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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 279 - 293
 Header Item Sheep Technology Adoption Programme Payments
 Header Item Departmental Schemes
 Header Item Afforestation Programme
 Header Item Basic Payment Scheme Applications
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Payments
 Header Item Pigmeat Sector
 Header Item Departmental Functions
 Header Item Better Energy Homes Scheme
 Header Item Tax Yield
 Header Item Sustainable Energy Communities Scheme
 Header Item Electric Vehicles
 Header Item Broadband Service Provision
 Header Item Road Safety
 Header Item Departmental Properties
 Header Item Road Traffic Accidents Data

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 911 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 60 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 279 - 293

Sheep Technology Adoption Programme Payments

 279. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the status of farm payments for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14161/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed In order to qualify for payment under the 2015 Sheep Technology Adoption Programme participants were required to both attend four meetings and satisfactorily complete two tasks. While the person named attended the required meetings, the required tasks were not completed. The person named was notified on 13 January 2016 that as he had not satisfactorily completed the two tasks payment is not due. He was also notified of the option to appeal this decision. To date an appeal has not been received in my Department.

Departmental Schemes

 280. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the grant aid available for the deployment of solar energy panels on farm land; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14172/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Grant aid is available under the TAMS II Pig and Poultry Investment Scheme and the Young Farmer Capital Investment Scheme for solar panels used for electricity production (photovoltaic) and water heating that are permanently erected to buildings used for pig, poultry and egg production.

Additionally, the Sustainable Energy Authority (SEAI) administer the Better Energy Homes Scheme on behalf of the Department for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources. The Scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures to households which include attic insulation, wall insulation, heating systems upgrades, solar thermal systems and an accompanying Building Energy Rating (BER).

Afforestation Programme

 281. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the grant aid available for forestry planting and energy purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14173/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The afforestation scheme provides grant aid for the total cost of establishing new forests. The potential end use for these forests includes wood for energy purposes. The following lists the grant aid available.

Grant Premium Category Total Grant €/ha
1 – Unenclosed 2600
2 - Sitka spruce / LP 3545
3 – 10% Diverse Conifer 3650
4 – Diverse Conifer 3965
5 – Broadleaf 5435
6 – Oak / Beech 5750
7 – Beech 5750
8 – Alder 3860
9- Native Woodland Establishment (Scenarios 1-4, Oak, Hazel, Birch) 5750
10- Native Woodland establishment (Scenario 4, Alder) 5435
11 - Agro-forestry 4450
12 – Forestry for Fibre 2450

Basic Payment Scheme Applications

 282. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if he will take steps to address and rectify the issues referred to in correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14182/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed An application under the 2015 Basic Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 6 August 2015. This application is currently under review and an official from my Department will be in direct contact with the person named to clarify the position.

Agriculture Scheme Payments

 283. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed when a person (details supplied) will receive payments under the basic payment scheme for the past number of years; payments under the areas of natural constraint and disadvantaged areas schemes for 2014 and 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14183/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Under the 2014 Single Payment Scheme (SPS) /Disadvantaged Areas Scheme the closing date for receipt of applications was 15 May. A pre-printed application form issued to the person named on 14 March 2014. However no application was received from the person named, and therefore no payment is due for 2014.

An application under the 2015 BPS /Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) Scheme was received in my Department from the person named on 28 April 2015. Payment under the ANC scheme issued directly to the nominated bank account of the person named in September 2015.

The person named did not have entitlements under the Single Payment Scheme in 2013 or 2014 and applied for entitlements for the 2015 BPS under the Scottish Derogation provision in 2015. He was allocated entitlements and recently received his 2015 BPS payment.

Pigmeat Sector

 284. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if he will review the conditions of the pigmeat compensation scheme to ensure small scale producers are eligible for payment as the existing criteria are too restrictive and deny small scale farmers of a payment; if he is aware that these small scale producers need this payment to remain viable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14234/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed These payments are the final tranche under the package agreed at EU level in September of last year, which allocated €0.5m for the pig sector for Ireland. The Government subsequently matched this funding to provide an overall aid package of €1m.

Eligible beneficiaries for the scheme were defined as current pig herd owners who produced a minimum of 200 pigs in 2015. The minimum level of supply and the requirement to have supplied in 2015 ensures that the payment goes to existing pig farmers only and ensures that the payment is directed to those farmers most affected by the price volatility, thus meeting the requirements of the EU Regulations providing the funding.

In addition, my Department is considering the allocation of some funding under this package to the Irish Pig Society to further their work in representing smaller scale producers.

Departmental Functions

 285. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten if he will respond to issues raised by a person (details supplied) regarding the reconfiguration of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14081/16]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten A range of functions currently undertaken by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government will transfer into my Department in the coming weeks and the Department will be renamed the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment to reflect this.  In addition to its current functions, my Department will assume responsibility for the following sections from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government:

  - Environment Policy and Awareness;

  - Climate Policy;

  - EU and International Environmental Policy;

  - Waste Policy and Resource Efficiency;

  - Air Quality/Environmental Radiation Policy;

  - Environment Advisory Unit

  The heritage functions currently discharged by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht will remain with that Department under its new title of the Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht.

Better Energy Homes Scheme

 286. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten the grant-aid available for the deployment of solar energy panels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14174/16]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The Sustainable Energy Authority (SEAI) administer the Better Energy Homes Scheme on behalf of my Department. The Scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures to households which include attic insulation, wall insulation, heating systems upgrades, solar thermal systems and an accompanying Building Energy Rating (BER). Currently there is a €1,200 grant available to homeowners who wish to have solar thermal system installed in their homes. Full technical details of the solar thermal grant can be found on the SEAI website www.seai.ie/Renewables/Solar_Energy/Solar_Policy_and_Funding/Solar_Grants/#sthash.cIehkWD1.dpuf.

Tax Yield

 287. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten the revenue that would be raised by increasing the taxes on exploration and drilling for oil and gas by 1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, 5%, 10%, 15% and 20%.  [14177/16]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten There have been four commercial natural gas discoveries since exploration began offshore Ireland in the early 1970s, namely the Kinsale, Ballycotton and Seven Heads (Kinsale Area) producing gas fields off the coast of Cork and the Corrib producing gas field off the coast of Mayo. There have been no commercial discoveries of oil to date.

Profits from the three Kinsale Area gas fields and the Corrib gas field are taxed at a rate of 25%.

In addition royalties from the Kinsale and Ballycotton gas fields are payable to the State at a rate of 12.5% of the fair market value of the gas at the well head. The combination of tax, royalties and rental fees currently provides for a State take of 40% of net income from these two fields. Royalties are not payable on production from the Seven Heads gas field nor from the Corrib gas field as Ireland moved from a royalty based payments system to a tax based system in 1987.

The rate of tax that will apply to profits arising from any future commercial discoveries made under an exploration licence or licensing option granted prior to January 2007 will be 25%.

The rate of tax that will apply to profits arising from any future commercial discoveries made under an exploration licence or licensing option granted from January 2007 to May 2014 will be between 25% and 40% depending on the profitability of the field.

The rate of tax that will apply to profits arising from any future commercial discoveries made under an exploration licence or licensing option granted from June 2014 onwards will be between 25% and 55% depending on the profitability of the field. In addition there is a requirement for a minimum tax payment at a rate of 5% of gross revenues in every year that a field is selling production.

The level of profits arising from a field depend on a combination of factors including the volume of recoverable gas or oil, the cost of developing and operating the infrastructure, the price of gas or oil over the life of the field, together with the timing and profile of production.

The operation of the taxation system and the receipt of taxation are matters for the Revenue Commissioners. As a consequence I am not in a position to provide the Deputy with the current position as regards tax paid or due, or projected under hypothetical scenarios, to the Exchequer in respect of the four commercial gas fields. In the case of existing exploration licences where exploration is ongoing, while we would hope for more commercial discoveries, it would not be possible to meaningfully estimate potential revenues from oil or gas fields that have yet to be discovered.

I would also point out that it is both Government policy and the view of the former Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture, as expressed in their May 2012 report on Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration, that there should be no “retroactive” changes applying to discoveries made under existing exploration authorisations.

Sustainable Energy Communities Scheme

 288. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten the national spend under the sustainable energy communities scheme; and if he will extend the scheme. [14178/16]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The Sustainable Energy Communities scheme is a support network, operated by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), and dedicated to community organisations that want to develop a sustainable energy system in their local area. A Sustainable Energy Community aims to be energy efficient, to use renewable energy where feasible and to develop decentralised energy supplies.  The community can include all the different energy users in the community including homes, sports clubs, community centres, churches and businesses.

26 community groups have become members of the Sustainable Energy Communities support network and 100 more have expressed an interest in becoming members.

As a first step in the process, SEAI enters into a 3 year partnership agreements with communities, during which SEAI provides technical supports for groups to identify, plan, implement and review a tailored programme of activities for their community.

For 2016, €500,000 in capital funding has been made available to support the Sustainable Energy Communities network and my intention is to develop a multi-annual pipeline for the scheme that will build capacity in communities to take on more ambitious sustainable energy projects and projects of scale in the coming years.

Electric Vehicles

 289. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten the spend under the Aran Islands electric vehicle project; and if he will extend the scheme elsewhere. [14179/16]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The Aran Electric Vehicles (EV) Trial involved the operation of eight EVs for just over three years on the Aran Islands from January 2011 to April 2014. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) funded the project and engaged Merrion Fleet to supply, manage and maintain the vehicles for the trial which included the cost of data collection and reporting.  The total value of the contract was €247,000 including VAT.  The trial was part of a study to examine the potential benefits of an all electric energy system on an interconnected island.

The tests results showed that energy imports to the islands could be reduced by 68% using an EV when compared to a comparably sized diesel car.  Should the islands produce their own electricity, this number could be reduced even further.  The island community adapted very well to the use of electric vehicles and have purchased a number of EVs with more modern technology than was used in the trial.  Assuming night rate electricity, the annual cost of the electricity was estimated to be 78% cheaper than the diesel equivalent. The final report is being made available to the deputy and will be published on the SEAI website shortly.  There are currently no plans for further trials similar to the Aran Islands project.

Broadband Service Provision

 290. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten his views on the provision of broadband in County Donegal, given correspondence from a person (details supplied) and the announcement of a former Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in April 2014 in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14241/16]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to deliver high speed services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland. The Programme for a Partnership Government commits to the delivery of the NBP as a matter of priority.  This is being achieved through private investment by commercial telecommunications companies and through a State intervention in areas where commercial investment is not forthcoming.

The High Speed Broadband Map 2020, which is available at www.broadband.gov.ie shows the extent of the State Intervention area, which is the subject of procurement. The areas marked BLUE represent those areas where commercial providers are either currently delivering or have plans to deliver high speed broadband services. The Department continues to monitor the commercial deployment plans in the BLUE area where commercial operators have committed to providing services, to ensure that those services are delivered. The areas marked AMBER on the High Speed Broadband Map represent the target areas for the State Intervention. The map provides information on a county by county basis with a breakdown of coverage across the townlands in every county.

While I have no statutory authority or shareholder role to compel any network service provider to provide services in a given area my Department continues to actively monitor the progress of commercial operator plans and will in this context, examine the case which you have raised.  

Over 750,000 premises are the focus of the procurement process, which formally commenced in December 2015 with the publication of the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire ( 'PQQ') and Project Information Memorandum. Five responses were received from prospective bidders to this stage of the competitive procurement process by the deadline of 31 March 2016. The five responses are being assessed in line with the criteria set down by the Department with a view to shortlist of qualified bidders proceeding to the next stage of procurement.  

The second stage in the procurement process will be a formal invitation to Participate in Dialogue (ITPD) to shortlisted bidders. I expect that my Department will move to this stage in the next month.  The third stage of the procurement process involves the issue of final tender documentation which follows the dialogue process.  Following the submission of final tenders by bidders, a winning bidder(s) will be selected for the contract which will comprise one or two lots as set out in the NBP Intervention Strategy. The Department will then enter into formal contract negotiations with the winning bidder(s). It is expected that contract(s) will be awarded by June 2017.

As part of the competitive process, the Department will engage with winning bidder(s) on the best roll-out strategy, in order to target areas of particularly poor service, business needs and/or high demand. This will need to be balanced with the most efficient network roll-out plan.  A prioritisation programme will be put in place in this regard, in consultation with the Minister for Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht. Once contract(s) are in place, I expect to publish a detailed roll-out plan for the network.

The Programme for a Partnership Government commits also to measures to assist in the roll-out of the network once a contract is awarded.  In this regard, Minister Humphreys will lead on the establishment of county or regional broadband task forces, working with Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Offices, LEADER Groups and other relevant agencies to help accelerate the broadband network build in rural Ireland, once a contract(s) has been awarded.

Road Safety

 291. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross his views on issues (details supplied) regarding a national speed awareness course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14157/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The Road Safety Strategy 2013-2020 includes an action to "legislate for, subject to legal advice, and implement rehabilitation and driving awareness courses as court-based sentencing options for repeat offenders".

The Road Safety Association recently submitted a position paper in relation to this action, and the matter is now under consideration by officials in my Department.  I would point out, however, that under the Fixed Charge Notice (FCN) system currently in operation, it is not possible to offer such courses in place of FCNs or penalty points without amending legislation.  As there is no provision to bring this about in the current Road Traffic Bill, this will therefore be a long term project.

Departmental Properties

 292. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross for data he has relating to lands owned or held in County Dublin by Dublin Bus, CIE and Irish Rail. [14017/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The Deputy may be aware that ​I am in the process of getting some information from CIE about this.  As the matter of its property holdings is, in the first instance, a matter for CIÉ, I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for co-ordination, as needed, with the two subsidiary companies and direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Road Traffic Accidents Data

 293. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross to report on the recently published report by Trinity College Dublin students, which states that serious injuries as a result of road traffic collisions are far higher than reported in the Road Safety Authority statistics; the discussions he has had with the authority regarding widening and strengthening its data collection and collation; the discussions that are taking place on a European level to define serious injury; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14051/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ​I am aware that research has recently been published by TCD researchers in the Journal of Safety Research, using probabilistic and deterministic linkage techniques to produce estimates of non-fatal road traffic injuries.  I welcome any such contribution from academia to our understanding of road safety matters.  However, such estimates can only inform our understanding and not replace the official data.  Data on serious injuries resulting from road traffic collisions is produced by the Road Safety Authority (RSA)  from information provided by an Garda Síochána.  The RSA has carried out extensive research into this data, including the under-reporting of road traffic collisions to an Garda.  The RSA has also examined data available from other sources, including the Hospital In-Patient Enquiry (HIPE) system and the Personal Injuries Board, but there are limitations associated with both of these databases including, but not limited to, the lack of common unique identifiers.

​Difficulties in reporting serious injury are not unique to Ireland.  In 2013 the EU countries agreed to a standard definition of "serious injury" for use in EU road safety statistics.  At the Road Transport Safety Conference on Serious Injuries held as part of Ireland's European Presidency in March 2013, the RSA publicly announced its participation in the project, which aims to address under-reporting of serious injury and allow for like-for-like comparisons across the EU.

However, Ireland, in common with the majority of the other participating EU countries, is facing challenges in terms of data protection requirements, and the identification of an independent third party to conduct matching of databases. This project is still at an early stage.


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