I thank the Chairman and members of the committee for the invitation to meet them today to discuss transport infrastructure delivery in the context of the inflationary pressures and supply chain constraints facing the construction industry at present. I am joined by my colleagues, Mr. Dominic Mullaney, our principal adviser on roads who deals with regional and local roads matters, and Mr. Andrew Ebrill, principal officer with responsibility for national roads and active travel in the Department.
As members will be aware, the Office of Government Procurement, OGP, which operates as an office of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, is responsible for implementing national policy on public procurement, particularly with respect to construction procurement. Policy on public works contracts, which are the form of contract used in transport projects and more broadly across the public capital programme, is a matter for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. For this reason, I do not propose to address the specific issue of reform of those contracts as it is not within our Department’s remit. However, we are acutely aware of the difficulties facing the construction industry at present and the potential impact these difficulties may have on delivery of transport projects under the national development plan.
We are liaising closely with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and have brought any emerging issues in the transport sector to its attention. I understand that Department is currently examining the position regarding the impact of construction inflation on public works contracts and is considering a number of options to address the difficulties that are emerging. Ultimately, any decision in this regard will be a matter for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.
The transport projects to be developed over the next ten years are set down in the national development plan, NDP, which was approved by Government last October. The NDP provides funding of €35 billion for transport infrastructure over the next ten years. Delivery of the transport elements of the NDP will support many of the national strategic outcomes, NSOs, in the national planning framework, particularly NSO 1, compact growth; NSO 2, enhanced regional accessibility; NSO 3, strengthened rural economies and communities; NSO 4, sustainable mobility; NSO 6, high-quality international connectivity; and NSO 8, transition to a low carbon and climate resilient society. We will be investing in active travel, bus, rail and road projects across the country to deliver these outcomes.
Turning to national roads, funding under the NDP will facilitate continued protection and renewal of our existing national roads infrastructure, including motorways, in line with Government policy. The NDP foresees an Exchequer allocation of approximately €2.9 billion for the protection and renewal of existing national roads over the ten-year period to 2030, in addition to approximately €1 billion on public private partnerships, or PPPs, allocated fairly evenly across the decade. Approximately €5.1 billion of Exchequer funds are earmarked for new national road projects across the lifetime of the NDP to 2030.
In terms of new national roads projects, in keeping with the programme for Government, a ratio of 2:1 is to be maintained between new public transport investment and new road investment. This means that while there will be expansion in public transport options to facilitate a broader range of choice for citizens, investment in key road projects will also be progressed.
Focusing on 2022, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII, was allocated approximately €733 million from the Exchequer for national roads capital funding for 2022, broken down as follows: €254 million for the protection and renewal of the existing national road network; €118 million for committed PPP contracts; €331 million for new road projects; and €30 million from within the Department’s capital envelope allocated to TII for protection and renewal in December 2021, helping to augment TII’s spending in 2022.
In line with the NDP and Government policy, TII allocated this national roads funding for 2022 in a manner which seeks to achieve the following outcomes, in addition to safety: protection and renewal of the existing national road network; progressing major projects at or near construction; progressing major projects which are pre-construction but well advanced in the development pipeline; and prioritising the remaining funding for major projects which provide for local bypasses and compact growth in Ireland’s towns and villages.
Turning to regional and local roads, as members will know, the regional and local road network provides vital connectivity in rural Ireland. It is essential in supporting economic and community links throughout the country and is relied on by buses, cyclists, commercial vehicles and private cars. The NDP will enable a spend of €5.35 billion on the protection and renewal of this network over the period to 2030.
Targeted improvement schemes will also be funded, including projects to take traffic out of town centres and to facilitate improvements to the public realm and the adoption of more sustainable transport modes. A sum of €677 million has been earmarked for that. Approximately €600 million has been allocated to regional and local roads in 2022, the vast majority of which, approximately 90%, relates to protection and renewal. A robust and safe regional and local road network will be vital to support expanded and improved bus services and to connect dispersed communities with their local villages and services.
The NDP commits unprecedented funding to local authorities throughout the country to deliver high-quality active travel infrastructure to enable more people to make the switch to active travel. Approximately €290 million is being invested this year in walking and cycling infrastructure throughout Ireland along with another €60 million on greenways. We see delivery start to happen across the country and can expect to see it ramped up in the years ahead.
As for bus and rail, we will also see major public transport projects progressed and delivered over the period of the NDP, including BusConnects, the DART+ programme, MetroLink and substantial investment in suburban and intercity rail projects.
The funding provided for transport in the NDP aims to support the delivery of numerous projects across all modes. The Department is committed to ensuring delivery of this ambitious programme to the maximum extent possible to contribute to the national strategic outcomes in the national planning framework. We recognise the very real difficulties emerging on the construction front, which may have an impact on delivery. Many of those difficulties, as the committee will know, are driven by global events. We will continue to work cross-departmentally to address those in the period ahead. I am happy to take any questions Members may have.