The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads are the statutory responsibilities of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on these roads are funded from local authorities' own resources and supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded are also matters for the local authority.
This year my Department launched a new pilot community involvement scheme. The scheme is based on contributions in a range from 20% to 50%, either through monetary contributions or the provision of materials, machinery or labour. Where the local community is making a contribution and not undertaking the work itself, the local contribution will be 20%. Where the majority of works are to be undertaken by the council, the local contribution will be 30%. Should the majority of works be undertaken by the local community, the local contribution will be 40% and where all works are to be undertaken by the local community, with the local authority contributing by way of materials or machinery, the local contribution will be 50%. In the latter case, no cash contribution would be required from the community.
Each local authority taking part in the scheme assessed applications and took into account the length, width and condition of the roads concerned, the number of dwellings along the roads and then estimated the overall cost of each scheme taking account of material, labour, machinery and traffic management costs. From this calculation, the local authority determined the local contribution, which is paid directly to the local authority.
The pilot scheme is only recently under way, but I can confirm that applications were received from 25 county councils and one city council for 428 projects. A total of 377 projects were approved, at an estimated overall cost of €14.1 million, of which €10.5 million is to be provided by the Department and the balance of €3.6 million coming from local communities by way of cash contributions or the provision of materials, labour or machinery. Local authorities will be requested to report on the operation of the scheme towards the end of the year, at which point we will be able to consider whether we should repeat the scheme next year and, if so, what form it should take.