Private Members' Business. - Road Network: Motion (Resumed).
The following motion was moved by Deputy Olivia Mitchell on Tuesday, 12 June 2001:
That Dáil Éireann:
–aware of the importance for the economy of the speedy delivery of the planned upgrading of our national road network;
–conscious of the need for adequate and genuine consultation with the communities affected by these projects;
–mindful of the widespread concern and anxiety throughout the country on major road development projects;
–concerned that the current compulsory purchase order – CPO – procedure is too cumbersome and slow and can result in unfair prices being paid to landowners;
–believing that bottlenecks in the planning system are delaying the delivery of key projects and that the Planning and Development Act, 2001, has not been and cannot be implemented due to lack of qualified personnel;
–knowing that in the national development plan public-private partnerships are envisaged for 11 major road projects and that the NRA has decided that this will involve widespread road tolling;
–condemns the Government for the delays in the delivery of the national road network and calls on the Government to immediately:
–take steps, including amending legislation, to ensure a greater level of accountability on the part of the NRA in its relationship with local authorities, public representatives and citizens;
–establish procedures to allow for meaningful public consultation by ensuring early publication and circulation of all appropriate studies, reports, surveys, maps, constraints studies, investigations and all essential documentation and to ensure that the views of the public representatives and citizens are duly acknowledged and considered prior to the announcement of any route selection;
–reform the CPO procedure; and
–justify to Dáil Éireann its economic rationale for the imposition of road tolls.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after "Dáil Éireann" and substitute the following:
", commending the Government's proac tive approach to accelerating the delivery of an upgraded national road network:
–welcomes the demonstrable progress being made in implementing the national roads improvement programme set out in the National Development Plan 2000-2006;
–notes the comprehensive statutory public consultation procedures in place under the Roads Act, 1993, which are also being supplemented by extensive non-statutory consultations by road authorities;
–affirms the importance of continuing a system of land acquisition for infrastructure which is fair and equitable and provides for appropriate compensation to all landowners and occupiers;
–welcomes the implementation from 1 January 2001 of the provisions of the Planning and Development Act, 2000, which will assist the speedier planning approval of critical infrastructure;
–commends the National Roads Authority on its planning and management of a greatly expanded national roads programme;
–emphasises the importance of public-private partnerships in harnessing necessary skills and finance to ensure the achievement of the Government's ambitious infrastructure targets; and
–notes the Government's continued commitment to delivering top quality national and non-national roads."
–(Minister of State at the Department of
the Environment and Local Government,
Deputy D. Wallace).
Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin: The motion before the House is timely and serves to draw much needed attention to the effect of infrastructural development on local communities. Road building and an efficient transport infrastructure are essential to the economic progress of this nation. Coming from a constituency where tourism is the primary economic activity I am well aware of the need to invest heavily in our infrastructure. Access to County Kerry's tourist hot spots is closely linked to the availability of a good transport network. Without such a network, problems of congestion and basic access apply.
In Killarney, traffic congestion is an everyday occurrence with tour buses, cars and other heavy vehicles causing delays. In other more isolated areas, the lack of a decent road surface turns visitors away. The solution to these problems does not lie in coming in with a bulldozer and building new roads. The "bull in a china shop" approach simply does not work. It fuels resentment and unease in local communities and slows up the process of putting in place quality infrastructure. Some time ago, with the building of the new Tralee-Castleisland road, people living and farmers with land alongside the new development were seriously discommoded. To this date, they remain aggrieved because they feel that they were not adequately compensated for the level of disruption which they endured at the time.
There are serious issues which need to be addressed if the roads that obviously need to be built are to be put in place. One of the crucial issues is consultation. To date, much of the protest about road building has centred on the fact that local communities affected by the proposed roads have not been consulted. They are of the view that plans are drawn up, decisions are made and only at the eleventh hour are they given any real voice. By then, they only have the opportunity to influence minor elements of the project. The public is not against new roads. Most of them are road users and agree wholeheartedly that upgrading and new developments are required. If local communities are consulted from day one in the planning of new road developments, their concerns can be accommodated.
The next issue is that of compensation. It is one thing compensating people for the value of their property, but there are a wide range of other problems which are not recognised through the compensation process. Some of these issues were outlined last night by my colleague, Deputy Penrose, with particular regard to farmers. Those farmers who have experienced the building of new roads across their farm lands will be aware of the multitude of problems they face. In some cases, farms become unviable because the splitting of a farm is not conducive to continuing certain specialist practices. In others, it becomes hugely inconvenient for farmers to move animals because the farm is split by a busy road.
To recognise these problems it is essential that both the compulsory purchase order procedures and compensation are reviewed and adjusted to reflect the problems experienced by those who have been discommoded. As I said, road building is a vital component in our continued economic success. Coming from the constituency of Kerry South I am acutely aware of this need because we are one of the most infrastructually neglected constituencies in the State. Our roads have been ignored by the Government. South Kerry depends heavily on tourism. The condition of our roadways leaves much to be desired, not to mention the difficulties experienced on a daily basis by those who live in the constituency.
For example, the N86 from Tralee to Dingle has become one of the most renowned infrastructural black spots in the country. My constituency office has had to deal on a daily basis with people travelling this road who have had to have major repairs carried out to their cars. I am also aware of many tourists to the Dingle Peninsula who have sworn not to travel on the N86 ever again. I invite any Minister in the Government to drive their State car from Tralee to Dingle if they do not believe these claims.
We have had a farcical situation in south Kerry in recent months whereby line painters employed to line our roads have painted lines in water-filled potholes. These line painters from Scotland have expressed their sheer amazement about the appalling condition of our road network. I am reliably informed that they have never come across such an outrageous situation.
Not only that, cats eyes have been fitted on some of south Kerry's roads, such as the N86, only to be scattered everywhere within hours of being put down. Locals in the Dingle Peninsula have gathered bags of loose cats eyes which they collected off their roads. This is a disgraceful waste of taxpayer's money. My constituents deserve better.
The tourism industry has had enough to cope with in recent months without comments from tourists about the appalling condition of our roads. The tourism industry in south Kerry is one which we value greatly, but which must also be nurtured consistently. If the necessary funding to repair road surfaces is not forthcoming, all the marketing in the world to attract tourists to our county will not be worth an atom.
More importantly, the residents of my constituency in towns and villages such as Annascaul, Camp, Castlegregory, Rathmore, Scartaglen, Waterville, Sneem and many more have had their expectations from the Celtic tiger dashed by the Government. They have had to endure a lack of accountability and information from the Department of the Environment and Local Government and the National Roads Authority – the latter being one of the most inaccessible and unaccountable public bodies in the State. Several public meetings in south Kerry about road conditions have failed to secure answers from engineers and other officials in the NRA. When the NRA was established there was no proviso which made it answerable to any Department. It is time this issue was addressed.
Moreover, the urban-rural imbalance in infrastructural funding has still not levelled out. By this I mean my constituents find it unpalatable that urban areas, particularly on the eastern seaboard, continue to remain the principal focus of the Government's investment in roads. While I acknowledge that south Kerry has one of the highestper capita ratios of roads, I do not believe that this is sufficient reason to continually ignore the area. During the last election, my constituents were promised by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and his partner in Government, Deputy Jackie Healy-Rae, that we would have dual carriageways and motorways up to every back door. That was nothing short of bluff and blunder.
When the Labour Party was in government, the then Minister for the Environment and Local Government, Deputy Howlin, announced a radical and substantial package of proposals to repair the country's road network. I am sure that the Government will tell me that it has invested unprecedented sums of money in our roads, but we have not seen much of it in south Kerry. Ask the average man or woman, the taxpayer, on the Tralee to Dingle road or the Rathmore to Killarney Road if they have seen any investment in their roads and their answer will be a resounding "No". It is fine to promise millions of pounds, but as we are all well aware, the road to Heaven is paved with good intentions.
I wish to share my time with Deputies Aylward, McGuinness and Ellis.
A vital cornerstone of economic success is decent roads. The Government's performance in terms of putting carriageways in place has been dramatic. At more than £620 million plus £40 million for maintenance, the increase in funding to the National Roads Authority has been extraordinary and quite dramatic and helped to improve many carriageways. We will continue work on the Euro routes and other projects between main towns.
I look forward to the day when I will be able save 58 minutes driving from Cork to Dublin. Currently, the journey is stressful and time consuming, high petrol costs are incurred and I often encounter road rage, whether going through many of the smaller towns or in the continuous bottleneck in Kildare town. In this regard, I welcome the amount being invested in the national road network.
The concept of a National Roads Authority brings to mind an era in the Dáil when it was considered desirable for everything to be carried out by independent bodies removed from the democratic process. Everybody forgot that with independence came an autocratic group which frequently did not listen to what the people, and sometimes even the Government, had to say. It forces one to ask to whom such bodies are answerable, whether it be An Bord Pleanála or the National Roads Authority. Are they answerable to the Oireachtas or the people? Do they listen to the people? There is a democratic deficit in terms of the independence of these authorities. They become aloof and opinionated, answerable only to themselves. Unknowingly, we might have created a monster. Regard for the democratic process, therefore, is vitally important.
Consider the psyche of landowners, how much they love their holdings and how loath they are to lose them. When one sees the beautiful stretches of land being interfered with by highways, one can appreciate that many farms are also being interfered with. While it makes no difference to a farmer with 200 acres of land, it makes a significant difference to a farmer with 45 acres of land through which a road passes. I have some sympathy with farmers in terms of the CPO. It is a case of public utility versus the rights of the individual and we have to ask whether landowners get a fair deal.
Consider, for example, the Ballincollig bypass stretching to the boundary with County Kerry in which thousands of acres of land are involved. Over a ten year period it has been sterilised. Nothing has happened to it. There has been no planning permission in any quarter. In Ballincollig, the development has been one-sided, involving a long stretch of two miles. The bypass runs through an area adjacent to the town that would have served as a heartland. There is a green belt. When compensation is being paid and a compulsory purchase order considered, landowners ask those involved in arbitration with them if they will get real value for their land. They ask if it is proper that, for ten years, land has been set aside and allowed stay as agricultural land when all other landowners in the area have been permitted to develop their land, build houses on it and attain massive prices for it.
Multiple routes are always proposed for a road until one is finally approbated. The gestation period is so long that it may not be fair to the individuals concerned. In terms of the procedures pertaining to CPOs, it is well worth looking at how we might modernise our views and the arbitration involved in giving landowners a fair price for their land taking into account that it has been set aside in many instances. If this had not happened, what value would have been placed on it?
Now that the road is being constructed in the Ballincollig area we can make some recompense. There should be some relationship between the local authority, the landowners and the National Roads Authority to determine how some of the land could be used. Zoning would be one such use. In this regard the Minister should look at the deficit that has been created.
One must examine the role of the National Roads Authority and those who will negotiate with farmers. Many of the personnel we will bring to bear on this issue will be highly qualified, foreigners, but unaware of the psyche of dealmaking and negotiation in Ireland. This, in itself, is a deficit and will have to be addressed.
Decent roads are an absolute necessity for economic well-being which can be achieved, but we must do so in a fair and open-minded manner. I am concerned that some of the farmers in my hinterland feel they have been hard done by. The CPO process needs to be renegotiated in order that landowners will feel they will get a fair price, which is their right.
I should like to recognise what has been achieved by the Department of the Environment and Local Government through the National Roads Authority as part of the national development plan in respect of which a need for five major corridors was identified. The N8 and N9 run through my constituency to the South East. A great and successful effort was made by local representatives, supported by all the local and regional authorities, IBEC, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and employers etc., to ensure one of the major corridors would run to the south east through my constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny. This achievement provoked a sense of euphoria. Since then a number of pres tigious companies have established in my county providing much needed jobs. It was asserted thatper capita income in my constituency was far lower than the national average. Progress has, therefore, been made in redressing this imbalance since the construction of the corridor was announced.
My support for the N8 and N9 road projects must not be at the expense of my respect for the rights of land and property owners along the proposed routes, not only farmers, but house owners also. This in not to say that I do not support the proposed route, but there should be improved consultation between the National Roads Authority, the local authorities and the people affected. The identification in some cases of three, four or five alternative routes was a cause of unnecessary major panic and alarm. That is the wrong way to do business and it really upset people. Let us be honest and state that 75% of the people concerned at present, because we have reached that stage of the process, will not be affected in the long-term. We inherited this system from the old British model which advocated a policy of divide and conquer. In the end, 75% of people will be happy but no one will be prepared to fight the cause of the 25% through whose lands the line will run.
The level of compensation is completely inadequate. A previous speaker made the case about a small farmer with a holding of 45 or 50 acres. In my area most land holdings would range in size from 30 and 150 acres, but that is not to say that there are not also some very large holdings. The smaller landowners to whom I refer are involved in quite intensive dairy operations. If a farmer with a holding of 45 acres loses five acres, his holding will no longer be viable. If a person has to sell off five cows because of the intensity of his or her operation, that operation will no longer be viable. That is the situation we face. Some people will have their livelihoods taken away and we must do something about that.
Another matter to which I wish to refer is the payment of capital gains tax on compensation payments. It strikes me as unfair that capital gains tax will have to be paid unless a person immediately invests in other agricultural activity. The proposed level of compensation would not be adequate to replace the loss of land and if a person in an area is going to be affected, his or her neighbours will also be affected. In those circumstances, the competition for available land, if any exists, will be more intense. A person with a small operation would, therefore, not have the opportunity to replace the land they lost.
I find it totally objectionable that between 10% to 20% of the overall cost of the provision of these roads is paid to consultants, while farmers, who are actually losing their land, only obtain in the range of 3% to 5%. That matter is worthy of further consideration.
There is a lack of consultation and a dearth of information. People should be given adequate time in which to submit questionnaires. For example, serious delays have occurred because of the foot and mouth crisis but, in the case to which I am specifically referring, namely, the N8 and N9, people are expected to have returned their questionnaires by 15 June, which is just not possible. The farming organisations should have the opportunity to consult on behalf of their clients. I know that reasonable and substantial submissions were made by the IFA and the ICMSA. I ask that an agricultural liaison officer be appointed in each local authority area and that there should be an independent adjudication of costs and fair procedures for dealing with problem cases and complaints. I also request that mediation costs be covered and that costs should also be awarded in the event of oral hearings taking place.
I welcome the proposal put forward by the IFA that a CPO ombudsman should be appointed. That would be a good development, particularly when one considers the level of expenditure involved. The CPO ombudsman should be appointed for the duration of the work to investigate all complaints and, in particular, consider the assessment of compensation. I accept that criteria have already been laid down, but the appointment of such an officer would be a positive step and I ask the Minister to consider it favourably.
I turn now to the provision of underpasses and overpasses. My county has had a number of past experiences in respect of road building and there has been a niggardly approach on the part of the authorities in granting applications for overpasses and underpasses. The authorities should be far more generous in this area in order to attract the goodwill of the farmers, landowners and property owners affected by road construction. Consideration must also be given to the maintenance of fencing, proper drainage and the relief of flooding, access for local traffic and disturbance to local communities.
The IFA adopted a policy yesterday to the effect that representatives of the NRA will not be granted access to all lands in the counties of Kildare, Carlow, Kilkenny and Laois. That matter should be raised with the authority. There is a a need to obtain the goodwill of the organisations involved and the people who will be affected. The way to do that is to consult them at the beginning of the process and not to proceed on a piecemeal basis. Difficulties arose in south Kilkenny because matters were dealt with on a weekly basis. That is not good enough because it led to doubts being placed in people's minds.
It is important that the Minister and the Department should take the initiative and insist that the National Roads Authority and the local authorities come together to foster an atmosphere of goodwill which will allow these welcome and necessary projects to be completed. In my opinion, everyone will then be satisfied.
On an Adjournment debate last week I indicated quite clearly that I was not against the road construction programme. People involved in business or those who travel through out the country will have witnessed at first hand the need not only for an integrated transport system but also the need to upgrade the existing road system. There is also a need to upgrade and modernise the rail system, a development which has not yet taken place and which forms part of the problem with which we are now faced.
I wish to dwell on two specific points. I raised the issue of the compulsory purchase order system at a meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party today and on last week's Adjournment debate. My experience of this matter relates to the Norris case in Kilkenny and the difficulties surrounding the Milford over-bridge at Glenmore, where local communities were severed. In the latter instance, the NRA presented a plan and literally cut off the local community. A footbridge was provided at great cost, with a contribution from the local authority, but proper access to it was not granted. That was completely ridiculous. I am also familiar with the Norris case and in the Adjournment debate to which I refer I asked that this case be used as a model to allow us to discover what exactly happened,vis-à-vis the actions of the NRA relative to those of the local council, in order to determine how best to improve the system of compulsory purchase.
The compulsory purchase system is completely inadequate. It does not reflect the fact that farmers do not wish to sell their land. They are obliged to negotiate the sale of their land because of the fact that the construction of a particular road has been visited upon them. Roads are there for the common good. Due to the fact that roads such as the N8 and N9 are being constructed for the betterment of regional, local and national economies, society and the Government should be prepared to pay landowners and farmers a price for land which falls somewhere between the value of agricultural land and the market value of development land. We must face facts on this matter. By using the compulsory purchase system, we are actually stealing farmers' lands, dividing their farms, diminishing their properties, reducing the income they can gain from their lands and, in some instances, making their holdings unviable. It is time the Government and everyone involved in politics realised that this system is not working. We need to rectify matters and ensure that a system is put in place, under which fair prices will be paid.
I am concerned about the N8 and N9 because people affected by their construction will be exposed to the existing compulsory purchase system. By the time a new system is introduced, many farmers will have been obliged to avail of this system and will literally have been robbed of their lands, their quality of life and the level of livelihood they enjoyed until the construction of the roads commenced. There is a necessity to fast-track the process and put in place a system which will deliver the land for development, if necessary. Do we need four-lane motorways? Would the upgrading of the N9 and the bypassing of Carlow and Kilkenny not be a better option, particularly if it occurred in conjunction with an upgrading and modernisation of the railway system. In terms of the N8 and N9, there is a need to put in place a system under which farmers or landowners will not have to stump up money for consultants and other professionals to prove their case against local authorities or the NRA.
There is a need for a mediation system earlier in the process and for a compulsory purchase ombudsman, as outlined in the case put before the social partners by the IFA in its document, Code for the Fair Acquisition of Land for Infrastructural Development. The ICMSA has also made a submission in this area. All it seeks in the discussion documents is fair play. It has seen at first hand through the Norris case and Milford Bridge that it does not get fair play. If the country is to benefit from these motorways, we should be prepared to pay for the land.
The regulations governing provision of information to landowners and those processing their complaints are not being fully adhered to. In Kilkenny, the maps on which these roads will be based and planned have not been given to landowners and farmers to make their submissions which must be made within two weeks. That is ridiculous. No community, group or individual could mount a proper submission based on such poor information and within that short space of time.
In the context of the N8 and N9, I ask the NRA to grant further time for the local authority to debate the issue, for us to analyse whether we are taking the right course by building a four lane highway or whether we should upgrade the N9 instead, and for farmers and landowners to conduct proper consultation with their communities to make appropriate submissions on their behalf. That is necessary and is a small request in what is a very large project. It is the least we can do for the local communities and landowners concerned. I urge the Minister to take on board the ICMSA and IFA submissions and make the necessary adjustments to the system so that people along the N8 and N9 can benefit.
In discussing road improvements, I am sure we all understand and accept that there is a need to upgrade the road network throughout the country. Some of my colleagues have problems with roads being given motorway status. I wish I had the same problem with the road from Mullingar to Sligo. That said, the Government has committed to upgrade the N4 to dual carriageway standard.
The main point to be borne in mind is that, while these improvements are being made, people's livelihoods and day-to-day activities are being severely affected. The compensation system in place poses major problems. Where a person has his or her farm divided in two, for example, and he or she loses four or five acres, it would be ridiculous for that lost land to be valued in commercial agricultural terms, which would be about £5,000 an acre. Not only would the farm have been divided, the running costs for the farm would have been significantly increased. Some people in this position have to do a round trip of two or three miles to get to the other half of their farms because no common sense has been used nor have underpasses and overbridges been provided to accommodate communities and people affected.
On top of that, the loss of potential earning from the use of the land is not ever taken into consideration. The loss of one dairy cow can mean a gross loss of £1,600 to £2,000 per annum. If a person loses five acres in an intensive dairy project, that can amount to an annual loss of £8,000 to £10,000 in gross income. How is a person to be compensated for that? Is a scale of compensation to be set up to take into account consequential losses?
On top of that is the increased cost of running the farm which sometimes means the question of viability arises quickly. If a person's quota is reduced from 45,000 to 35,000 gallons because he or she cannot keep the necessary stock, that is a major loss. That must be addressed in any compensation programme put in place.
I know the NRA has a mandate to deal as quickly as possible with road improvements and we support that, but in so doing, we must take into consideration the effect some of these major road projects could have on communities, such as their division and the increased difficulty of access to local facilities, such as the local corner shop, pub or other facilities which we in rural Ireland have come to accept.
The most effective action can be taken at the planning stage to prevent major problems. Consideration should be given to the consequential loss to communities and individuals of the routes planned. The floating out of four or five routes for a proposed stretch of road is stupid because it divides neighbour against neighbour and brother against brother. It comes down to that in some cases. That is not something anyone wants. If common sense prevailed in route selection and compensation, we would not see these problems arise. They are only beginning and let no one be under any illusions about that.
These are the first major road projects for a few years other than those completed under the local authority system. All we have had up to now are bypasses of towns and villages. We know the consequential loss in some cases and the advantages in others where towns and villages have been bypassed. In some cases it has encouraged people to go to those towns because they will not face the gridlock they faced prior to the bypasses being put in place.
When I first travelled to the Dáil from Leitrim, I always came by Cavan. Now that Mullingar and Longford have been bypassed, I come by those towns because I can save 25 to 30 minutes on the journey as well as experiencing less pressure driving.
We need these new roads to improve quality of life and our industrial performance but we cannot have them at the expense of local communities. Common sense must prevail. I encourage the Minister to talk to the NRA and ask it to be constructive in its actions, to talk to people and discuss its actions with them and not to try to force them down people's throats. That does not and will not work, and anyone in the political field learned that lesson last week. One cannot tell people what to do. They are the best judges of what they want to do. Despite the best attempts that may be made in selling certain road improvement projects, it is imperative that local people are given full consideration.
It is also important in the context of major road developments that the second class, third class and regional roads are not neglected. We know rural roads affect everyone's livelihoods, the development of communities and the progress of people's lives. No one wants to live with potholed roads and no one should be expected to. It is imperative in the context of overall road development that consideration be given to the people who use them every day over those who use them occasionally. I say that knowing that the Acting Chairman, as someone who originally came from rural Ireland, will understand that the first bone of contention was and always will be the roads, be they motorways, national or local roads.
With the agreement of the House I wish to share time with Deputies Flanagan, McCormack, Burke, Connaughton, Crawford, Timmins and Deenihan.
Lack of consultation has been raised by a number of speakers. It is important given the effect the roads programme in the national development plan will have on local communities. This debate is the flip side of the national development plan, namely, the effect it has on local communities. Many road proposals will split communities and no consideration is given to the effect such proposals will have on them. In many cases a small change in a route could accommodate local communities. Where possible, this should be done. There has been no consultation. The line of proposed roads can have a devastating effect on many communities. The effect on Cashel, for example, is evident.
The question of the price paid to landowners is important. Enormous sums are spent on roads. More than £6.5 billion is to be spent on the national road network. Landowners should be paid a fair price for their land. Deputy Aylward made an important point about the large amounts paid to consultants, engineers, project managers, archaeologists, geologists and others. Professional fees could account for up to 20% of the cost of a road. Those whose land is being taken by compulsory purchase order should be adequately recompensed.
The issue of tolling is being discussed in the media currently. It is proposed to toll roads which by-pass towns. The Dublin-Cork route is used by many people on a daily basis and it is essential for their businesses. These are not trippers or holidaymakers who use the road merely for pleasure. Due to the traffic congestion the journey from Dublin to Cork now takes up to five hours so the proposed development is very welcome. The Fermoy, Cashel, Kildare and Cullohill bypasses will reduce travelling time by at least one hour. I am alarmed by the proposal to toll parts of this road because this will add greatly to the cost of driving on the road on a daily basis. Even before we know whether the Kildare by-pass will be tolled we can calculate that the return journey from Dublin to Cork will cost at least £5.50 for a car and £14.40 for a heavy goods vehicle. Over a year the cost to an enterprise could mount to about £1,000, in addition to other costs. We must give serious consideration to the proposal to toll roads.
The opponents of the Fermoy by-pass make a very valid point when they say that if the toll is high, toll dodgers will drive through the town and cause congestion. Other countries such as France and Spain do not toll by-passes because it is recognised that tolling a town by-pass would have an adverse effect on traffic in the town. Tolling by-passes has two disadvantages. It adds cost to motorists who are obliged to use a particular route and it encourages motorists to avoid the by-pass and drive through the centre of the town.
If the Government is to learn any lesson from last week's referendum debacle it is that one should listen to the people and to communities. I will confine my remarks to the subject of the National Roads Authority, which is to the 21st century what unscrupulous landlords were to the 19th. This unelected quango has no regard for families or people or for the concepts of consultation or accountability. These are all alien to its terms of reference. Approximately 130 years ago tenant farmers fought for the three Fs – fair rent, free sale and fixity of tenure. Today rural communities are fighting for three new Fs – fast access to documentation, full consultation and fair compensation. Their fight is well grounded.
The Government must immediately bring in legislation to curtail the sweeping powers of the unaccountable National Roads Authority, which allows private consultants and, so called, experts to ride rough shod over the feelings, views and concerns of thousands of worried families who happen to live on a route between major cities. People are being treated like criminals simply because they happen to live at a particular point between Dublin and Cork, Dublin and Limerick or Dublin and Waterford.
I represent two midland counties through which we are pushing the N6 from Dublin to Galway, the N7 from Dublin to Limerick, the N8 from Dublin to Cork and the N9 from Dublin to Waterford. These routes go through portions of my constituency of Laois-Offaly. I do not believe the Minister of State, Deputy Dan Wallace, appreciates or even knows what is going on. The high-handed and arrogant manner in which the National Roads Authority is treating public representatives and communities is to be deplored in the strongest possible terms. I call for the amendment of the legislation to ensure a greater level of accountability on the part of the NRA, a body which should, at the very least, be subjected to the rigorous examination by a select committee on an annual basis.
It is unacceptable that decisions are made by the National Roads Authority without any form or adequate process being applied. A prerequisite for any decision on route selection for major motorways must be the publication of all documents, studies, reports, maps, surveys and investigations. These should be circulated to local authority representatives, county councillors and the public before any decision is made on an emerging preferred route.
The practice of the National Roads Authority, behind which the Minister of State and the Minister for the Environment and Local Government hide, of allowing six and seven different routes to be speculated upon does no more than whip up fear and anxiety throughout the land. Adverse public opinion sets brother against brother and farmer against farmer in rural parishes. The arrogant and high-handed manner in which the authority conducts its business must now be stopped. It is unsustainable for politicians, both in this House and those at local level, to wash our hands of what is happening and cite the fact that we have no power over an authority which we set up ten or 12 years ago. Ministers hide behind the NRA as crucial matters of policy, such as the concept of pay-as-you-drive, appear not to have been the subject of debate, scrutiny or public consultation of any description. Unless and until we, as law makers, wrest the power back from the National Roads Authority, cynicism on the part of the electorate will be further fuelled and politicians will be held in even lower esteem than at present.
Local public inquiries and consultations are little more than window dressing. Drawing on my experience of spending a week at a local public inquiry in a hotel in my constituency last year, I can say the inquiry was nothing more than a sham. The local inspector and his team of arrogant officials had their minds firmly made up before the process even began. If I am wrong I ask Deputy Wallace to prove me wrong.
The Minister for the Environment and Local Government and the Government now tell us they are powerless. They are, in fact, careless as they allow actions to continue with no regard for the needs and wishes of the public who put us here. Let us call a halt to this operation as soon as we possibly can.
Many speakers have dealt with the great concern in communities at the way new by-pass roads and motorways are being introduced. The system is simply dividing communities and parishes and is turning them against each other. When three or four road development options are published there is a tug of war between communities over the plans. In that way, neighbours are set against one another in an unsatisfactory manner.
There are three proposals in my constituency of Galway West: the N6 to Dublin, the N17 and the N18. The N17 is the Tuam to Galway road made famous in song by the Saw Doctors. Originally when the three proposals were published for the N17 it was intended to go, more or less, along the route of the old road, by-passing Claregalway with a direct run between Tuam and Galway. Quite suddenly, however, after the three options were published and submissions made, we had a new N17 going from Tuam almost to Athenry and back into Galway. Under that proposal, people coming from Tuam would be obliged to travel eight to ten miles further on their way to Galway. Some 60% of the traffic leaving Tuam every morning is bound for Galway but under the proposed development drivers would be obliged to travel almost to Athenry and pay tolls. The proposed system is a bad one. No toll system should be introduced by the NRA on any road without the matter being debated in this House.
Farmers whose land is compulsorily taken should have a share in the tolls, even if it is a small percentage, in order to compensate for the loss of their land. In that way one could bring people along with the plan instead of driving them against the developments. There would be less opposition to such an idea. The IFA has made several reasonable proposals that should be examined by the Government. There should be consultation with people instead of publishing details of four routes and then coming up with what they call "an emerging preferred route". That is not consultation. Consultation is going out into the communities and saying, "We intend to make a new road between Tuam and Athenry, or between Galway and Dublin, Now, let's talk about it and let's see how this could be done".
If a new highway is driven through a parish such as Athenry, it will cut off Derrydonnell and Lisheencoyle, leaving them on the Galway side of Athenry. The best hurling parish in the country would be split in two. Half of them would communicate with Galway and the other half with Athenry. That cannot be done to communities. In recent years, we have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds planning by-passes at Claregalway, Clarinbridge and Loughrea but not a penny will ever be spent on them. Yet, millions was spent on designing those by-passes which have been abolished because of the new plans. Few of the new plans will ever come to fruition because some are just election gimmicks. Let us have consultation. There will be no bother with the farm ing communities or anyone else if they receive a stake in what is being done.
The constituency of Galway East has been one of the worst affected by the proposals for these routeways. The region running east-west, from Ballinasloe to near Oranmore, and north-south from outside Tuam to Gort, is huge. Nationally, some 7,000 farmers will be affected by the proposed acquisition of 25,000 acres, but the highest proportion is within my constituency. Many communities have been seriously affected by the work of the National Roads Authority. The NRA was ill advised to bring out a questionnaire whereby, through a lobbying process, one community can change proposed routes. It was not ever intended that the proposals that are now being put on paper would work in that fashion. As Deputy Flanagan said, communities, including farmers, are being set against each other.
There is a total lack of co-ordination and co-operation by the Government and the Minister to bring into the process the agencies responsible for delivering this plan. The NRA, local authorities and Dúchas are all involved in my constituency but they hardly talk to each other. Dúchas has put a stop to a road, thus necessitating an additional £10 million in order to circumvent a shed which is a habitat for bats. If bats are more important than people in County Galway, the NRA must have no sense of responsibility.
It is not acceptable. It is time for the Minister of State and the Minister to reclaim responsibility for the delivery of this project. Adequate compensation must be provided to landowners whose property is compulsorily acquired, particularly in areas where profitable toll roads will be operating. Investors in such PPPs will make money from them, so farmers who provide the necessary land must be adequately compensated, over and above the level of compensation for ordinary road improvements. This is a different matter and for that reason it is time for the Minister to take responsibility for it.
Never before have we seen this type and scale of road building, planning, design, consultancy reports and preferred option routes. There is a huge cohort of anxious, angry and discommoded people who either have been or will be greatly inconvenienced by what is happening. There is a huge gap in the delivery of so-called infrastructural projects. We all know there is a necessity for roads but the National Roads Authority is taking a misguided approach to the issue. As far as the NRA is concerned the answer to everything is to construct a major road in the shortest possible time, irrespective of the consequences. We hear nothing about rail, for instance.
The craziest thing of all is just about to happen in the Tuam, Athenry and Oranmore areas of my constituency. Galway County Council spent hours rezoning land to build in a radius around Galway city so that towns such as Athenry, Tuam and Oranmore can be better linked to Gort in the south of the constituency and other towns in the north.
To this day, 12 miles from Galway city, we have the remains of the Sligo-Limerick railway line that was closed down years ago. If another city in Europe had such a facility it would be upgraded and less work would be done on the roads. There should be a park-and-ride system for people to take the train into Galway, while all the towns around the city could be connected by a good railway system. I am sick and tired of having made this point for the past ten years, yet nobody seems to take a blind bit of notice.
Recently, at Galway County Council we were trying to get across to the consultants that this is a balanced way of doing business.
We can imagine the benefits to the community from such a development; it happened once in Tynagh with the local zinc mines. Whoever owned the land where that wealth was found was fairly well compensated. What about the farming families who have owned land for generations and which will benefit tens of thousands of motorists? They will only receive peanuts for their land. The situation is inequitable in every sense. Stakeholder farmers are being insulted by the small amount of money on offer for their land. There will have to be adequate compensation for them.
I welcome the opportunity to say a few words on this extremely important issue. Much construction work is going on and other work is promised under the national development plan. The National Roads Authority and the Government must have goodwill from the people who are being affected. Goodwill is an important issue when one starts taking away the rights of many people. An average of 3% of the total cost of roads is paid in compensation to land and property owners. Little attention is paid to the severance and serious destruction of family farms. Under the proposals, dairy farms will be destroyed along the N2 in north County Monaghan. CPO payments must be increased to a reasonable level and not paid at the current market value for agricultural land with a little extra for severance and disturbance. Real compensation must be paid if the goodwill of land and property owners is to be maintained and work allowed to proceed.
The NRA and An Bord Pleanála are not answerable to the House which is a serious issue. I spoke to a builder earlier who has been trying to build 78 houses under the social housing initiative as quickly as possible. He has received two letters from An Bord Pleanála. It took eight months for the board to make a decision on a simple rural setting and send him the first letter and it now wants another four months. We cannot question these decisions in the House. Housing for 78 families is at stake and while this is not relevant to the motion, bodies such as An Bord Pleanála are not answerable.
The NRA has conducted studies of bypasses in County Monaghan for the past four years along the national primary route from Dublin to Belfast. It has spent a great deal of money, but not one sod has yet been turned. It would be better if local authorities were given the resources and allowed to use their own personnel to consult and discuss with the owners of property through which roads are planned because they could develop a closer relationship with them and a better job could be done. The NRA has this responsibility.
The Minister of State, Deputy Molloy, who is now present, and his colleagues must take this issue in hand to make sure proper compensation is paid. The N2 is a vital road as far as Counties Monaghan and Donegal and Northern Ireland are concerned. The Belfast to Galway road is equally important and it is not even included in the NDP. If something is not done to generate goodwill among property owners, the NDP will never be implemented.
Under the NDP the CPO process will be completed by 2001, the tender process by 2002, construction will commence in 2003 and the projects will be completed by 2006. Will the Minister of State assure the House the plan will be adhered to, irrespective of what system the Government puts in place? Can he assure us the deadline will be met?
When the NDP was drawn up the Minister of State recognised that approximately 20% of funding for national roads would come from the private sector. He decided to do a Pontius Pilate. He washed his hands of responsibility and said he would not be accountable for any of the difficulties that would arise in this regard. He took two clever steps to make life easier for himself. First, he gave authority to the NRA to commission a tolls study and make the decision on whether tolls should be in place. The Ceann Comhairle can, as a result, rule out parliamentary questions in this area because the Minister of State has no responsibility for the NRA. Once again, authority is being handed over from this House to bodies such as Bord Fáilte, An Bord Pleanála and the NRA which are unelected, faceless groups.
Second, and more importantly, in the Planning and Development Act, 2000, the Minister of State ensured An Bord Pleanála would be the final arbitrator in the CPO process. I acknowledge we must have a CPO system and there must be a facility to purchase land in the interest of the common good. A few contentious CPOs have been sanctioned in County Wicklow, but, by and large, the majority of responsible politicians will always support them if they are for the common good.
The weakness regarding An Bord Pleanála is its composition. For example, in recent days planning permission for a business park costing £130 million in Bray, which had been granted by the local authority following material contravention, was overruled by An Bord Pleanála. One of the reasons was:
It is considered that the additional traffic movements generated by the development as proposed would seriously prejudice the level of service and carrying capacity of the N11 and would reduce the effectiveness of public investment in the national primary route and adversely affect the use of the national road by traffic.
Was the N11 not designed to facilitate projected development? According to the board's decision, it will be virtually impossible to develop a business anywhere along the N11. Decentralisation from Dublin has been discussed in recent years, yet a project which would have taken up 190 acres has been overruled by An Bord Pleanála.
What is the composition of the board? My concern is that it is top heavy with planners. Are any engineers with expertise in road building on the board? At the end of the day, all these road projects will end up being appealed to the An Bord Pleanála and if planners, who have no expertise in road building, are to adjudicate on them, they will not go ahead.
(Carlow-Kilkenny): I accept, like everybody else, new roads are needed as traffic volume is increasing. However, farmers, who will suffer most as a result of these developments, should receive adequate compensation. Paying them the market rate for agricultural land will not provide them with adequate compensation. Farmers are paid 3% of the total cost of road projects, but consultants are paid more, yet they have nothing to lose. A farmer could have his farm divided in two and might find himself at a complete disadvantage when the road has been constructed depending on what type of farming he undertakes. He should not be paid for his land at the market rate for agricultural land. If the NRA copped on to the notion that farmers could hold them up and disrupt the NDP, it could deal with them in a benign way and show them that it cares about the disruption caused to them.
A bypass is badly needed in Carlow and the motorway will take care of this provided it passes close to the town which is chock-a-block every weekend as people cannot get through it. I support the plea made by farmers in a responsible way. I met a farmers' delegation at the weekend. They accept roads must be built. I ask the Minister of State to sit down with the NRA and come up with a better solution than haggling about the price of agricultural land and perhaps give farmers a few extra pounds for the disruption caused to them.
A road passes in front of the home of one of the farmers I spoke to at the weekend which cuts his house off from the rest of his farm. If he seeks an underpass, he will be told the cost will be deducted from the compensation he will receive. Farmers will gain the least, but must go to more bother than anybody else to obtain compensation.
In discussing the motion we cannot lose sight of the fundamental fact that the national road investment programme provided for in the national development plan and elaborated on in the Economic and Social Infrastructure Operational Programme and the two regional operational programmes is the largest ever undertaken in the State. The unprecedented scale of the programme brings about many challenges which are being addressed by the Government, the National Roads Authority, local authorities, the private sector and other relevant interests.
Improvements are continually being made to ensure the effective and timely delivery of road projects, both national and non-national, including revision of project management guidelines, streamlining of planning procedures, the adoption of a code of practice on archaeology and greater use of consultants. At the same time, the rights of individuals and communities must be respected. The task is substantial and undoubtedly ambitious, which the debate on this motion has made clear. I will address some of the issues raised by Deputies in the House during the debate.
As regards compulsory purchase orders, it is accepted that the scale of the NDP, both in terms of number and size of projects, means that CPOs will impact on a greater number of people than heretofore and to a greater extent in terms of land take. The Government is committed to ensuring that the compulsory purchase system operates efficiently and that decisions are made in a timely manner. The new procedures introduced in the Planning and Development Act, 2000, where the powers of the Minister for the Environment and Local Government were transferred to An Bord Pleanála will help in this regard. These include provision for less formal oral hearings in place of the more formal public local inquiries; the confirmation of compulsory purchase orders by local authorities where there are no objections; time limits on submitting compulsory purchase orders to the board for confirmation and an 18 week objective for making decisions on compulsory purchase orders and shortening the period within which local authorities must serve notice to treat to purchase the land from three years to 18 months. I am satisfied these changes will result in a more effective CPO system.
As regards compensation, it is important that a balance should be struck between the public interest and the interests of individual land owners. On the one hand, landowners have real concerns about land take issues which can impact not only on their livelihood, but on their way of life, particularly in farming communities. On the other hand, the State must ensure that value for money is obtained and that the public interest is protected in terms of the timely provision of urgently needed infrastructure. In this connection, discussions are ongoing on the Irish Farmers' Association's proposals for reform of arrangements for the compulsory acquisition of land, including the issue of compensation. These discussions are between the IFA, my Department and other relevant agencies, including the National Roads Authority. It is important to remember that the road investment programme should be delivered on time and in a cost effective, yet fair and reasonable manner so that the whole country can enjoy sustained economic growth and a more balanced regional development. We accept that the needs of individual families and how they are being affected must and will be fully taken into consideration.
Tolling was discussed in some detail during the debate and was addressed at some length by the Minister of State, Deputy Dan Wallace, in the House last night. It is important to remember that tolling is an integral part of the proposed public private partnership arrangements which will deliver significant benefits in the rolling out of the roads investment programme. Essential skills and finance will be harnessed through PPPs to ensure that the road network is built to the highest standards and in the most efficient manner. Being a relatively new concept in Ireland, particularly outside Dublin, it is inevitable that it will attract opposition. It will take some time for the concept to be fully accepted.
It should be remembered that the stretches of road on which tolls are proposed are spread geographically throughout the country so that one area is not bearing the brunt of tolls. It has also been clearly stated that motorists will have a choice whether to used the tolled route. Alternative non-tolled routes will still be available to those who choose not to use the new road. Tolls will be set at a rate which is economically viable. It is reasonable that the private sector will seek to attract motorists to use the tolled facility and that tolls will not be set at a level which will discourage motorists. Furthermore, as indicated previously, a comprehensive statutory consultation process will be carried out under the Roads Act, 1993, before tolling is introduced on a route and the community will have an opportunity to raise any concerns or objections. Shadow tolling is not in prospect, at least in the short-term, as hard tolls more readily permit the transfer of economic risk. Moreover, hard tolls are more equitable than shadow tolls as those who do not use the tolled roads are not required to subsidise those who do.
I emphasise the Government's desire to deliver urgently on the major roads infrastructure iden tified in the NDP. The Government is also concerned for those who are affected by such developments. A careful balance must be struck between these concerns both in terms of the statutory procedures which apply and those arrangements and procedures which operate outside the statutory sphere. The Government is constantly striving to improve our system of public administration as it impacts on individuals and I put it to the House that the arrangements for consulting local communities, acquiring land and improving our road system, looked at in the round, are fair and reasonable to individuals and also in terms of serving the public interest.
I propose to share my time with Deputies Bradford and Olivia Mitchell.
It seems an effrontery for the Government to table an amendment to this motion which talks about extensive non-statutory consultations by road authorities, land acquisitions being fair and reasonable and a system providing for appropriate compensation. As regards consultations, the Minister of State referred to discussions between his Department and the NRA, on the one hand, and the IFA, on the other hand. The clear impression the other participants in those discussions have is that they are heard but not listened to. There is no reaction from the official side to the proposals made. That has also been the experience of local communities throughout the country where they can get access to talk to the NRA.
Given the volume of work now being undertaken and the amounts of land being taken up by the roads programme, it is clear the CPO procedure as it stands, with all its delays and uncertainties, is entirely inappropriate. It is also clear the assessment of what constitutes appropriate compensation is woefully inadequate. Not more than 1% of the entire agricultural area of this country comes on the market for sale each year. It is a seller's market. In the space of four years the national primary roads programme will take up the equivalent of a quarter of that amount of land. In the space of four years it will add 25% to the volume of land coming on the market. That cannot fail to fuel the upward march in prices to a significant extent. It would be impossible for many of the farmers who will be affected by this roads programme to purchase land to replace the land compulsorily acquired. They will not be able to find land within any reasonable distance of their existing farms at a price which will match the amount of compensation they get paid for compulsorily acquired land. Appropriate compensation must be fundamentally re-thought in the context of that one fact. In view of this and that this conversion of land assets to money is entirely compulsory and not at the choice of the farmers concerned, there is an unanswerable case for compensation for CPOs to be completely relieved of capital gains tax, whatever use the recipient makes of it.
I thank Deputy Dukes for sharing his time with me. I welcome and support the motion. I will speak about the tolling of roads as outlined in the agreement for the 11 new planned routes throughout the country. Everyone in this House welcomes the development and expansion of a top grade road network. There is a role for public private partnerships. However, I express grave disquiet at the strong possibility that tolls will be imposed on these 11 routes, which are being built by public private partnerships.
One of those projects, the Fermoy bypass, is in my constituency. The community of Fermoy has strongly argued for the development of a bypass. Many people in this House and tens of thousands of people throughout the country know that the town of Fermoy urgently needs a bypass. The traffic through the town is horrific every day. The community in Fermoy was pleased when the decision was made to build a bypass. However, the community is now stunned and shocked to learn that a toll will be placed on the Fermoy bypass adjacent to the town. The traffic the Fermoy bypass was designed to take out of the town will now go back through it because the bypass will be tolled. I was interested to hear the Minister of State say that motorists will have a choice. In our discussions with the National Roads Authority we were advised that motorists would have a choice. The Taoiseach said in the House yesterday afternoon that he favoured the introduction of by-laws which would force motorists to use the bypass and toll bridges. That would remove the choice for motorists. We need clarification on that issue. It does not make sense to toll a bypass. We are not talking about the Cork Dublin motorway but about the Fermoy bypass. No one can justify tolling it. Bypasses of provincial towns and cities in Britain or in Europe are not tolled. This should be examined in detail.
When compared with the income generated by tolls, the statistics on the costs of these projects paint a very grave picture. This, too, must be addressed. The 11 tolling projects being sanctioned by the Government will become a gold mine for those investing in tolling projects. How much taxpayer's money will end up being spent on improving our road network? The House has never held a proper debate on the provision of these proposed tolling projects, every one which should be the subject of a full debate. We need to hear what the Minister and his departmental colleagues have to say to justify them.
I see no reason a bypass of a provincial town needs to be tolled. It does not make economic sense, nor does it make sense from a traffic point of view. If the project in Fermoy goes ahead as a tolling project, the town's traffic problems, which we have been trying to solve for the past ten to 15 years, will increase. I ask the Minister to re-examine it. He should reconsider the whole concept of tolling and the various projects being built under the public-private partnership.
The motorist and taxpayer will have to hand over money to the tolling companies. Although I appreciate that some of the profits will come back by way of levy, the vast majority will not be spent on Irish roads. They will leave the country, which is a nonsensical prospect. I welcome the opportunity to start the debate on the necessity and justification for tolling our roads, particularly bypasses. However, it is vital that we have a much longer debate before any decisions are taken to toll bypasses.
In concluding the debate I reiterate that the motivation behind the motion is solely to ensure the speedy delivery of the national road network and identify the barriers to achieving this network emerging throughout the country. Had the Minister been present last night and most of tonight, he would have heard Deputy after Deputy from both the Government and Opposition benches recounting sorry tales of their experiences on this issue. In nearly every area affected by a road proposal there are distraught and anxious communities banding together in opposition to it. Excluding the Dublin area, there are already 24 different anti-road groups throughout the country.
A Government Deputy said yesterday that there are always objectors. Every public representative is aware of this, but we are talking about almost unanimous opposition from communities which have spent years lobbying for these roads. They have switched to opposing it virtually overnight. With this kind of opposition one would need to be an ostrich to deny something is wrong with the way in which the process is proceeding, particularly the method by which communities are consulted. If the Government and the NRA proceed in this vein, every single project will end up in the courts, thus ensuring they take longer and cost more. Ultimately, nobody will be happy. Not even motorists will feel they have been well served by the State.
I will not repeat what I said last night or what others have said since. However, a number of common points thread all the comments on the issue. Contrary to what the Minister said, the public consultation process is a farce in practice. Far from encouraging communities to support the projects by giving them a sense of ownership, it antagonises the very people it seeks to persuade. The secrecy and the grudgingly given information mentioned already in the debate have been bad enough, but the dishonesty of pretending that multiple route options are available is absolutely outrageous. Not only do these tactics incense the public, but people are becoming increasingly suspicious and disaffected because they are being taken for fools.
The random method of route selection has to stop. The public craves honest information. It would be far more honest and productive if the NRA told people up front which route it had opted for. At least people could then get answers to the detailed questions they have about roads which will affect their property and lives. If the early consultation process is not changed and the NRA proceeds instead with the tactics in which it is currently engaged, it will be on a hiding to nothing. The road network will never be delivered.
The Minister will be aware that the current CPO procedure has not changed since 1919. It is archaic, cumbersome, tortuously slow, rigid and grossly unfair. It is about as inflexible, inappropriate and adversarial a system as one could possibly contrive. The roads programme in coming years will require the acquisition of 25,000 acres of land affecting at least 8,000 individuals. If we embark on this process using the current CPO procedure, we will still not complete it until the 22nd century.
The procedure, which comprises 18 steps, sometimes leaves landowners in a state of limbo for years. They do not know when their land will be taken, how much they will be paid for it or what impact it will have on their home, business or farm. In addition, their land is virtually valueless during the CPO process because no one will buy land under a CPO. Sometimes a person's circumstances change and he or she have to sell their land. Possibly the most offensive aspect of CPO is that landowners are not told the precise figure they will receive. Sometimes they are not informed until after the land has gone. This is hardly a democratic arrangement.
I do not want to revisit the compensation issue that my colleagues addressed other than to say that the rules are so rigid that the compensation bears no relation to the loss incurred by the landowner. A further anomaly arises where the land purchased is for a toll road, which is the case in 11 of these projects. In those circumstances the land immediately acquires development value which transfers to the private toll company while the poor unfortunate farmer, who has been forced to relinquish his land and means of production, is paid an agricultural price for the land. This is grossly unfair and must be changed.
I do not have time to go over the points that my colleagues addressed so well, in particular the sleight of hand by which we woke up one morning to find that half the roads are to be tolled. Having been informed that the private sector was to be involved in the provision of the national road network, that involvement became synonymous with private road tolling overnight. This has never been justified using economic, or any other kind of, rationale. According to the Minister, the matter is now completely out of our hands. He better get back into the Dáil. He may believe that he will get away with this, but I assure him he will not.
Every Member of the House and every member of the public recognises that the need to upgrade our national road infrastructure is in the national interest. Inevitably State agencies will be biased towards achieving this goal, but it comes at a huge private cost to individuals and communities. It is the responsibility of the State to take all reasonable steps to protect those affected by new roads and compensate those forced to give up their land. This is not happening and if the Government does not heed what has been said by all sides over the last two nights, it will have a revolution on its hands that will make it impossible to build any roads.
Ahern, Dermot.Ahern, Michael.Ahern, Noel.Ardagh, Seán.Aylward, Liam.Blaney, Harry.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Brennan, Matt.Brennan, Séamus.Briscoe, Ben.Browne, John (Wexford).Byrne, Hugh.Callely, Ivor.Carey, Pat.Collins, Michael.Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.Coughlan, Mary.Cowen, Brian.Cullen, Martin.Daly, Brendan.Davern, Noel.de Valera, Síle.Dennehy, John.Doherty, Seán.Ellis, John.Fahey, Frank.Fleming, Seán.Flood, Chris.
Gildea, Thomas.Hanafin, Mary.Haughey, Seán.Healy-Rae, Jackie.Jacob, Joe.Keaveney, Cecilia.Kelleher, Billy.Kenneally, Brendan.Killeen, Tony.Kirk, Séamus.Kitt, Michael P.Lawlor, Liam.Lenihan, Brian.Lenihan, Conor.McCreevy, Charlie.McDaid, James.McGennis, Marian.McGuinness, John J.Martin, Micheál.Molloy, Robert.Moloney, John.Moynihan, Donal.Moynihan, Michael.Ó Cuív, Éamon.O'Donnell, Liz.O'Flynn, Noel.O'Hanlon, Rory.O'Keeffe, Batt.O'Kennedy, Michael. Tá–continued
O'Malley, Desmond.O'Rourke, Mary.Power, Seán.Roche, Dick.Smith, Brendan.Smith, Michael.
Treacy, Noel.Wallace, Dan.Walsh, Joe.Woods, Michael.Wright, G. V.
Barnes, Monica.Bell, Michael.Boylan, Andrew.Bradford, Paul.Broughan, Thomas P.Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).Burke, Liam.Burke, Ulick.Carey, Donal.Clune, Deirdre.Connaughton, Paul.Cosgrave, Michael.Coveney, Simon.Crawford, Seymour.Creed, Michael.Currie, Austin.D'Arcy, Michael.Deasy, Austin.Deenihan, Jimmy.Dukes, Alan.Durkan, Bernard.Enright, Thomas.Farrelly, John.Flanagan, Charles.Gilmore, Éamon.Gormley, John.Hayes, Brian.Higgins, Jim.Hogan, Philip.
Howlin, Brendan.McCormack, Pádraic.McDowell, Derek.McGinley, Dinny.McGrath, Paul.McManus, Liz.Mitchell, Olivia.Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.Naughten, Denis.Neville, Dan.Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.O'Keeffe, Jim.O'Shea, Brian.O'Sullivan, Jan.Penrose, William.Perry, John.Rabbitte, Pat.Ring, Michael.Ryan, Seán.Sargent, Trevor.Shatter, Alan.Sheehan, Patrick.Shortall, Róisín.Stagg, Emmet.Stanton, David.Timmins, Billy.Upton, Mary.Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies S. Brennan and Power; Níl, Deputies Stagg and Bradford.
Amendment declared carried.
Motion, as amended, put and declared carried.