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 Header Item Ports Development (Continued)
 Header Item Departmental Funding

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 976 No. 5

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross] Departmental meetings with Rosslare Europort and Irish Rail in the context of Brexit are ongoing. Most recently, the Department, as the Deputy will know, met the CEO of Iarnród Éireann and the general manager of the port last week and was briefed on the company's recent consultancy report and its plans for the future strategic development of the port. Ports are one of the top items on my Department's agenda when it is involved in any talks on Brexit, and Rosslare Europort and Dublin Port would be top of that list.

Deputy James Browne: Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne The Minister mentioned the sword of Damocles. The concern is that the sword will fall and nothing will have been prepared for that. If the Minister wants to bring Rosslare Europort up to speed to deal with a hard Brexit where if we lose the UK land bridge either because of issues of legal access or financial constraints regarding its use, the port needs to be expanded along with development of access roads. The authorities in Dover and Calais have publicly printed plans to deal with a hard Brexit, but Rosslare has not. The authorities in Dover and Calais are predicting ten mile tailbacks. Rosslare has no plans in place to deal with that. The manager in Rosslare Europort was reported in the local newspaper as having told Wexford County Council that the Government's policy is not to invest in ports. He seemed to be outraged that Iarnród Éireann had to spend its own money on its own port because the Government would not spend on it. Facilities in Rosslare Europort are required for customs, the Garda and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. It can then make an application to the EU to be upgraded to border inspection port status and then get tier 1 status.

There is a great deal of work to be done in Rosslare Europort to make it suitable to deal with the impact of Brexit, as the required work has not been done to date. If we lose access to the UK land bridge for the transport of roll-on, roll-off freight, Rosslare Europort will be the only game in town. We can send freight through any port in the country but for the movement of perishable, pharmaceutical and agricultural goods transported by the drivers of trucks direct to the Continent, Rosslare will be the only game in town.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross It is unfair of the Deputy to say that no preparations are in train. All contingencies are being prepared for in the event of Brexit. It would not be correct to spell all of them out here in public, and I do not believe the Deputy would expect me to do that. However, he can be rest assured that that includes Rosslare Europort and Dublin Port.

My Department has been engaging with Rosslare Europort not just about Brexit but also about the land bridge and how that will affect that port as well. The Irish Maritime Development Office, in conjunction with my Department, has undertaken a study into the use of the UK land bridge by the Irish road transport industry, importers and exporters. The report, which was published recently, established the volume of traffic currently using the UK as a land bridge to the rest of Europe, the potential consequences that Brexit will have on land bridge usage and the various alternative options that may be viable. As I said to the Deputy, many of those involved in Rosslare Europort are looking at opportunities as well as the difficulties that will be encountered.

Departmental Funding

 9. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the amount sanctioned by his Department or the agencies under the remit of his Department to date in 2018 for the development of greenways and dedicated cycling facilities, respectively; the amount spent on each to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51964/18]

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív I always measure success by delivery. There has been a lot of talk about the development of greenways and dedicated cycle ways but I want to know the amount of money that has been sanctioned either by the Minister or any of the agencies under the remit of his Department for the development of greenways and dedicated cycle ways this year, and the amount that has been spent on the ground.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross I thank the Deputy for his question. There are two separate sources for funding of cycling infrastructure within my Department. The tourism development division provides funding for greenway construction while the public transport investment division provides funding to the National Transport Authority, NTA, for the provision of cycling infrastructure, including greenways, within the greater Dublin area and the regional cities of Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Galway.

I have secured a substantial increase in funding for all forms of cycling and walking infrastructure investment over the coming years. This includes €110 million specifically dedicated to cycling and walking infrastructure in our major urban areas; €135 million for sustainable urban transport measures; and €750 million towards the BusConnects programme in Dublin, which will include the delivery of around 200 km of segregated cycling lanes, where possible.

I am also providing €53 million to support the development of new greenways up to 2021 in more rural areas, in line with the greenways strategy published earlier this year.

As can be seen, these are multi-annual capital expenditure programmes which will positively assist with the better development and provision of cycling and walking infrastructure across the State.

In addition to these infrastructure measures, my Department also provides funding to the NTA in relation to behavioural change programmes and to Cycling Ireland to develop the national cycle training standard Cycle Right, which was first rolled out in January 2017 and is expected to have trained approximately 20,000 primary school students this year.

In relation to cycling facilities specifically, the NTA has statutory responsibility to secure or provide cycling infrastructure in the State. I have, therefore, referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a more detailed reply.

With regard to the funding provided from my tourism development division, in 2018, €3,650,000 was allocated for greenways. As there was no open funding call at the time, and there were no new projects commencing this year, this allocation was for ongoing projects that were funded by my Department in previous years. To date, €3,256,402 of this allocation has been spent in 2018.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív As somebody who prided himself on being direct and to the point in asking about the issue at hand in the Seanad, when I was a Member anyway, the Minister must have been very embarrassed to read out that long, convoluted answer to a question I did not ask. Do I take it that the total State investment in greenways and dedicated cycle ways this year across the 30 local authorities is only €3.65 million, which is the equivalent of approximately €100,000 per local authority - it is nothing - and the expenditure is even less? Can he confirm that is all that has been spent on greenways and cycling infrastructure, despite all the talk of plans for years? When will we get something delivered in that regard?

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross I do not know whether the Deputy was listening to my reply-----

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív I was.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross -----but I quoted a figure which I would have thought he and others in this House would greet with a great deal of glee and salute the fact that the Government is making a very large commitment to greenways. The Deputy said derisively that only €3.6 million was allocated this year, but what does he say about the €53 million which is available for greenways from 2019 to 2023? The current application form for that was issued in August and the application process closed on 30 November 2018. He should not dismiss that. The Deputy plucked figures out of the air which are convenient to him but €53 million is the amount that will be given, and that process is already in train. It is wrong for him to say we have not spent enough this year without acknowledging that €53 million and that there is a commitment to greenways in the Deputy's area as well as others. It would be far more laudable if he said, "Thank God the Minister is embarking on a great adventure with greenways". Greenways have been a great success.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy Please conclude, Minister.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross Greenways in Mayo and Waterford have been a great success.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív Regarding the greenway in Waterford, I started that particular project-----

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross Congratulations. Well done. More power to the Deputy.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy Deputy Ó Cuív, without interruption.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív -----and the one in Limerick.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross More power to him on that also.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív That shows how far back it goes.

  The Minister threw out big figures. This Government has been throwing out big figures about housing but it has not been building houses. This Government throws out big figures for projects into the future but it does not deliver. I asked a specific question about delivery this year of either formal approvals of money for greenways or cycle paths or actual delivery on the ground.


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