Tuesday, 17 December 2013
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Inland Waterways Development
661. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will seek to have Ireland's inland waterways, which connect two EU member states, included in the European Commission's updated and renewed NAIADES multi-annual action programme for the promotion of inland waterways transport; if he will ensure that Ireland has a country profile in the updated and renewed programme; if he will work to bring Ireland's 1,000 km of inland waterways, some 3% of the EU's total under the remit of EU inland waterways' rules and proposals. [54187/13]
662. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide a mechanism in law for a person to obtain an inland waterways' haulier's licence to ensure that Ireland's inland waterways, such as are lawfully navigable for commercial traffic, come within the definition of the EU's inland waterways legislation. [54188/13]
663. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will work with other Government Departments and other relevant parties concerned to develop interconnected inland commercial transport for appropriate purposes and of scale to attract commercial craft to the inland waterways. [54189/13]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 661 to 663, inclusive, together.
As I indicated recently in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 51501 /13, the EU relevant legislation is about waterways of greater scale and carrying a greater capacity of goods than exist in Ireland, ie large river systems such as the Rhine, Rhone and Danube. It does not apply to Ireland and I have no plans to seek changes to it.
The NAIADES II programme is about creating the conditions for inland navigation transport to become a quality mode of transport. The priorities focus on shifting freight to waterway transport and reducing emissions. It is a programme for policy action and not a funding programme, as such. There are no country profiles listed in the latest NAIADES II Communication.
My Department is responsible for the licensing of all commercial inland craft in Ireland, including a number of domestic passenger boats and ships operating locally as tourist excursion vessels. The decision to operate vessels is a commercial decision for the vessel operators themselves.
Inland waterways hauliers’ licences arise under Council Directive 96/50/EC, which harmonises conditions for obtaining national boatmaster certificates for carriage of goods and passengers by inland waterways in the Community. Ireland is exempt from this Directive as operators of passenger boats in Ireland operate exclusively on national waterways not linked to the navigable network of another Member State. National certificates are limited to these national waterways, but Ireland has nevertheless the obligation to provide access to boatmasters from other Member States, carrying relevant certificates under the Directive.
The development of interconnected inland commercial transport to attract commercial craft to the inland waterways would be a matter for my colleagues the Ministers for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (responsible for Waterways Ireland); Public Expenditure and Reform (responsible for OPW); and Environment, Community and Local Government (regarding emissions and pollution control).