My Department and I constantly monitor our national transport facilities to ensure that, given the resources available, they are achieving their greatest potential. An integrated and co-ordinated transport system is an important consideration when it comes to future decisions on transport investment. In making decisions as to future expenditure, my Department has been active to ensure that a co-ordinated approach is taken and that we do not look at land, maritime or aviation transport in isolation from each other. My Department is also considering a Strategic Framework for Investment in Land Transport to ensure that investment decisions in the transport sector will in future have a much more rigorous evidence base than was the case in the past and to enable us to prioritise the projects that offer the greatest economic and social return.
At a European level, my Department has been and will continue to actively engage with the Trans European Network for Transport (TEN-T) and to ensure it is integrated into Irish transport policy making. The TEN-T regulations set out a multi-modal transport network across the European Union and aim to ensure integration between the various modes. This multi-modal EU policy is supported by domestic policy such as the new National Ports Policy that I launched in March 2013. For example the National Ports Policy's designation of Shannon-Foynes Port, Dublin Port and the Port of Cork as Ports of National Significance (Tier One) and Rosslare Europort and the Port of Waterford as Ports of National Significance (Tier Two) mirror the TEN-T designations of these ports as Core and Comprehensive ports on the TEN-T network. These designations are then taken into account by the National Transport Authority and the National Roads Authority when decisions are being made in terms of future planning.
Other policy work is ongoing in my Department and I expect to publish two significant new transport policy papers in 2014. An aviation policy is now approaching completion while in relation to land transport, work is ongoing on a strategic framework for investment in land transport. Both the framework for investment and the aviation policy will help clarify transport priorities and will help to ensure that there is appropriate co-ordination and integration between the various modes. In a similar vein, the National Transport Authority have a statutory remit to develop an integrated transport plan for the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) and I will soon be launching the NTA’s Integrated Implementation Plan which sets out their programme of investment and development in the Greater Dublin Area for the next five years.