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Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten TD

100 Days Significant Achievements:

 

Communications:

1. Minister Denis Naughten steered the National Broadband Plan through a number of critical milestones since May 6th:

      • The Pre-qualification process was completed and the next stage of the procurement process commenced in July '16 when the 3 qualified bidders started formal dialogue with the Department.
      • Minister Naughten decided on the Ownership Model for the NBP network. On advice from Minister Naughten the Government approved the Commercial Stimulus model, as this model is not likely to be on the Government's balance sheet, will allow Government spend up to €600m on other critical projects in the next six years, and can be put in place quicker than the Full Concession model. Both models will deliver the same infrastructure and services.
      • The Minister announced that up to 170,000 additional premises are to be included in the procurement. These are premises where investment by telecoms operators was previously expected, but may not now materialise.

2. As promised within his first 100 days in office Minister Denis Naughten established the Mobile Reception and Broadband Taskforce which held its first meeting on July 27th 2016 co-chaired by Minister Naughten and Minister Heather Humphreys. The Taskforce addresses immediate issues relating to mobile phone coverage and broadband. While the NBP will deliver high speed broadband to every premises in Ireland, the Taskforce aims to improve wireless coverage and address barriers to deploying infrastructure, in advance of the rollout of the NBP network.

3. Minister Denis Naughten signed a Statutory Instrument which obliges operators of utility networks such as telecommunications, electricity, gas, transport and waste water to share information about their infrastructure with providers of high speed broadband networks.

4. Minister Denis Naughten took the decision not to proceed with the 'broadcasting charge'.

5. Minister Denis Naughten corrected the anomaly around Geographic and Postal addresses - public can now look up Eircodes for both Geographic and Postal addresses, which means that Ballygar now returns to County Galway and the Southern part of Roscommon now returns to County Roscommon.The results can be viewed for these types of addresses in both English and Gaeilge.  Many other variations of addresses are commonly used in Ireland, too many to be able to display, however the addition of Geographic addresses will help the public in showing an address variation they may be more familiar with than the Postal addresses which were previously the only address variant displayed on the Eircode Finder website.

6. Ministerial order signed by Denis Naughten to allow Irish TV on the free-to-air Saorview digital platform owned by RTE. The Minister designated the service as 'having the character of a public service' therefore in accordance with his powers under section 130(1)(a)(iv) he allowed for its carriage on the RTÉ Saorview DTT network.

7. Minister Naughten launched an Enterprise Impacts Report for the Trading Online Vouchers scheme and a separate report into Ireland's Digital Economy. These reports highlight the critical importance of digital to economic growth and prosperity in Ireland. Minister Naughten is spearheading the Trading Online Vouchers scheme as a priority and the report was based on research conducted with over 600 voucher recipients. It revealed that businesses moving online experienced an average increase in sales of 21% and customer enquiries increased by 84%. Businesses that are growing expect to recruit on average 1.4 more employees, and 3 out of 5 began to export for the first time.

 


Energy

1.   Minister Denis Naughten took the Energy Bill 2016 through both Houses of the Oireachtas and accepted an opposition Amendment. The Bill includes provisions to enhance the powers of the Commission for Energy Regulation and facilitate the delivery of the new Integrated Single Electricity Market across the island of Ireland.

 2.   Minister Denis Naughten launched the Warmth & Wellbeing scheme operated by the SEAI and the HSE. The pilot scheme is complete which targeted people over 55, living in the Dublin 12 and Dublin 24 areas. Minister Naughten will roll out the Scheme to rural locations in the Autumn.

 3.   Minister Denis Naughten awarded grant support totalling €20million to 38 community groups for 2016 under the Better Energy Communities programme providing for energy efficiency upgrades to more than 2,600 homes and almost 300 community and commercial facilities. The total investment in energy efficiency, including funding from local communities themselves, is almost €48 million, which will support an estimated 700 direct and indirect jobs right across the country.

 4.  Minister Denis Naughten launched a new Sustainable Energy Communities Scheme to provide a support network for community groups that are active or interested in the energy sphere. In 2016, €500,000 in capital funding has been made available to build the Sustainable Energy Communities network. 26 community groups have already become members of the Sustainable Energy Communities network and 100 more have expressed an interest in becoming members or are preparing for their community to join the network.

5.  Minister Denis Naughten has authorised plans to start on a new renewable electricity support scheme to support communities participate in the renewable energy sector. 

6.  Minister Denis Naughten has authorised the introduction in 2017 of a new Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) to support the deployment of renewable energy for commercial and industrial users and to support the development of the biomass sector in Ireland.

7.   Minister Denis Naughten has consulted with opposition colleagues to receive their input into the revised guidelines in relation to planning consideration of wind energy proposals. These guidelines will better reflect the concerns of local communities in relation to noise and setback distances.  Minister Naughten will present his considerations to the Minister for Planning Simon Coveney TD in November.

8.  Minister Denis Naughten is committed to make the public sector an example of best practice in energy efficiency and he has finalized his proposals for a new Public Sector Energy Efficiency Action Plan.  The plan aims to achieve a target of improving energy efficiency across the public service by 33% by 2020.  Public lighting is a major component of energy use.  The Minister authorised a steering group chaired by the City & County Managers Association (CCMA) to complete an inventory of public lighting assets, working with ESB Networks to  procure new, energy efficient, public lighting. It is expected that the tender process will begin early in 2017. 

9. Minister Denis Naughten has a particular focus on renewables and smart grid development and has signed the North Seas Political Declaration. The declaration is a voluntary initiative that aims to reduce the costs of renewable energy and remove barriers to investment. It contributes to achieving our climate goals and strengthens security of supply.

The signatories to the Declaration are: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the European Commission

10. Minister Denis Naughten is supporting energy from the sea through the launch of the Galway Bay Subsea Cabled Observatory. The observatory will be used to collect valuable data from the ocean and will be a critical component of a world-class maritime infrastructure in Ireland. It is supported by the Marine Institute, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and Science Foundation Ireland.


Natural Resources:

1. Minister Denis Naughten authorised the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) to establish in conjunction with the OPW a Groundwater/Turlough Flood Monitoring Programme. This work has already commenced with:

a. The monitoring of current water levels within turloughs & a historic analysis of rainfall & flooding

b. A geological aerial survey of the karst limestone/turloughs

c. The use of GSI survey boats on specific turloughs

d. Engagement between the GSI & local authorities to assist with the submission of proposals to the OPW for flood relief funding.

2. Minister Denis Naughten oversaw Tellus, the environmental and geological mapping programme using airborne geophysics and ground geochemistry to commence operations in the Mayo/Galway region.  It has completed airborne geophysics mapping of the Waterford region.

3. Minister Denis Naughten directed Bord na Mona in its Corporate plan to  put particular focus on supporting biofuel production within the vicinity of the 3 peat fired power stations and to assess the possibility of developing public amenities/tourism potential of wetlands and green ways, particularly within the midland counties.

 
Climate Action:

1. Following the announcement on July 20th of Ireland's 2030 reduction climate targets of 21.4%, the Minister maintains his objective in negotiations with the EU is to establish climate targets that are 'fair, achievable and affordable.'

 
In addition:

Attendance at EU Ministerial meetings in Slovakia and Luxembourg; Keynote address at 'Our Ocean Wealth Conference 2016' Galway, July '16; Joint jobs announcements in Ballinalsoe and Monskland with Minister Mitchell-O'Connor.

 

 

 

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