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 Header Item Flood Relief Schemes (Continued)
 Header Item Capital Expenditure Programme

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 953 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe]  When these stages are successfully completed, provided the proposals are broadly accepted by the public and the stakeholders and the scheme is technically, environmentally and economically viable, the scheme will proceed to detailed design stage and formal confirmation by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform under the Arterial Drainage Acts 1945 and 1995 following which construction can commence.

My office continues to liaise with Cork County Council and local representatives on this scheme. As I said, I expect the site investigation contractor to be in place this month.

Deputy Aindrias Moynihan: Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan It is positive news that the site investigations will happen later this summer. However, when I raised the question late last year, the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs had agreed a solution on the way forward for the freshwater pearl mussel. It was proposed that there would be a second public information day and exhibition this year as well as detailed design. Is the detailed design slipping at this stage? Is it envisaged that the detailed design will commence this year and that we will be in a position to move towards tendering and construction for the overall scheme later this year or early next year? Can the Minister clarify that? Is it the case that there is still a cost benefit analysis to be conducted on this scheme, and is the risk still there that it could delay the scheme further?

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe With regard to the different questions the Deputy has put to me, due to the presence of the pearl mussel in some stretches of the river and its protected status, the scheme could not progress, which was the Deputy's point, until a proposal was submitted to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, NPWS. This was submitted in June of last year. The NPWS responded by stating that it had no comment or objection to the proposal. Following this, a desktop survey has been undertaken on the relocation of the mussels to inform the next steps. In terms of the timing of what will happen, as I have said to the Deputy and as he has acknowledged, the contract is expected to be in place this month. The site investigation will provide information on the channel to decide on the preferred options to progress the scheme. It is expected that this will take three months. I assume the second public information day will then take place after that.

Deputy Aindrias Moynihan: Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan Arís is arís eile, táim tar éis an cheist mar gheall ar na tuilte i mBaile Bhuirne agus i mBaile Mhic Íre a tharraingt os comhair na Dála. Tá géarghá leis an obair seo a bhrú chun cinn agus faoiseamh a thabhairt do mhuintir na háite. I dtreo deireadh 2011, chonaiceamar na tuairiscí faoi agus bhí dearadh le bheith déanta in 2014. An féidir an rud seo a bhrú ar aghaidh agus faoiseamh a thabhairt do mhuintir Bhaile Bhuirne ó na tuilte sa Sulán? The Lee CFRAM was a pilot for the whole country. Baile Bhuirne was the most advanced in that scheme at the time. Right around the country, we have seen so many other schemes advancing so far ahead of the people who are in the pilot. If we can quickly advance through the final design, can the Minister give a commitment that he will prioritise funding and have construction of this overall scheme advance as quickly as possible?

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary In the context of flooding, can the Minister confirm if the transfer of the Ministry responsible for flooding from the Minister of State, Deputy Canney, to Deputy Moran will happen?

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe There are two questions there. From a funding point of view, €74,000 has been expended on this project to date. The project budget will be finalised before exhibition, but we expect that the approximate cost of this will be around €3 million. I can confirm to Deputy Moynihan that this is included in the financial profile of the OPW up to 2020. Assuming that the cost is in line with that, the OPW will be in a position to go ahead with that work. I understand the need for this work in the community and I know of the damage that has been caused by flooding in the past.

With regard to Deputy Calleary's question, the changeover in officeholder will take place at midnight tomorrow night.

Capital Expenditure Programme

 11. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the reason local authorities were not consulted or asked to submit their views regarding his Department's review of the capital programme 2016-2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [26102/17]

Deputy Thomas Pringle: Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle This question relates to the review of the capital plan due to be published in September. Why were local authorities not consulted when the review was initiated and why was it left to them to make submissions as part of the public consultation?

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Submissions in relation to the mid-term review and the additional funding available were sought by my Department in January and have now been received.

Submissions were not sought at that time by my Department directly from local authorities as we do not allocate funding directly to local authorities nor was it envisaged that the review would seek to determine the allocation of Exchequer resources to individual local authorities.

The allocation from central government to local authorities is determined by the relevant Government Department with responsibility for particular aspects of infrastructural spending, for example, housing and urban regeneration and transport investment.  The assessment of the requirement for increased capital expenditure by local authorities is, therefore, first and foremost a matter for the relevant Government Department.

The short answer to this is that many of the infrastructural needs that local authorities will be raising are raised, I expect, by the Government Department that has responsibility for that area. All that being said, across the process, 12 different local authorities did make submissions. The Deputy will be pleased to note that one of them was Donegal County Council.

Deputy Thomas Pringle: Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle I know Donegal County Council made a submission because the CEO told us. However, that was as part of the public consultation rather than as a consultee on the actual review itself. It is remiss of the Department not to ask local authorities to formally make submissions. Much is made by Government about the fact that local authorities are not spending money and are not delivering on infrastructure projects, in particular on housing. The way this review is handled makes a lie of that fact, as local authorities do not have responsibility because they do not get the money. The money goes through the parent Department. That is part of the problem. As the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, perhaps the Minister should look at that to see how local authorities can be accommodated in that way and then try to make them more responsible for the money. The fact is they do not get the money and so are not asked to consult, as things stands.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I do not think the process we have put in place makes a lie of us. The way in which we handle expenditure is by making the funding available to Government Departments, as the Deputy has just said. Government Departments either allocate that funding to local authorities or instigate work on their behalf. The process we put in place was publicly advertised. If a local authority wanted to make a submission to us, it was entitled to, and 12 of them did. The needs that all local authorities will have is articulated to my Department by the Departments that have responsibility for the particular policy areas. It has to be done like that because otherwise we will end up in a situation where we will not be able to achieve co-ordination. In particular, we will not be able to put in place infrastructure projects that stretch across local authorities as opposed to being confined within them. All that being said, 12 different local authorities made submissions.

Deputy Thomas Pringle: Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle As 12 local authorities made submissions, what will be the status of the consideration given to those submissions? Will they be treated the same as the submission made by "Joe Public"? Obviously, the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government will decide on how money is allocated. What will be the consideration and status given to the submissions made?

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government will be the deciding body on how it handles funding between the local authorities for which it is responsible for. That being said, I always find it helpful to see submissions like this, and I will read them. It allows me to understand whether there are any particular projects out there or any particular needs that could make a difference to a particular county or region that I should be aware of. I will look at these submissions, including the one from the Deputy's county. As I said on a number of occasions, I am well aware of the need for us to respond across the north west by increasing investment in infrastructure in the context of Brexit and the economic challenges it will pose to all the communities the Deputy represents.

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