586. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the use of smoky coals will still be allowed for certain types of engine for example vintage tractor engines and vintage locomotive engines; his plans to make provisions for the use of smoky coal allowable in very specific circumstances in view of his recent announcement on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53543/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Air Pollution)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): The ban on the marketing, sale and distribution of bituminous coal, or the ‘smoky coal ban’ as it is commonly known, has proved very effective in reducing particulate matter and sulphur dioxide levels within the areas it applies, with an associated significant improvement in public health. Research indicates, for example, that the ban has resulted in over 350 fewer annual deaths in Dublin alone. Residential bu...

587. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the Acts, or parts of Acts, awaiting commencement within his area of statutory responsibility; the reason for the delay in the commencement of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53563/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Commencement of Legislation)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): There are two Acts for which all sections have yet to be formally commenced by my Department. The details are set out in the following table.:
 Title of Act Section(s) not yet commenced Purpose of section(s) Reason for delay in commencement Energy Act 2016  Provisions not yet commenced are sections 8 and 19 Section 8 of the Energy Act provides for a revised legal definition of the existing Single E...

588. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the progress that been made between his Department and private waste collectors in providing waivers or extra allowances in relation to the pay by weight system for families that have children or adults with special needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53586/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Waste Management)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): In line with the commitments set out in A Resource Opportunity - Waste Management Policy in Ireland, published in 2012, and in the interest of encouraging further waste prevention and greater recycling, flat-rate fees for kerbside household waste collection are being phased out over the period autumn 2017 to autumn 2018, as customers contracts come up for renewal. The necessary regulatory steps have been put in...

589. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if fibre broadband will be extended to a location (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53591/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - National Broadband Plan Implementation)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): The Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access (minimum 30 megabits per second) to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location. The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector so that today over 67% of the 2.3m premises in Ireland have access to high speed broadband. This is set to increase to 77% (1.8m premises) by the end of 2018 and...

590. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of full-time and part-time staff working directly in the Climate Change Advisory Council; the yearly running costs including staffing costs; and the Exchequer funding in each year since it was established. (Question 53689/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Climate Change Advisory Council)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): The Climate Change Advisory Council was established by Ministerial Order (S.I. No 25 of 2016) on 18 January 2016 pursuant to section 8 of the Climate Change and Low Carbon Development Act 2015. The Advisory Council consists of eleven members appointed by Government, acting in a part-time capacity, four of whom are ex-officio members. The overall costs associated with the operation of the Advisory Council are p...

591. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of amber premises for the State intervention area; the number of blue and light blue premises to be covered by commercial operators; the number of premises that have been connected under the plan for each such category under the national broadband plan, by county, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53723/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - National Broadband Plan Data)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I propose to take Questions Nos. 591 and 592 together.
The Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access (minimum 30 megabits per second) to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location. The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector so that today over 67% of the 2.3m premises in Ireland have access to high speed broadband. This is set to...

592. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the date by which the contract for the State intervention area will be awarded under the national broadband plan; and the approximate project build time from award of tender to construction and completion of all premises. (Question 53724/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - National Broadband Plan Data)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I propose to take Questions Nos. 591 and 592 together.
The Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access (minimum 30 megabits per second) to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location. The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector so that today over 67% of the 2.3m premises in Ireland have access to high speed broadband. This is set to...

593. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the estimated cost of extending the SEAI grant for electric vehicle purchase until 2019 to 2023, respectively. (Question 54078/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Electric Vehicle Grants)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I propose to take Questions Nos. 593 and 594 together. 
The electric vehicle purchase grant, introduced in April 2011, provides grant aid of up to €5,000 towards the purchase of a new Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) or new Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). Other hybrid vehicles do not qualify for support under the scheme. 
From the introduction of the Scheme to the end of November 2017, grant support has b...

594. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the estimated cost of extending the SEAI grant for hybrid vehicle purchase until 2019 to 2023, respectively. (Question 54079/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Electric Vehicle Grants)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I propose to take Questions Nos. 593 and 594 together. 
The electric vehicle purchase grant, introduced in April 2011, provides grant aid of up to €5,000 towards the purchase of a new Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) or new Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). Other hybrid vehicles do not qualify for support under the scheme. 
From the introduction of the Scheme to the end of November 2017, grant support has b...

595. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount that has been contributed to the green climate fund in 2017; and the amount that is pledged for 2018. (Question 54082/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Climate Change Policy)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I refer to the reply to Question No. 397 of 29 November 2017. The position is unchanged. 
 ...

596. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the licence fee receipts collected in 2017 to date; the level of evasion that is currently estimated to occur; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54083/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Broadcasting Charge)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): The total TV licence fee receipts to 30 November is €198m. This figure includes funding provided by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) of €48.8m in respect of free TV licences issued under the Household Benefits Scheme and receipts from An Post for direct licence sales of €149.2m. The total receipts for 2017 will not be known until Q1 2018 when final sales figures for the year a...

597. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount that has been allocated to residential energy efficiency programmes for 2018, by programme. (Question 54084/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Energy Efficiency)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): In Budget 2018, I secured €107m in capital funding for energy efficiency, an increase of over 40%. This capital increase is complemented by an increased current expenditure allocation that will allow the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) to support the expansion of our highly successful energy efficiency schemes bringing the total allocation for energy efficiency schemes to €117m.
Of the €107m in c...

598. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount that has been budgeted for journalism bursaries for 2018; the number of bursaries that will be provided with this funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54085/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Broadcasting Legislation)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): There is currently no provision in the Broadcasting legislation for a bursary scheme for journalists and, as such, the issue of a 2018 budget does not arise. 
As the Deputy is aware, one of the amendments that I have proposed to the Broadcasting Act, 2009 is to amend the provisions of section 154 to allow for the creation of a new funding scheme that would allow the granting of bursaries to journalists in local ...

599. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to introduce measures to deal with the large volumes of packaging resulting from persons purchasing goods online from producers and retailers that fall outside of a scheme (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54088/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - EU Directives)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Repak is the approved producer responsibility compliance scheme for packaging in Ireland and is tasked with meeting recovery and recycling targets established under the EU Packaging Directive (94/62/EC). This Directive is transposed by the European Union (Packaging) Regulations 2014. In accordance with these regulations any producer placing packaging on the Irish market is obliged to ensure that their waste pa...

600. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the use of external public relations firms employed by his Department per annum since coming into office, in tabular form; the external public relations firms used; the internal departmental policy with regard to employing external groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54089/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Relations Contracts Data)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I propose to take Questions Nos. 600 and 605 together. 
My Department’s remit includes complex policy areas, oversight of State regulation and service provision across key strategic services such as energy and public broadcasting, and regulation of sectors such as mining and hydrocarbon exploration. Given the technical complexity, economic significance and community interest in these areas, there is a requireme...

601. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the photography costs per annum for his Department since coming to office, inclusive of costs incurred from use of the ministerial allowance, in tabular form; the occasions for which photographers were booked; the photographers used; the breakdown of costs associated with each occasion that a photographer was used; if there is a policy regarding the booking of photographers within his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54090/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Departmental Expenditure)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I propose to take Questions Nos. 601 and 604 together. 
The policy of selection and contracting of photography services for my Department is carried out as part of competitive procurement processes in line with Office of Government Procurement guidelines. Where possible, every effort is made to minimise costs
The following table sets out the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment photograp...

602. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the use his Department has made of the Government jet since coming into office, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54191/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Ministerial Travel)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I propose to take Questions Nos. 602 and 603 together.  
The use of the government jet by Government Ministers is subject to the authorisation of An Taoiseach. Since being appointed as Minister to my Department in May, 2016, I utilised the government jet twice, as set out below. On both occasions the jet had already been requested by colleague Ministers.
 Departure Date Return Date Route Purpose 1...

603. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the use his Department has made of the Government jet in each of the years March 2011 to February 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54207/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Ministerial Travel)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I propose to take Questions Nos. 602 and 603 together.  
The use of the government jet by Government Ministers is subject to the authorisation of An Taoiseach. Since being appointed as Minister to my Department in May, 2016, I utilised the government jet twice, as set out below. On both occasions the jet had already been requested by colleague Ministers.
 Departure Date Return Date Route Purpose 1...

604. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the photography costs for his Department in each year since March 2011 inclusive of costs incurred from use of the ministerial allowance; the list of occasions for which photographers were booked; the photographers used; the costs associated with each occasion that a photographer was used, in tabular form; if there is a policy regarding the booking of photographers within his Department. (Question 54223/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Departmental Expenditure)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I propose to take Questions Nos. 601 and 604 together. 
The policy of selection and contracting of photography services for my Department is carried out as part of competitive procurement processes in line with Office of Government Procurement guidelines. Where possible, every effort is made to minimise costs
The following table sets out the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment photograp...

605. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the use of external public relations firms employed by his Department in each year since March 2011; the list of uses of the external public relations firm; the internal Department policy with regard to employing external groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54239/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Relations Contracts Data)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I propose to take Questions Nos. 600 and 605 together. 
My Department’s remit includes complex policy areas, oversight of State regulation and service provision across key strategic services such as energy and public broadcasting, and regulation of sectors such as mining and hydrocarbon exploration. Given the technical complexity, economic significance and community interest in these areas, there is a requireme...

606. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the external consultant reports commissioned by his Department since March 2011; the costs per report; the company involved; the title of the report; and the publication date, in tabular form. (Question 54255/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Departmental Reports)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): My Department administers a very diverse, complex and technical brief across critical and strategic sectors of the Irish economy. While it has a total complement of around 388 full time equivalent staff of whom a number are technical personnel, the technical, commercial, legal complexity and evolving nature of sectors with which the Department deals requires access to external professional expertise to assist in...

607. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the level of expenditure by his Department from 1 January 2017 to date in 2017 on advertising of Government information campaigns published specifically in national and regional newspapers in addition to all online advertising for all such Government information campaigns; the name for each such information campaign to which this expenditure related; the cost of each, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54271/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Departmental Expenditure)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I propose to take Questions Nos. 607 and 608 together. 
My Department’s remit includes complex policy areas, oversight of State regulation and service provision across key strategic services such as energy and public broadcasting, and regulation of sectors such as mining and hydrocarbon exploration. Given the technical complexity, economic significance and community interest in these areas, there is a requireme...

608. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the level of expenditure by his Department or organisations under the aegis of his department from 1 January 2017 to date in 2017 on photography, advertising, communications advice, public relations, website development, media interview training and preparation; the events, campaigns or policies to which this expenditure related; the company or person to which such payments were made, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54287/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Departmental Expenditure)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I propose to take Questions Nos. 607 and 608 together. 
My Department’s remit includes complex policy areas, oversight of State regulation and service provision across key strategic services such as energy and public broadcasting, and regulation of sectors such as mining and hydrocarbon exploration. Given the technical complexity, economic significance and community interest in these areas, there is a requireme...

200. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if approval will be given to allow for on-site incineration of invasive weeds (details supplied); his plans to counteract potential impacts of these invasive weeds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53506/17 asked on 13 Dec 2017 - Invasive Plant Species)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Following discussions between the Environmental Protection Agency, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and Biodiversity Ireland, it was suggested that the level of regulation required for the management of waste arising from the cutting or excavation of invasive alien plant species may be disproportionate to the risk of environmental pollution posed by such activities.
Accordingly, in Autumn 2017, my Department sou...

201. Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a reply will issue to correspondence from a person (details supplied) regarding broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53274/17 asked on 13 Dec 2017 - National Broadband Plan Implementation)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): The Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access (minimum 30 megabits per second) to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location.  The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector so that today over 65% of the 2.3m premises in Ireland have access to high speed broadband and this is set to increase to 77% (1.8m premises) by the end of 2018 a...