14]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.  Because of the national financial position, there have been very large reductions in roads expenditure over the past number of years.  The reality is that the available funds do not match the amount of work which could be undertaken.  For this reason it is not possible to progress a range of worthwhile projects and the main focus has to be on the maintenance and repair of roads and this will remain the position in the coming years.  

In relation to projects of the scale of the M20, it is not feasible given current and future projections that the State would be in a position to build this from its own resources. Rather, it would have be constructed through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. While this model involves the private sector carrying the construction risk, it does require the State to meet the initial design, planning and land purchase costs. In the context of available road monies these costs are not affordable at present. For now NRA will have to work within its capital budget and assess and prioritise projects within that funding envelope.

The scope for progressing projects such as the M20 Cork to Limerick project will be very much dependent on the availability of funding in the future. 

Smarter Transport

 259. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe further to the recent publication of the draft policy document, Investing in our Transport Future: A Strategic Framework for Investment in Land Transport, if the target of reducing the total share of car commuting from 65% to 45% in 2020, that is, 500,000 more persons taking alternative means to commute to work, introduced in 2009 under the previous policy Smarter Travel: A Sustainable Transport Future, has now been formally abandoned as Government policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [41829/14]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Smarter Travel Policy was developed in the context of the unsustainable levels of economic growth in the period to 2008. For example, it projected growth in car ownership from 1.92m in 2008 to 2.47m in 2020. The need for huge demand uptake within non-car modes was based on this scale of demand growth - which, following our economic difficulties, has not materialised, and is unlikely to do so in the period to 2020.  

Although such rapid growth in demand is not likely to occur, it is recognised that with renewed economic growth challenges for the transport sector with regard to congestion and climate change are re-emerging. The draft Strategic Framework for Investment in Land Transport takes a realistic approach at assessing the appropriate level of investment in transport infrastructure, and to developing principles and priorities for future investment in land transport that will yield the best return on investment. Cost effective investment in walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure are clearly prioritised in the draft framework - which is consistent with the goal of ensuring a more sustainable transport system. While the objectives of the Smarter Travel Policy remain, the levels of investment suggested within the Policy are not now possible or realistic given today’s economic realities. However, within the constraints of investment funding available, ensuring economically and environmentally sustainable investment in transport is a key aspect of the draft framework.

Road Projects

 260. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the estimated time for delivery of the southern distributor road in Athy, County Kildare. [42649/14]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads, in its area, is a statutory function of each road authority in accordance with the provisions of section 13 of the Roads Act, 1993. Works on such roads are a matter for the relevant local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants.  The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the Council.  

Earlier this year the Government approved a  €1m allocation to Kildare County Council to carry out design works on the Athy Bypass and prepare its submission to An Bord Pleanála. My predecessor Minister Varadkar gave a commitment (PQ 22498/14 of 27 May 2014) that once this work is done, funds will be made available to Kildare County Council to bring this project through An Bord Pleanála and to construction. These funds will be made available through my Department’s Strategic Roads Grand fund.

Given the issues that are involved in the planning process, it is not possible for me to be definitive on timelines at this particular point. This is the case for all major road projects.


Last Updated: 22/09/2016 12:18:10 First Page Previous Page Page of 77 Next Page Last Page