The review of the National Development Plan was brought forward in order to ensure alignment with the new Programme for Government. Crucially, the review of the NDP will also be aligned with the work being progressed as part of the Climate Action Plan and the National Economic Recovery Plan.
The NDP review commenced in October 2020 and considers five fundamental elements: what the appropriate level of public investment should be over the next ten years; what the share of the budget should be across Departments; ensuring alignment with the policy priorities of the Programme for Government; ensuring regional development through alignment of investment with the National Planning Framework; and finally, assessing whether the structures and rules for the management, governance and oversight of projects can be improved in order to deliver on the ambitions of the new NDP.
The Phase 1 report of the review was published on 4th April 2021. The Phase 1 report draws together a range of technical preparatory work such as macro-economic analysis, infrastructure demand analysis, public capital expenditure analysis, and a National Planning Framework alignment analysis, as well as a summary of a review of Public Private Partnerships, and an independent review of public sector capacity to manage and deliver public infrastructure projects. Departmental submissions and the results of the public consultation were also summarised.
The Phase 1 report sets out how the role of public investment in delivering on Ireland’s climate targets is being assessed as part of the ongoing review of the National Development Plan. Climate was an important consideration in the development of the current National Development Plan and is also in the ongoing appraisal of projects and programmes. However, in recognition of the need for systemic change, there will be an overarching focus on climate action throughout the new National Development Plan. Departments will be required to assess their spending proposals/allocations against a range of environmental outcomes to ensure that their investment priorities are aligned with Ireland’s climate and environmental objectives. To complement this sectoral assessment of the National Development Plan, the whole of the National Development Plan will be assessed against a suitable climate/environmental methodology which is line with international good practices.
It is important to note that the National Development Plan is not a vehicle through which investment proposals are approved. All project and programme proposals included in the Plan are subject to the detailed rigour of the Public Spending Code. The Public Spending Code is not static. It is updated regularly to reflect lessons learned and international good practice. The Phase 1 report also sets out ongoing body of work underway in my Department to strengthen the Public Spending Code requirements and guidance in relation to the consideration of environmental and climate factors in project appraisal, planning and delivery. In particular, I anticipate altering the shadow cost of carbon that applies to all projects once the higher targets envisaged in the draft Climate Action Bill are adopted. This will ensure that the amount of emissions a project may give rise to is quantified and a value placed on those emissions that reflects the cost that society will have to bear to eliminate these emissions in the future. This in turn allows the appraisal to determine if this future burden outweighs any benefits the project may bring.
The material set out in the Phase 1 report provides an evidence base to inform Government decisions that will need to be made in phase 2 of the review which is now underway. The aim is to finalise and publish the new NDP by July 2021.