Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 429-448
 Header Item National Clean Air Strategy
 Header Item National Broadband Plan Implementation
 Header Item National Broadband Plan Implementation
 Header Item State Bodies
 Header Item Radio Broadcasting
 Header Item Food Poverty
 Header Item Broadcasting Sector
 Header Item Dublin Bus Fleet
 Header Item Ports Development
 Header Item Ports Development
 Header Item Vehicle Registration
 Header Item Vehicle Registration
 Header Item Travel Trade Sector

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. 429-448

National Clean Air Strategy

 429. 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 actions he plans to include in the national clean air strategy; and the expected breakdown of funding. [10704/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Recent scientific evidence indicates that air pollution is more damaging at lower concentrations than was previously understood. With that in mind, I am committed to bringing forward Ireland's first national Clean Air Strategy. The strategy, which I intend to publish this year, will include a range of specific actions to reduce the health and environmental impacts of air pollution, and will address pollution from a range of sectors. As part of this renewed emphasis on the importance of air quality, I am funding the Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme (AAMP) which is being delivered by the Environmental Protection Agency. The AAMP will more than double the number of ambient air quality monitoring stations in Ireland by 2022, and enhance the provision of real time air quality data to the public. My Department has committed funding of some €5 million over the lifetime of the programme.

In relation to funding of other measures, a key element of the strategy is that it will be integrative in nature, ensuring that air quality considerations are taken into account in decision making across government and in wider society.

National Broadband Plan Implementation

 430. Deputy Mary Butler Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if a connection to the fibre optic network in an area will be arranged for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10720/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Faithlegg National School 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..

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

National Broadband Plan Implementation

 431. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of high-speed broadband in an area (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10722/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The premises referred to 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.

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.

State Bodies

 432. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the oversight responsibilities his Department has towards ESB International and its investment projects abroad; and if he will report on the projects of ESB International taking into consideration compliance with the Paris Agreement. [10819/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton ESB is a commercial State body with its own Board. Investment projects by ESB and its subsidiaries are an operational matter for ESB.   In terms of oversight, my role, as Minister, is to ensure that ESB is compliant with the 2016 Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies and the statutory framework underpinning ESB.

  I have asked ESB to respond directly to the Deputy in relation to compliance with the Paris Agreement in the context of projects undertaken by ESB International.

Radio Broadcasting

 433. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will address a matter regarding radio legislation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10374/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton National and local radio makes an enormous contribution to the lives of individuals and communities in this country. I fully appreciate the difficulties faced by the independent broadcasting sector and my Department is working to ensure that positive changes are put in place. To date, independent radio stations have benefited from the Sound and Vision Scheme, funded from the licence fee, which provided over €494,000 towards 77 different radio projects for broadcast on independent commercial stations in 2018.

In addition, the Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill contains a provision to allocate funding to the BAI from TV Licence receipts. This would provide up to a maximum of 50% of the annual cost of the BAI levy, in turn reducing the levy on broadcasters by up to 50%. The proposed amendment is currently at an advanced drafting stage. My Department continues to work closely with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel in order to progress this work and ensure it is robust, with a view to having the Bill published in Q2 this year.

Food Poverty

 434. Deputy Seán Haughey Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if measures will be introduced to prevent food waste by supermarkets in order that usable food can be diverted to those in need; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10893/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton While supermarkets are directly responsible for the disposal of only 2% of food waste, their influence across the supply chain makes them central actors in combatting our national food waste problem. Recognising this, my Department and the EPA have sought to involve major supermarkets in reducing food waste. Aldi, BWG, Lidl, Musgrave and Tesco have all participated in my Department’s Action Group on Food Waste. This has involved:

- signing up to the ‘Food Waste Charter’ thereby creating a long-term partnership between the retailer and the EPA’s food waste prevention programme supported by my Department;

- collecting and sharing food waste data to measure and manage food waste, and

- signing up to the food donation network ‘Foodcloud’.

'Foodcloud’ is an online platform that connects retailers and charities. Using a smartphone app, charities are alerted to the availability for collection of surplus food in local shops. This arrangement helps charities save on their food costs and ensures food is not wasted; benefitting communities and the environment. The National Waste Prevention Programme of the EPA which is funded by my Department provided key funding to Foodcloud in its start-up phase.

Food donation is an important part of the response to our food waste problem as it recognises the value of food in society beyond its economic price. Given the scale of food wasted across production and consumption, donation will only ever be part of the solution and this is acknowledged by the UN, the EU and domestic stakeholders, including the charity sector.

Recent revisions of EU waste legislation put increased emphasis on food waste prevention and measurement. The European Commission is exploring further food waste measures with Member States and Ireland is participating fully in emerging initiatives.

Broadcasting Sector

 435. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans to implement the recommendations of the report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment on the future funding of public service broadcasting; if a public service broadcast fund for the independent radio sector will be established; the timeline for the introduction of such measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10915/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Working Group on the Future Funding of Public Service Broadcasting was set up by government decision in July 2018 to examine options for the reform of TV licence collection, taking account of recommendations set out in the Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee. The Group's work is ongoing and it is scheduled to report to me at the end of this month.

As I noted in the Debate on local radio in the Dail last Thursday, state aid rules have to be considered regarding the issue of a public service broadcast fund for the independent radio sector.

The independent radio sector already benefits from the BAI Sound and Vision Scheme which is funded from 7% of the net TV Licence fee receipts. The Scheme provided over €494,000 towards 77 different radio projects for broadcast on independent commercial stations in 2018.

Dublin Bus Fleet

 436. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross when the use of diesel buses will be phased out from the Dublin Bus fleet. [10696/19]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross Procurement of vehicles for Dublin Bus and other PSO bus fleets is a matter for the National Transport Authority.  As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have made clear my intent, and that of the Government, to transition from diesel fuelled buses towards greener fuels and technologies, for the great potential such technologies offer to reduce carbon and other harmful air pollutant emissions, and importantly, placing the public transport system in a leadership role.  As the Deputy will be aware, the National Development Plan commits Ireland to purchasing no new diesel-only buses for the urban public bus fleets after July 2019.                                                                                                                 

  To further Ireland-specific data and information gathering regarding these technologies my Department is currently undertaking a series of low emission bus trials, supported by the Green Public Transport Fund, on a broad range of fuels and technologies, including electric, diesel-electric hybrid, hydrogen, compressed natural gas/biogas and two diesel buses retrofitted to Euro VI-class standard. It is expected that the trials will conclude in April 2019 and will help to inform future purchasing decisions.

  It is also noteworthy that over the past few years, the oldest and most polluting buses (Euro III- and Euro IV-classes) in the PSO fleets have been incrementally phased out and replaced with cleaner Euro VI-class buses as part of the ongoing fleet renewal programme, with corresponding decreases in emissions from the fleet as a whole. Those older diesel vehicles still remaining in the fleet will naturally be the first to be replaced as we transition towards lower emitting alternatives following July 2019.

  Noting its responsibility with regards to this matter, I have referred your questions to the NTA for consideration and direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ports Development

 437. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the date of his last meeting with the board of the Dublin Port Company; and if the minutes of same will be provided. [10231/19]

 438. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the date of his last meeting with the board of the Port of Cork Company; and if the minutes arising of same will be provided. [10232/19]

 439. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the date of his last meeting with the board of the Shannon Foynes Port Company; and if the minutes arising of same will be provided. [10233/19]

 440. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the date of his last meeting with the board of the Port of Waterford Company; and if the minutes from same will be provided. [10234/19]

 443. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the date of his last meeting with the board of the Galway Harbour Company; and if the minutes of same will be provided. [10237/19]

 444. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the date of his last meeting with the board of the New Ross Port Company; and if the minutes of same will be provided. [10238/19]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross I propose to take Questions Nos. 437 to 440, inclusive, and 443 and 444 together.

  Dublin, Cork, Galway, New Ross, Shannon Foynes and Waterford Port/Harbour Companies currently operate under the aegis of my Department.

  My last meeting with board members from each of the following Port Companies took place on the following dates;

- Dublin Port Company- 10th November 2017

- Galway Harbour Company- 15th July 2016

- New Ross Port Company- 09th April 2018

- In addition to these meetings, I frequently have informal contact with board members, Chief Executives and other members of their teams.  

- I have not yet had an opportunity to meet formally with the boards of Port of Cork, Shannon Foynes Port Company and Port of Waterford Company however, my officials are in regular contact with all port companies and are designated by me to meet with these companies on a regular basis.   

Ports Development

 441. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the date of his last meeting with the board of the Drogheda Port Company; and if the minutes of same will be provided. [10235/19]

 442. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the date of his last meeting with the board of the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company; and if the minutes of same will be provided. [10236/19]

 445. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the date of his last meeting with the board of the Wicklow Port Company; and if the minutes of same will be provided. [10239/19]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross I propose to take Questions Nos. 441, 442 and 445 together.

  In line with National Ports Policy, Wicklow Port Company was dissolved on the 30 August 2016 and the harbour was transferred to the control of Wicklow County Council. S.I. 462 of 2016 gave effect to this.

  Drogheda Port Company transferred to the control of Louth County Council on the 2 October 2017. S.I. 424 of 2017 gave effect to the transfer.

  Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company was dissolved on the 3 October 2018 and the harbour transferred to the control of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. S.I. 391 of 2018 refers.

  These bodies no longer operate under the remit of my Department and I have no role in their corporate governance.

Questions Nos. 443 and 444 answered with Question No. 437.

Question No. 445 answered with Question No. 441.

Vehicle Registration

 446. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross his plans to introduce legislation and safety regulations for the testing of driverless cars here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10240/19]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross My Department is currently working with industry stakeholders, other Government Departments and State agencies to develop guidelines for the testing of autonomous vehicles on Irish roads. The guidelines make clear that any vehicles being tested on public roads must obey all relevant road traffic laws, and that tests should be underpinned by a safety plan setting out the safety assurance and risk management strategies in place.

Preparatory work has begun within my Department on a national Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) roadmap and plan. This will set out at a strategic level the considerations associated with the introduction of CAVs onto Irish roads, and the need for future legislation will be explored as part of this work.

Vehicle Registration

 447. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross his plans to introduce legislation with regard to electric scooters; if he has examined the specific issues relating to these vehicles to date; and if legislation will be introduced to bring Dublin in line with other European cities similar to European standard EN15194 with regard to electric bicycles. [10241/19]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross I am aware of the increasing use of eScooters, electrically/powered skateboards etc. on our roads.  I have requested the Road Safety Authority to research how such vehicles (classified as mechanically propelled vehicles in the Road Traffic Acts) are dealt with (i.e. regulated) in other countries, particularly other Member States. I am keen to understand the road safety implications of the use of such vehicles on public roads, especially when interacting with other vehicles.

I will make a decision on whether or not to amend existing legislation when I have received the outcome of the Authority’s research.

Electric bicycles are a different issue from eScooters.  Where a bicycle has an electric motor attached which may be used as an alternate means of propulsion, the vehicle is defined as a mechanically propelled vehicle under the Road Traffic Acts whether or not the motor is being used.  However, under Article 1 (h) of EU Directive 2002/24/EC E-bikes are defined as “cycles with pedal assistance which are equipped with an auxiliary electric motor having a maximum continuous rated power of 0.25 kW, of which the output is progressively reduced and finally cut off as the vehicle reaches a speed of 25 km/h, or sooner, if the cyclist stops pedalling”.  Legal advice obtained by the Department confirms that as bikes of this type require continuous effort on the part of the cyclist, they are considered to be pedal cycles. 

Pedal assisted cycles with a maximum continuous rated power of more than 0.25 kW and E-bikes that can be exclusively propelled by the motor  are classified in the Directive as low-performance mopeds, i.e. vehicles with pedals, with an auxiliary engine of power not exceeding 1 kW and a maximum design speed not exceeding 25 km/h.  Such vehicles are subject to Road Traffic legislation, with the rider obliged to have registration, tax, insurance, and an appropriate driving licence where the vehicle is to be used in a public place.

Travel Trade Sector

 448. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross when the Directive (EU) 2015/2302 on package travel and linked travel arrangements will commence here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10256/19]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross Directive (EU) 2015/2302 on package travel and linked travel arrangements was adopted by the European Parliament and Council on 25 November 2015. Officials in my Department have drafted a Statutory Instrument which will amend existing national legislation in order to  transpose the Directive. The S.I. is currently with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel for settling. 

It has taken longer than had been anticipated to finalise the S.I. primarily because of the complexity of integrating the provisions of the Directive into the existing national legislation in the area. This work is now almost complete and, subject to any unforeseen developments, I expect that it will be signed into law in the coming weeks.


Last Updated: 15/06/2020 12:11:31 First Page Previous Page Page of 91 Next Page Last Page