First, I must say I am extremely disappointed that I must raise this issue in the Dáil tonight. As a Government Member, I am disappointed with the Minister's decision to withdraw funding for the N24 from Waterford to Cahir. This is a massively important infrastructure project for the south of the country and, indeed, the west of Ireland. Its importance has grown even greater with Brexit and the importance of the Rosslare Europort for getting produce out of this country.
The selection of the route for the N24 has been ongoing for a number of years. The fact that the Minister has decided to cease giving funding at this time means that consultants that have been employed on the selection of the route will now have to have their contracts suspended. County council representatives and employees have told me that the money that has already been spent on surveys, traffic management and all the different aspects of the selection of this route could now be wasted because if this project is suspended for a number of years, it will be necessary to go back to basics and start from scratch as regards route selection again.
However, I wish to make a point about the families and the development along the three corridors that are proposed for this route. There are three wide corridors being sterilised. They have been in this situation for a number of years. Industrial infrastructure projects, agrifood infrastructure projects, farm development projects and young people who want to build houses in this area find that the land is sterilised and there is no possibility of getting planning permission. I am working with a number of constituents who have spent money trying to get planning permission. Money is spent on having various surveys done. One man who wants to develop a farming enterprise has spent a lot of money on getting surveys done to confirm that the site was suitable, getting noise and pollution surveys carried out and so forth. Now he is told it could be up to seven years before he will be in a position to apply for planning permission.
This is just not good enough. I urge the Minister to reverse his decision to withdraw the funding from the county councils in respect of the ongoing consultancy work that was being done in order to advance the route selection. Some €2 million in 2022 would allow this work to continue. It is absolutely imperative that the county councils are allowed to keep their consultants employed and get the route selection finalised once and for all. When the route is picked we can argue about getting the funding to get the road in place, which is obviously very necessary for the economic development of the southern and western parts of the country. However, tonight I wish to make the point for the families and for the people with land with industrial potential who are on the three corridors. Their land has been sterilised for a number of years. With this decision by the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, it can continue to be sterilised for up to seven years. This is just not good enough. It is not right to put people in this position. I have raised this issue with the Taoiseach and I hope the Cabinet will revisit it. As I said, €2 million will allow the work to continue to get the route selected. It is imperative that there is a route selection in 2022 and that we can release land that is sterilised at present so it can be used for building houses or for whatever industrial or commercial development people want to take place on that land.