Written Answers. - Road Tolls.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

38 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government the Government's policy in regard to the tolling of roads; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10030/00]

The National Development Plan 2000-2006 envisages significant private sector investment in national road development. Some £1 billion of the £4.4 billion provided for national roads improvements in the NDP is to come from PPP financing. Apart from the pilot projects already identified in the plan, designation of projects or parts of projects for PPP purposes will be decided as the plan is implemented. The appropriate funding structures, including road user tolls, for projects will also be examined and identified, bearing in mind the level of funding available and the appropriateness of particular projects for the PPP approach.

The statutory power to levy tolls on national roads, to make toll by-laws, and to enter into toll agreements with private investors is currently vested in the National Roads Authority under Part V of the Roads Act, 1993. Road authorities have similar powers in relation to the tolling of non-national roads. The exercise of these powers has been subject to the approval of the Minister of the Environment and Local Government.

In recently published amendments to the Planning and Development Bill, 1999, it is proposed to remove this requirement of ministerial approval of toll schemes, by-laws and agreements. Under the revised part V of the Roads Act, 1993, these matters will be brought fully within the discretion of the National Roads Authority or the relevant local road authority, in the case of national and non-national roads respectively.

In parallel, the Roads Act, 1993, is also being amended to provide for the issue of policy directives to the National Roads Authority or local authorities by the Minister for the Environment and Local Government regarding the exercise of their road tolling functions, with which they will be obliged to comply. Any such policy directives would be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.