Fine Gael TD for Galway West & Mayo South

Legislation for Galway – Mayo fibre broadband network introduced in Seanad

As Minister for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development I am leading the Telecommunications Services (Ducting and Cables) Bill through the Oireachtas. The Bill concerns the Galway Mayo ducting and cables telecommunications network which was installed as part of the Corrib Gas pipeline project and subsequently gifted to the State. The ducting and cable network is a backbone network which runs for 132 kilometres between Bellanaboy, Co Mayo to Ballymoneen, County Galway.

The Bill before the house has two principal objectives:  The first is to give rights of access to private lands through which the ducting and cables pass so that the company managing the network, the MSE, (Managed Service Entity) will be able to fully maintain and operate the network. The second is to minimise impacts to landowners along the route and to provide compensation and safeguards to those landowners arising from the use of their land.

The network is currently in use by a multinational company and brings vital data traffic from North America via transatlantic cable across the Galway Mayo Network on to Dublin.

The Bill being considered by the Seanad initially and then the Dáil is important to ensure access for telecommunications purposes to the ducting and cable network and its maintenance. This will ensure the potential of the network can be fully realised to provide ultra high-speed broadband to telecommunications operators which will in turn benefit businesses and households.

I look forward to progressing this Bill through the Seanad and the Dáil as quickly as possible.

 

Telecommunications Services (Ducting and Cables) Bill 2018

Seanad Second Stage Speech

I move:  “That the Bill be now read a Second Time”

The Galway Mayo ducting and cables telecommunications network is a vital piece of state infrastructure located in an area of strategic importance for trans-Atlantic traffic and with the potential to provide significantly improved broadband services in an area of the country underserved by broadband.  It is built. It is in use to a limited extent to provide vital trans-atlantic connectivity for a multinational company.  It is poised to meet its full potential and the Bill before you is the key to the fulfilment of that ambition.

The Bill before the house today has two principal objectives:  The first is to give rights of access to private lands through which the ducting and cables pass so that the persons managing the network, the MSE, (Managed Service Entity) will be able to fully maintain and operate the network.

 

The second is to minimise impacts to landowners along the route and to provide compensation and safeguards to those landowners arising from the use of their land.

 

I propose to address each of these objectives in turn.

 

Firstly, I will address the proposal to provide rights of access to all lands through which the Galway Mayo ducting passes.

 

In 2005 during the planning of the Galway-Mayo Gas pipeline by Bord Gais Eireann (BGÉ), now GNI, my Predecessor funded the installation of underground telecommunications ducting alongside the pipeline. The pipeline and ducting were installed between Ballymoneen in County Galway and the new gas terminal constructed in Bellanaboy County Mayo. Construction took place between 2006 and 2008. In 2013 Shell E & P Ireland Ltd [SEPIL] proposed to install fibre optic cable into the duct and to gift this to the State.  This process concludes in Q1 2018.

The ducting and cables traverse approximately 500 separate interests in land. GNI managed the ducting build and managed access to private lands for that purpose and also for the laying of the optical fibre cable. GNI acquired access rights over the majority of the private lands but not all. Whilst the network is built, it cannot be fully managed, maintained or upgraded without securing access rights to all lands along the full route of the ducting and cables.

Section 2 of the Bill is the Section that provides the Minister, and consequently the MSE, with the necessary rights to enter lands for the purposes of running the Galway-Mayo ducting and cables network.  These access rights are described in Schedules 1 and 2 and are limited to those which are necessary to properly manage the ducting and cables network for telecommunications purposes.  They are subject also to the obligations contained in Schedule 3.

The access rights acquired by GNI on my behalf stand vested in me by virtue Section 2(2) whilst access to all other lands along and adjacent to the route are granted to me under Section 2(3).

 

GNI’s rights stand protected by Section 2(4) which ensures that GNI’s other access rights over the lands such as access to the gas pipeline are unaffected and also Section 2(5) which releases GNI from any obligations entered into in relation to the access rights acquired by GNI on behalf of the Minister under subsection 2.

 

Turning now to the matter of protecting Landowner interests; Sections 3 and 4 provide compensation and safeguards to landowners and ensure any impacts arising from the presence and operation of the Network are minimised.

 

Section 3 provides for a claim for compensation by landowners in respect of any diminution in the value of their land arising as a consequence of the Ministers right of access to the land to tend to the ducting and cables.  It provides all landowners along the route with the right to claim compensation on the same terms whilst also taking account of any monies already paid as compensation by GNI.

 

Section 4 is broader in scope.  It provides for a compensation scheme to be established in law to reimburse owners or repair damages caused by the MSE or others working on my behalf.  This scheme also provides for landowners to be compensated for any such damages or any injury, loss or disturbance suffered by the owner and caused by the MSE or others in the performance of their duties.   This scheme or any amended schemes will continue to operate for the entire lifetime of the ducting and cables.

 

Section 4 also provides for Regulations which set out the rules to be followed by the MSE and others working on my behalf in order to ensure minimal disruption to landowners and so that they are given adequate notice when works are planned.

 

Other safeguards also exist.  Section 7 requires a map of the route be deposited in my offices and made available for inspection by all interested parties. Sections 8 ensures that information is given to all landowners and interested parties at least 28 days before enactment and including details of the legislation, the deposited map and how and where to make claims for compensation under Section 3. Section 9 sets the procedures to ensure that all notices are delivered to the intended parties.

 

Tá an gás ó Pháirc na Coiribe ina bhuntáiste don tír toisc nach bhfuil muid ag brath go huile is go hiomlán ar ghás iompórtáilte. Ar an gcaoi céanna, tá feabhas tagtha ar seirbhísí leathanbhanda i bpobail áitiúla i ngeall ar an infreastruchtúr teileachumarsáide.

 

Tá ceantar na Gaillimhe Maigh Eo ina áit lárnach do cháblaí trasatlantacha. Cuirfidh an Bille seo go mór le fás sonraí tráchta thar an Atlantaigh. Chomh maith leis sin, beidh muintir na tíre, eagraíochtaí na hÉireann agus eagraíochtaí ilnáisiúntacha in ann rochtain a fháil ar sheirbhísí leathanbhanda ardluais in Iarthar na hÉireann.

 

Tá an cábla snáthoptaice curtha isteach. Chuir an Stát é ar fáil dúinn agus tá sé ag obair ar bhonn bunúsach cheana. Mar gheall ar an mBille seo beidh muid in ann leas a bhaint as an infreastruchtúr, rud a bheidh cabhrach do theaghlaigh agus gnólachtaí i gContae na Gaillimhe agus i gContae Mhaigh Eo.

Sa mhullach air sin, tá sé tábhachtach a lua go bhfuil forálacha sa Bhille a thacóidh le cearta úinéirí talún agus cónaitheoirí.

 

I am preparing to tender for an MSE to operate and manage the State owned Galway-Mayo telecommunications ducting and cables network via concession agreement.  The Bill before you is the missing piece in the jigsaw that will enable that tender to progress.  Its enactment will ensure that the MSE will be able to gain the necessary access to the ducting and cables infrastructure to fully maximise the benefits of the network.

 

Consequently, I commend this Bill to the House.

 

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