I thank the Deputy. I know he has been a most vocal and consistent advocate for the problems of Brexit, not only for the roads but also for the entire Border region. I share his concerns regarding the potential adverse effects of Brexit on the sectors he identified. The efficiency of our transport infrastructure is just one element that determines transport costs. Other elements include the cost of the vehicle and fuel, the cost of the driver, overhead and back-office costs and the time taken to transport the goods. Brexit has the potential to impact on overhead and back-office costs in particular and also on time-related costs.
My Government colleagues and I are working to address the potential impacts of Brexit across all sectors. On transport, we have identified the key areas of adverse regulatory and operational impacts and are seeking to ensure that acceptable alternatives to the current EU structures are agreed as part of the withdrawal agreement and future relationship with the EU.
The publication by the UK of written proposals on customs arrangements aimed at making progress in the Brexit negotiations is a welcome step. However, the Commission will make a first assessment of the technical and legal feasibility of the proposals, and whether they provide a basis for negotiation. We look forward to its assessment and to discussing whether the proposals could be helpful in meeting the UK’s repeated commitment to avoiding a hard border and thereby making progress on the backstop on Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The national development plan, NDP, sets out the Government’s ambition in the area of roads and the Border region. In chapter 4 of the plan, there is an examination of how targeted investment can promote economic resilience in the Border region in the context of Brexit.
This chapter touches on a range of measures, including investment in transport links. The NDP includes references to, among other projects, the N2-A5 roads, the N14 from Manorcunningham to Lifford, the N52 Ardee bypass, the N2 Slane bypass, the N4 from Collooney to Castlebaldwin and the N56 in Donegal.
Schemes on these routes are at various stages of development and Transport Infrastructure Ireland, in conjunction with the relevant local authorities, will be advancing them on a phased basis within the overall capital budget available to it.
The NDP also sets out ambitious investment programmes in our main ports and airports that will enhance capacity and facilitate smoother connectivity to international markets.