Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Kildare By-Pass Roads.

7.

asked the Minister for the Environment the plans, if any, he has to introduce a toll on any of the proposed by-pass roads in County Kildare and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Under the Local Government (Toll Roads) Act, 1979, the making of a scheme for the introduction of tolls in respect of a public road is a function reserved to the elected members of a local authority. Any toll scheme made by a local authority must be submitted to the Minister for his approval. No such scheme has been submitted to me by Kildare County Council.

Has the Minister of State seen the proposed by-pass plans on, for instance, the N4, the northern by-pass? Would he say whether he could consider that type of by-pass suitable for use as a toll road?

I have not seen those proposals. But with regard to whether it is suitable for use as a toll road, that is a matter to be decided by the local authority members in their wisdom. If they do decide on such a proposal, then they should submit it for the attention of my Department.

If agreement was reached on the levying of a toll in relation to such a by-pass, would it bring forward the provision of such by-pass?

It would not because we do not operate on that basis. We operate on the basis of proposals received from various counties. If we receive a proposal about a toll road within the Deputy's county, then we shall examine it. The answer is that we do not operate on the basis of giving priority to a toll suggestion. That is not the way we operate.

Is the Minister saying that Kildare County Council have the right to impose tolls on the proposed new by-pass which would affect all commuter traffic from the west? Surely it would be a matter for the Department. Surely the Minister is aware that there would be massive objections from western and north western commuters to any such proposal when there is no alternative main road access to the capital city.

Under the toll roads Act the drawing up of a scheme for the introduction of tolls in respect of public roads is a function reserved to elected members of county councils. Such proposals have to come to the Department for approval and obviously any objections would be heard. It is the county councillors who make the decision on the question of tolls.

They initiate the proposal. The Minister is contradicting himself.

No, I am not. They make the decision as to whether a toll should be imposed on a particular road in the county and submit it to the Department for approval. They take the decision as to whether a toll should be imposed or not.

If the Department have the right to veto the decision, surely it is a departmental decision.

No. They have the right under the Act to initiate.

But not to make the decision.

Naturally it falls back to the Department.

Is the Minister aware that a decision was taken by Kildare County Council immediately before the Naas by-pass was opened by the former Minister for the Environment, Deputy Spring, yet he used the occasion, in collusion with a former chairman of the council, to exhort members of the council to impose tolls.

That does not arise. I am calling Deputy McCreevy.

(Interruptions.)

The then Minister did not accept the decision of the council and used the occasion to exhort the people on the Council to impose tolls. We paid for that road.

The Fianna Fáil Government.

The taxpayers of Ireland will be delighted.

Can the Minister assure the House that there is no intention to change the 1979 Act which gives to local authorities the power to impose tolls?

That is another question. Question No. 8.

There are no such proposals.

8.

asked the Minister for the Environment the time schedule with regard to the provision of a by-pass to facilitate the town of Kilcock, Maynooth and Leixlip on the N4 national primary route, County Kildare, and if he will make a statement on the matter.

9.

asked the Minister for the Environment the present position with regard to the Newbridge by-pass on the N7 primary route, and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 8 and 9 together.

It is envisaged that both of these major schemes will be constructed to motorway standards. It will, therefore, be necessary to hold a public local inquiry on each of the proposals under the Local Government (Roads and Motorways) Act, 1974. A detailed report on all relevant aspects of a motorway proposal must be available for such an inquiry. I understand from Kildare County Council that they expect that the detailed documentation for the Newbridge by-pass will be completed before the middle of 1985 and that the documentation for the Leixlip-Kilcock by-pass will be available by the end of 1985. As soon as the documentation on each of the schemes is received in my Department, there will be no undue delay in making arrangements for the holding of an inquiry in each case. In the meantime the local authority is proceeding with the design of these schemes.

As indicated in the recent national plan, I intend to announce shortly details of a number of major road improvement schemes which are likely to commence during the period 1985 to 1987.

In view of the obvious necessity to provide a northern by-pass as early as possible, would the Minister be prepared to approve the implementation of both these proposals simultaneously? There is a need to provide both as quickly as possible.

We have to wait until the public inquiries are held before we can make any such decision. It would be inappropriate to say anything further at this stage.

Would the Minister not agree that this lack of co-ordination is most unfortunate? The expertise which was available for the Naas by-pass could have been used immediately for either of the projects mentioned by Deputy Durkan. Is it not unfortunate that the forward planning was left in abeyance and that this was not ready to go ahead as soon as the other job had been completed?

As soon as we get the detailed information from Kildare County Council there will be no undue delay within the Department regarding the inquiry.

Would the Minister view with favour a proposal to have these bypasses undertaken by private enterprise, as was done in the case of the new Dublin bridge? Would he consider these projects as being suitable for private entreprise?

The county council are proceeding in the normal way. There will be a number of options in the plan and the Government will be outlining where private entrepreneurs can become involved. There will be an announcement in the near future.

Can the Minister give any information regarding the traffic census which was conducted some months ago on these primary routes?

The Deputy would have to put down a specific question on that. I have not the information with me.