Work on developing a successor to the National Spatial Strategy will, for the main part, be the responsibility of my colleagues Ministers Hogan and O’Sullivan at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. I understand that proposals are being progressed to begin the extensive process involved in developing such a comprehensive planning and policy framework. I and my Department will engage thoroughly with that process, as my Department engaged with the work to establish a National Spatial Strategy, recognising the key interrelationship between spatial planning and travel demand.
The current capital programme is determined by the Infrastructure & Capital Investment 2012-2016: Medium term Exchequer Framework, published in November 2011 under which investment in capital infrastructure is being scaled back significantly. The revised transport investment plan which replaced Transport 21 and the National Development Plan includes proposals to link the two Luas lines, invest in new buses, ensure the maintenance, in so far as possible, of the road network and the deferral of projects such as Metro North, DART Underground and the M20 motorway for the time being.
Ireland is not in a position to invest in transport at the same levels as before and consequently we need to be shrewd about how and where we invest. The policy is to prioritise maintenance first, make better use of what we have and then support a very limited number of very good new projects which offer the best prospects for job creation and economic growth.
Work has also commenced within my Department to develop a strategic framework for investment in land transport that is expected, in the short to medium term, to underpin the Government’s consideration of the land transport element of the Government’s Capital Programme 2017 – 2021, and which over the longer term will provide the framework for decision-making on the appropriate levels and priorities for public expenditure on land transport.