Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Local Improvement Scheme Funding
1023. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will amend section 81 of the Local Government Act 2001 to allow for the use of local improvement scheme funding to carry out maintenance of drainage channels for minor flood alleviation, separate to the current provisions which only cater for such works associated with improvements to private roads; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3098/20]
Section 81 of the Local Government Act 2001 provides the statutory basis for the Local Improvements Scheme (LIS). Under the Scheme, funding can be provided by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to local authorities for the construction and improvement of non-public roads (that is roads not taken in charge by local authorities) which meet the criteria set out in the Act. A contribution from the beneficiaries is required in all cases.
Due to the major cutbacks in roads funding arising from the financial crisis, it was necessary for the Department to stop providing dedicated funding to local authorities in respect of LIS (2011 was the last year dedicated funding was provided by this Department). From 2013 to 2017 local authorities could use a proportion of this Department's Discretionary Grant funding for LIS should they wish to do so. The reason this approach was taken was that it was considered that Councils were best placed to decide whether to concentrate the limited grant funding available on public roads or to operate a local improvement scheme for non-public roads.
Section 81 of the 2001 Local Government Act also provides that another Minister may make a grant to a road authority in relation to non-public roads in accordance with a Scheme made by that other Minister. In September 2017 the Minister for Rural and Community Development reintroduced dedicated funding for LIS. In light of this and the pressing need to direct resources into maintaining and renewing public roads, it was decided that the option of allocating a proportion of the Discretionary Grant to LIS would no longer apply from 2018.
Currently my Department has no plans to make any amendments to Section 81 of the Local Government Act 2001. The Deputy should note that section 81 enables me to fund works related to non-public roads, from the funding I grant to road authorities for road works generally. In so far as the question concerns maintenance of drainage in other circumstances, this is the responsibility of the Office of Public Works and I, as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, have no function in the matter.