One of the objectives of the national development plan is the fostering of balanced regional development. In so far as my Department is concerned, this involves the implementation under the economic and social infrastructure operational programme and the two regional operational programmes of measures including social housing, water and waste water services, waste management, urban and village development, habitat protection and conservation and heritage conservation. Expenditure on these measures in the BMW region from the commencement of the national development plan in January 2000 to end 2002 amounted to €1.88 billion.
The economic and social infrastructure operational programme, in which provision for social housing and water services is included, provides for an integrated package of investments in national infrastructure to meet infrastructural deficits that need to be overcome if Ireland's recent economic and social progress is to be maintained.
I am satisfied that the BMW region has benefited from the investment to date under both of the operational programmes. Expenditure for the provision of water infrastructure in the BMW region was 6.5% ahead of projection at the end of 2002. The water services investment programme for 2002-04, which was launched in April 2002, includes water infrastructure projects in the BMW region with a value of some €1.45 billion, including €375 million for projects new to the programme at that stage. Expenditure on housing, at just under €825 million, was 14% ahead of projection at the end of 2002 in the BMW region.