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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 281-293
 Header Item Postal Codes
 Header Item State Bodies Data
 Header Item Better Energy Homes Scheme Administration
 Header Item Climate Change Adaptation Plans
 Header Item Bituminous Fuel Ban
 Header Item Air Pollution
 Header Item National Broadband Plan
 Header Item Broadband Service Provision
 Header Item Broadband Service Provision
 Header Item National Broadband Plan
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Road Safety

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 981 No. 5

First Page Previous Page Page of 66 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 281-293

Postal Codes

 281. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton when a person (details supplied) will be issued with an Eircode postcode; the reason for the delay in issuing same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [15688/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Eircodes are assigned to new property addresses using a valid postal address and verified geo-locations. An Post collects information on new and existing buildings, as well as changes to existing addresses and Ordnance Survey Ireland provides the geo-locations for these buildings. An Post GeoDirectory issues a new release of the GeoDirectory database file on a quarterly basis to Capita Business Support Services Ireland, trading as Eircode, in accordance with its licence agreement.

Eircode has advised my officials that it will contact and liaise with the individual in question regarding an Eircode for their non-unique address as soon as they receive contact details. The next quarterly update of Eircodes will be in May 2019 when each new address assigned an Eircode is published on the free to use Eircode Finder website, a notification letter with their Eircode is issued to the occupant and an updated Eircode Database is provided to licensed businesses for their use.

Eircode has informed my Department that 26,823 new addresses were assigned an Eircode in 2018.

State Bodies Data

 282. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number and percentage of women on each State board under the remit of his Department on 8 March 2016 and 8 March 2019, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15703/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following tables.

Number and percentage of women on each State Board on 8 March 2016

Name of Board Total no. positions No. of Females % of total Positions
EPA Advisory Committee 12 3 25%
An Post 15 3 20%
Bord na Móna 12 2 17%
Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) 9 4 44%
BAI Compliance Committee 8 4 50%
BAI Contract Awards Committee 8 4 50%
Digital Hub Development Agency 14 2 14%
EirGrid 10 3 30%
ESB 12 4 33%
Inland Fisheries Ireland 10 1 10%
Irish National Petroleum Corporation 5 1 20%
Loughs Agency 12 2 17%
National Oil Reserves Agency 6 0 0%
RTÉ 12 5 42%
Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland 12 5 42%
TG4 12 6 50%
The Mining Board 3 0 0%


  Number and percentage of women on each State Board on 8 March 2019
Name of Board Total no. positions No. of Females % of total Positions
EPA Advisory Committee 12 6 50%
An Post 15 4 27%
Bord na Móna 12 2 17%
Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) 9 5 56%
BAI Compliance Committee 8 4 50%
BAI Contract Awards Committee 8 4 50%
Digital Hub Development Agency 14 3 21%
EirGrid 10 3 30%
ESB 12 4 33%
Inland Fisheries Ireland 10 2 20%
Irish National Petroleum Corporation 3 0* 0%
Loughs Agency 12 3 25%
National Oil Reserves Agency 6 2 33%
RTÉ 12 6 50%
Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland 12 5 42%
TG4 12 6 50%
The Mining Board 3 0 0%
  * One female member to be appointed in July 2019 which will bring the female percentage to 33%

Better Energy Homes Scheme Administration

 283. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the reason SEAI will no longer deal with inquiries from Deputies on behalf of constituents regarding insulation grant applications.  [15734/19]

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) administers the Better Energy grant schemes on behalf of my Department. The SEAI has a robust process in place for dealing with all enquires in relation to grant applications. SEAI is currently reviewing these processes to ensure continued compliance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and adherence to relevant Guidelines on processing personal data.

Climate Change Adaptation Plans

 284. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his communication with the European Commission regarding the inclusion of the midlands region on the EU coal regions in transition platform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15754/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department has met with the European Commission in relation to this issue and I have recently written to the Commission requesting the inclusion of the Midlands Region on the Coal Regions in Transition Platform in the context of a commitment to an accelerated transition out of producing milled peat for power generation in the Midlands Region.

The main objectives of the Platform are to enable multi-stakeholder dialogue on policy frameworks for successful transformation of carbon-intensive regions, and to facilitate the development of strategies and projects in areas such as investment for structural transformation, growth and jobs.

The inclusion of the Midlands Region on the Platform would mean that a team of European Commission and external experts would be assigned to assist the relevant State bodies with refining project ideas and implementation strategies, including feedback on relevant EU policies, programmes, funds and financing instruments.

I expect to receive a positive response from the European Commission to my request.

Bituminous Fuel Ban

 285. 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 the status of plans to introduce a nationwide ban on smoky coal. [15811/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I refer to the reply to Question No. [Ref: 15328/19] of 2 April 2019. The position is unchanged.

  [Ref No.: 15328/19]* To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will address a matter in relation to the nationwide ban on fossil fuels (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. - Michael Healy-Rae.

  I have grave reservations about any proposal for a nationwide ban on fossil fuels. It is obvious in built up areas that smoky fuels are not welcome, but in the countryside there is no reason in the world why fossil fuels cannot continue to be burned. Recent mixed messages are being sent out by the Government and many of the suppliers of solid fuels are having real trouble with regard to stocks and knowing what the market is going to be for the future. Clarity is needed around this whole issue and the Government’s intention is needed to be made clearer for the general public also.

*    For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 2nd April, 2019.

(1009 Received on 27th March, 2019.)

  The ban on the marketing, sale and distribution of bituminous coal, or ‘the smoky coal ban’ as it is commonly known, was first introduced in Dublin in 1990, and subsequently extended to our major cities. Following a public consultation process, it was further extended in 2012, and now applies in 26 urban areas nationwide. The ban has proved very effective in reducing particulate matter and sulphur dioxide levels and has had the effect of significantly improving public health. Research indicates, for example, that the ban has resulted in over 350 fewer annual deaths in Dublin alone.

  In light of its significant health and environmental benefits, it had been announced by a number of previous Ministers that the ban would be extended to the entire territory of the State. However, as the Deputy may be aware from recent press reports, a number of coal firms have indicated that they would legally challenge this decision.

  I have discussed this issue with the Attorney General, my Department is now working to finalise a legally robust plan which will improve air quality by reducing particulate matter in the air.

  However, pending the completion of this work I am aware of the need to provide clarity now to the public and to the trade to enable them adequately plan for purchases of stock for the 2019/20 heating season. I can confirm therefore that the current ban on bituminous coal will not be extended nationwide for the 2019/20 heating season.

Air Pollution

 286. 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 if consideration has been given to introducing a certification system for wood, which could ensure that only suitable wood is sold for burning. [15812/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton All smoke, including smoke from wood burning, contains a range of toxic pollutants including fine particulate matter (PM2.5) that impact on health.

There can be a big variation in the quality of wood sold in Ireland. Purchasing cheap low quality wood as a home heating fuel may prove to be a false economy as much of the energy is needed to burn off excess moisture in the wood rather than providing heat output to the consumer. The resulting reduced combustion temperature can, therefore, result in the increased generation and release of toxic and carcinogenic air pollutants including Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) as well as dioxins which are promoted by the high chlorine levels in the fuel. While there are no statutory regulations for biomass quality, a voluntary Wood Fuel Quality Assurance scheme is in place.

In relation to air pollution more generally, recent scientific evidence indicates that it is more damaging at lower concentrations than was previously understood. With this in mind, I am committed to bringing forward Ireland's first ever National Clean Air Strategy. The Strategy, which I intend to publish this year, will provide the policy framework necessary to identify and promote integrated measures across Government that are required to reduce air pollution and promote cleaner air, while delivering on wider national objectives. Domestic solid fuel use will be addressed in the context of the strategy.

National Broadband Plan

 287. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans to revalidate the business case for the national broadband plan to ensure that it will deliver good value for money in view of the fact that the evaluation of the State intervention area is out of date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15825/19]

 289. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if his Department has engaged with providers (details supplied) and discussed these technologies and their advancements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15827/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 287 and 289 together. 

  I welcome recent announcements of further commercial investment in high speed broadband infrastructure by telecommunications operators. While I have not had direct engagement with either company, officials from my Department have met with representatives of these operators and have received high level presentations from both with regard to their commercial deployment plans. To date, neither operator has published, or provided my Department with, detailed commercial or technical plans identifying individual premises to be served.

  My Department monitors deployment of high speed broadband on an ongoing basis as part of the NBP and this monitoring continues in parallel with the NBP procurement process. The NBP High Speed Broadband Map can be updated during the procurement, or following award of an NBP contract, to reflect new commercial plans, or to update areas where previous plans have failed to fully materialise.

  The State Intervention area for the NBP procurement process, contains approximately 540,000 premises. This remains as set out on my Department’s High Speed Broadband Map, available at www.broadband.gov.ie.

  The NBP procurement process is in its final stage. My Department has undertaken additional detailed analysis to inform its consideration of whether the final tender submitted by the bidder could be recommended as an acceptable outcome for Government. This analysis has been undertaken with input from technical, commercial and telecommunications experts. I intend to make a recommendation to Government in the coming weeks.

Broadband Service Provision

 288. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he has clarified with a company (details supplied) the number of properties now connected to fibre rather than passed in view of the removal of 300,000 properties from the national broadband plan as part of the fibre roll-out plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [15826/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Under a Commitment Agreement signed with my Department in April 2017, eir is in the process of passing 300,000 predominantly rural homes with high speed broadband. According to data for Q4 2018 submitted by eir to my Department the company has passed almost 225,000 premises nationwide as part of its ongoing deployment.

  Information on eir's rural deployment is available on that company’s website, http://fibrerollout.ie/Eircode-lookup/. A copy of the Commitment Agreement is available on my Department’s website, www.dccae.gov.ie.

  In accordance with the Commitment Agreement, officials from my Department engage regularly with eir in relation its ongoing reporting requirements under its deployment. As part of this engagement eir provides my Department with detailed information on premises connected on a monthly and quarterly basis. While the company does not publish this information and considers it commercially sensitive, it has stated publicly that take up on the network is in line with the trajectory anticipated when the company planned this investment.

Question No. 289 answered with Question No. 287.

Broadband Service Provision

 290. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if his Department has engaged with hotels and large businesses in rural areas that have chosen to keep their business with their local provider rather than switching to fibre even though it may run past their front doors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15828/19]

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 2.4 million Irish premises had access to high speed broadband. Today, 74% of premises can access high speed broadband.

The aim of the NBP is to provide every premises with access to a high speed broadband service on a future proofed basis. While the NBP sets the minimum download speed at 30 megabits per second, the NBP recognises that higher speeds and quality of service are likely to be required as the digital society develops and progresses. This is supported by data from the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) whose Quarter 4 2018 Key Data report noted that subscriptions to a fibre service stood at 90,500, a 128% increase when compared with the same period the previous year. The increase in subscriptions is considered to be likely as a result of the recent network build of fibre across the country by the telecoms sector, with further fibre investments announced.

There can be a range of reasons why businesses may choose not to switch to a fibre broadband service at the point of it becoming available, including, for example, the length of time remaining on their current contract. The choices that businesses or hotels make at a point in time in relation to the selection of a broadband retail service, is very much a matter for individual consumers and businesses.

National Broadband Plan

 291. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the rationale regarding the approval of the move from a company (details supplied) to an organisation; if the organisation can be invited to the Oireachtas Committee of Public Accounts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15829/19]

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 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 bidder in the NBP procurement process is led by Granahan McCourt. The bidder has also named a number of key sub-contractors which include the first company referenced by the Deputy. In the event a contract is awarded, the bidder will set up a new company to deliver and operate the State Intervention network. The principle of a separate wholesale company to be established by a successful bidder in the NBP procurement was set out in the 2015 Intervention Strategy. This was in order to ensure safeguards around transparency and governance of public money. The second company referenced by the Deputy in his question is that company.

The business of the Committee of Public Accounts is a matter for that Committee.

Departmental Expenditure

 292. Deputy Tom Neville Information on Tom Neville Zoom on Tom Neville asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the funding provided to projects by his Department or agencies under the aegis of his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, respectively, in tabular form; if the funding has been allocated; and if it has been drawn down in each case. [15852/19]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The information requested is currently being compiled.

  I will forward this information to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Road Safety

 293. Deputy Tom Neville Information on Tom Neville Zoom on Tom Neville asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross if he will consider funding all proposed safety improvement locations in County Limerick as proposed by Limerick City and County Council; and the proposed date of sanctioning funding for such projects. [15682/19]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the maintenance, improvement and operation of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Noting the above position, I have referred your question to TII for a direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

With regard to regional and local roads, the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of local authorities, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants. 

The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority. It is a matter for each Council to determine its priorities and decide its work programme taking available grant funding and its own resources into account. I always stress to Councils the importance of prioritising roads when allocating their own resources.

Under the 2019 Safety Improvement Works programme for regional and local roads, Limerick City and County Council submitted applications for 11 safety projects at a cost of €485,000. Funding has been allocated to the Council to complete 9 of these projects at a cost of €358,000 in 2019.

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


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