‘Transformative change’ needed as Govt to sign off on €165bn National Development Plan

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has said the National Development Plan (NDP), which will be announced later today, is the largest public capital investment programme in the history of the State in relation to transport and housing.

Michael McGrath said “transformative change” is needed in the area of transport policy in Ireland.

The Government will sign off on the plan at a meeting in UCC this this morning, before formally launching it in Páirc Ui Chaoimh.

The NDP will commit to €35bn in spending on transport up to 2030.

This is likely to include €12bn for public transport, €6bn on roads, €4bn on walking and cycling infrastructure and €13bn on maintenance.

While there will be a commitment to major projects such as the Metro Link and DART + West, the plan will not have completion dates for these.

However, the €185m Cork Commuter Rail service running from Mallow to Midleton via Cork City, with a ten-minute frequency, could be in place within five years.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Minister McGrath said that the proceeds of €9.5 billion in additional carbon tax receipts up to 2030 will be used to tackle fuel poverty measures and to fund new agri-environmental schemes.

There will be significant investment in housing, along with grants and low interest loans for retrofitting homes.

Mr McGrath said that in the coming months a national Residential Retrofitting Plan will be set out by Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan and that a local guarantee system for retrofitting will be administered through the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland.

Some €4.5bn will be set aside for water improvements up to 2025 and there will be €68m to replace lead pipes in rural areas.

More than €1bn will be pledged to install a 170km pipe that will bring water from the Parteen Basin of the River Shannon in Tipperary to Peamount in Dublin by 2030.

More than €500m will also be available for a waste water system to service the greater Dublin area.

Minister McGrath said he has introduced “a number of important reforms” in relation to the NDP, including “in the area of external oversight of major capital investment projects” that will see experts from outside the public sector brought in to “lend that expertise”.

He said: “Since I commenced the process with my officials and with colleagues across government of instigating this review of the NDP about a year ago, the issue of reform has really been at the heart of it and has been a key focus of our attention over that period of time.”

He said he has brought additional members on to the Project Ireland Delivery Board, which has overall responsibility for monitoring and leading the implementation of the NDP, so that “people with external expertise in delivering projects in the private sector for example will now be joining that board to lend that experience to the State.”

The minister said a new major projects Advisory Group is being established and that availing of “the expertise of a number of experts in different areas” will help to “avoid problems down the line”.

Earlier, the chief executive of the Office of the Planning Regulator welcomed a commitment from the Government to refresh the planning system.

Speaking on the same programme, Niall Cussen said that it has been 20 years since the Planning Act was first prepared.

He said the changes are “altering our development patterns so we are more public transport-centred, much less carbon-dependent and are really putting climate into the heart of our future generational plans”.

He said the Office of the Planning Regulator will be working to ensure plans developed by local authorities on the back of the National Development Plan sit within the national planning framework.

Mr Cussen said the Regulator has intervened with plans to improve climate credentials and to ensure clearer commitments to climate targets and to promoting the delivery of alternative, renewables sources of energy are made.

Article Source – ‘Transformative change’ needed as Govt to sign off on €165bn National Development Plan – RTE – Mícheál Lehane

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