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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 163-177
 Header Item Credit Guarantee Scheme
 Header Item Small and Medium Enterprises
 Header Item Company Liquidations
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Departmental Contracts
 Header Item Departmental Staff
 Header Item Recycling Policy
 Header Item Recycling Policy
 Header Item Food Waste
 Header Item Food Waste
 Header Item Waste Management
 Header Item Environmental Impact Assessments
 Header Item Energy Efficiency
 Header Item Electric Vehicles

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 998 No. 5
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 120 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 163-177

Credit Guarantee Scheme

 163. Deputy Francis Noel Duffy Information on Francis Noel Duffy Zoom on Francis Noel Duffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the basic eligibility criteria for businesses to avail of the credit guarantee scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28724/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Announced as part of the Government’s suite of supports for businesses that have been negatively impacted as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ireland, the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme will facilitate up to €2 billion in lending to eligible businesses.

  The Scheme offers a partial Government guarantee (80%) to participating finance providers against losses on qualifying finance agreements to eligible SMEs, small Mid-Caps and primary producers. It is designed to incentivise participating finance providers to continue to play their role in supporting the availability of additional liquidity to Irish businesses.

  The main features of the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme are:

  - The amount available under the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme is €2 billion.

  - A guarantee rate of 80% for the State with the lenders retaining 20% of the risk of the loan.

  - Loans from €10,000 to €1,000,000 are available for terms of up to five and a half years.

  - There will be no portfolio cap for individual lenders.

  - Lenders will set the interest rate on the products offered, which will reflect the benefit of the State Guarantee. The discount on the interest rate will be transparent to borrowers and will be specified in the loan agreement.

  - Loans under €250,000 are unsecured.

  - A guarantee premium on each loan under the Scheme is required to be paid. The premium will range from 0.15% - 0.68% for SMEs, depending on the term of the loan, and from 0.3% - 1.55% for small Mid-Caps depending on the term of the loan.

  - The scheme will be timebound and will be available initially until 31 December 2020.

  The COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme is currently available through AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank. Further to the Open Call, other finance providers are currently being assessed by the operator of the Scheme, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, and my Department and will be coming online in a number of weeks.

  The eligibility criteria for the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme includes:

  - The borrower must be an SME, Primary Producer or a small Mid-Cap established in Ireland.

  - In order to qualify for the Scheme, the borrower will have to declare an adverse impact of minimum 15% of actual or projected turnover or profit due to the impact of COVID-19.

  - The borrower must declare that on the 31/12/19 it was a viable business and was not in financial difficulty. As an exception to the above, the Scheme is also available to micro or small enterprises which were already in difficulty on 31 December 2019 provided that they are not subject to collective insolvency procedures and that they have not received rescue aid or restructuring aid.

  - The borrower must be able to demonstrate to the lender that it can return to viability in the future.

  - Certain sectors are excluded from the scheme:

  - Construction of buildings and construction of residential and non-residential buildings

  - Real Estate Activities - buying and selling of own real estate

  - Mining - extraction of crude petroleum, extraction of natural gas, support activities for petroleum and natural gas extraction

  - Manufacturing - manufacture of tobacco products, manufacture of weapons and ammunition, manufacture of military fighting vehicles

  - Financial and Insurance Activities - monetary intermediation

  - Gambling and betting activities

  The total amount of COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme funding per participating enterprise shall not exceed:

  - double the annual wage bill of the participating enterprise (including social charges as well as the cost of personnel working on the undertaking’s site but formally in the payroll of subcontractors) for 2019, or for the last year available. In the case of undertakings created on or after 1 January 2019, the maximum finance agreement must not exceed the estimated annual wage bill for the first two years in operation; or

  - 25% of the participating enterprises’ total turnover in 2019.

  The lender assesses whether the business will be able to make the necessary repayments on the credit, according to its normal assessment criteria and the decision of the lender in terms of assessing viability is final. There is no automatic entitlement to receive a guaranteed facility even if a business believes it satisfies the basic eligibility criteria. The normal redress processes are available to declined businesses. The Department plays no role in the application or decision-making process, which, is fully delegated to the participating lenders.

Small and Medium Enterprises

 164. Deputy Francis Noel Duffy Information on Francis Noel Duffy Zoom on Francis Noel Duffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the measures being considered to support SMEs facing difficulties with commercial rents and arrears due to significantly reduced turnovers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28725/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Government introduced the July Stimulus €7bn package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme, the pandemic unemployment payment for the self-employed, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst SMEs. Full details on all COVID-19 supports for business are available at: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/

  The July Stimulus Package is a substantial financial package to stimulate our economy worth more than €5 billion, with an additional €2 billion in loan guarantees which is bigger in scale than most budgets and is being deployed at speed. The July Stimulus package was designed to help businesses to open, to help those already open to stay open, to get staff back to work and for those who cannot go back to their old jobs, there are new opportunities.

The range of measures in place to assist businesses include direct grants to support viable businesses and jobs, including new hire. We have extended the wage subsidy scheme, which will run until the end of March 2021 and will be open to firms that do not currently participate and open to workers like seasonal workers who were not previously included, and we are giving companies extra assistance through an enhanced Restart Plus grant of up to €25,000. From 1 September, the six-month reduction in the VAT came into effect, going down from 23% to 21%.

We are providing more and cheaper loan finance through MicroFinance Ireland, SBCI and the new €2bn Credit Guarantee Scheme. I announced the reopening of MFI lending on 3August and I launched the €2bn Credit Guarantee Scheme on 7 September.   

  SMEs may also be eligible for the Government's new Restart Grant Plus Scheme where they operate from a rateable premises. Grants of between €4,000 up to a maximum of €25,000 are available. Those businesses that accessed funding through the previous round of the scheme are eligible to apply for a second top-up payment to a total combined value of the revised maximum grant level.

  On 1st October I published a new voluntary Code of Conduct that has been agreed between landlords and business representatives for commercial renters.

  The Code, which is a commitment in the Programme for Government, has been developed in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including IBEC, Retail Excellence Ireland, Chambers Ireland and Irish Institutional Property (IIP), who manage approximately €14bn of Irish property. It is based on an approach taken in other jurisdictions, including Australia, France and the UK.

  The Code, which will apply until 31 July 2021, sets out a structured approach for engagement between both commercial landlords and tenants, based on their mutual interest in continuing to work together.

  The Code sets out a number of principles that both parties should commit to abide by, including transparency and collaboration. The Code asks commercial landlords to provide concessions where they can and where this is not possible, asks them to set out clearly the reasons for this. It lists some of the issues to consider when determining the impact of COVID-19 and the public health restrictions on a business and the need for concession. Where a concession is being considered, the Code provides some suggested options for new arrangements. The Code also suggests that commercial tenants seeking new arrangements should be clear as to why assistance is needed when seeking concessions from their landlord.

  I am working with my colleagues across Government to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19 and I will continue to keep the supports provided for enterprise under review with the goal of setting our country towards economic recovery.

Company Liquidations

 165. Deputy Patricia Ryan Information on Patricia  Ryan Zoom on Patricia  Ryan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the steps he will take in respect of the liquidation of a company (details supplied) to ensure there is a fair settlement for the workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28861/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Debenhams is a court-supervised liquidation, subject to oversight of the High Court and accordingly is sub judice. Under the Companies Act 2014, I have no power to intervene in a court-supervised liquidation.

  Similarly, the Government cannot intervene with a liquidator, who has a statutory duty to realise assets and distribute to creditors in accordance with the law and who reports to the High Court.

  Notwithstanding this, the Taoiseach, Government Ministers and I have met on a number of occasions with Debenhams employees and union representatives from Mandate to hear their views and concerns. While the Government cannot interfere with the High Court-overseen liquidation process, Ministers have sought at all times to ensure that the concerns of workers are heard and that the State’s employment and training services are responding to the needs of workers.

  The Companies Act 2014 provides safeguards to ensure that a liquidation process complies with the relevant statutory requirements and that relevant parties can intervene. Under section 631 of the Companies Act, any contributory or creditor (including workers) of the company may apply to the court for a determination on any question arising in the winding up of a company.

  The Companies Act also provides provisions which may be utilised by liquidators or creditors of an insolvent company in appropriate cases, including section 608, regarding the court power to order return of assets which have been improperly transferred; and section 599 where a related company may be required to contribute to the debts of a company being wound up.

  A range of factors will be involved for liquidators or creditors in deciding whether to pursue litigation based on these provisions of the Companies Act.

  Minister English and Minister Troy are both working with officials on the range of issues which are currently being considered in the context of Debenhams. They met most recently on 1st October and are committed to meeting soon with social partners. The issues under consideration are complex. Nevertheless, work on this has been prioritised and continues.

  The Government is supportive of the best outcome that is possible for the workers, within the legal framework available. I continue to call on all parties to enter into discussions and engage towards a fair resolution.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 166. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if a county-specific list is to be published of all establishments that will participate in the spend and save scheme; if this list is to be made available and easily accessible for persons who wish to support their local businesses while also benefitting from the scheme; if the information will be provided by the Government or Fáilte Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28870/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The July Jobs Stimulus Plan announced by the Government contains a suite of tax, loan and expenditure measures designed to directly support business at all levels of the economy that are negatively impacted by Covid-19.

  The Stimulus Plan includes a number of fiscal measures which have been set out in the Financial Provisions (Covid-19) (No.2) Bill 2020, published in August 2020.

  The Tax measure included in the Bill is a Stay and Spend incentive for the accommodation and food sector, the purpose of which is to boost out-of-season demand for these important activities.

  This is administered through the Revenue Commissioners and is a matter for Minister Donohoe and the Department of Finance.

Departmental Contracts

 167. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he has engaged a third-party company in each of the years 2017 to 2019, inclusive, and to date in 2020 to conduct online and or social media monitoring and-or provide reports on social media coverage of his Department; if so, the cost of same; and if the name of the social media platforms being monitored will be provided. [28914/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar My Department has not engaged a third-party company to conduct online and-or social media monitoring and-or provide reports on social media coverage of my Department in each of the years from 2017 to date.

Departmental Staff

 168. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of staff in his Department on sick leave between March and September by month in 2019 and to date 2020; the pay arrangements that exist for staff on sick leave for an extended period of time; the number of sick days accounted for by his Department over the period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28932/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The number of staff on sick leave in my Department between March and September by month in 2019 and 2020 and the number of sick days accounted for by my Department by month over the period are set out in tabular form below. The total number of sick leave days accounted for in the period March to September 2019 is 7384 and for the same period in 2020 is 4077.

MONTH YEAR No of Staff on Sick Leave No. of Sick Leave Days
March 2019 119 1020
  2020 88 885
April 2019 130 1052
  2020 25 456
May 2019 116 1137
  2020 26 420
June 2019 110 1181
  2020 32 526
July 2019 105 1117
  2020 42 662
August 2019 102 969
  2020 39 588
September 2019 117 908
  2020 43 540


  Pay arrangements for staff on sick leave for an extended period of time.

  Pay arrangements for staff on sick leave are governed by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Circular 5/2018. Staff on sick leave are eligible for up to 92 days on full pay in a rolling 1 year period counting back from the day before the latest date of absence followed by 91 days on half pay subject to a maximum of 183 days in a rolling 4 year period counting back from day before the latest date of absence.

  Staff who exceed 183 days sick leave in a rolling 4 year period may be paid a rate of pay called Temporary Rehabilitation Remuneration. This rate is the same as the rate of pension that the individual would be paid if they were to retired on grounds of ill-health and is paid on condition that the individual concerned must have the service required for an ill health retirement pension (5years) and there must be a reasonable prospect that the individual will be able to return to work and give regular and effective service.

Recycling Policy

 169. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan if the expected circular life expectancy of plastics has been explored in the context of a deposit and return scheme (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28083/20]

 170. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan if a cost comparison has been carried out to establish whether the set-up and maintenance costs of a deposit and return scheme that includes plastics would provide better value than other forms of intervention aimed at reducing the use of plastics by manufacturers and retailers in the first instance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28084/20]

Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan I propose to take Questions Nos. 169 and 170 together.   

  Under the Single Use Plastics Directive, Ireland must achieve a collection target of 90% recycling for plastic bottles by 2029 with an interim target of 77% by 2025. A report prepared for my Department by Eunomia concluded that a deposit and return scheme (DRS) is considered to be the only feasible way to achieve the required levels of performance under the SUP Directive. The report also estimates that a DRS could reduce the cost of litter disamenity to communities by €95m, reduce littering by 85% and cut the tonnage of deposit-bearing containers that are landfilled or incinerated by 88%. The consequent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in a year is valued at €1.83 million, with the annual reduction in other air pollutants valued at €550,000.

  In line with a commitment contained in Ireland’s new waste policy – A Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy - I published the Eunomia report on 2 October alongside a consultation document setting out possible design options for how a producer-funded DRS would work in Ireland.

Recycling Policy

 171. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the reason the Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy does not propose new recycling targets or schemes to reduce waste from the construction and demolition sector in view of the fact that the sector accounts for 25% to 30% of waste generated annually across the European Union, compared with 10% for household waste; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28085/20]

Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan The measures outlined in Ireland's new waste policy, A Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy,  will help to reduce the volume of construction and demolition waste produced in the first place through a greater focus on designing out waste at the initial planning stages. Other measures will ensure that construction and demolition wastes arising are managed in a more sustainable way through a greater emphasis on waste segregation and diverting appropriate wastes to beneficial uses elsewhere in the economy. In terms of specific targets, these measures will help to ensure that we will  meet the target of preparing for reuse, recycling and other material recovery (including beneficial backfilling operations using waste as a substitute) of 70% by weight of C&D non-hazardous waste (excluding natural soils & stone) by 31 December 2020 as set out in the 2008 Waste Framework Directive. In respect of 2018, the most recent year for which data is currently available, the EPA has stated that our recovery rate for this material was 77%.

Food Waste

 172. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the way in which he plans to ensure that proposals such as reducing the sale of multi-buy packs or buy-one-get-one-free deals do not disproportionately impact on lower-income households; if an economic impact assessment has been carried out or is planned to be carried out on these matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28086/20]

Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan My Department launched the Waste Plan for a Circular Economy on 4 September 2020. The new plan contains a specific chapter on food waste, which outlines a number of actions to tackle this problem and to reduce Ireland's food waste by 50% by 2030. Ireland currently generates an estimated one million tonnes of food waste per annum, even when agricultural activity is excluded. One of the measures proposed in the food waste chapter is to work with retailers to end the sale of multi-buy packs to prevent over-buying by consumers. The focus here is on "over-buying", where this results in wasted food and an economic cost to the consumer. This issue has been considered in other jurisdictions across the European Union and in the United Kingdom.  The European Commission is proposing to work with relevant organisations to ensure that food price campaigns do not undermine public perception of the value of food (Farm to Fork , 2020).

  Early research on this matter was carried out by the UK based Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in their December 2011 report 'Investigation into the possible impact of promotions on food waste'. At a national level, the Environmental Protection Agency is currently conducting the first National Food Waste Attitude Survey. Results will become available from October and will provide important insights into consumer behaviours around purchasing, food management in the home, the impacts of Covid 19 on these matters, as well as the understanding of best before and use by dates. Follow up surveys in future years will be used to target additional relevant themes affecting food waste prevention. Most of the major food retailers in Ireland have already signed up to the EPA's Food Waste Charter and have already pledged to reducing food waste in their stores and amongst their customer base.

  The priority measure in delivering our ambition around food waste will be the development of a Food Waste Prevention Roadmap. This will involve consultation and collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders from both industry and consumer interest groups. All policies deriving from the Action Plan will be carefully calibrated to protect low-income households and applied only where sustainable alternatives are available and affordable.

Food Waste

 173. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan if all submissions received during the public consultation on the Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy will be released. [28087/20]

Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan All valid submissions received in response to the public consultation on the Waste Action Plan are now available on the Gov.ie website at the following link: https://www.gov.ie/en/consultation/a6626b-public-consultation-waste-action-plan-for-a-circular-economy/.

Waste Management

 174. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the reason he plans to allow for permit exemption for specific waste streams under Article 24 of the 2008 Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EU); the further reason it is proposed in the Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy that construction and demolition waste, one of the largest waste streams, will receive an exemption permit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28088/20]

Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan My Department has engaged in extensive discussions with the construction industry in relation to construction and demolition (C&D) waste at a number of fora including the Construction Waste Resource Group and the cross-sectoral Waste Advisory Group. Arising from these discussions, the planning for, and management of, C&D waste has been identified as a priority area in Ireland's new national waste policy A Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy. A number of other Member States have utilised the exemptions available under Article 24 of the Waste Framework Directive to manage the treatment of particular waste streams, including C&D waste. The new Waste Action Plan commits to reviewing how Article 24 exemptions are utilised in these other Member States with a view to informing how the exemption process can help manage certain waste streams to support resource efficiency and the transition to a more circular economy while also safeguarding human health and the environment.

  In addition, the plan commits to establishing a working group to examine how Article 24 exemptions can encourage greater repair, reuse or recycling in appropriate waste streams, including reuse in the C&D sector.  Finally, the plan specifically proposes the use of the exemption process to manage the on-site treatment of invasive alien plant species, including on C&D sites, as such an exemption would help mitigate environmental risks associated with transporting this material to off-site treatment facilities.

Environmental Impact Assessments

 175. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan if a thorough environmental impact assessment has been carried out to take account of unintended harmful consequences from plans outlined in the Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy to create new rules to encourage construction firms to reuse more of their building waste in other construction projects; the safeguards that will be put in place to prevent firms from self-declaring certain construction and demolition waste as by-products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28089/20]

Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan Article 27 of the European Communities (Waste Directive) Regulations, 2011, provides that in certain circumstances a material may be treated as a by-product and not a waste.  Article 28 of the these Regulations sets out the grounds by which a material may achieve "end of waste" status. Ireland's Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy   contains a number of measures to encourage greater use of both the Article 27 and Article 28 processes to minimise the volume of waste entering waste treatment facilities which could more appropriately be put to productive use elsewhere.

  The Environmental Protection Agency has statutory functions for both Article 27 & 28 and as such will continue to be responsible for ensuring that such wastes can be put to beneficial use without damaging human health or the environment.  As Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, I am precluded from exercising any power or control of the Agency of a statutory function vested in it, under the Waste Management Act (amended) 1996 and the Environment Protection Agency Act, 1992.

Energy Efficiency

 176. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the status of upcoming SEAI grant schemes for works on private dwellings. [28182/20]

Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan The Programme for Government and the Climate Action Plan set ambitious targets to retrofit 500,000 homes to a Building Energy Rating of B2 and to install 400,000 heat pumps in existing buildings over the next 10 years. The retrofitting of homes delivers a range of important benefits including reductions in greenhouse gas emissions; the creation and retention of jobs in communities across the country; as well as warmer, more comfortable and healthier homes for citizens.   The development of a new retrofit plan to achieve these targets is well underway.  This process has included reviewing the experience of existing schemes in Ireland, consultation with stakeholders and an analysis of relevant international experience.

  SEAI grant schemes will be a central element of the Government’s approach to achieving our retrofit targets. The July Stimulus commits to increasing the SEAI budget by €100 million in 2021. This additional funding will be focused on community retrofit schemes, retrofit schemes supporting those in energy poverty as well as other initiatives to support the achievement of our retrofit targets.  The funding supported the first call for projects under the new National Homes Retrofit Scheme which was launched on 25 September.  This scheme is suitable for one-stop-shops, residential service providers, employers, financial institutions, Approved Housing Bodies and local authorities.  Details are available at: www.seai.ie.

  By announcing this additional funding as part of the July Stimulus, the Government is providing certainty to the sector so that they can continue approved programmes of work, bid into new and expanded schemes, maintain a pipeline of retrofit activity, and sustain and create jobs.  Further details on other new and expanded schemes will be announced in the coming weeks.

Electric Vehicles

 177. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan his views on additional car charging points (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28877/20]

Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan In line with the Programme for Government and the Climate Action Plan 2019, this Government is fully committed to supporting a significant expansion and modernisation of the electric vehicle charging network over the coming years.  There are currently circa 650 standard public charge points and over 100 fast charge stations (the majority of which are operated by the ESB) in Ireland. An interactive map showing ESB charger locations and their status can be found at www.esb.ie/ecars.

  We have committed €10 million from the Climate Action Fund to promote the charging network and this has leveraged a further €10 million investment from ESB. This intervention alone will result in:

  - 90 additional high power chargers (150kW), each capable of charging two vehicles

  - 52 additional fast chargers (50kW), which may replace existing 22 kW standard chargers

  - 264 replacement standard chargers (22kW) with more modern technology and with each consisting of two charge points

  The high powered and fast chargers will be mainly concentrated on or near national roads and motorways to enable longer journeys to be completed.

  Since the delivery stage of the project commenced in October 2019, County Kerry has received nine new 22kW charger replacements with a total of 18 charge points now available in the county.

  In addition, there are upgrades planned at Kenmare and Tralee to replace the existing standard 22kW chargers to fast chargers. More information on these upgrades can be found at https://esb.ie/ecars/our-network/high-power-charging-hubs.   

  Combined with an effective public charging network, Ireland's home charging policy will help sustain and service the expected growth of electric vehicles on Irish roads. Charging at home accounts for around 80% of electric vehicle charging in Ireland and it is best practice, internationally, to promote home charging as the most common and cheapest form of charging. To support home charging, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), on behalf of my Department, administers an EV Home Charger Grant of up to €600 towards the purchase and installation of an EV home charger unit.


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