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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 409-428
 Header Item Renewable Energy Incentives
 Header Item Climate Change Policy
 Header Item Broadband Service Provision
 Header Item Energy Schemes
 Header Item National Broadband Plan
 Header Item Inland Fisheries
 Header Item Prospecting Licences
 Header Item Energy Policy
 Header Item Mining Licences
 Header Item Broadband Service Provision
 Header Item Waste Management Regulations
 Header Item EU Directives
 Header Item EU Directives
 Header Item Greenhouse Gas Emissions
 Header Item Energy Data
 Header Item Energy Policy
 Header Item Waste Management
 Header Item Climate Change Policy

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 91 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 409-428

Renewable Energy Incentives

 409. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if grant funding is provided for anaerobic digesters; if not, his plans to introduce same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10319/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The REFIT3 support scheme, which is funded by the public service obligation paid by electricity consumers, has supported the development of anaerobic digestion facilities via a high-efficiency combined heat and power tariff. This scheme closed for new applications on 31 December 2015. The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat has been developed to financially support the adoption of renewable heating systems by commercial, industrial, agricultural, district heating and other non-domestic heat users not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System. The first phase of the scheme, an installation grant for heat pumps, opened for applications on 12 September 2018. The second phase of the scheme, an operational support for biomass boilers and anaerobic digestion heating systems, is expected to open for applications early this year, subject to the state aid process that is underway with the European Commission.

Under Project Ireland 2040, the National Development Plan sets out an allocation of €300 million for the rollout of the scheme for the period up to 2027.

Electricity output from anaerobic digesters will also be eligible for support under the forthcoming Renewable Electricity Support Scheme. The high level design of this scheme was approved by Government in July 2018 and will also require State aid approval.

In November, I announced the seven successful projects from the first Call for Applications under the Climate Action Fund. One of the successful projects, the Gas Networks Ireland GRAZE Gas project, involves the installation of a Central Grid Injection facility for renewable gas produced from the anaerobic digestion of wastes, including agriculture wastes such as slurry.

My Department is also examining potential options to support the production of biomethane from anaerobic digestion and its injection into the gas grid.

Climate Change Policy

 410. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the engagement he has had with Met Éireann in regard to the language used by weather forecasters on climate change; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10222/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Met Éireann, Ireland’s National Meteorological Service, comes under the remit of the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, as a line division of that Department. Met Éireann is the leading provider of weather information and related services in the State with its mission to monitor, analyse and predict Ireland’s weather and climate and to provide a range of high quality meteorological and related information to the public and to specific customers in, for example, the aviation and agricultural sectors. My Department works closely with Met Éireann in the area of climate change and our National Meteorological Service is very supportive in this regard in terms of implementing national climate adaptation policy through its observation, forecasting and climate research and modelling activities. Ireland’s National Adaptation Framework (NAF) which was published in 2018 identifies Met Éireann as a key provider of technical and advisory support and climate services at national level. Met Éireann is also represented on the national adaptation steering committee, which is chaired by my Department and which coordinates climate adaptation policy at both national and local level.

The NAF recognises that the availability of accurate, consistent and authoritative data, information and analysis specific to Ireland is crucial to how effective we are in developing our climate resilience. Both my Department and Met Éireann are keenly aware of the need to communicate such information so that it is understandable, consistent and meets the requirements of a specific target audience, including the general public. My Department will continue to liaise with Met Éireann and be guided by their expertise in relation to these matters.

Broadband Service Provision

 411. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if a school (details supplied) will receive fibre optic broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10245/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The school referenced by the Deputy is in the AMBER area on the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map, which is available on my Department's website at www.broadband.gov.ie. The AMBER areas represent the target areas for the proposed State led Intervention under the NBP. This intervention is the subject of an ongoing procurement process. The procurement process to appoint a bidder for the State intervention network is now at the final stage. I will bring a recommendation to Government in relation to the NBP in the coming weeks.

The Deputy makes reference to the school’s proximity to a nearby commercial deployment of high speed broadband. This deployment is part of eir's commercial roll out of high speed broadband to 300,000 predominantly rural premises, in line with a Commitment Agreement signed with my Department in April 2017.

eir’s rural investment in high speed broadband is an entirely commercial undertaking, and not part of the planned State Intervention network. Although the deployment is monitored under the terms of the Commitment Agreement, it is not funded by the State and it is not planned, designed or directed by my Department in any capacity.

Decisions made by private telecommunication operators relating to the roll out and siting of infrastructure to provide high speed broadband services throughout Ireland are undertaken on a commercial basis. I have no statutory role or function in such commercial decisions of private operators, and therefore cannot direct operators regarding infrastructure installation or delivery of services.

For those premises currently awaiting access to high speed broadband, practical initiatives will continue to be addressed through the work of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce to address obstacles and improve connectivity in respect of existing and future mobile phone and broadband services.

Under this Taskforce, engagement between telecommunications operators and local authorities through the Broadband Officers is continuing. These Broadband Officers are acting as single points of contact in local authorities for their communities. The appointment of these officers is already reaping rewards in terms of ensuring a much greater degree of consistency in engagements.

Energy Schemes

 412. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if, further to the current pilot, it is planned to roll out the SEAI warmth and wellbeing scheme nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10276/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Warmth and Wellbeing Scheme was established in 2016 as a joint energy and health policy initiative with the Department of Health and cross Government support from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. The scheme was designed to objectively measure and validate the health and wellbeing impacts of improving the living conditions of vulnerable people living in energy poverty with chronic respiratory conditions, demonstrating the multiple benefits of energy efficiency.

The scheme was piloted in HSE Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) 7, specifically Dublin 8, 10, 12, 22 & 24. Over 900 homes in the pilot area have now been upgraded with an investment of €20m. An independent analysis of the health and wellbeing impacts is being carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in collaboration with the Health Service Executive. Interim findings will be available this year, which will inform decisions on the future of the scheme.

National Broadband Plan

 413. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on the State-led intervention under the national broadband plan; when a decision on the procurement process will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [10384/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location. This is being achieved through a combination of commercial investment and a State led intervention. The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. In 2012 less than 700,000, or 30%, of all 2.3 million Irish premises had access to high speed broadband. Today, 74% of premises can access high speed broadband.

The NBP procurement process is now at the final stage. My priority is to bring the procurement process to a fair and impartial conclusion and I intend to bring a recommendation to Government in relation to the NBP in the coming weeks.

Inland Fisheries

 414. Deputy Noel Grealish Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if a further bye-law will be introduced to give protection to wild brown trout in seven State-owned salmonid lakes in view of the court ruling on Bye-Law No. 964 of 2018; the timeframe for the introduction of a new bye-law; the changes which will be made to the revised bye-law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10529/19]

 415. Deputy Noel Grealish Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if a new bye-law is to be introduced following the court decision on Bye-Law No. 964 of 2018; if Inland Fisheries Ireland will have no capacity or capabilities to do stream enhancements programmes; the way in which the bye-law designation can be fulfilled; the way in which invasive species such as pike, perch and roach can enjoy equal protection to that of native species of trout, sea trout and Atlantic salmon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10530/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 414 and 415 together.

I have asked my Department to reflect over the coming period on legal advice and on the outcome of proceedings in the context of intended Bye-laws going forward. I have requested a report on the options to be considered going forward in relation to the Bye Law.

The Lakes in question have long been designated, as a matter of policy, for management primarily for the benefit of wild brown trout and that policy designation remains. I am advised by IFI that Stock Management Plans in respect of these lakes for 2019 have been approved by the Board of IFI.

Salmon are afforded specific protection via established fisheries policy and annual conservation legislation. Ireland’s protection of salmon is considered best in class internationally. Ireland closed its mixed stock fisheries at sea in 2007 to align fully with the EU Habitats Directive and the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) principles. Management is based on:

- Annual scientific and management assessments of each distinct genetic salmon stock;

- Ensuring harvest (by angling or commercial means) of salmon is only permitted from rivers with sustainable reproductive capacity;

- Closing rivers to salmon which are below sustainable reproductive capacity;

- Opening rivers to catch and release angling to ensure catch records contribute to annual assessments;

- Licensing of salmon angling and commercial fishing and tagging of harvested salmon and recording/reporting of catches (angling and commercial);

- Annual legislation which defines the status of each river and what if any surplus is available;

- Annual legislation to regulate salmon angling and separately to regulate commercial fisheries.

In addition, Ireland is at the forefront within NASCO of ensuring that protection measures are in place by international agreement in distant feeding grounds to which salmon migrate.

The salmon management regime also applies to sea-trout over 40cms in length and the potential to extend similar or other protections to other game species could be considered in the light of concerns as regards affording equal protection to such species.

While management of salmon (and sea–trout over 40cms) involves multiple secondary legislation of national and local application, there is one Bye-law in relation to Pike which establishes a daily bag limit and one further Bye-law as regards coarse fish which was introduced principally to address biosecurity matters. Pike populations are managed by IFI under the long standing policy designation of certain waters. All management interventions must prudently take account of scientific assessments as is the case in salmon and sea-trout management.

I am advised by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) that the latest research, published in August 2018, reveals that pike appear to have changed their prey preference and now predominately eat roach. Researchers in Scotland and England have also found similar changes in pike diet. It is considered that the changes in diet are due to the invasion of roach in these waters.

The research also found that pike and brown trout could live together within relatively large deep lakes with strong stream connectivity however in small, low-complex systems pike introductions could potentially impact on resident brown trout populations. The practice of pike removal and the impact it has on brown trout stocks was also examined. The findings suggest that pike removal may only be effective in protecting brown trout populations in systems where trout are the only available prey but may have little effect in systems where other prey, such as roach, is available.

I am confident in IFI’s capacity to deliver priority instream project works. IFI continues to deliver the more strategic, complex projects itself using, where necessary, appropriate external expertise. IFI takes on an enabling and supervisory role in less complex projects and this approach recognises the interest angling clubs have in habitat development.

To that end, my Department has separately funded project officers for IFI to promote capacity building and a collaborative approach within the sector and to address shortfalls in expertise within voluntary organisations delivering projects. This addresses a key element of the National Strategy for Angling Development (NSAD) to build capability and improve governance across the sector and also addresses the issues and challenges raised by stakeholders at the NSAD roadshows held in 2017.

The officers engage with these groups to progress projects through governance and into delivery phase. IFI has also established a pre-approved panel of experts that may be accessed by third parties who wish to engage in necessary habitat enhancement projects.

During 2018 IFI and the Office of Public Works (OPW) signed an agreement to build on existing good practices and develop a framework to support high level collaboration. Both organisations have obligations to implement European and national legislation and policy. The agreement will deliver the Environmental River Enhancement Programme and focus on scientific investigations; impacts of arterial drainage maintenance on the biota and habitat with the river corridor; the potential for current strategies to provide environmental gain while securing adequate channel conveyance. All if this is to be undertaken in the context of the EU Water Framework Directive.

Prospecting Licences

 416. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the details of all town lands in which a prospecting licence for minerals exploration has been granted or renewed between 2011 and February 2019; and the details of all town lands in which a prospecting licence is to be granted or renewed.  [10547/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton In the case of every public consultation on a Prospecting Licence grant or renewal, the full list of townlands to be encompassed by the Prospecting Licence Area is published in the newspaper advertisement.   Details of all the Prospecting Licences are included in the Six Monthly Reports which are submitted to the Oireachtas in accordance with Section 77 of the Minerals Development Act, 1940 and Section 8 of the Minerals Development act, 1979. The current practice is to identify the number of the Prospecting Licence Area relating to each Prospecting Licence Area provided in the Report, and no details are provided in relation to townlands. As these Prospecting Licence areas could in some cases include as many as 50 townlands, and there are over 600 Licences currently in existence, it is not possible for the purposes of this Parliamentary Question to provide a list of all townlands included in all Prospecting Licence Areas licensed since 2011. If, however, the Deputy has any queries on specific Prospecting Licence Areas listed in the relevant Reports, my Department would be happy to follow up on these.

  Details of the reports can be found at the Oireachtas Library. Details of all Prospecting Licence Areas can also be found on the map viewer on the Department's website at the link beneath and it is possible to identify townlands as required.

  http://spatial.dcenr.gov.ie/ExplorationAndMining/SpatialViewer/index.html

Energy Policy

 417. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if there is a policy on importing fracked shale gas in view of the recent ban on fracking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10549/19]

 418. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the policy on building new fossil fuel infrastructure; if past support for LNG infrastructure will be reassessed in view of the recommendations of a recent report by an organisation (details supplied) and increasing climate court cases here, in Europe and internationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10550/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 417 and 418 together.

Successive governments have underlined the commitment to move from a fossil fuel-based electricity system to a low-carbon power system. Almost two thirds of renewable energy used in Ireland comes from renewable electricity.

It is widely recognised that Ireland needs to make a step change in its climate ambitions and I have secured Government approval to develop an all of Government plan which will set out the actions which must be taken to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change. This Plan will include the steps which we must take in order to achieve this and I am working with colleagues across Government to develop new initiatives across electricity, transport and heat, as well as a range of other sectors.

In all projected transitions to a low carbon economy by 2050, gas will continue to play a role in sustaining the transition. It plays an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the power generation, industrial and commercial, residential and transport sectors by replacing more Co2-intensive fossil fuels. In Ireland, gas powered generation also provides an important back-up for intermittent renewable wind generation.

In relation to LNG projects, commercial developers have proposed a number for development, including the Shannon LNG project and another project in Cork. Final investment decisions for these projects and compliance with any legal and regulatory requirements in relation to consents or permits are the responsibility of the project promoters.

The production, sourcing, buying and selling of natural gas produced outside this jurisdiction, would also be an operational matter for the undertakings involved. Any undertaking would be required to comply with EU law in this area.

Mining Licences

 419. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the public consultation processes in place for mining objections; if further mining will be permitted in areas where a community has expressed its opposition to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [10551/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Applications for Mining licences/leases are subject to a consultation process under Section 18 the Mineral Development Acts 1979. The Minister is required to publish a notice in at least one national daily newspaper and in so far as practicable to give every person, that may appear to have an interest in the proposal, the opportunity of making representations. A notice must also be published for 2 successive weeks in the Iris Oifigiul. The Minister may refer any representation to the Mining Board for their consideration. The Mining Board may hold an enquiry where the persons making the representations have the opportunity to be heard.   Mining licences/leases are also subject to consultation process under Planning and Development legislation and Environmental Impact Assessment legislation as applicants are required to obtain planning permission from the relevant local authority.

  In the case of Prospecting licences (for the exploration or searching for minerals), a 21 days’ notice period is provided for the public notification of the intention of the Minister to grant a Prospecting licence and for the receipt of any objections (Section 7 of the Minerals Development Acts 1940 to 1999 (as amended)). As a matter of best practice, the Department applies a 30 day notice period.

  Under Section 7(2) of the Minerals Development Acts 1940 to 1999 (as amended), the Minister will not exercise his right to grant a Prospecting licence until he:

  (a) has published, in one or more newspapers circulating in the locality, notice of his intention to do so, and

  (b) has deposited in the office of the Geological Survey, Dublin and in one or more places in the locality, a map showing the boundaries of such land.

  It is the Department's practice to notify the public of the intention to grant a Prospecting Licence in the following ways:

  (a) publication in a local newspaper;

  (b) notice deposited in the office of the Geological Survey, Dublin,

  (c) notice deposited in the Local Authority/County Council office;

  (d) notice deposited in the local Garda Station;

  (e) notice placed on the Department’s website.

  It is specified in the public notice that further information, statutory notice and the Minister’s determination is available from the Department. Contact details provided include the Department’s website address; the Department’s postal address; and Exploration and Mining Division’s direct phone number and email address. Where requests are made by a member of the public for maps, these are facilitated and made available electronically or by post by the Department.

  At the conclusion of the process, if the Minister considers it appropriate and a Prospecting Licence is granted, the company must seek the permission of each relevant landowner to gain access to land to carry out their prospecting activities.

Broadband Service Provision

 420. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on whether rural areas continue to be sidelined in view of the fact that only 58% of households in County Leitrim have broadband access compared to 86% in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10577/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access to all premises in Ireland, including those in rural Ireland. This is being achieved through a combination of commercial investment and a State led intervention. The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. In 2012, less than 700,000, or 30% of all 2.3 million Irish premises had access to high speed broadband. When this Government came into office, this had risen to 52%. Today, 74% of premises can access high speed broadband.

The procurement process to appoint a bidder for the State intervention network is now at the final stage. I will bring a recommendation to Government in relation to the NBP in the coming weeks.

Waste Management Regulations

 421. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to Parliamentary Question No. 495 of 26 February 2019, if a more comprehensive response will issue which deals with the matters raised directly. [10579/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Further to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 495 of 26 February, there is nothing which expressly prohibits a service fee being charged as part of a pricing plan used by a household waste collector. The measure to further incentivise the prevention and segregation of waste through phasing out flat rate fees for household waste collection during 2017 and 2018 is one of a number of initiatives which aim to increase the level of recycling and reduce the volume of waste remaining for disposal. Other such initiatives supported by my Department include:

- a national standardised list of items that can go into the recycling bin;

- a ‘Master Recycling’ programme, in partnership with environmental NGOs, which rolled out over 650 workshops nationwide;

- the Stop Food Waste programme, which provides comprehensive information about the food that is wasted and how to prevent it to both householders and businesses;

- information on how to use the organic bin appropriately, at www.brownbin.ie.

To further assist in the provision of information to the public, my Department, in conjunction with the Regional Waste Management Planning Offices, launched a new website in November 2018, www.mywaste.ie. This website has been developed by the Regional Waste Management Offices with support from my Department, to provide consumers with a single information resource on all aspects of domestic waste management in Ireland and in particular it focuses on the provision of advice on managing waste more responsibly and efficiently.

EU Directives

 422. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to Parliamentary Question No. 499 of 26 February 2019, if his attention has been drawn to a perceived anomaly in the response concerned (details supplied); he will retract his previous response; and the reason Ireland did not object to the position of the council of delaying the 90% separate collection target by five years.  [10594/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Commission document published on 28 May 2018 contained a 90% collection rate for plastic bottles by 2025, as pointed out by the Deputy. However, this changed very early on during negotiations between Member States in the Council to 2030, which became the de facto working date for negotiations. The Deputy will be well aware that negotiations such as these can be both difficult and sensitive. This is particularly true of this proposal which was supported by all Member States and led to negotiations being concluded quickly. That said, some Member States, of which Ireland was not one, indicated that the target of 90% by 2025 was unworkable. Ireland was of the view throughout that the ambition of the Directive had to be achievable by all Member States in order to be effective. It was also important that the Directive would be acceptable to and agreed by all Member States as a priority so that a new collection rate target for plastic bottles would be agreed and would deliver tangible results for European citizens before the end of the term of the current European Parliament and Commission.

In that context, I was pleased to see that both a political agreement was achieved by the Member States and the European Parliament before the end of 2018 and also that the collection target has been brought forward from 2030 to 2029, as indicated in my response to Question No 499 of 2019. I recently commissioned a national study to assess how Ireland can achieve this target as soon as possible.

EU Directives

 423. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to Parliamentary Question No. 500 of 26 February 2019, (details supplied), his views on the perceived disproportionate consultation with a company by his Department in relation to the single use plastics directive; his further views on whether there is a potential conflict of interest in view of the fact the company, a producer led EPR system, would have vested interests in preventing the set up of deposit refund schemes as provided for in article 9 of the directive; and the reason the draft report from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment, which was noted as strictly confidential, was shared and the CEO and executive manager for strategy and policy of the company invited to discuss it and propose amendments thereto.  [10693/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Repak were not the only experts consulted in relation to the proposed EU directive on single use plastics. In consideration of the above proposal, relevant experts were consulted as the need arose. For the purpose of developing negotiating positions and ensuring we had all the relevant knowledge, short, relevant extracts were forwarded to necessary experts. I believe this is common practice among all Member States and particularly in technical discussions of this type.

In relation to consultation with Repak, the Deputy should note that Repak operates under an approval from the Minister to act as a national compliance scheme for packaging. Producers of packaging have obligations under the EU Packaging Directive, as transposed in Ireland by the European Communities (Packaging) Regulations 2014. Repak is a not for profit organisation, which carries out these regulatory obligations on behalf of their members.

Under the terms of their approval, they are tasked with ensuring Ireland meets its EU targets under the Packaging Directive and to report to the Minister annually on progress. They are also obliged to keep updated on relevant regulatory developments at a national and EU level and to assist, advise and contribute to the development of Ireland’s position on such regulatory matters.

In relation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee Report, this was shared with Repak in the interest of ensuring that the information contained therein was accurate.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

 424. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 505, 507 and 508 of 19 February 2019 and 501 and 502 of 21 February 2019 (details supplied), if the revision of the EU nationally determined contribution to 55% at the summit in Sibiu will be endorsed; and if not, the reason therefor.  [10694/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I am conscious that Ireland remains substantially short of the targets which have been set previously. I have secured government approval to develop an all of government plan, which will set out the actions which need to be taken in order for us to step up our level of ambition. The plan will focus on implementation, the actions which need to be taken, with strict timelines for implementation assigned. The engagement I am having in developing the all of government plan will inform the engagement I will have in discussing with EU colleagues how we can be more ambitious.

Energy Data

 425. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the most up to date figures on Ireland's energy mix, including percentages for the national provenance of energy in tabular form; the progress of Ireland in relation to 2020 and 2030 renewable energy targets including the current percentage of renewable energy; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [10695/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) is the official source of energy data for Ireland. They develop and maintain comprehensive National and sectoral statistics for energy production, transformation and end-use. According to their 'Energy in Ireland 2018 Report', the 2017 energy mix for Ireland was:

TPER Fuels 2017 - ktoe 2017- % share
Coal 1,099 7.6
Peat 695 4.8
Oil 6,948 48.0
Natural Gas 4,315 29.8
Renewables (Total) 1,347 9.3
Hydro 59 0.4
Wind 640 4.4
Biomass 378 2.6
Other Renewables 270 1.9
Wastes (NR) 126 0.9
Electricity Imports -58 -0.4
Total 14,473  
  

  Detailed information in relation to renewable energy is contained in their report Renewable Energy in Ireland (2019 report) published on 4 March 2019 which shows (2017 figures), inter alia,

  - Overall renewable energy supply was 10.6% of gross final consumption. Ireland has a binding EU target of 16% by 2020.

  - The share of renewable transport energy was 7.4%. Ireland has a binding EU target of 10% by 2020.

  - The share of renewable heat (RES-H) was 6.9%. Ireland has a national target of 12% by 2020.

  - The share of renewable electricity was 30.1%. Ireland has a national target of 40% by 2020.

  - Almost 90% of our renewable energy comes from wind, solid biomass and liquid biofuels.

  - There was 4.2 MtCO2 in avoided in 2017 which is equivalent to removing 70% of private cars off the road.

  Copies of both reports are available on the SEAI website at www.seai.ie.

  It is clear that we need to step up our ambition. The window for opportunity is closing and we must respond urgently. The all of government Climate Plan will be published shortly. This will show a range of actions across sectors of society with clear timelines. Our focus will be on implementation and lifting Ireland’s ambition.

Energy Policy

 426. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the possibility of Ireland committing to a fossil fuel phase out date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10699/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I am leading on the development of an All of Government Plan, which will set out the actions which must be taken to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change. This involves working with colleagues across Government to develop new initiatives which will allow Ireland to set a clear pathway to reducing our dependency on fossil fuels across the economy and to meet our targets, under the EU Effort Sharing Regulation, to reduce emissions in the non-ETS sectors of the economy by 30% relative to 2005 levels by 2030.   Ireland also has in place a strong long-term decarbonisation policy objective, through the National Policy Position on Climate Action and Low Carbon Development, adopted in 2014. This includes an objective to achieve an aggregate reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of at least 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050 across the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors and, in parallel, an approach to carbon neutrality in the agriculture and land-use sector, including forestry, which does not compromise capacity for sustainable food production.

  Through the National Development Plan, the Government have already made specific commitments to phasing out fossil fuels in certain sectors, including ending the burning of coal at Moneypoint by 2025, ending the use of peat for power generation at the latest by 2028, and a commitment that no new non-zero emission vehicles will be sold in Ireland after 2030.

  As the Deputy will also be aware, the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act 2018 imposes an obligation on the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) to divest from fossil fuel undertakings. This is one the first such statutory public divestment obligations put in place globally.

Waste Management

 427. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the modulation of fees within the extended producer responsibility systems such as a company (details supplied) in order to effect a tangible decrease in the level of packaging waste and avoid EPR contributions being seen as a participation tax by producers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10700/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Waste Framework Directive was amended in 2018 and introduced a new requirement for EPR schemes to modulate the financial contributions paid by producers by 2023. The objective of this new provision is to provide an incentive to producers to design products that contribute to waste prevention and facilitate recycling by taking into account their durability, reparability, re-usability and their recyclability and the presence of hazardous substances. EU guidance on modulated fees is expected later this year. The EPR Scheme in question is considering how to address this obligation as part of their Plastic Packaging Recycling Strategy 2018-2030 and is working with my Department to ensure modulated fees are brought in as quickly as practicable to drive changes to ensure packaging is easily recyclable.

Climate Change Policy

 428. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the way in which the €22 billion of the €116 billion investment package within Project Ireland 2040 will go towards the objective of transitioning to a low carbon and climate resilient society; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10702/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As the Deputy is aware, I am currently preparing an All of Government Climate Plan which will set out the actions which must be taken to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change. I am working with colleagues across Government to develop new initiatives across electricity, transport and heat, as well as a range of other sectors. The All of Government Plan will build on the previous actions and framework put in place by both the National Mitigation Plan and the National Development Plan (NDP), and is to be completed by the end of March this year.

  National Strategic Outcome 8 of the NDP sets out the key investments which will be made in the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient society. The following commitments are included for implementation by this Department over the lifetime of the NDP:

  - energy efficiency upgrades of 45,000 homes per annum from 2021 and providing support for a major roll-out of heat pump technologies;

  - delivering energy upgrades to BER 'B' level in all public buildings and a minimum of one third of commercial buildings;

  - implementing the new renewable electricity support scheme to deliver an additional 3,000-4,500 MW of renewable energy, with the initial focus on shovel ready projects which could contribute to meeting our 2020 targets;

  - the roll-out of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) and national smart metering programme;

  - transitioning the Moneypoint plant away from coal by the middle of the next decade;

  - putting in place charging infrastructure to support growth to at least 500,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030; and

  - a Climate Action Fund of €500m to leverage investment by public and private bodies in climate action measures that contribute to the achievement of Ireland’s climate and energy targets.


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