I propose to take Questions Nos. 6 and 26 together.
There are important and differing views on this issue across the House. It is a critical issue and we must consider whether to reopen phases 2 and 3 of the western rail corridor. Regardless of our views on this proposal, what we all agree on is that we need to make a decision soon. On 1 July, my Department received from Iarnród Éireann a copy of EY's report on the proposal. That report was prepared in accordance with the commitment given in the current national development plan.
As was signalled publicly at the time of its commissioning, the report is subject to a short independent review to inform my consideration fully prior to bringing the matter to the Government. However, Deputies can rest assured that this independent review will be completed soon and, importantly, can add real value to the process. It is being conducted by Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions, JASPERS, an agency established by the European Union and the European Investment Bank, EIB. JASPERS has vast experience in advising member states and public authorities on regional development proposals such as the proposed reopening of phases 2 and 3 of the corridor. Its analysis will provide a broader perspective on issues such as the potential wider economic impact, freight services and climate impact and a view on the potential for securing EU funds if the proposal were to go ahead. Deputies will acknowledge the importance of all these issues as we consider the matter and an independent perspective on the question of freight is something that I am particularly keen to see. The work is expected to be completed shortly and I will then bring the matter to the Government.
Since I have the time, I will elaborate on that last issue. I have had a series of discussions with people interested in the project, including those to whom the Deputy referred. We need to consider this matter, not just as it relates to the section of the rail line between Athenry and Claremorris, but in the wider regional context. I would go even farther south and add to this the potential reopening of the Foynes freight rail line, which I understand is a prerequisite if Foynes is to get any support in developing as a European TEN-T international port, in that the port in any such development must have rail freight capability. That makes sense because Europe is moving towards rail freight as a significant part of our climate change agenda.
We are going to examine this possibility in real detail. If we include it, and I believe we should, then it opens up a strategic question. Putting in a rail connection between Athenry and Claremorris opens up the whole north west to the rail freight capability of Foynes, which is a high-quality deep water port. From an industrial economic perspective and in light of the bigger picture of a zero-carbon world by 2050, we will have to develop a very large renewable wind energy capability offshore in the west. In the Shannon area and the wider west, we have significant clean water resources that modern manufacturing industry needs. In the north west, we have some of the most advanced and best manufacturing capability in the world, including high-quality expertise in high-quality manufacturing. Put clean power, clean water and a highly educated and highly skilled manufacturing workforce together and we have a long-term economic potential like what we have in Ballina and what we had in Asahi. This industrial development would be on the back of an international rail freight capability, which would allow us to access international ports.
I would extend the development farther from the Limerick-Shannon-Foynes connection to Waterford. We would then start to have an island-wide spine of rail freight capability that also delivered passenger capability. I am keen on examining the overall question from this wider perspective. It would change the perspective on what we were doing.