I propose to take Questions Nos. 12, 71, 78 and 82 together.
The Railway Procurement Agency is responsible for this project. Work is under way on the preparation of an environmental impact statement and the documentation required to support an application to An Bord Pleanála for a railway order, the legal permission needed to build and operate metro north. The actual construction timescale for the project will be dependent on the outcome of this statutory approval process.
Geotechnical work has also commenced along the planned route. This work will provide the RPA with detailed information on underground conditions and will feed into the detailed designed of the project. The public private partnership procurement process has formally begun, with the publication in theEU Journal of a series of notices inviting contractors to express their interest in building metro north by taking part in an initial pre-qualification short-listing round. Results of this stage of the tendering process are expected this summer.
The design of the project, including the detailed alignment, station locations and land to be acquired, are matters for the RPA in the first instance, and ultimately a matter for An Bord Pleanála when considering the application for a railway order. This statutory planning process also allows considerable opportunity for the public to comment on and challenge the detailed plans for the project.
I understand from the RPA that the detailed alignment of metro north will be influenced both by the outcome of ongoing consultation with residents, businesses and institutions in the area and by detailed engineering design considerations. The RPA has engaged in detailed consultations with the representatives of residents in the Drumcondra area and has written to householders whose properties are located close to the proposed tunnel alignment as part of the ongoing consultation. Furthermore, I am informed that the RPA has agreed to provide funding for independent technical advice for representations of residents who may be affected by tunnelling works along the route, subject to agreement on the detailed arrangements for this. The RPA will continue to consult with residents on these issues. Whichever route is chosen, however, it will pass beneath houses, businesses and other buildings.
When the detailed design options have been further developed, the RPA will write to all affected residents again enclosing details of the option and seeking comments from them. These comments will feed into the overall environmental assessment of the options so that the detailed tunnel alignment for this portion of metro north can be finalised.