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Naughten, Denis

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.


Renewable Energy Generation Targets

Was asked: if Ireland is on target to meet binding European Union 2020 renewable targets; the fines that will be realised if not achieved; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I thank the Deputy for the question.

  The Energy White Paper, Ireland's Transition to a Low-Carbon Energy Future, published in December last, sets out a vision for transforming ...More Button

I disagree that there has been paltry growth across the sector. In fairness, the Deputy has acknowledged that, on the electricity side, significant progress has been made. I accept that a lot mor...More Button

I confirm that the SEAI has estimated that the cost to Ireland may be in the range of €100 million to €150 million for every percentage point by which we fall short. This does not relate to fines ...More Button

On the burden on transport, policy responsibility lies with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, not my Department. That said, however, the two initiatives on the transport area have ...More Button

Was asked: if Ireland is on target to meet binding European Union 2020 renewable targets; the fines that will be realised if not achieved; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I refer to the reply to Question No. 34 on today’s Order Paper.More Button

Was asked: the way in which he will ensure that his energy and climate change plan will deliver 16% binding renewable targets by 2020; his views on fines from failing to meet these targets; and if he will mak...More Button

The Energy White Paper 'Ireland's Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030', published in December 2015, sets out a high-level  framework for Ireland's energy transition to a low carbon e...More Button

The Government has a range of policy measures and schemes to incentivise the use of renewable energy and although good progress towards the target has been made to date, meeting the 16% target re...More Button

In the transport sector, Ireland aims to meet its renewable target mainly through the increased use of sustainable biofuels, with electric vehicles also making a small contribution.  Further incr...More Button

Media Mergers

Was asked: if he will use his powers to prevent the purchase of a company (details supplied) in the interest of maintaining a level of media plurality here. More Button

Following approval by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, notification of the proposed merger referenced in the question was received by me as Minister on 21 November 2016. I have ...More Button

Was asked: the steps that can be taken to address the anomaly whereby the significant interest test in the Consumer and Competition Authority Act 2014 has been exceeded by any person in the media sector; and ...More Button

The Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 gives the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the responsibility for assessing proposed media mergers and empowers the Minis...More Button

Applying a retrospective element to the legislation could, effectively, mean empowering a Government Minister to interfere in the operation of any media organisation at any given time. This woul...More Button

In my view, the reforms introduced in the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 have struck the correct balance in this area and are working well and, as a result, I am confident that we h...More Button

From the notification deadline on 24 November in respect of the proposed merger referenced by the Deputy, I have 30 working days to conduct a phase one assessment of the case. I will only make my ...More Button

In respect of what I will and will not consider, I will consider everything that is appropriate for me to consider as set out in the 2014 Act and as set out on the Department's website. I am not s...More Button

Was asked: the stage the proposed determination regarding an acquisition (details supplied) has reached within his Department; if he plans to seek Cabinet approval for any decision he may make on this issue; ...More Button

Following approval by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, notification of the proposed merger referenced in the question was received by me as Minister on 21 November 2016. I have ...More Button

This examination is guided by the relevant criteria laid out in the legislation and by the Guidelines on Media Mergers, both of which are available on my Department's website. Following this exa...More Button

If the latter is the case, then the BAI will, following its examination of the proposed merger, provide me with a report detailing its recommendations on the matter. It is also possible for me, ...More Button

No provision is made in legislation to allow a Minister to seek Cabinet approval for a determination on a media merger nor is there any role for the Oireachtas.More Button

It would not be appropriate for me to provide further comment while this case is currently under consideration.More Button

Media Mergers (Continued)

Following this examination, I have three options under the legislation, which are to allow the merger to proceed, to allow the merger to proceed with conditions or to ask the Broadcasting Authority...More Button

If the third option is the case, then the BAI will, following its examination of the proposed merger, provide me with a report detailing its recommendations on the matter. It is also possible fo...More Button

The Deputy is right, in that there is a great deal of talk about plurality. There is also a great deal of commentary as to my views on it. I have not made my views known and I am not going to. I...More Button

I will make my decision as set out in the legislation and I am not going to take anyone else's opinion other than the advice that I am given based on the assessments, including legal and statutory,...More Button

The approach that I will be taking is on my website in black and white for people to read. Based on the advice that is presented to me, I will consider the three options that are open to me. I wi...More Button

I have had the opportunity to read Ms Boylan's report. It is a pity that I did not have a copy of it in advance of the last time these questions were tabled.More Button

National Broadband Plan

Was asked: if the national broadband plan will bridge the digital divide outlined in the recent Switcher.ie report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The national broadband plan aims to deliver high-speed services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland. A Programme for a Partnership Government commits to the delivery of...More Button

The three consortia involved in the tender process have said that it is their intention to use the fibre-to-the-home solution predominantly. This will mean that homes and premises will receive up ...More Button

Was asked: the process he will use to appoint members to the selection committee for the tendering process of the national broadband plan.More Button

The national broadband plan represents a significant capital investment project for the State and aims to deliver high speed services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland...More Button

Was asked: the measures being taken within his Department to ensure equality in the roll-out of broadband services for rural areas, rural communities and regional towns under the national broadband plan; and ...More Button

The national broadband plan aims to deliver high-speed services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland. The programme for Government commits to the delivery of the nationa...More Button

The Department is now in a formal procurement process to select a company or companies who will roll out a new high-speed broadband network to over 750,000 premises in Ireland, covering 100,000 k...More Button

The programme for Government also commits to measures to assist in the roll-out of the national broadband plan State intervention network once a contract is awarded. In this regard, the Minister...More Button

The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht and I also established a mobile phone and broadband task force in July 2016. The task force will recommend practical actions that c...More Button

I am satisfied that the combination of initiatives to improve wireless services and the procurement process to deliver a new high-speed broadband network under the national broadband plan will pu...More Button

Was asked: the steps he will take to ensure large companies tendering for the national broadband plan do not gain such dominance that they can exclude smaller companies from accessing the necessary spectrum t...More Button

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to deliver high speed services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland. The Programme for Government commits to the delivery of the NB...More Button

The Department is now in a formal procurement process to select a company or companies who will roll-out a new high speed broadband network in the State Intervention Area comprising over 750,000 pr...More Button

In relation to the separate matter of the management of radio spectrum this is a statutory function of the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) under the Communications Regulation Ac...More Button

In October, I signed Regulations which will allow ComReg to allocate spectrum in the 3.6 GHz band. This will provide an 86% increase in total spectrum available for mobile and fixed wireless serv...More Button

I have no role or function in the delivery of the allocation process, which is a matter for ComReg. I am aware that ComReg has recently concluded its consultation process on the award process for t...More Button

Was asked: if there are plans to designate blue areas, commercial providers, identified in the high speed broadband map as amber areas, State intervention, to ensure that all parts of the country can benefit ...More Button

Was asked: the details of the 170,000 premises which were added to the amber area of the high-speed broadband map in July 2016; the way in which this figure was arrived at; the details regarding the premises ...More Button

Was asked: the precise number of premises expected to be covered under the national broadband plan; the criteria used to determine which areas are designated blue or amber in the high-speed broadband map; and...More Button

Was asked: if he is satisfied that, taking into consideration the revisions of July 2016, there will be no further changes to the designated blue and amber areas in the high-speed broadband map; and if he wil...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 432 to 434, inclusive, and 436 together.

  The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to deliver high speed broadband services to every city, town, v...More Button

Was asked: the estimated costs which will be incurred for utilising the existing infrastructure of national networks to roll out fibre to the home; the source of funding for any costs associated with upgradin...More Button

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) represents a very significant capital investment project for the State and aims to deliver high speed services to every city, town, village and individual premises...More Button

On 5 July the Government selected the Commercial Stimulus Model as the optimum ownership model for the network that will be part-funded by the Exchequer. The Department has completed detailed cos...More Button

On 29 September 2015, the Government's 6 year Capital Plan, Building on Recovery, was published. It includes an allocation of €275m for the National Broadband Plan (NBP). This allocation provides...More Button

The Department commenced the Invitation to Participate in Dialogue (ITPD) phase of the procurement process in July and is engaged in the formal dialogue process with the three qualifying bidders....More Button

The timing of each stage of the procurement is dependent on a number of factors including the number of qualified bidders and the complexities that may be encountered during the procurement proce...More Button

In preparation for the procurement stage of the process my Department investigated how different technical solutions could be used to deliver high speed broadband. In line with EU State Aid rules...More Button

In the meantime, my Department continues to liaise closely with industry and relevant other Departments and agencies to remove barriers to assist in the commercial deployment of telecommunication...More Button

I have also secured €8m for RTE which will allow it free up the 700MHz spectrum band, to provide enhanced mobile services. More Button

These initiatives should assist in significantly improving the quality of broadband and mobile phone services across Ireland, putting Ireland to the forefront internationally in terms of connecti...More Button

  Question No. 436 answered with Question No. 432.More Button

Was asked: the reason his Department did not issue a policy directive under sections 12 and 13 of the Broadcasting Act 2009; his views on whether the failure by his Department to issue a directive since 2003 ...More Button

Was asked: his views on whether ComReg, which is obliged to implement Government policy directives issued to it by him in regulating the market, is doing so in the absence of a current directive on the nation...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 437 and 438 together. More Button

The provision of telecommunications services, including Next Generation Access Services, is undertaken by telecommunications service providers operating in a fully liberalised market under licenc...More Button

Both policy and regulation have contributed substantially to the roll out of high speed broadband networks in the last number of years. ComReg's NGA decisions in 2013 created the framework to dri...More Button

In October, I signed Regulations which will allow ComReg to auction spectrum in the 3.6GHz band (Wireless telegraphy (3.6GHz Band Licences) Regulations, 2016 (S.I.  532 of 2016)). The liberalisat...More Button

ComReg is independent in its functions and I have no role in the process for allocating the spectrum which is now underway. Having regard to the independence of ComReg in the matter and the fact ...More Button

Investment decisions by the commercial telecommunications networks providers in the electronic communications market, including investment decisions on the roll-out of Next Generation Access (NGA...More Button

The Plan aims to deliver high speed services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland. The Programme for Government commits to the delivery of the NBP as a matter of priori...More Button

The Department is now in a formal procurement process to select a company or companies who will roll out a new high speed broadband network in the State Intervention Area comprising over 750,000 ...More Button

Accordingly, I do not propose, nor do I see any necessity, to issue any policy direction to ComReg in this regard.More Button

National Broadband Plan (Continued)

There are clear caveats set out in the tender documentation which runs to 1,000 pages where it is clearly stated that as demand and average speeds in urban areas increase, the service in rural area...More Button

The fact is that there are services on the way for the vast majority of customers across the country in advance of the roll-out of the national broadband plan. That is why we are focusing immediat...More Button

I assure the Deputy that the procurement process is being intensively managed by my Department to ensure an outcome that delivers a future-proofed network that serves homes and businesses across Ir...More Button

They have already taken decisions. There were originally six consortia and now there are three. They are completely at arm's length from the Department and we are sensitive to the issues. We are...More Button

I do not think I have, as of yet, publicly declared the three companies and there was a delay because of the sensitivities involved. At every stage of this process all the implications are fully...More Button

I take the Deputy's point and accept the genuine concerns he has on the issue. Since I became Minister I have been threatened twice, if not three times, with legal action in regard to the national...More Button

  Question No. 45 answered with Question No. 40.More Button

The Deputy is fully correct and this is my challenge as Minister. I am taking a number of actions. I am assisting the likes of eir, SIRO, Vodafone and Virgin with the roll-out of their networks a...More Button

I can imagine where the Deputy is coming from. The commercial companies are rolling out fibre broadband in rural areas across the country. It can be done.More Button

The three consortia involved in the national broadband plan are saying that for the vast majority of homes they will provide fibre to the door. The European Commission is talking about 1,000 Mbps ...More Button

People will not need up to 1,000 Mbps in rural areas in the next five or ten years, but they may need it in 15 years. Deputy Eugene Murphy will acknowledge that the most rural constituency in th...More Button

Mobile Telephony Services

Was asked: the reason mobile phone coverage throughout west Cork has deteriorated in the past 12 months (details supplied); the reason this was allowed to happen; and the way in which phone companies can prov...More Button

If people are experiencing difficulty with mobile phone coverage, they should, please, first, go to the company involved and, second, to ComReg to express their frustration. That is vitally import...More Button

I have accepted the challenge the Deputy put to me. That is why, during the talks on the programme for Government, I proposed the establishment of a task force to deal with the problems with mobil...More Button

Everybody has a right to the same service, no matter where he or she lives. That is why I ensured the task force would include representatives of rural communities across the country who were expe...More Button

Was asked: if he has had discussions with the Communications Regulator regarding the quality and availability of mobile telephony with particular reference to the need to ensure the availability of good quali...More Button

The management of radio spectrum is a statutory function of the independent regulator of the telecommunications sector, the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg).  Licences issued by Co...More Button

I am critically aware of the frustration currently being experienced across Ireland, where mobile networks are not always delivering the services people expect.  Mobile operators have invested si...More Button

Recognising this challenge, I specifically included in the Programme for Government, a commitment to a Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce. In July, I established the Taskforce, together with M...More Button

The Taskforce involves Government Departments and agencies, as well as engagement with ComReg and telecoms operators. I anticipate that we will bring a report to Government later this month, on ...More Button

Under the Programme for Government, Minister Humphreys has also established two regional action groups to work with Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Offices, LEADER Groups and other relevant a...More Button

In addition, I recently signed Regulations allowing ComReg to proceed with an early 2017 allocation of spectrum in the 3.6GHz radio spectrum band.  This will provide an 86% increase in total spec...More Button

Furthermore, in my Department's estimates for 2017 I have secured an €8m provision for RTÉ to allow it to free up the 700MHz spectrum band.  ComReg in turn will make plans to allocate this spectr...More Button

These initiatives should assist in enhancing the quality of mobile phone and data services across Ireland, and particularly in rural Ireland.More Button

In parallel, the National Broadband Plan aims to deliver high speed services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland, through private investment and a State intervention i...More Button

The procurement process is underway and the three bidders in the process have indicated that they are proposing a predominantly fibre-to-the-home solution for rural Ireland.  Intensive dialogue w...More Button

Was asked: the extent of his discussions with the communications regulator in the matter of the upgrading of the mobile telephone service throughout the country with particular reference to the availability i...More Button

The management of radio spectrum is a statutory function of the independent regulator of the telecommunications sector, the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). Licences issued by Com...More Button

I am critically aware of the frustration currently being experienced across Ireland, where mobile networks are not always delivering the services people expect.  Mobile operators have invested si...More Button

Recognising this challenge, I specifically included in the Programme for Government, a commitment to a Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce. In July, I established the task force, together with ...More Button

The task force involves Government Departments and agencies, as well as engagement with ComReg and telecoms operators. I anticipate that we will bring a report later this month, on foot of its w...More Button

Under the Programme for Government, Minister Humphreys has also established two regional action groups to work with Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Offices, LEADER Groups and other relevant a...More Button

In addition, I recently signed Regulations allowing ComReg to proceed with an early 2017 allocation of spectrum in the 3.6GHz radio spectrum band.  This will provide an 86% increase in total spec...More Button

Furthermore, in my Department's estimates for 2017 I have secured an €8m provision for RTÉ to allow it to free up the 700MHz spectrum band.  ComReg in turn will make plans to allocate this spectr...More Button

These initiatives should assist in enhancing the quality of mobile phone and data services across Ireland, and particularly in rural Ireland. More Button

In parallel, the National Broadband Plan aims to deliver high speed services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland, through private investment and a State intervention i...More Button

  Questions Nos. 445 and 446 answered with Question No. 442.More Button

Mobile Telephony Services (Continued)

I have raised concerns about Three coverage in west Cork and my Department has spoken on numerous occasions with Three about the issue. There appears to be a technical issue with one of the Three ...More Button

Other Questions

  Question No. 39 replied to with Written Answers.More Button

Brexit Issues

Was asked: the immediate contingency steps he will take to safeguard security of energy supply here following the decision by UK voters to leave the EU in its recent referendum and if he will make a statement...More Button

Was asked: the engagement he has had with his counterparts in Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom and other EU countries on the impact of the vote by the United Kingdom to leave the EU. More Button

I propose to take Question Nos. 40 and 45 together.More Button

Substantial work has been and continues to be undertaken across Government to identify the key strategic, policy and operational risks following the outcome of the referendum on EU membership in ...More Button

Energy is a priority sector for the Government in considering the impacts of Brexit. The energy systems of Ireland and the UK are interdependent with a large amount of Ireland's energy supply be...More Button

As the House is no doubt aware, the EU has made the decision not to negotiate on any issues relating to Brexit until after Article 50 has been invoked. However, while attending meetings, such as...More Button

At the recent North-South Ministerial Council, I had a bilateral meeting with Simon Hamilton MLA, the Minister for the Economy in Northern Ireland, where we discussed energy issues relevant to bo...More Button

Brexit Issues (Continued)

There is huge connectivity in energy supply on both islands. About 50% of all the oil we consume and all of the natural gas last year came from the UK. We have the single electricity market. My ...More Button

We are exploring other options, including the Celtic interconnector. President Hollande was in Ireland recently and an agreement was signed between Réseau de Transport d'Électricité, RTE, in Fra...More Button

Climate Change Negotiations

Was asked: if he received an invitation to the United Nations climate change conference in Marrakesh in the second week of November 2016. More Button

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held its 21st Conference of the Parties, COP 21, in Paris from 30 November to 12 December 2015. Ireland was represented in Paris by the Ta...More Button

The 22nd Conference of the Parties, COP 22, took place in Marrakesh from 7 to 18 November 2016 and marked the entry into force of the Paris Agreement. The conference, as with all conferences of ...More Button

COP 22 represented a further expression of the global ambition to tackle climate change, with the focus shifting to the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Consensus was reached on the establ...More Button

Ireland ratified the Paris Agreement on 4 November and will contribute to its goals through the nationally determined commitment submitted by the European Union and its member states, which targe...More Button

We will present our transition statement to the House on Thursday and to the Seanad tomorrow. I hope to publish the draft mitigation plan within the next couple of weeks, following Cabinet approva...More Button

He is right: this is the single biggest challenge we all have. The big focus will need to be on not only 2050 and the need to reduce carbon with effectively a zero-carbon economy by then, but we...More Button

The issue of the incoming US President, Donald Trump, was on everybody's lips in Marrakesh. I discussed it with American representatives - I discussed it with the head of the US EPA, who is effect...More Button

Was asked: the engagement he has had with his counterpart in the Northern Executive regarding an all-island approach to the agreements made in Paris regarding climate change.More Button

The global response to the challenges of climate change is driven by the Paris Agreement, which entered into force last month. The Agreement has an overall goal of restricting global temperature r...More Button

Ireland will contribute to the Paris Agreement via the NDC tabled by the EU on behalf of its Member States, which commits to 40% reduction in EU-wide emissions by 2030 compared to 1990. The spec...More Button

In conjunction with the coordinated EU response to climate change, my Department also engages with the Northern Executive on a range of environmental areas, including air quality, cross-border wa...More Button

The North-South Ministerial Council, established under the Good Friday Agreement, facilitates good cooperation on environmental issues, and I look forward to continued cooperation with the Northe...More Button

Climate Change Negotiations (Continued)

It is a little disingenuous - I do not mean of Deputy Paul Murphy - to say all of the debate has been focused on agriculture; it should also be focused on transport and my Department must take some...More Button

Renewable Energy Feed in Tariff Scheme

Was asked: when he will introduce a renewable energy feed in tariff, REFIT, scheme for PV solar and offshore wind energy production; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The programme for Government contains a commitment to further decrease Ireland's dependence on imported fossil fuels through the use of indigenous renewable energy resources. ...More Button

The immediate priority for me is the renewable heat incentive scheme because it can help us to reach our 2020 targets. It is expected that we will pretty much meet our renewable electricity target...More Button

It is my intention to bring forward the scheme as quickly as I can, but my immediate priority is the renewable heat incentive scheme. We have not been sitting on our laurels. We have been engaged...More Button

Was asked: if he will progress the extension to the renewable energy feed in tariff 2 support scheme for those in the development of renewable energy; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I have received a number of representations from the renewable energy industry and individual project developers seeking an extension to the project development milestones set out in the REFIT term...More Button

Media Pluralism

Was asked: his views on media plurality, given the recent acquisitions of a number of radio stations by international media corporations; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I assume the Deputy is referring to the recent media merger which involved the purchase of a number of radio stations. Having received my Department's assessment, I determined on 22 September this...More Button

An important part of the current regime is the requirement on the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, BAI, to prepare, every three years, a report on the ownership and control arrangements of medi...More Button

Furthermore, the international expert group, Sustainable Governance Indicators, ranked Ireland nine out of ten in media freedom and eight out of ten in media pluralism, noting that Irish media is...More Button

In my view, the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 strikes the correct balance in this area and is working well and, as a result, I am confident that we have a robust and effective set ...More Button

I thank Deputy Barry. There have been a number of reports on media plurality. The one hitting the headlines at present is that by Lynn Boylan, MEP. I was asked earlier by Deputy Stanley whether ...More Button

Retrospection is an issue flagged in the report published by Lynn Boylan, MEP. The report in itself recognises it is an extremely difficult area with regard to property rights, market effects, pro...More Button

Was asked: if he has received the report on media diversity in Ireland published by the European University Institute's Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom; if he has considered recommendations in th...More Button

Wind Energy Generation

Was asked: the person or bodies overseeing wind farm development across the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The energy White Paper presents a long-term strategic vision that is intended to guide the direction of Irish energy policy from now until 2030. At its heart is a commitment ...More Button

Wind Energy Generation (Continued)

First, it is not 80%. I do not have the figures to hand but I will get them for the Deputy. We have a number of peat-fired power stations that also avail of supports. It is something that is as ...More Button

If we achieve our 2020 targets on renewable electricity, and it is likely that we will, we will have 75% of our electricity at peak wind production coming from wind, which is a variable energy so...More Button

I find it interesting that the Deputy is making the argument he is. I do not disagree with it because my focus as Minister at the moment is on deep retro-fits of homes. That is why we have €100 m...More Button

The strategic environmental assessment is the reason we have to delay the publication of the revised wind energy regulations. We have to go through the new strategic environmental assessment. I...More Button

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.More Button

Broadband Service Speeds

Was asked: if there are any grants or assistance to help small rural businesses in counties Cavan or Monaghan avail of higher speed broadband connections to make running a business from home feasible.More Button

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to deliver high speed services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland through a combination of commercial investment by the telecommu...More Button

Of the 42,372 addresses in County Cavan, over 24,000  are  to be included in the State Intervention Area. In County Monaghan about 19,500 of the 33,465 addresses are earmarked for State Intervent...More Button

The Department is now in a formal procurement process for the State Intervention.   More Button

Separately, my Department’s Trading Online Voucher Scheme is specifically designed to support small and micro enterprises to trade online. As the digital economy grows, it is essential that the b...More Button

Some 2,700 small businesses, including 31 businesses in County Cavan and 46 businesses in County Monaghan have, to date, successfully applied for a trading online voucher. Furthermore, 6,000 or ...More Button

According to surveys of the enterprise impacts of the scheme, businesses grow on average by 21%, employ 35% more people and 60% export for the first time. Digital trade is contributing to sustai...More Button

In the recent Budget, I secured €3m for the continuation of the scheme in 2017. I am also looking at ways to build on the success of the scheme, putting Ireland further ahead of our European cou...More Button

  Questions Nos. 40 to 47, inclusive, answered orally.More Button

Sustainable Development Strategy

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there were upwards of 400 persons at the sustainability gathering in Dublin Castle recently, all demanding government action on policy for sustainab...More Button

I welcome the interest reflected at the Sustainability Gathering 2016 and indeed note the participation of relevant officials from my own Department in the discussions that took place.  It will be ...More Button

Sustainability is an important policy principle supporting on-going climate-action related work. The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act, 2015 provides statutory recognition of the 'na...More Button

I intend shortly to initiate a public consultation on a new Clean Air Strategy for Ireland. The initiatives on climate action and air quality are key steps in progressing national policy in supp...More Button

The Energy White Paper, Ireland's Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030, sets out a long-term vision to guide Irish energy policy and actions to be taken in the energy sector from no...More Button

Concerning waste, my Department is actively engaged in the on-going discussions on the EU action plan on the circular economy.  The circular economy aims to replace the ‘take-make-dispose’ model ...More Button

Finally, Our Sustainable Future – the Framework for Sustainable Development in Ireland, which was launched in June 2012, identifies some 70 measures to be implemented across Government and tasks ...More Button

National Broadband Plan Implementation

Was asked: his plans to safeguard existing fixed wireless broadband networks in view of the ongoing tendering for the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

In October, I signed Regulations which will allow ComReg to auction spectrum in the 3.6GHz band (Wireless telegraphy (3.6GHz Band Licences) Regulations, 2016 (S.I.  532 of 2016)).  The liberalisati...More Button

ComReg is independent in its functions and I have no role in the process for allocating the spectrum which is now underway. Having regard to the independence of ComReg in the matter and the fact...More Button

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to deliver high speed services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland. The Programme for Government commits to the delivery of the...More Button

The Department is now in a formal procurement process to select a company or companies who will roll-out a new high speed broadband network in the State Intervention Area comprising over 750,000 ...More Button

In line with State Aid Guidelines for deployment of high speed broadband the procurement process is technology neutral.  All three bidders involved in the competitive dialogue process are proposi...More Button

Was asked: the status of the current projected commencement date and completion date for the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to deliver high speed services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland. The Programme for Government commits to the delivery of the N...More Button

The Department is now in a formal procurement process to select a company or companies who will roll out a new high-speed broadband network within the State Intervention Area, comprising over 750...More Button

Intensive dialogue with bidders is continuing and the three bidders have indicated that they are proposing a predominantly fibre-to-the-home solution.  Householders and businesses may get speeds ...More Button

Earlier this year, before I came into office, the Department announced that it would be June 2017 before contract(s) were awarded under the NBP. The bidders in the process have recently indicate...More Button

During the Department's extensive stakeholder consultations in 2015, telecommunications service providers indicated a 3-5 year timeline to rollout a network of the scale envisaged under the NBP. ...More Button

The Programme for Government also commits to measures to assist in the rollout of the network once a contract is awarded. In this regard, Minister Humphreys is leading on the establishment of two...More Button

Was asked: the progress made since he took office with regard to the roll-out of the national broadband plan; when it is expected the contract will be awarded; the number of houses and businesses it is expect...More Button

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to deliver high speed broadband services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland. The Programme for Government commits to the delivery...More Button

Was asked: the timeframe for awarding the contract for the national broadband plan.More Button

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to deliver high speed broadband services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland. The Programme for Government commits to the delivery...More Button

Was asked: the progress to date in meeting his Departments targets in respect of quality and access to broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to deliver high speed broadband services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland. The Programme for Government commits to the delivery...More Button

Broadcasting Charge

Was asked: his plans to provide private media companies with revenue from the broadcast charge fee; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The licence fee is distributed in accordance with Section 123 of the Broadcasting Act 2009, to both RTÉ and TG4 in order to facilitate the pursuit of their public service objectives.  In addition, ...More Button

I am very conscious that while the TV licence fee model has provided a measure of stability to date, the rapid changes in technology altering the traditional way in which television is watched, t...More Button

The issue of funding public service media in the longer term is one that requires extensive engagement with all stakeholders including the commercial and community sectors.  With that in mind, I ...More Button

I look forward to receiving the Committee's Report in due course which will help to inform my decisions on this important issue.More Button

Television Licence Fee Collection

Was asked: his plans to ensure that the television licence fee is collected in full; and the discussions he has had with RTE regarding the provision of the licence fee.More Button

I recognise the important part that public service broadcasters play in our democratic society. The provision of stable and adequate funding is essential to ensuring the continued delivery of thei...More Button

In that context, my Department has been working with An Post and RTÉ on an on-going basis so that all steps are being taken to ensure the system is working as effectively as possible. Measures s...More Button

My Department is also currently examining a number of additional actions that might be taken with the aim of strengthening the system including legislative amendment to provide for the tendering ...More Button

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Was asked: his views on the findings of the SEAI that greenhouse gas emissions here grew by 5% in 2015; his further views on the projections that Ireland will almost certainly miss EU 2020 emissions targets; ...More Button

Was asked: the actions being implemented and the measures being put in place by Departments to ensure Ireland's 2020 targets on greenhouse gas emissions are not missed.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 and 59 together.More Button

For each year between 2013 and 2020, Ireland has a Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) emissions reduction target under the 2009 Effort Sharing Decision (ESD) No. 406/2009/EC. For the year 2020 itsel...More Button

In March 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published projected emissions for 2020 which indicate that Ireland’s emissions at that stage could be in the range of 6 - 11% below 2005 l...More Button

According to the latest GHG inventory published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in November 2016, emissions for 2015 are estimated at 59.84 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (...More Button

The extent of the challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in line with our EU and international commitments, is well understood by the Government, as reflected in the National Policy Positi...More Button

I intend to launch an initial non-statutory public consultation process shortly to inform preparation of a draft National Mitigation Plan. This draft Plan will then be subject to a further statu...More Button

Notwithstanding the efforts outlined above to address the challenge to comply with the 2020 targets, in the likely event that a gap to target still exists in 2020, retirement of Annual Emissions ...More Button

Electric Vehicles

Was asked: his plans to encourage the development of the electric vehicle fleet and electric vehicle charge points here.More Button

The 2009 Renewable Energy Directive sets all Member States a binding target that at least 10% of the energy used in the transport sector must come from renewable sources by 2020. Ireland aims to m...More Button

Was asked: his expectations and proposals to encourage the use of electric cars as a means of carbon reduction; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if he is satisfied with the roll-out of charge points for electric cars across the country and his plans for 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 447 and 450  together.More Button

Since 2011, the Electric Vehicle Grant Scheme has been supporting and incentivising, through grants of up to €5,000, the deployment of Electric Vehicles (EVs) in Ireland. These grants are in add...More Button

The roll-out of the charging infrastructure is an operational matter for the ESB and I do not have any function in this regard.  I am aware, however, that the ESB, through its ecars programme, ha...More Button

In accordance with the commitment in the Programme for Government, my Department and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport are establishing and will co-Chair a Low Emissions Vehicles Tas...More Button

Broadcasting Sector

Was asked: if he is satisfied that the national broadcaster has met the legal and regulatory requirements under the Broadcasting Act 2009 with regard to the outsourcing of programming by RTE.More Button

Was asked: the discussions his Department had with the RTE authorities prior to the announcement that the broadcaster would outsource all young persons' programming; and if he will make a statement on the mat...More Button

Was asked: if he has had any discussions with the RTE board or management about cuts in children's programmes and the outsourcing of same.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 54, 55 and 66 together.

  RTÉ is an independent national public service broadcaster whose remit and obligations are set out in the Broadcasting A...More Button

Telecommunications Services Provision

Was asked: the number of times the mobile phone and broadband task force has met; the action points that have been acted on from these meetings; the number of phone companies he has met since the task force w...More Button

I am critically aware of the frustration currently being experienced across Ireland, where mobile phone and broadband networks are not always delivering the services people expect.  Telecoms operat...More Button

Recognising this challenge, I specifically included in the Programme for Government, a commitment to a Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce. In July, I established the Taskforce, together with M...More Button

The Taskforce involves Government Departments and agencies, as well as engagement with ComReg and telecoms operators. Minister Humphreys and I intend to bring the report of the Taskforce to Gove...More Button

Under the Programme for Government, Minister Humphreys has also established two regional action groups to work with Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Offices, LEADER Groups and other relevant a...More Button

In addition, I recently signed Regulations allowing ComReg to proceed with an early 2017 allocation of spectrum in the 3.6GHz radio spectrum band.  This will provide an 86% increase in total spec...More Button

In my Department's estimates for 2017 I have secured an €8m provision for RTÉ to allow it to free up the 700MHz spectrum band.  ComReg in turn will make plans to allocate this spectrum, to provid...More Button

These initiatives should assist in enhancing the quality of mobile phone and data services across Ireland, and particularly in rural Ireland.More Button

In parallel, the National Broadband Plan aims to deliver high speed services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland, through private investment and a State intervention i...More Button

The procurement process is underway and the three bidders in the process have indicated that they are proposing a predominantly fibre-to-the-home solution for rural Ireland.  Intensive dialogue w...More Button

Was asked: his plans to ensure universal access by all householders to high-speed mobile phone services in addition to high-speed broadband services; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The current EU and national regulatory framework for telecommunications allows for the application of a Universal Service Obligation in respect of fixed voice services. This framework has, in my v...More Button

Currently there are no universal service obligations (USO) for high speed broadband provision in Ireland and the European Telecommunications Framework does not facilitate the imposition of a high...More Button

Thus National Broadband Plan will deliver the network which will be required, to connect all premises. While USO alone could not be expected to deliver new high speed broadband networks of this ...More Button

I am in discussion with ComReg as to whether a universal service obligation (USO) may be a viable instrument in such instances, i.e. in areas where a high speed network is available but individua...More Button

I have also raised the issue of a USO for high speed broadband at EU level.  In September, the European Commission published an ambitious proposal for the regulation of the European telecoms sect...More Button

There are no provisions in European or national regulation for a USO in relation to mobile voice services. Mobile operators are however rolling out 3G and 4G networks across Ireland following Co...More Button

In my Department's estimates for 2017 I have secured an €8m provision for RTÉ to allow it to free up the 700MHz spectrum band.  ComReg in turn will make plans to auction this spectrum, to provide...More Button

I intend to discuss with ComReg, how the allocation of spectrum in the 700MHz band could facilitate greater penetration of mobile voice and data services.More Button

Departmental Priorities

Was asked: the ten most important proposals or initiatives contemplated by his Department calculated to be of most benefit in the context of climate action and environmental protection; if specific deadlines ...More Button

In the context of environmental protection and climate action, the Programme for Partnership Government sets out a coordinated approach to shape the long-term future of Irish environmental policy, ...More Button

Environmental sustainability is, of course, a core principle of this Government's work and is at the heart of the policies and schemes that are implemented by my Department, particularly given Ir...More Button

Within my own remit I am currently initiating a number of key priority actions which are relevant to climate action and environmental protection:More Button

- Tomorrow I will present Ireland's first Annual Transition Statement as required under our Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act, 2015.More Button

- In the coming days, I intend to initiate a preliminary public consultation to inform the preparation of Ireland's first draft National Mitigation Plan so as to ensure our citizens can contribu...More Button

- Both of these actions I see as being key components of Ireland's National Climate Dialogue which I intend to formally launch early in 2017.More Button

- I am also prioritising a National Adaptation Framework to ensure we address climate resilience in terms of our long term planning out to 2050. An economic framework for costing adaptation wil...More Button

- I will shortly publish an initial consultation paper on a Clean Air Strategy for Ireland. This strategy will seek to ensure on-going compliance with EU legislation, while bringing about impro...More Button

- An increased budget in 2017 of over €100m will help expand the Better Energy Scheme and introduce new measures such as the Renewable Heat Incentive. A record €25m in grants will be ring-fence...More Button

- A new Public Sector Energy Efficiency Action Plan has been developed to draft stage with publication, subject to Government approval, due to take place before the end of this year.More Button

- Significant work has taken place in the development of a new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme, with a further consultation to take place in early 2017 followed by finalisation of the schem...More Button

As Minister for the Environment, I also have responsibility for making allocations from the Environment Fund, which is ring-fenced for environmental purposes.  Allocations totalling €40.5million ...More Button

The range of actions being pursued by my Department, and other key Departments and Agencies, is evidence of the cross-Government commitment to protect Ireland's environment and manage effectively...More Button

  Question No. 59 answered with Question No. 52.More Button

Climate Change Policy

Was asked: his Department's definition of carbon neutrality and sustainable food production, in view of the fact that these terms are often used in tandem with each other with regard to Ireland's climate chan...More Button

The EU and wider international position on carbon neutrality is not well developed and lacks clarity of definition at this stage.More Button

As part of the process of defining carbon neutrality from an Irish agriculture and land use perspective, a number of scenarios are being considered and the definition ultimately approved will hav...More Button

This issue was examined by NESC in its 2012 report, "Ireland and the climate change challenge: connecting "How Much" with "How To"". Teagasc has also produced a report setting out a number of co...More Button

Regarding the definition of sustainable food production, Ireland's Food Wise 2025 agri-food strategy sets out a vision for the sustainable growth of the food production sector, in line with the E...More Button

The extent of Ireland's challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in line with our EU and international commitments, is well understood by the Government, as reflected in the National Policy ...More Button

Was asked: his views on whether the draft national mitigation plan due to be presented represents Ireland's fair share, based on GNI and carbon emissions per capita, of a global pathway with a reasonable like...More Button

The extent of the challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in line with our EU and international commitments, is well understood by the Government, as reflected in the National Policy Position...More Button

Work is well under way on the development of the first statutory National Mitigation Plan (NMP), required under Section 4 of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act, 2015. The primary o...More Button

The first NMP is being developed having regard to the low carbon transition vision set out in the National Policy Position, Ireland’s obligations under the current Effort Sharing Decision No 406/...More Button

Specifically in relation to Ireland's response to the global challenge of climate change, this is driven by the Paris Agreement which entered into force on 4th November 2016. Ireland signed the A...More Button

Ireland will contribute to the emission-reduction objectives of the Paris Agreement via the NDC tabled by the EU on behalf of its Member States which commits to 40% reduction in EU-wide emissions...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which he expects to meet carbon reduction targets in the time given; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: his priorities in respect of climate action; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: his proposals for reducing our carbon footprint; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the measures his Department has taken to reduce the carbon footprint in the past year and any discussion he has had with his European colleagues in reducing same on a European level; and if he will...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 442, 445, 446 and 451 together.

  Climate-action related work is progressing in the context of:

  - the high-level National Po...More Button

Alternative Energy Projects

Was asked: if he envisages a long-term future for the burning of biomass in electric power generation.More Button

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to further decrease Ireland's dependence on imported fossil fuels through the use of indigenous renewable energy resources. This commitment builds...More Button

Was asked: if there grant aid is available for solar farms; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to facilitate the development of solar energy projects in Ireland. This builds on the Energy White Paper published in Decemb...More Button

Landfill Sites

Was asked: if his Department has a register of historical landfill sites around the country; and if he is satisfied that adequate regulation, governance and, if necessary, remediation is in place regarding sa...More Button

For the purposes of waste management planning, Ireland is divided into three regions: Connacht-Ulster; Eastern-Midlands and the Southern Region.  Waste management plans for the three regions includ...More Button

The Waste Management (Certification of Historic Unlicensed Waste Disposal and Recovery Activity) Regulations (S.I. No. 524 of 2008) provide for the certification of historic unlicensed waste disp...More Button

To assist local authorities with risk assessment and to ensure a consistent approach, the EPA has developed a Code of Practice for Environmental Risk Assessment for Unregulated Waste Disposal Sit...More Button

The Waste Management Planning Regions are now developing a work plan for the investigation, assessment and remediation of the landfills with priority attaching to the sites of highest risk.  My D...More Button

Telecommunications Infrastructure

Was asked: the communication he has had with mobile phone companies and the British Government regarding cross-Border roaming charges post-Brexit.More Button

In September, the European Commission published an ambitious proposal for the regulation of the European telecoms sector, which aims to incentivise and encourage increased investment in high speed ...More Button

The EU Roaming Regulations aim to abolish retail roaming charges within the EU by June 2017, subject to Fair Use Policy. In parallel with industry discussions, negotiations on both the EU Wholesa...More Button

The Deputy will be aware of the Cabinet Committee set up to consider all potential contingency planning issues following the UK referendum, which is headed up by the Department of the Taoiseach. ...More Button

It is not yet possible to say what impact Brexit will have on cross border roaming charges. This will be largely dependent on the future relationship between the EU and UK. I can assure the Deput...More Button

Broadcasting Authority of Ireland

Was asked: if his Department has received the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland's annual report for 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The 2015 Annual Report and Accounts for the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland have been received by my Department and have been noted by Government. They were laid before the Houses of the Oireacht...More Button

National Broadband Plan Data

Was asked: when his Department first announced plans to introduce the awaited national broadband plan; the dates on which various Ministers held press conferences to publicise it; the expected commencement an...More Button

The Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP), which was published in August 2012 by the then Minister, outlined Government’s commitment to deliver high speed broadband availability across the cou...More Button

Radon Control Strategy

Was asked: the supports available for residents of counties deemed high priority by the EPA with respect to reducing radon gas emissions; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The National Radon Control Strategy Co-ordination Group was established to implement and track the key recommendations of the National Radon Control Strategy (NRCS), published in 2014. This co-ord...More Button

Cost has been identified as a disincentive to householders to both test and remediate their homes for radon. The NRCS contains a number of recommendations, one of which is to explore possible fi...More Button

Fisheries Protection

Was asked: if he will alleviate the concerns of west Clare anglers who are of the view that County Clare is the only coastal county in which salmon rivers are still closed; and if he will make a statement on ...More Button

Broadband Service Provision

Was asked: the provision he will make to ensure that existing fixed wireless broadband users can continue to have access to broadband providers when the winner of the present competition for the national broa...More Button

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to deliver high speed services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland. The Programme for Government commits to the delivery of the N...More Button

The Department is now in a formal procurement process to select a company or companies who will roll-out a new high speed broadband network in the State Intervention Area comprising over 750,000 ...More Button

In relation to the separate matter of the management of radio spectrum this is a statutory function of the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) under the Communications Regulation Ac...More Button

In October, I signed Regulations which will allow ComReg to allocate spectrum in the 3.6GHz band. This will provide an 86% increase in total spectrum available for mobile and fixed wireless serv...More Button

I have no role or function in the delivery of the auction process, which is a matter for ComReg. I am aware that ComReg has recently concluded its consultation process on the award process for t...More Button

Was asked: his views on whether the upcoming 3.6 Ghz spectrum award could result in the reduction of competition in the next generation access, NGA, market while increasing the scale and cost to the State of ...More Button

The management of the radio spectrum is a statutory function of the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) under the Communications Regulation Act 2002, as amended. This role includes th...More Button

I have no role or function in the delivery of the allocation process, which is a matter for ComReg. I am aware that ComReg has recently concluded its consultation process on the award process for...More Button

The aim of the National Broadband Plan is to bring competitively priced quality services to rural areas, through a State intervention to build a new high speed broadband network. It is envisaged ...More Button

The Plan aims to deliver high speed services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland. The Programme for Government commits to the delivery of the NBP as a matter of priori...More Button

The Department is now in a formal procurement process to select a company or companies who will roll-out a new high speed broadband network in the State Intervention Area comprising over 750,000 ...More Button

The procurement process is technology neutral. All three bidders involved in the competitive dialogue process are proposing a predominantly fibre-to-the-home network solution to connect rural Irela...More Button

Was asked: the progress on the roll-out of fibre broadband on a county basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to deliver high speed broadband services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland. The Programme for Government commits to the delivery...More Button

Company Data

Was asked: , further to Parliamentary Question No. 220 of 26 November 2015, when EirGrid will provide an answer to this question which has remained unanswered over a year later.More Button

I understand that EirGrid responded to the Deputy by e-mail on 22 December 2015 and on 3 February 2016. If the Deputy requires additional information, on receipt of such question, I can arrange for...More Button

Inland Fisheries Data

Was asked: when the results of the survey of the River Barrow conducted by Inland Fisheries Ireland will be published in view of the fact that publication of same was expected in July 2016; and if he will mak...More Button

Energy Infrastructure

Was asked: if grant aid is available to assist small enterprises to install 3 phase electricity in view of the substantial costs involved in having electricity supply upgraded, particularly in rural areas; an...More Button

My Department does not administer grant aid for such a scheme.   

  The Farm Electrification Grant Scheme (FEGS) was administered and funded through the former Dep...More Button

Departmental Expenditure

Was asked: the total budget for all environmentally friendly schemes his Department administers in the coming year; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I secured €29.4m in Exchequer funding in Budget 2017 for the environment and waste management areas of my Department, an increase of some €9m on the comparative 2016 allocation.

 &nbs...More Button

  Question No. 450 answered with Question No. 447.More Button

  Question No. 451 answered with Question No. 442.More Button

National Postcode System Implementation

Was asked: if he requested the public broadcasting of advertisements on both TV and radio promoting the use of Eircode postcodes during emergency situations; if so, the reason the public advertisements do not...More Button

Eircode ran an advertising campaign on television and radio to raise public awareness of using Eircodes during emergency situations. Using Eircodes helps the National Ambulance Service (NAS) provid...More Button

Ambulance emergency requests often come from isolated rural locations. NAS considers the Eircode information to be very important in the rapid identification of these rural addresses – in particu...More Button

While there is no requirement to reference the Department in a public service announcement, my Department did approve the public awareness campaign.More Button

As stated in the reply to Question No [38884/16] Eircode employ rigorous quality assurance and validation check processes on the assignment of all Eircodes to each postal address and its correspo...More Button

Was asked: if Eircode has carried out an assessment of the accuracy of the Eircodes assigned to households.More Button

Eircode employ rigorous quality assurance and validation check processes on the assignment of Eircodes to each postal address and its corresponding geo-location. The postal addresses and the geo-l...More Button

Eircode undertakes a detailed quality checking process of all new address data provided by An Post GeoDirectory. Once this process has been completed, Eircodes are then allocated to each postal ...More Button

National Postcode System Expenditure

Was asked: if the public broadcaster covered the cost of the production and transmission of the Eircode postcode public service advertisement; and if so, if it was requested by him.More Button

The decision to run the public broadcast is an operational matter for RTE and not one in which I have a function.More Button