Dáil debates

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

Road Projects

8:15 pm

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party) | Oireachtas source

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant local authority in accordance with the provisions of section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from councils' own resources and supplemented by State road grants. The national development plan, NDP, as it stands provides for the gradual build-up of funding for the road network but funding is not yet at the level needed for the adequate maintenance and renewal of regional and local roads. For this reason, the primary focus for capital investment continues to be the maintenance and renewal of the network, with some limited investment in road improvement projects. The NDP is under review. The aim of the review in the transport sector is to align policy with the Government's priorities as set out in the programme for Government.

If any transport project is to be considered for funding under the revised NDP, it must be appraised for compliance with the public spending code as revised in December 2019. An important change to the code is the introduction of a requirement for a strategic assessment report, SAR, for all projects with an estimated expenditure of €10 million or more. The SAR is now a key deliverable at the first decision stage in the project appraisal process. The purpose of the SAR is to examine the rationale for potential policy interventions and ensure the strategic fit of potential projects and programmes with Government policy, particularly the national planning framework and the national development plan. A common cause of problems with projects is a failure to clearly specify objectives and desired outcomes at the outset. The introduction of the requirement for a SAR is designed to guard against this and ensure early engagement with, and scrutiny of, potential public investment projects and programmes.

Regarding the R624 specifically, my Department has had some engagement with Cork County Council following the submission of an initial project appraisal in 2019. In this context, the public spending code project appraisal requirements have been explained to the council. As the council has indicated that it is proposing to appoint consultants in connection with the proposed scheme, my officials have proposed a meeting between the council and the Department's strategic research and analysis division regarding the preparation of the SAR relating to the scheme.


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