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 Header Item Road Projects Status (Continued)
 Header Item Bord na Móna

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 985 No. 4

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross]  Within the overall context of Project Ireland 2040, the national development plan, NDP, has been developed by Government to underpin the successful implementation of the new national planning framework, NPF. This provides the strategic and financial framework for TII’s national roads programme for the period from 2018 to 2027. In the ten years covered by the plan, more than €11 billion will be invested in the overall road network. Following the economic downturn and the subsequent reduction in the availability of Exchequer funding, Project Ireland 2040 provides for the gradual build-up in funding for the road network, but it will take time to restore funding to the levels needed to maintain the road network in a steady state condition and allow for investment in new road improvement schemes.

Within its capital budget, the assessment and prioritisation of individual projects is a matter in the first instance for TII in accordance with section 19 of the Roads Acts. The N72 road is a national secondary road that runs east-west from its junction with the N25 near Dungarvan in County Waterford to the N70 in Killorglin in County Kerry. The N72 Ballymaquirk junction improvement scheme has been identified through TII’s HD15 programme as requiring safety intervention. The HD15 process involves the recording of accident clusters and the identification of locations where accident statistics are above average.

Because of the scope of intervention required, the scheme has been upgraded to TII’s minor works programme, which provides for more substantial safety measures. TII has advised that this scheme is likely to require the compulsory purchase of some lands and, because of this, the scheme may take a number of years to get to construction. However, Cork County Council has concluded the appointment of technical advisers to progress the project. Accordingly funding provision is being made available this year to Cork County Council by TII to pay for the services of the appointed technical advisers.

The proposed scheme, which is located near the River Blackwater, is in a special area of conservation. Mitigation measures will undoubtedly be required as part of this development. This will have to be factored into the entire works programme along with planning and acquiring lands for the development and installation of a new roundabout. The timeframe for the proposed works has not been identified at this stage in the process. I fully support the efforts of TII and Cork County Council to put in place road improvement works to remedy the safety issues which have been identified at this location.

Deputy Michael Moynihan: Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan I note that consultants or people have been appointed. While I recognise what the Minister said at the outset, he does have influence. This is a very serious junction in my constituency which has serious implications. He has noted the above average incidents and the need for safety measures, including a roundabout. I am asking that the Minister go back to TII to request that it work very closely with Cork County Council to give the project the urgency it deserves. I am sure it will be supported at local authority level and I do not doubt that Councillor Bernard Moynihan will do all he can to ensure that all that needs to be done at that level is done. I note the Minister's reference to the River Blackwater, planning, and the acquiring of land, but that takes time. It will not happen, however, unless there is serious input from and an urgency given by the Minister, his office and the Department to TII in their regular meetings to seek updates and explain the great significance of the project. It is an issue of health and safety.

I hope that the Minister will impress on the Department and TII the urgent need for these road safety measures at the Ballymaquirk junction and seek regular progress reports on the matter so that the project can be completed as soon as possible.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross I fully accept what the Deputy says about the dangers of this road, which the Department and the TII accepts. This is apparent from its upgrading to the minor works programme and it is passing through some of the necessary hoops. I cannot interfere in the planning process in any way, nor would the Deputy expect me to, and I will not do so. I accept, however, the seriousness of the details of the road crashes he has outlined.

There will likely be compulsory purchase orders as a result of what is happening here and it might take some time. It would be wrong if we did not accept the need for the planning process to go ahead in a meaningful and correct manner. It may be frustrating but it is necessary. As I said in my opening remarks, the appointment of technical advisers has been provided for with funding from TII but there may be conservation mitigation measures which will also take time. I accept the Deputy's pleadings, but unfortunately he will have to be patient to see the necessary processes go ahead. Nonetheless, we fully support the need for what he is looking for. The time may be frustrating but I will convey the urgency he has expressed in the House to the TII.

Bord na Móna

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten Some 24 days ago the Government published the climate action plan which referred to a just transition. That seems to have been ignored today as 148 employees from counties Roscommon and Longford, 72 of them permanent staff, are to be laid off by Bord na Móna. The justification for these lay-offs just does not add up. There have been long shut downs of Lanesborough and Shannonbridge power stations in the past, but these never resulted in the laying off of all seasonal and permanent staff.

The very least those 148 staff and their families deserve now is honesty and answers to the following questions. Has Bord na Móna delivered its contracted tonnage to the ESB under the public service obligation agreement? This lay-off comes after the lay-off of 100 staff by the ESB in Moneypoint due to the price of carbon emissions. Peat has a higher level of carbon emissions than coal. Is this the real reason peat production is to cease in Mountdillon? What is the opening stock of saleable peat on the Mountdillon bogs at the start of this season and what is that figure today? Why is production ceasing when only 62% of the harvest target has been achieved to date?

The justification that has been given for the closure of the plant is the Environmental Protection Agency's change of regulation relating to licensing. That change took place in 2013. It took the ESB five years to set out alternative options and five years to seek an alteration to that licence. That excuse does not stand up. The employees deserve answers to the questions I have raised.

Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice: Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice In addition to the 75 full-time workers and 48 seasonal workers, 50 other subcontract workers are affected by this, such as lorry drivers and people not employed by Bord na Móna who now have no job either as a result of this announcement.

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