Header Item Written Answers Nos. 536 - 564
 Header Item Landfill Sites
 Header Item Waste Disposal
 Header Item Climate Change Policy
 Header Item Fisheries Protection
 Header Item Waste Disposal Charges
 Header Item Electricity Transmission Network
 Header Item Bioenergy Strategy
 Header Item White Paper on Energy
 Header Item Electricity Generation
 Header Item Strategy for Renewable Energy
 Header Item Strategy for Renewable Energy
 Header Item Broadband Service Provision
 Header Item Renewable Energy Incentives
 Header Item Renewable Energy Feed in Tariff Scheme
 Header Item Health and Safety Regulations
 Header Item Departmental Agencies Staff Data
 Header Item Electric Vehicles
 Header Item Broadband Service Provision

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 924 No. 1
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 91 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 536 - 564

Landfill Sites

 536. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten the tonnage of waste being dumped in a location (details supplied) in County Kildare for each of the past five years; the tonnage of waste being dumped at that location from Connacht, Ulster, Leinster and Munster; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29330/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten Statistics and information on the tonnage of waste at landfill sites around Ireland are not compiled by my Department.  Information regarding individual facilities is available from the Environmental Protection Agency. I have asked the Agency to assist the Deputy with her enquiries.

Waste Disposal

 537. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten the tonnage of waste exported for disposal for each of the past five years; the destinations of this waste and the port from which it left Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29331/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten Statistics and information on shipments of waste to and from Ireland, including ports used, are not kept by my Department. Such information is available from the National Transfrontier Shipments Office (NTFSO), which compiles an annual register for movement of both Amber and Green list waste. Amber list waste refers to hazardous waste. All Amber listed waste destined for recovery, and all shipments of Amber listed waste destined for disposal, are subject to prior notification and consent procedures in accordance with Articles 3 and 4 of EU Regulation 1013/2006. Green listed waste refers to shipments of non-hazardous waste for recovery within and from the EU.

  The latest registers compiled by the NTFSO deal with 2015 and are available at http://www.dublincity.ie/main-menu-services-water-waste-and-environment-waste-and-recycling-national-tfs-office/ntfso-waste. Information can also be obtained on historical shipments from the National Waste Reports published by the Environmental Protection Agency and which are available on its website at www.epa.ie.

Climate Change Policy

 538. Deputy Eamon Ryan Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten the proposed timeline for ratification of the Paris climate agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29636/16]

 542. Deputy Eamon Ryan Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten the timeline for Ireland in the ratification of the Paris agreement. [29980/16]

 543. Deputy Eamon Ryan Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten if, in the event that the Government has not ratified COP21 in advance of the COP22 conference on 7 to 18 November 2016, Ireland will be able to participate fully in all the institutions involving ratified countries. [29981/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten I propose to take Questions Nos. 538, 542 and 543 together.

The Paris Agreement puts in place the necessary framework for all countries to take ambitious action as well as providing for a transparency system to ensure that all countries can have confidence in each other’s efforts. The Agreement aims to tackle 95% of global emissions through 188 Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). Ireland will contribute to the Paris Agreement via the INDC tabled by the EU on behalf of its Member States which commits to a 40% reduction in EU-wide emissions by 2030 compared to 1990. The specific details of the contribution to be made by each Member State to this overall ambition remains to be finalised, and Ireland is currently examining proposals made by the European Commission in this regard.

As of Monday 10 October 2016, 76 Parties to the Convention (including the EU and some of its Member States - France, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Portugal and Malta) accounting in total for 59.91 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval. Therefore, in accordance with Article 21 (1) the Agreement will enter into force at the next Conference of the Parties (COP22) which will be held in Marrakesh from 7 to 18 November 2016.

Ireland is a strong supporter of the Paris Agreement and indicated its continuing commitment by signing the Agreement, along with other EU member states, at the signing ceremony in New York on 22nd April this year. The approval of Dáil Eireann is required for Ireland to ratify the agreement and on-going analysis of the proposed effort sharing to be agreed for 2030 will be critical to informing this debate. Ireland is treating the ratification process as a key priority and intends to initiate the domestic ratification process very soon with a view to early completion.

The Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement, known as the CMA, has recognised the need for inclusivity and the importance of full Party participation at COP22, and is exploring options to allow for previous governance structures to continue in their operational capacity thus facilitating those parties who have not completed the ratification process by November 7th. Furthermore, those EU Member States who have not ratified by this date will continue to contribute as before in terms of informing the EU position at COP 22. As stated the EU has ratified and continues to represent all Member States at such conferences.

Fisheries Protection

 539. Deputy Tom Neville Information on Tom Neville Zoom on Tom Neville asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten if he will consider lifting the draft net fishing ban for two weeks in the year in order that children and teenagers can be taught about fishing to ensure that the culture and tradition will not be lost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29663/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Seán Kyne): Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is the State agency responsible for salmon management in Ireland. The current management system for salmon, including draft netting, arose in the context of the Government decision in 2006 to ban salmon fishing in the sea, to offer a hardship payment for fishermen to permanently cease fishing and to adhere to the scientific review and advice undertaken each year in setting out the annual management regime.

  Since then, the primary driver of the management regime in any year is the annual scientific advice for each of the 147 salmon rivers. The management of wild salmon in Ireland must also reflect the genetically unique stock in each of Ireland’s 147 salmon rivers.

  Where an individual river is assessed, by the independent Standing Scientific Committee, as not meeting its individual conservation limit, and therefore having no harvestable surplus, harvesting of salmon by any means is not permitted.

  The conservation imperative requires that draft netting is not permitted on rivers which are below their conservation limits as any additional pressure on the individual stock is inappropriate. Management advice in this regard is that it would be unsustainable for any netting to take place, whether fish are killed or not.

  On that basis, draft netting is only permitted where a river has an exploitable surplus of salmon above its established conservation limit.  I am advised by IFI that a number of salmon rivers in the West of Ireland were open to draft netting during the commercial salmon season in 2016.

  While draft netting takes place often in a challenging work environment, I would be happy to arrange a briefing for the Deputy with IFI to explore what educational opportunities exist when the fishery is open in 2017, provided that a harvestable surplus exists on these rivers next year.

Waste Disposal Charges

 540. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten the exemptions in place for households with medical grounds following the introduction of pay-by-weight refuse collection on 1 September 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29785/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The charges applied by waste management companies are a matter between those companies and their customers, subject to compliance with all applicable environmental and other relevant legislation, including contract and consumer legislation.

The waste management industry had committed to providing a full weight allowance for the disposal of non-infancy incontinence wear to the estimated 60,000 patients supplied with such products by the HSE if a pay by weight per kilogramme charging system was introduced for household waste collection.

However, as the waste industry began releasing its proposed prices under pay-by-weight in June, 2016, the Government relayed its concern to the industry regarding the reported escalation of waste bills for customers of certain companies.

On foot of this, my Department engaged with representatives of the waste industry to agree a way forward that results in customers paying no more for the same level of service than they are currently paying for waste collection over the 12 months to 1 July 2017.  It is intended to roll out a comprehensive education and awareness programme on pay by weight so that more householders can make an informed decision around their preferred pricing plan in the coming months.  It is also the intention that the Government will review the operation of pay-by-weight and make decisions regarding its further roll-out, regulation and oversight by July 2017. The issue raised by the Deputy will be considered as part of the wider review of the operation and potential introduction of pay by weight.

Electricity Transmission Network

 541. Deputy Eamon Ryan Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten if he has received a report on the break in the east-west electricity interconnector between Dublin and Wales; the reason for the loss of service; and when the interconnector will be back in operation. [29982/16]

 544. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten if he will confirm that the east-west interconnector power line will be out of commission for the next five months due to repairs; the steps being taken to remedy this; the effect this will have on Irish electricity supply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29392/16]

 545. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten regarding the east-west interconnector power line being out of commission for the next five months due to repairs, if this will result in higher electricity bills for consumers, as has been reported; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29393/16]

 546. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten regarding the east-west interconnector power line being out of commission for the next five months due to repairs, if CER had discussions with his Department on the possible consequences this will have on retail and wholesale electricity bills; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29394/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten I propose to take Questions Nos. 541 and 544 to 546, inclusive, together.

I have been advised by EirGrid that when the East West Interconnector was being returned to service on 8 September, following an annual maintenance shutdown, a fault occurred causing damage to the converter station equipment.  The repair of the converter station requires the removal of the damaged parts and the manufacture, delivery, and installation of replacement parts and subsequent testing of the repaired facility.

While the interconnector plays an important role in transferring power to and from the UK, EirGrid has publicly reassured energy consumers in their press statement of 30 September that there are no implications for the supply of electricity due to this issue. There is an adequate supply of electricity to meet demand over the coming months.

EirGrid, along with the contractor ABB, are currently investigating how to bring the interconnector back into service as soon as possible. The programme of work submitted by the contractor has a return to service time for the end of February 2017 and there are ongoing discussions with the contractor to expedite that programme.

My Department  is in ongoing contact with EirGrid and the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), both of which are alert to the importance of ensuring any impacts on commercial and domestic electricity customers are minimised. I am advised that the CER does not expect any significant rise in electricity retail prices as a result of this outage.  The precise impact is difficult to predict or assign, given the variability of factors that determine wholesale prices on this island and in Great Britain, including changes in fuel prices such as gas, variability of renewable generation output and demand, and power plant availability.  While the wholesale price is a key determinant of retail prices, typically on an annual basis, hedging arrangements minimise customer exposure price changes in a given period.

It is important to note that the East West Interconnector is one of two electricity interconnectors that connect the Single Electricity Market on the island of Ireland with the wholesale market in Great Britain. The second interconnector, called the Moyle interconnector, runs from Larne to Scotland and is currently operating at full capacity. This will help to mitigate any impact on the Single Electricity Market and electricity consumers.

  Question Nos. 542 and 543 answered with Question No. 538.

  Question Nos. 544 to 546, inclusive, answered with Question No. 541.

Bioenergy Strategy

 547. Deputy Eamon Ryan Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten when the public consultation on the strategic environmental assessment of the draft bioenergy strategy will take place. [29403/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The potential of the bioenergy sector to make a significant contribution to a wide range of Government policy objectives, including energy and waste policy, is well recognised. My Department is in the process of finalising a bioenergy plan to capture this potential through the development and introduction of measures to encourage the growth of Ireland’s biomass and bioenergy sectors.

  The draft plan is currently undergoing a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) which will include a public consultation to take place before the end of the year. This will be advertised on my Department's website at www.dccae.gov.ie.

  The introduction of a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is a commitment in the draft Bioenergy Plan and in the Programme for Government and will be the primary support mechanism in the heating sector designed to meet Ireland’s renewable energy obligations. The aim of the RHI is to build on the progress already made in the renewable heating sector and to help reach Ireland’s 12% target by 2020. In 2015, it is estimated that 6.8% of heat was derived from renewable sources.

  Over the last few months, the Department has undertaken a detailed economic assessment on the design and cost of the RHI and this work is now almost complete. Once finalised, there will be an additional public consultation phase on the design of the new scheme. Before the RHI is introduced, the overall costs and technologies to be supported will be subject to Government approval and State aid clearance from the European Commission. It is expected that a new scheme will become available in the latter half of 2017.

White Paper on Energy

 548. Deputy Michael Collins Information on Michael Collins Zoom on Michael Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten the position regarding the White Paper on renewable energy. [29420/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The Energy White Paper contains a vision to accelerate the development and diversification of renewable energy in Ireland. Significant progress towards that end has been made by my Department in progressing a range of actions in the renewable energy sector, including:

- the development of two new renewables support schemes: the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) aimed at increasing renewables in in the heat sector; and a Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) aimed at providing support for renewable electricity. Initial public consultation was carried out on both schemes in 2015. A further consultation for the RHI is planned before year-end, with the scheme being fully operational in the second half of 2017. A further RESS consultation is due to take place in the first quarter of 2017, with the broad details of the scheme being published later in 2017. Finalisation of these schemes is subject to Government and State aid approval from the European Commission.

- the development of a Renewable Electricity Policy and Development Framework (REPDF). A public consultation on the draft Scoping Report for the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) was held earlier this year.  A further consultation on the Environmental Report and the draft Framework is planned by my Department towards the end of 2016, with notice of the finalisation of the SEA and adoption of the Framework in 2017.

- the development of new planning guidelines for wind farms. My Department is working with the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government to meet the commitment in the Programme for Government to have updated guidelines in place by end-November 2016.

- the development of a National Bioenergy Plan. A draft Bioenergy Plan was published in December 2014.  A strategic Environmental assessment (SEA) is currently being prepared.

- the continuing support for the deployment of electric vehicles through the grant scheme administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

- an increase in the Biofuel Obligation from 6% to 8% by volume from 1st January 2017.  Further increases up to 2020 are being examined by my Department.

- the submission of the third progress report on the National Renewable Energy Action Plan to the European Commission in April 2016.

Electricity Generation

 549. Deputy Michael Collins Information on Michael Collins Zoom on Michael Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten if the Government will encourage all the electricity providers to pay domestic producers of electricity either by solar or wind, as opposed to only one company (details supplied). [29421/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten Responsibility for the regulation of the electricity market is a matter for the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) and I have no function in the matter.  I am aware that since February 2009 Electric Ireland has offered a feed-in tariff on a commercial basis to domestic micro-generators. Electric Ireland decided to close the scheme to new entrants from the end of 2014. More recently, Electric Ireland extended the tariff to their existing customers from the end of 2015 until the end of 2016.  To date, no other electricity supplier has chosen to provide such a tariff, to either domestic or commercial customers, although they have been invited to do so by the CER.

Previously, a joint Electric Ireland/ ESB Networks micro-generation support scheme for domestic micro-generators operated from February 2009 to February 2012. This scheme closed to new entrants in February 2012 but a support tariff continues to be provided to existing participants who were accepted into the scheme prior to that date and until the fifth anniversary of their contract start date.

The Energy White Paper published last December sets out a high-level framework for Ireland's energy transition to a low carbon economy and society and identifies a range of measures and actions to support this aim. Exploring the scope to provide support for renewable micro-generators will form part of my Department's on-going analysis to underpin the introduction of a new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

In-depth economic analysis is underway to inform the cost of a new support scheme and the design of the support tariff - whether in the form of a grant payment or feed-in tariff. While no decision has been taken on the precise renewable technologies to be supported, the cost and technical viability of a range of renewable technologies - including solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind are being examined as part of the assessment process.

Once the detailed economic analysis is complete, there will be an additional public consultation phase on the design of the new scheme. The details of this will be advertised on the Department’s website, www.dccae.gov.ie.

Strategy for Renewable Energy

 550. Deputy Michael Collins Information on Michael Collins Zoom on Michael Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten if the current system and prices of microgeneration can be improved to encourage more persons to invest in renewables and the existing producers to recoup some of their investment. [29422/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The Renewable Electricity Feed-in-Tariff (REFIT) schemes are the principal means of supporting renewable electricity generators for renewable energy exported to the grid. These schemes support electricity generated from a range of renewable sources including small scale hydro, biomass and wind. Small scale renewable micro-generation is eligible to apply for support under the REFIT schemes.

  The Energy White Paper sets out a high-level framework for Ireland's energy transition to a low carbon economy and society and identifies a range of measures and actions to support this aim. One key action is to explore the scope to provide market support for micro generation.  This will be informed by an analysis which has been completed by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) of the potential of technologies in the field of small-scale wind, solar, micro-CHP and small-scale hydro.

  While I have no statutory function in the regulation of the electricity market, I am aware that from February 2009 Electric Ireland offered a feed-in tariff on a commercial basis to domestic micro-generators but which was subsequently closed to new entrants from the end of 2014. More recently, Electric Ireland extended the tariff to their existing customers from the end of 2015 until the end of 2016.  To date, no other electricity supplier has chosen to provide such a tariff, to either domestic or commercial customers, although they have been invited to do so by the Commission for Energy Regulation.

My Department is currently undertaking in-depth economic analysis to inform the cost of a new support scheme and the design of the support tariff - whether in the form of a grant payment or feed-in tariff. While no decision has been taken on the precise renewable technologies to be supported, the cost and technical viability of a range of renewable technologies are being examined as part of the assessment process.  A further public consultation will be advertised on the Department’s website www.dccae.gov.ie. It is expected that the new scheme will become available in 2017 subject to Government approval and State aid clearance from the European Commission.

Strategy for Renewable Energy

 551. Deputy Michael Collins Information on Michael Collins Zoom on Michael Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten if the Government and the various Departments can come together to draw up new plans to update the renewables industry (details supplied). [29423/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The Energy White Paper published last December sets out a coherent high-level framework for Ireland’s energy transition to a low carbon system and society and identifies a range of measures to accelerate the development and diversification of renewable energy in Ireland, including:

  - The REFIT schemes which underpin the development of a range of renewable electricity technologies, including hydro, biomass combustion, biomass combined heat and power, landfill gas and onshore wind. Small scale renewable generation is also eligible to apply for support under the REFIT scheme;

  - Two new renewables support schemes which are under development - a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) aimed at increasing renewables in the heat sector, and, a Renewable Electricity Support Scheme aimed at providing support for renewable electricity (RESS). An initial public consultation was launched for both schemes in 2015. A further consultation for the RHI is planned before year-end, with the scheme being fully operational in the second half of 2017. A further RESS consultation is due to take place in the first quarter of 2017, with the broad details of the scheme being published later in 2017. Finalisation of these schemes is subject to Government and State aid approval from the European Commission;

  - Since February 2009 Electric Ireland have offered a feed-in tariff on a commercial basis to domestic micro-generators. The tariff was closed to new entrants from the end of 2014. More recently, Electric Ireland extended the tariff to their existing customers from the end of 2015 until the end of 2016.  To date, no other electricity supplier has chosen to provide such a tariff, to either domestic or commercial customers, although they have been invited to do so by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER).

  - A number of energy efficiency schemes operated under the Better Energy Programme by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) on behalf of my Department. The Better Energy Homes Scheme makes a range of grants available to home-owners who wish to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

  The statutory minimum energy performance standards for buildings are addressed under Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Energy) of the Building Regulations and the accompanying Technical Guidance Documents the building regulations, which fall within the remit of the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.  In broad terms, since July 2008, the regulations have required that a reasonable proportion of the energy consumption to meet the energy performance of all new dwellings be provided from renewable energy sources such as solar thermal and photovoltaics.

Broadband Service Provision

 552. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten his plans to roll out dark fibre broadband in the south east; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29502/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten 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 NBP as a matter of priority.  This is being achieved through private investment by commercial telecommunications companies and through a State intervention in areas where commercial investment is not forthcoming. The formal procurement process for the State Intervention commenced in December 2015.

The procurement process aims to identify an entity or entities to build, rollout, operate and deliver high speed broadband of at least 30 Mbps upload and 6 Mbps download speeds to all premises within the intervention area.  The network envisaged will be a wholesale, open access network and it is intended that dark fibre services will be a part the product set of the network that will be built.  This will therefore include dark fibre in the southeast.

The High Speed Broadband Map, which is available at www.broadband.gov.ie, shows the extent of the State Intervention area:

- The areas marked BLUE represent those areas where commercial providers are either currently delivering or have previously indicated plans to deliver high speed broadband services.

- The areas marked AMBER on the High Speed Broadband Map represent the target areas for the State Intervention which are the subject of the current procurement process.

The map provides information on a county by county basis with a breakdown of coverage across the townlands in every county including the Southeast comprising the counties of Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford. Individuals can check whether their premises is in a BLUE or an AMBER area by scrolling through the map online or entering their Eircode. The Department also has a dedicated mailbox and anyone with a query in relation to the Map should email the Department, quoting their Eircode, to broadband@dcenr.gov.ie.

The Department is now in a formal procurement process to select a company or companies to roll-out a new high speed broadband network(s) in the Intervention area which extends to over 750,000 premises in Ireland, covering 100,000km of road network and 96% of the land area of Ireland.

As part of the competitive process, the Department will engage with winning bidder(s) on the best rollout strategy, in order to target areas of particularly poor service, business needs and / or high demand. This will need to be balanced with the most efficient network rollout plan. A prioritisation programme will be put in place in this regard, in consultation with the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. A detailed rollout plan for the network will be published once contract(s) are in place.

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 regional action groups, working with Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Offices and other relevant agencies to help accelerate the broadband network build in rural Ireland, once a contract(s) has been awarded.

 In the meantime, my Department continues to liaise closely with industry and relevant other Departments and agencies to assist in the commercial deployment of telecommunications networks. The commercial telecommunications sector has invested over €2bn in upgrading and modernising networks which support the provision of high speed broadband and mobile telecoms services. These investments will further improve the coverage and quality of broadband and mobile voice and data services throughout the country.

In line with commitments in the Programme for Government I established a Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce with my colleague Minister Humphreys in July 2016. The Taskforce will recommend practical actions that can be taken in the short-term to improve mobile phone and broadband access in Ireland, working with Government Departments, Local Authorities, ComReg, State Agencies, the telecoms industry and other key stakeholders. The work of the taskforce will also assist Local Authorities in preparing for the rollout of the new NBP network once contract(s) are in place. I expect that Minister Humphreys and I will bring proposals to Government by the end of 2016, on foot of the Taskforce's report.

Renewable Energy Incentives

 553. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten his views on concerns raised in a document (details supplied); his plans in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29524/16]

 554. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten his plans for the introduction of a renewable heat incentive; if he will ensure that any such incentive that is introduced will facilitate smaller-end users using wood chip boilers with a capacity of around 100 kW output; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29526/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten I propose to take Questions Nos. 553 and 554 together.

  The introduction of a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is a commitment in the Programme for Government and will be the primary support mechanism in the heating sector designed to meet Ireland’s renewable energy obligations. The aim of the RHI is to build on the progress already made in the renewable heating sector and to help reach Ireland’s 12% target by 2020. In 2015, it is estimated that 6.8% of heat was derived from renewable sources.

  Over the last few months, my Department has undertaken a detailed economic assessment on the design and cost of the RHI and this work is now almost complete. This assessment included a range of renewable energy technologies including biomass boilers and focused on the approximately 3,000 large commercial and industrial heat users in the non-Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in Ireland.

  The focus on the larger heat users was underpinned by analysis completed in 2014 which indicated that it would not be cost effective, at this stage, to include the domestic heating sector in the RHI. This is due to a number of factors including the much higher support tariff per kilowatt hour of energy that would be required to incentivise households to change heating systems, as well as the significantly greater costs associated with administering the scheme for a large number of households in what is an unregulated sector.

  There will be an additional public consultation phase on the design of the new scheme before the end of the year. Before the RHI is introduced, the overall costs and technologies to be supported will be subject to Government approval and State aid clearance from the European Commission. It is expected that a new scheme will become available in the latter half of 2017.

Renewable Energy Feed in Tariff Scheme

 555. Deputy Peter Burke Information on Peter Burke Zoom on Peter Burke asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten his plans to extend the closing date of the REFIT 3 scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29547/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The REFIT 3 scheme closed to new applicants on the 31 December 2015.  As the REFIT closing date approached late last year, it was decided to offer a degree of flexibility for applicants who had submitted applications to the department before the closing date, but still were waiting on planning decisions or grid connection offers. These projects were given until 31 December 2016 to become compliant with the support scheme.

On 30 September 2016, I took the administrative decision to offer some additional flexibility to these projects to secure financing and become operational. These REFIT 3 projects now have until 30 September 2017 to provide evidence of financing to my Department and must now be operational by 30 September 2019.

  This decision does not extend the support scheme nor does it extend the back-end date of REFIT3, and therefore will not add further cost to the overall Public Service Obligation (PSO).  The decision will however assist in reaching our renewable energy targets and thus help to minimise the risk of facing penalties for non-compliance and/or the cost of purchasing renewable energy/statistical transfers from other Member States.

  This decision is available on my Department's website at www.dccae.gov.ie.

Health and Safety Regulations

 556. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten the health and safety framework of each commercial and non-commercial State agency; when the health and safety policy of each was last reviewed; when the safety statement of each was last reviewed; if each body has a health and safety committee and when this was last elected; if each has a health and safety representative and when this person was last elected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29548/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The information regarding the agencies under the aegis of my Department is an operational matter for each Agency. I will request the relevant bodies to reply directly to the Deputy with the information requested in respect of their organisation.

Departmental Agencies Staff Data

 557. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten the gifts or hospitality given to employees to attend overseas sporting or musical events during 2015 in respect of all commercial and non-commercial agencies; the locations of such visits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29549/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The information regarding the agencies under the aegis of my Department is an operational matter for each Agency. I will request the relevant bodies to reply directly to the Deputy with the information requested in respect of their organisation.

Electric Vehicles

 558. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten the status of the national electric car network; the number of fast charge points there are here; the number currently not functioning; the approximate average time for repair for a given charge point; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29580/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The ESB, through its ecars programme, has been rolling out both publicly accessible charging infrastructure and domestic charge points for electric vehicles. I am advised that almost 900 public charge-points have now been installed nationally including 79 DC fast chargers, most of which have been installed mainly on the inter-urban roads. The location of these charge-points is available on the ‘ecars’ section of the ESB’s website at www.esb.ie.  In addition, I understand that ESB ecars has installed over 1900 charge-points in domestic and commercial premises.

In relation to the number of charge points which are not functioning and the issue of repair times for charge points, these are operational matters for the ESB. While I have no function in this regard, I am asking the ESB to provide a report on these issues, which I will forward to the Deputy.

Broadband Service Provision

 559. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten when fibre broadband will be rolled out in Dundrum and Knockavilla, County Tipperary, and residents will have access to a high-speed broadband connection. [29618/16]

 560. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten when fibre broadband will be rolled out in Coolbaun, Puckane and Dromineer, County Tipperary, and residents will have access to a high-speed broadband connection. [29619/16]

 561. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten when fibre broadband will be rolled out in Emly, County Tipperary, and residents will have access to a high-speed broadband connection. [29620/16]

 562. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten when fibre broadband will be rolled out in Glengoole, County Tipperary, and residents will have access to a high-speed broadband connection. [29621/16]

 563. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten when fibre broadband will be rolled out in Toomyvara, County Tipperary, and residents will have access to a high-speed broadband connection. [29623/16]

 564. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten when fibre broadband will be rolled out in Bansha, County Tipperary, and residents will have access to a high-speed broadband connection. [29634/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten I propose to take Questions Nos. 559 to 564, inclusive, together.

  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 NBP as a matter of priority.  This is being achieved through private investment by commercial telecommunications companies and through a State intervention in areas where commercial investment is not forthcoming.

  The procurement process aims to identify an entity or entities to build, rollout, operate and deliver high speed broadband of at least 30 Mbps upload and 6 Mbps download speeds to all premises within the intervention area.

  The High Speed Broadband Map, which is available at www.broadband.gov.ie, shows the extent of the State Intervention area:

  - The areas marked BLUE represent those areas where commercial providers are either currently delivering or have previously indicated plans to deliver high speed broadband services.

  - The areas marked AMBER on the High Speed Broadband Map represent the target areas for the State Intervention which are the subject of the current procurement process.

  The map provides information on a county by county basis with a breakdown of coverage across the townlands in every county including County Tipperary.  Individuals can check whether their premises is in a BLUE or an AMBER area by scrolling through the map online or entering their Eircode. The Department also has a dedicated mailbox and anyone with a query in relation to the Map should email the Department, quoting their Eircode, to broadband@dcenr.gov.ie.

  Over 750,000 premises are within the State intervention area. This includes over 41,000 premises in County Tipperary.

  The following table details percentage of premises to be covered by the State Intervention and through commercial investment in the areas identified by the Deputy.

Name LocationTownland% Premises within the NBP Intervention Area % Premises within Commercial Operator’s Area
 KnockavillaKnockavilla100% 
 DundrumDundrum83%17%
 BanshaBansha West10%90%
 ToomyvaraCoolkereen100% 
  Glengoole North100% 
 Glengoole areaGlengoole South100% 
 EmlyEmly1%99%
TipperaryCoolbawnCoolbaun100% 
 PuckaunLodge100% 
 DromineerDromineer100% 


  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 the over 750,000 premises in Ireland, covering 100,000km of road network and 96% of the land area of Ireland. Since bidders were invited to participate in dialogue with the Department, there have been approximately 150 hours of meetings, with considerable more interaction to follow over the coming months.

  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 indicated that they may need more time to conclude the procurement process. The timing of each stage of the procurement continues to be dependent on a range of factors including the complexities that may be encountered by the procurement team, and bidders, during the procurement process. Bidders need adequate time to prepare detailed proposals and their final formal bids and get the relevant shareholder and funding approvals at key stages of the process. It is also important to ensure that risks in this multi-million euro procurement are carefully managed. I do not propose to comment any further at this juncture, given the sensitivity of discussions in the procurement process. I can assure the Deputy, however, that the procurement process is being intensively managed, to ensure an outcome that delivers a future-proofed network that serves homes and businesses across Ireland, for at least 25 years.

  As part of the Department's extensive stakeholder consultations in 2015, telecommunications service providers indicated that it could take 3-5 years to rollout a network of the scale envisaged under the NBP. It is however open to bidder(s) to suggest more aggressive timescales as part of their bids. As part of the competitive process, the Department will engage with winning bidder(s) on the best rollout strategy, in order to target areas of particularly poor service, business needs and/or high demand. This will need to be balanced with the most efficient network rollout plan. A prioritisation programme will be put in place in this regard, in consultation with the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. A detailed rollout plan for the network will be published once contract(s) are in place.

  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 regional action groups, working with Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Offices and other relevant agencies to help accelerate the broadband network build in rural Ireland, once a contract(s) has been awarded.

  In the meantime, my Department continues to liaise closely with industry and relevant other Departments and agencies to assist in the commercial deployment of telecommunications networks. The commercial telecommunications sector has invested over €2bn in upgrading and modernising networks which support the provision of high speed broadband and mobile telecoms services. These investments will further improve the coverage and quality of broadband and mobile voice and data services throughout the country.

  In line with commitments in the Programme for Government I established a Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce with my colleague Minister Humphreys in July 2016. The Taskforce will recommend practical actions that can be taken in the short-term to improve mobile phone and broadband access in Ireland, working with Government Departments, Local Authorities, ComReg, State Agencies, the telecoms industry and other key stakeholders. The work of the taskforce will also assist Local Authorities in preparing for the rollout of the new NBP network once contract(s) are in place. I expect that Minister Humphreys and I will bring proposals to Government by the end of 2016, on foot of the Taskforce's report.


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