Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Questions (71, 108, 266)

Verona Murphy

Question:

71. Deputy Verona Murphy asked the Minister for Transport if his Department plans to make up the shortfall in road improvement works funding allocated to Wexford County Council since 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15633/21]

View answer

Verona Murphy

Question:

108. Deputy Verona Murphy asked the Minister for Transport if his Department will conduct a review of road improvement works funding to be allocated based on the condition of local council roads as opposed to funding being allocated on length; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15634/21]

View answer

Verona Murphy

Question:

266. Deputy Verona Murphy asked the Minister for Transport his plans to increase roads maintenance funding to local authorities; when he plans to review the way in which this funding is administered to local councils; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15604/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 71, 108 and 266 together.

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities' own resources supplemented by State road grants, where applicable.

There were major cutbacks in funding for the road network in general during the post 2008 recession. The National Development Plan (NDP), as it stands, provides for a gradual increase in funding for regional and local roads and there has been a significant increase in Exchequer funding particularly in the last four years.  In this context, Wexford County Council received a total allocation of €18,569,130 for 2021 which is an increase of 59% when compared to 2017.

Funding is not yet at the level needed for the adequate maintenance and renewal of regional and local roads and so for this reason, the primary focus for capital investment continues to be the maintenance and renewal of the network with some limited investment in road improvement projects.

As regards the basis for allocating grants, within the budget available to the Department, funding is allocated on as fair and equitable a basis as possible to eligible local authorities. In this context, grants in the main grant categories are allocated based on the length of the road network within a local authority's area of responsibility with some account taken of traffic. It is envisaged that grants will continue to be made available on that basis.

Basing regional and local roads grant allocations on road conditions could result in an uneven distribution of State funding. For example, local authorities that allocate higher levels of own resources funding to regional and local roads will have a larger proportion of roads with a higher condition rating than those with lower levels of own resources funding. Basing allocations on road condition could therefore disincentivise local authorities from allocating own resources funding to roads maintenance.

The Department appreciates that, within the overall parameters set for the grant programme, local authorities might need to target funding at particular problem areas and there is sufficient flexibility in the structure of the grant programme to allow for this. It is also open to each local authority to allocate its own resources to priority areas.