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. 39-57
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Electronic Commerce
 Header Item Tourism Policy
 Header Item Departmental Advertising
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Energy Policy
 Header Item Departmental Bodies
 Header Item Energy Conservation
 Header Item Electricity Supply Board
 Header Item North-South Interconnector
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Electricity Supply Board
 Header Item Waste Management
 Header Item Local Authorities
 Header Item Air Quality
 Header Item Energy Policy
 Header Item Post Office Network
 Header Item Illegal Dumping

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1006 No. 7
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 87 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 39-57

Departmental Expenditure

 39. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Taoiseach Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin the amount expended by his Department on advertising and awareness raising initiatives related to Covid-19 from March 2020 to date in 2021; the print, online and broadcasting media organisations contracted to provide this service; and the amount provided to each in the timeframe concerned. [24936/21]

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin A tabular breakdown of the figures requested by the Deputy is below.

  Advertising Costs 2021

  Since March of 2020, my Department has co-ordinated the communications strategy for the whole-of-government response to the pandemic that ensures maximum clarity for citizens, businesses and our wider community.

The strategy ensures that citizens have all of the information they need in relation to Covid-19, to protect the most vulnerable in our communities, themselves and their families and the health care system.     

  The strategy aligns with both World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) advice, both of which emphasise the importance of ensuring the general public is aware of the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak and further that a high degree of population understanding, community engagement and acceptance of the measures put in place are key in preventing further spread.

  This necessitates expenditure on a broad range of targeted public messaging across a range of different information campaigns using national and local radio, national and regional newspapers, and social media platforms. The centralised approach adopted is helping to ensure effectiveness of advertising spend and consistency and amplification of the public health messaging across the various public awareness campaigns and to those hard to reach audiences.

  The public information campaigns play a vital role in communicating the various strands of the pandemic. All platforms are utilised with some campaigns tailored for different audiences using specific channels. There have been 48 campaigns to date, and each campaign was advertised using a combination of National Press, Regional Press, Radio, Digital Display, Social Media, TV and Online Video. The media buying was engaged through PHD Ltd, and these contracts were placed under the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) Framework Agreement.

Electronic Commerce

 40. Deputy Bríd Smith Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will address a series of matters (details supplied) in relation to .ie domains and their usage by UK companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24818/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Robert Troy): Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) is the statutory body responsible for the regulation of the electronic communications sector and the postal sector. It was given regulatory responsibility for the .ie namespace in 2007. The Communications Regulation Act 2007 sets out the terms for the registration of .ie domain names and they enable ComReg to make regulations and to “specify an entity as the authority authorised to register ‘.ie’ domain names”. In 2009, ComReg appointed .ie Domain Registry  (IEDR) as the authority authorised to register .ie domain names in accordance with Section 32(4)(a) of the Act of 2007. The decision also stated that IEDR would set up and maintain a Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) which would be the representative group of all stakeholders.

IEDR published its policy on Registration and Naming in the .IE, in which it set out the requirements for new registrants, including that they must provide evidence of their real and substantive connection to the island of Ireland. The requirements are set out in Section 2 of the policy document and it states that .ie   names are only available to those either based on the island of Ireland, or those who have a real connection to the island of Ireland. Evidence of being based in Ireland can include: a CRO number, Revenue VAT number, registered business number, an Irish VAT number, proof of Irish income tax registration (sole traders), a trademark that is enforceable in Ireland or for individuals it might be a digital copy of an Irish driver’s license or Irish passport. If they are based outside of the island of Ireland, a connection to Ireland must be proven. Applicants must show that they trade with, or clearly intend to trade with, consumers or businesses on the island of Ireland. Acceptable evidence of this connection to the island of Ireland includes invoices, press releases, promotional material, or even a screenshot of the registrant’s e-commerce store that shows that consumers or businesses can select anywhere on the island of Ireland as their location for delivery.

IEDR has a process whereby stakeholders can suggest policy changes to IEDR’s Policy Advisory Committee (PAC). The PAC was set up in 2014 and it considers and provides advice on policy issues concerning Ireland’s Internet top-level domain, .ie   to its Board.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has no role in relation to the policies and procedures which are used by IEDR. However, the CCPC does have a role in providing information to consumers about online shopping and in January of this year the CCPC published “Online shopping post-Brexit: A CCPC consumer guide to shopping online”, in which they advised consumers that a ‘.ie’ domain does not guarantee that consumers are dealing with an Irish-based business. The CCPC advised consumers that the most important step to take is to check where a business is based before they buy. It advised consumers to check the business’s registered address in the terms and conditions (T&Cs) section of the website to find out where the business is registered. The document went on to inform consumers that from 1 January last, all online shopping orders received from the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) are subject to Irish VAT and customs charges, depending on the value and the type of items concerned. Before ordering from outside the EU, consumers are reminded to check the T&Cs to find out what VAT and import charges that they may have to pay. The CCPC also published guidance for businesses selling online emphasising the importance of disclosing the geographic location of their business, as required by the Consumer Rights Directive. Since 1 January, the CCPC have received 25 contacts from consumers on scenarios which would fall within the type of situation outlined here. These cases would include scenarios where consumers have advised the CCPC that they made a purchase for goods from .ie   sites and subsequently found out that the traders were actually based in the UK or outside the EU.

Tourism Policy

 41. Deputy Réada Cronin Information on Réada Cronin Zoom on Réada Cronin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if his Department will actively investigate the possibility of establishing Ireland as the events hub of the EU post-Brexit (details supplied); if a fund will be made available for same; if he will liaise with the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24854/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The impact of COVID-19 has not been uniform across areas of economic activity and affected sectors such as the events sector will continue to face challenges due to ongoing distancing requirements, changed consumer behaviour and lower demand. The outlook for internationally traded sectors is also uncertain and will depend on developments in export markets.

Nevertheless, I would like to thank the Deputy for her suggestion about Ireland becoming an EU hub for the events sector and would be interested in hearing about any proposals which I could share with my colleague, Minister Catherine Martin, whose Department is the lead in this area.

As the House will be aware, my Department recently launched the Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID (SBASC) which gives grants to businesses which are not eligible for the Government’s COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), the Fáilte Ireland Business Continuity grant or other direct sectoral grant schemes. This scheme aims to help businesses with their fixed costs, for example, rent, utility bills, security. A payment grant of €4,000 is available for the first quarter of this year. A decision on payment for the second quarter of this year will be made in due course.

Departmental Advertising

 42. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the amount expended by his Department on advertising and awareness raising initiatives related to Covid-19 from March 2020 to date in 2021; the print, online and broadcasting media organisations contracted to provide this service; the amount provided to each in the timeframe concerned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24926/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Details of costs incurred by my Department on advertising and awareness raising initiatives related to Covid-19 from March 2020 to date are set out in detail in the attached table.

  Table 1 Expenditure from 1 March 2020 – 11 May 2021

Date Campaign Print/Online/Broadcast Outlet Cost €
April 2020 Graphic Design of COVID-19 Supports for Businesses Document Template

  738
April 2020 PPE Notice to Exporters – Newspaper Advertising

Irish Independent, Irish Examiner and The Irish Times

3,798
Total April 2020

    4,536
May 2020 Graphic design work on Supports for Small Businesses Animation

  1,107
May 2020 Translation into Irish of Covid-19 Return to Work Safely Protocol

  800
May 2020 PPE Notice to Exporters - Newspaper Advertising



Irish Independent, Irish Examiner and The Irish Times 4,580
Total May 2020

    6,487
June 2020 Translation into Irish of the COVID-19 Supports for Businesses Document Template

  861
Total June 2020

    861
July 2020 Translation into Irish of Data Protection - Work Safely Protocol

  135
July 2020 Translation into Irish of the COVID-19 Supports for Businesses Document Template   18
Total July 2020

    153
August 2020 Graphic design work on the Re-Start Grant Animation

  984
August 2020 Translation into Irish of the COVID-19 Supports for Businesses Document Template

  284
Total August 2020

    1,268
October 2020 Translation into Irish of the COVID-19 Supports for Businesses Document Template

  133
Total October 2020

  133
December 2020 Graphic design work on the Shop Safely Animation

  1,494
December 2020 Social Media Campaign –

Shop Safely

Twitter and LinkedIn 1,861
December 2020 Translation of Covid-19 Work Safely Protocol

  913
Total December 2020

  4,268
January 2021 Infographics for Covid-19 Business Supports

  290
Total January 2021

  290
February 2021 Translation into Irish of the COVID-19 Supports for Businesses Document Template

  605
February 2021 Infographics for Work Safely Protocol   310
February 2021 Infographics for Work Safely Protocol

  656
Total February 2021

  1,571
March 2021 Vaccines Export Authorisation – Newspaper Advertising

Irish Independent, Irish Examiner and The Irish Times 3,647
March 2021 Public health advice on shopping safely – graphic design and storyboard, animation and audio licence

  615
March 2021

Infographics for Face Facts Campaign

  1648
March 2021

Video for Work Safely Campaign

  1,050
Total March 2021

  6,960
April 2021 Vaccines Export Authorisation

– Newspaper Advertising

Irish Independent, Irish Examiner and The Irish Times 5,562
April 2020 Design, artwork and infographics for Covid-19 Business Supports

  610
Total April 2021

  6,172
Overall Total

    32,699

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 43. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú Information on Ruairí Ó Murchú Zoom on Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the Covid-19 business supports that are available for event caterers excluded from current Covid-19 supports due to the rateable and fixed premises criteria; the supports being considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24944/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Damien English): Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English I am acutely aware of the difficulties that the necessary ongoing Covid-19 restrictions are putting on businesses right across the country. With this in mind the Government has put in place a comprehensive package to help businesses and workers during the pandemic, including the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), Small business assistance Scheme for COVID (SBASC), low-cost loans, the deferral and warehousing of tax liabilities and the waiver of commercial rates. The level of business supports is unprecedented.

I would urge business owners to seek the supports outlined above if they have not already done so. I would also suggest they contact their Local Enterprise Office who can signpost them and advise them of supports that may be available for their business.

Budget 2021 provided a significant package of tax and expenditure measures to build the resilience of the economy and to help vulnerable but viable businesses across all sectors. Details of the wide range of supports available are on my Department’s website.

While there is a requirement for some schemes for businesses to be operating from a rated premises, in the case of SBASC they do not necessarily have to be the rate payer to qualify. Our objective is to assist businesses to meet some of the ongoing fixed costs of operating from a premises. We are not providing compensation for loss of personal income above this level or compensation for loss of profits for any sector.

I can assure you the Government is continuing to review the range of assistance schemes and eligibility criteria to ensure we have the right mix for the recovery.

Energy Policy

 44. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the details of the forthcoming electricity microgenerator scheme; and when the details of this scheme will be published. [24773/21]

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan The Programme for Government commits to prioritising the development of micro-generation of electricity primarily for self-consumption by a household. Under the Climate Action Plan, a Micro-generation working group, chaired by my Department, is developing an enabling framework for micro-generation which tackles existing barriers and establishes suitable supports within relevant market segments. The proposed support mechanism was outlined in a public consultation launched in January (now closed) and the submissions received are currently being reviewed, with a view to publication of the final scheme design, subject to Government approval, in the coming months. While the primary aim of a micro-generation scheme is to enable a household to meet its own electricity needs, it is envisaged that a suitable payment for excess electricity generated on site and exported to the grid will be available to all micro-generators in the second half of 2021, subject to regulatory arrangements, in line with Articles 21 and 22 of the recast Renewable Energy Directive.

The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) published an updated Roadmap for the Clean Energy Package’s Electricity and Renewables Directives in February, which provides for a public consultation on the regulatory framework for prosumer development later this year.

Departmental Bodies

 45. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the remuneration that has been provided by his Department to the members of the Climate Advisory Council in terms of pay and benefits including expenses which can be reimbursed from 1 January 2017 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24814/21]

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan The Climate Change Advisory Council was established by Ministerial Order (S.I. No 25 of 2016) on 18 January 2016 pursuant to section 8 of the Climate Change and Low Carbon Development Act 2015. The Advisory Council consisted of eleven members appointed by Government, acting in a part-time capacity for a statutory five-year term.    The overall costs associated with the operation of the Advisory Council are provided for through the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is funded, in part, through my Department’s Vote.

  Ordinary members of the Advisory Council receive an annual remuneration of €9,800, with the Chair receiving an annual remuneration of €16,250, in line with the scale of Department of Public Expenditure and Reform approved fees for chairpersons and members of State Boards. Ex Officio members of the Advisory Council do not receive remuneration. In line with the ‘One Person One Salary’ remuneration policy for public servants, members of the Advisory Council already in receipt of a public service salary may not receive any further remuneration by virtue of their membership of the Council. However, in certain cases, remuneration is paid directly to the member’s parent institution to offset the costs of that member's commitments to the Advisory Council. Members of the Advisory Council also receive travel and subsistence expenses in line with public service rates.

  I am advised by the EPA that the remuneration received in 2017 to date by members of the Advisory Council is as follows:

  Sum of CCAC Remuneration 2017 to date

  2017 2018 2018 2020 2021 Total
Total CCAC Members Fees 87,010 75,050 75,050 75,050 16,250 328,410
Travel and Subsistence 2,742 1,777 2,265 1,145 0 7,929
Total Cost 89,752 76,827 77,315 76,195 16,250 336,339

Energy Conservation

 46. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan when works will commence on the house of a person (details supplied) under the warmer homes scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24825/21]

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households vulnerable to energy poverty. The scheme is funded by my Department and administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). To date over 142,000 homes have received free upgrades leaving them better able to afford to heat their homes to an adequate level. The approximate average value of the energy efficiency measures provided to a household under the Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme was €14,819 in 2020. Funding for the SEAI energy poverty retrofit schemes has increased to over €109 million in 2021. This is an increase of €47 million on the 2020 allocation and means that almost half of the total SEAI residential and community retrofit budget will support people vulnerable to energy poverty. This funding will mean that more households can receive free energy efficiency upgrades, making their homes warmer, healthier and cheaper to run, in line with the Programme for Government.

Individual applications to the Warmer Homes Scheme are an operational matter for the SEAI and as Minister I have no role in such matters. However in reference to the case raised by the Deputy, I have been informed by the SEAI that the application for the home in question was received in January and is currently awaiting a survey allocation.

There are currently approximately 8,000 homes on the scheme work programme. This includes homes that: are currently undergoing works; have been allocated to contractors for works; completed an initial home survey and are awaiting allocation to a contractor or are awaiting initial survey. SEAI data indicates that for homes completed in 2020, the average time from application to completion was approximately 18 months. The scheme operates nationally on a first come first served basis.

In addition to the increased budget allocation, delivery capacity has increased due to a new, broader contractor panel that commenced at the end of 2020. I have also secured additional resources this year to expand the capacity of the SEAI to deliver the scheme.

Electricity Supply Board

 47. Deputy Seán Canney Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan his views on the ESB subcontracting works that are normally carried out by their own employees; his further views on the matter as a policy change by the ESB which is a semi-State body; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24834/21]

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan Outsourcing or otherwise of services by ESB is a matter for the Board and Management of ESB and not a matter in which I as Minister have a function.

North-South Interconnector

 48. Deputy Pauline Tully Information on Pauline  Tully Zoom on Pauline  Tully asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan if the terms of reference for the review of the North-South Interconnector limit it to reviewing previous findings and reports or will allow for new evidence, research and innovations to be assessed in view of the fact that EirGrid has recently identified the best performing option for the Kildare-Meath grid upgrade as a 400kV underground cable having previously argued against this option; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24880/21]

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan The North-South Interconnector is critical to improving the efficient operation of the all-island single electricity market and increasing security of electricity supply in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It will also help Ireland to move towards our 70% renewable electricity target by 2030. A resilient and well-connected energy infrastructure is vital for Ireland’s economic well-being and the ability to respond to the future needs of energy consumers.    The option of undergrounding the North-South Interconnector has been comprehensively assessed on several occasions. Most recently, my Department commissioned an independent report incorporating international industry expertise to examine the technical feasibility and cost of undergrounding the North-South Interconnector and the report from the International Expert Commission was published in October 2018. It found that an overhead line remains the most appropriate option for this piece of critical electricity infrastructure.

  Notwithstanding this, I have decided to commission a further short review to assess if the overall finding from the 2018 report remains valid. Terms of reference for this study were published on my Department's website on 21 April and are also attached for ease of reference. On 7 May, my Department launched a procurement using the appropriate procurement framework administered by the Office of Government Procurement.

  Terms of Reference

Covid-19 Pandemic

 49. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the amount expended by his Department on advertising and awareness raising initiatives related to Covid-19 from March 2020 to date in 2021; the print, online and broadcasting media organisations contracted to provide this service; the amount provided to each in the timeframe concerned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24927/21]

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan Th Trading Online Voucher was the one area of my Department which incurred expenditure of the nature referred to by the Deputy.    With the advent of COVID-19 many small and micro-businesses found themselves with the challenge of having to shut their physical presence and adapt their business model, with many trading online for the first time. As part of the Government’s COVID-19 Business Supports Package for small businesses, the terms of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme were amended and the budget significantly increased. The amount spent for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme in relation to advertising and awareness raising initiatives related to Covid-19 from March 2020 to date in 2021 is €10,016 broken down as follows:

  Google Adwords: €7,431.

  OSD Digital Agency Limited: €2,585

Electricity Supply Board

 50. Deputy Neasa Hourigan Information on Neasa Hourigan Zoom on Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan if he is satisfied that employees involved in the current ESB dispute have received consultation and information rights on the outsourcing of their work as outlined in the Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act 2006 and the Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practise on Information and Consultation) (Declaration) Order 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25135/21]

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan Industrial relations such as those raised by the Deputy are operational matters in which I, as Minister, have no statutory function. ESB has informed my Department that the Network Technicians who are members of the Independent Workers Union (IWU) have decided to defer their industrial action as of 10 May.

Waste Management

 51. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan further to Parliamentary Question No. 277 of 21 April 2021, the way that his Department will support persons with long-term incontinence with respect to the disposal of medical incontinence wear; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25157/21]

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan The position set out in reply to Question No. 277 of 21 April 2021 is unchanged.

Local Authorities

 52. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the amount each local authority will receive from the €5 million additional funding for litter prevention and cleaning announced on 5 May 2021; the rationale for the assignment of funds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25155/21]

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan My Department issued a circular to each Local Authority about the additional €5 million funding allocation on 5 May and is liaising with individual Local Authorities to establish a platform for funding proposals and to identify where additional infrastructure is most needed. Each Local Authority will appoint a lead person to work with my Department.Once the process is complete, funding will be allocated and individual allocations will be known.

Air Quality

 53. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the steps he is taking to fulfil the Programme for Government commitment to develop a regional approach to air quality and noise enforcement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25158/21]

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan My Department has commenced discussions with the County and City Management Association, and other key stakeholders with a view to developing a regional approach to air quality and noise enforcement, in order to bring greater consistency and coordination to tackling the most pressing enforcement challenges. In order to progress these discussions further, I am establishing an Air and Noise Enforcement Working Group to include the various regulatory stakeholders, experienced Local Authority enforcement practitioners and representatives from existing shared service offices. The purpose of this Group is to determine the most effective enforcement approach, and to make their recommendations to my Department within the next six months.

Such a time-line is necessary given the findings of the Environmental Protection Agency report on Local Authority environmental enforcement activities for 2019 which was published recently. This report recommends that a regional approach to enforcement be adopted, and that the resources being allocated by Local Authorities to these areas be reviewed. The report also highlights a significant reduction in the level of enforcement reported and the need for Local Authorities to develop additional expertise in monitoring and investigations.

My Department has demonstrated its commitment to supporting Local Authorities in improving their level of performance in fulfilling their statutory obligations across a range of environmental areas. Our shared objective is the establishment of dedicated resources, within regional lead authorities, that will provide a robust enforcement regime that focuses greatest effort on the enforcement issues that matter most. I look forward to significant progress being made to fulfilling this commitment in the coming months.

Energy Policy

 54. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the steps he is taking to fulfil the Programme for Government commitment to ensure that his Department has the capacity and expertise to manage the transition in energy efficiency and renewable energy and to carry out its expanded function in relation to carbon budgets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25159/21]

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan In October 2020, as part of the budget process, my Department received approval for a significant increase in staffing levels amounting to an additional 50 full-time employees, bringing my Department's total pay budget to €31.3 million.

The majority of these additional staff are being deployed across the energy and climate divisions of my Department in order to specifically work on the delivery of the commitments in the Programme for Government, including the transition in energy efficiency and renewable energy as well as the expanded function in relation to carbon budgets.

These staff are being recruited by working closely with the Public Appointments Service as well as the use of existing Civil Service Mobility schemes, to ensure that candidates with the required knowledge, expertise and capacity to perform the new and expanded functions are put in place.

My Department is also currently conducting a review of activities relating to energy policy to ensure that resources are aligned with Government's priorities in this area.

Post Office Network

 55. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the progress his Department has made on addressing the actions relevant to his areas of responsibility outlined in the Private Members’ Motion on the post office network on 16 November 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25161/21]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): Information on Hildegarde Naughton Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton An Post is a commercial State body with a mandate to act commercially. It has statutory responsibility for the State’s postal service and the post office network. Decisions relating to the network, including those in relation to the size, distribution and future of the network are operational matters for the Board and management of the company.

  Since the November 2016 Private Members' motion referred to by the Deputy was debated, a lot of work has been done to ensure An Post and the post office network remain viable.

  An Post put in place a Strategic Plan, covering the period 2017 – 2021, in response to the structural challenges faced by the postal sector. As part of the delivery of the plan the company was split into two distinct business units, An Post Mails and Parcels and An Post Retail.

  An Post is transforming its retail network by delivering new products and new formats. This includes, among other things, diversifying and growing the financial services products it provides for individuals and SMEs to include loans, credit cards and more foreign exchange products, local banking in association with the major banks and a full range of State Savings products. Two new dedicated sub-brands, An Post Money and a new business-to-business brand, An Post Commerce, were launched. Investment by An Post of €50 million in the network is designed to encourage communities to use the enhanced services in their local post office.

  An Post has also launched its Green Hub, a facility providing end-to-end project management and financial advice for all levels of home retro-fitting which will be supported by competitive loan rates. The Green Hub is essentially a one-stop-shop which will cover loan-only or full retro-fit services, from initial home assessments to completed works and an SEAI grant application and payment process. An Post has partnered with SSE Airtricity to give free home assessments and the fulfilment of works.

  Government efforts have been focussed on supporting An Post in the roll out of new services and the delivery of its strategic plan. €30m in State funding was made available, of which €15 million is to support the renewal of the post office network and a further €15 million towards the continued fulfilment of a five-day per week mail delivery service. This helps secure the future of mail and post office services for local communities throughout the country in both rural and urban areas.

  An Post has received an investment loan of €40m from the European Investment Bank to finance innovation and modernisation projects as part of its strategic plan. The borrowing is being used to help fund the capital costs associated with five investment programmes which are part of the Transformation Plan, including Post Office renewal.

  Government continues to provide significant business to An Post through the Department of Social Protection’s Social Welfare contract and National Treasury Management Agency business. A Capital Expenditure programme was approved at Ministerial level which, as part of the Company’s commitment to the sustainability of its network, is designed to develop the newer elements of An Post’s Financial Services business and mitigate declining core mail volumes and revenues on the Retail side of the business.

  In line with its commercial strategy to increase its banking services, An Post announced a new partnership with Bank of Ireland to offer personal and SME withdrawal and lodgement services to Bank of Ireland customers across the An Post network of over 900 post offices nationwide. This builds on the agency banking services An Post already provides for a number of other leading banks including AIB and Ulster Bank with more than 4.5 million transactions and a cash value of almost €1.5bn annually.

The Government believes An Post has untapped potential to do more and make a further significant contribution across many areas of public, business and community life in Ireland. In that regard, Government recently approved the Report on the Provision of Offline Government Services and the establishment of an Inter-Departmental Group, co-chaired by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, to, inter alia,   examine the feasibility of directing more Government business to the post office network. The Group has met twice in the past 3 weeks and will report back to Government by the end of July.

  Government is committed to delivering services using channels geared to the needs of the public and remains committed to a sustainable Post Office Network as a key component of the economic and social infrastructure in both rural and urban areas.

  All options will be considered fully and every effort made to give effect to the Government commitment to ensuring a sustainable and viable post office network.

Illegal Dumping

 56. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the number of persons or companies fined for illegal dumping by Cork County Council and Cork City Council, respectively in each of the years 2015 to 2020, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25162/21]

 57. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the cost to Cork County Council and Cork City Council, respectively of illegal dumping in each of the years 2015 to 2020, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25163/21]

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan I propose to take Questions Nos. 56 and 57 together.

  Enforcement actions against illegal waste activity are a matter for the local authorities and the Office of Environmental Enforcement (OEE) within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). My Department does not compile statistics in relation to costs incurred or fines imposed by individual local authorities.

The EPA compiles comparative statistics on local authority performance relating to their waste enforcement activity under the Recommended Criteria for Environmental Inspection (RMCEI) process. Their most recent report in this regard is for the period 2019 and is available on their website at www.epa.ie.

Information is also available through the Local Government Management Agency’s series of service indicators annual reports which are available from the publications section of the LGMA’s website https://lgma.ie/en/publications/performance-indicators/noac-performance-indicators-report-2019.pdf

The Waste Enforcement Regional Lead Authorities (WERLA) Annual Report for 2019, available at www.werla.ie also contains useful data regarding actions taken by the wider local authority sector under the Waste Management Act.

Questions in relation to the full annual costs of waste enforcement and the number of entities fined under the Waste Management Acts by individual local authorities should be directed towards those specific authorities.

  Question No. 57 answered with Question No. 56.


Last Updated: 23/07/2021 11:54:04 First Page Previous Page Page of 87 Next Page Last Page