Tuesday, 22 June 2021
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
188. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when Cork County Council will receive €750 million in funding given the findings of major underfunding for the county and in view of the fact that roads in the county are 52-years behind the standards of other counties (details supplied). [33144/21]
The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities' own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.
The major cuts to funding for regional and local roads during the post 2008 recession resulted in the build-up of a substantial backlog of works across the country. Work is in hand at the moment to firm up on the cost of the backlog but an indicative cost is in excess of €5 billion. As the length of the regional and road network in Cork is about 12% of the total, the Cork County share of the estimated backlog would be over €600 million.
Because of the pressures on the regional and local road network, over 90% of available Exchequer grant assistance to local authorities is being directed to maintenance and renewal works rather than roads upgrades. The aim is, subject to funding, to increase investment to the level where the network reaches “steady state” i.e. where it can be held in its existing state without further deterioration.
While steady state has not been achieved yet, there has been significant increases in Exchequer grants for regional and local roads particularly in the last four years. In 2021, Cork County Council has been allocated a total of €66,581,844 which is an increase of 84.7% in comparison with 2017. My Department's grant funding for the maintenance of regional and local roads is allocated to local authorities on a pro-rata basis, determined mainly by the length of the regional and local road network in the county. The fact that Cork County Council has the longest road network is, therefore, reflected in its grant.
It should be noted that exchequer funding for regional and local roads is intended to supplement realistic contributions from local authorities’ own resources. As the statutory road authorities for their areas, it is open to local authorities to reprioritise investment towards regional and local roads.
189. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his engagements to date with the Minister for Rural and Community Development on funding for the local improvement scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33241/21]
Earlier this year the Minister for Rural and Community Development wrote to me in connection with funding for the Local Improvement Scheme and I subsequently had a discussion with the Minister.
Overall, the scale of the regional and local public road network at 96,000 kms continues to present a challenge in terms of funding maintenance and improvement. While the National Development Plan 2018 -2027 provides for a gradual increase in funding for regional and local roads, investment is not yet at the level needed to ensure that the public road network is being maintained adequately. This means that expenditure is still below the amount required to hold the public network in a "steady state" condition and in addition there is a backlog of works.