Priority Questions

Bus Éireann

Robert Troy


40. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the deal brokered by the Workplace Relations Commission is not accepted by workers, his contingency plans for Bus Éireann; his plans to set up a stakeholder conference as promised if the deal is accepted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22356/17]

Does the Minister have a contingency plan for Bus Éireann if the recommendations put forward by the Workplace Relations Commission are not accepted by workers? If the recommendations are accepted by the workers, what are his plans to set up a stakeholder conference as promised?

I thank the Deputy for his question. He is aware that trade union members are currently balloting on a Labour Court recommendation. In accordance with long-standing practice, I do not wish to comment on the details of the recommendation.

As the Deputy knows, I have taken a number of important steps during the past few months. I have increased the amount of funding made available by the National Transport Authority, NTA, to Bus Éireann in 2016 in respect of its public service obligation, PSO, services. I have secured an additional 11% increase in the total amount of funding available to support PSO services generally in 2017. I have committed to further PSO increases in the coming years as resources allow and have instructed my officials to work with their colleagues in the Department of Social Protection regarding concerns expressed about the level of funding associated with the free travel scheme. I am confident that any issues identified in the context of current funding levels will be satisfactorily addressed.

It is obvious from the Deputy's question that he is aware that I have consistently expressed my willingness to meet stakeholders to discuss public transport policy issues once any industrial relations dispute is fully resolved. I have made that offer both here in the House and at the Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport. In recent weeks I reiterated not just my willingness to meet stakeholders once any dispute is fully resolved but I also announced my intention to hold a stakeholder dialogue as soon as is practicable.  It is vital that stakeholders have the opportunity to voice their opinions on public transport policy issues and I am of the view that this dialogue will provide such an opportunity. I look forward to this process and the participation of all stakeholders in what I hope will be a very constructive meeting of minds in the near future.

I am aware that the unions are still balloting and I accept that the Minister is limited in what he can say. I met the unions and strongly urged them to accept the recommendations of the Labour Court in order to safeguard the future sustainability of the company. As I have said on many occasions, Government inaction over the past 18 months has contributed to this problem. The Minister has talked about the work he has done in respect of social protection but that contact was only initiated early this year. There has been mismanagement at a senior level which has led to inefficiencies in recent years. Bus Éireann has been inadequately funded by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. The issue of how licences for commercial routes were issued is another factor. All of these issues have led to the current situation.

As union members are balloting, the Minister has belatedly given a commitment to establish the public transport stakeholders dialogue. When will it be established? What will be the terms of reference of the forum? How many participants will be involved? What is the timeline for the establishment of the forum? I sincerely hope that the Labour Court recommendations are not rejected. Are there contingency plans to put in place in the event that they are? The Minister does not have to outline the details of any such plan.

I welcome Deputy Troy's constructive attitude to this issue. His hope and mine is that the dispute will be settled, one way or another, in the interests of all stakeholders and everybody else as soon as possible. I have given this pledge, as the Deputy knows. When the industrial dispute ends and the balloting is over, I intend to consult all parties on the terms of reference. The initiative for this dialogue has come from a large number of parties. No party has been particularly specific about its wishes apart from the desire to get all parties into a room to discuss the future of transport in this country. I am willing to do that. However, it would not be right to set out the terms of reference while under the shadow of a ballot. I wish to keep the pledge I made to all these parties that they will not only participate in this forum but also help with setting out the terms of reference. I intend to do that as soon as possible.

I acknowledge that the Minister has given the commitment. However, he does not have people's trust. It is felt that his inaction in recent months contributed to this issue. It would be beneficial, in terms of the ballot, for the Minister to honour his commitment. He can show that he is true to that commitment by outlining what his intentions are for this forum, who will participate in it and the timeline for its establishment. Key stakeholders such as the unions representing Bus Éireann workers do not want the ballot on the Labour Court recommendation to be accepted only for the Minister to then say that he is just beginning the process to establish this forum. That would kick it further down the road. The inaction in recent months and years has led to the crisis in Bus Éireann. Are there even draft terms of reference for the forum? I do not expect the Minister to give details, but in the event that the Labour Court's recommendations are rejected, is there a contingency plan to cater for the tens of thousands of people who rely on the services of Bus Éireann?

I repeat that I am constrained in what I can say about what I intend to do. I am committed to the assurances I gave prior to balloting that this forum will be called at a very early date and will proceed as rapidly as possible. There is no intention to delay or dilute that promise. This could be a very important forum for bringing stakeholders together to discuss the future of Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, CIÉ and Iarnród Éireann. That is my intention and I will engage with people at an early date. In answer to the second part of Deputy Troy's question, it would be wrong if my Department and I had not considered all available options in the event of anything happening in the near future. Those options are being looked at and will be further examined in light of the result of the ballot.

Transport Policy

Imelda Munster


41. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans for the future of public transport across the State, including in cities, towns and rural areas; his plans to remedy the current problems within the sector; if he will review the current funding arrangements for the sector (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22358/17]

What is the vision of the Minister, Deputy Ross, for the future of public transport in cities, towns and rural areas across the State? How does he envisage remedying the current problems in the sector? Does he hope to review the current funding arrangements for the sector; and will he make a statement on the matter?

I thank the Deputy for her question. I welcome the opportunity to address a wide subject such as this at this time.

I want to see an accessible, integrated, well-funded, high-quality and efficient public transport system. I want to see a public transport system that provides a viable and popular alternative to travel by car. That is an objective upon which nearly all parties in the House agree. We have been through a difficult period in recent years and investment levels in both infrastructure and services were reduced. My Department's strategic investment framework for land transport, published in 2015, states that the top priority is to achieve steady-state levels of investment. However, the period of reductions in funding is behind us.

Whether the Deputy wishes to acknowledge that or not, progress has been made in the past two years or so. More money continues to be made available to support transport services and infrastructure. That increased investment is bearing fruit, as can be seen from the increased passenger numbers across nearly all elements of our public transport system, including PSO bus, PSO rail, light rail and commercial bus services. I want to make more progress. For that reason, I will be seeking further increases in both the review of the capital plan and budget 2018 in order to build upon the progress made and provide for even more services and better infrastructure across the public transport system.

At a policy level, A Programme for a Partnership Government contains a commitment to reviewing public transport policy to ensure services are sustainable into the future and are meeting the needs of a modern economy and my Department is preparing to move forward with this commitment.

The Deputy will also be aware that I recently announced my intention to establish a stakeholder dialogue on the issue of public transport. It is vital that stakeholders have the opportunity to voice their opinions on public transport policy issues. I look forward to that dialogue and the contribution it can make towards future public transport policy.

I am committed to placing the citizen at the heart of our public transport policy to allow us realise the true potential of public transport and allow it to play its full role in promoting both social progress and economic prosperity.

It is more than one year since the Minister took office and it must be said that transport is in a sorry state because of the lack of investment in infrastructure and very poor investment in land transport overall. The area of public transport is in deep crisis. I asked this question because the Minister has refused to engage with the discourse around the future of public transport amidst the recent crisis in Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann. Industrial action at Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and the Luas should have been a wake-up call that the sector is in real trouble; that and the fact of workers willing to put their necks on the line for the sake of CIE and public transport. It is fair to say that the current state of Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann is alarming, but that is an understatement in itself. Both companies have indicated that they are close to insolvency.

I would like some clarity from the Minister about his intentions in this regard. The Minister has said he does not intend to privatise Bus Éireann. Does this intention stretch as far as CIE companies? How does that statement stand up to scrutiny when 10% of bus routes have already been put out to tender? These are bus routes on Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann and we have no idea what the NTA intends to do in the next year or the year after. Is it correct that the NTA can privatise as many routes as it wants? I know the Minister will say that it is putting routes out to tender and that it is not privatisation, but it is privatisation. Will the Minister give a commitment that no further routes will be put out to tender to protect our services? Will he also give clarity on the issue around the legislation that can be misinterpreted by the NTA with regard to having an obligation to outsource all the routes?

I thank Deputy Munster. We are being a bit more specific here than was intended in the original question. On the Bus Éireann issue, I repeat that I stand by everything I have said in the past, especially about privatisation. I cannot understand why people ask the same question time after time after time. They are going to get the same answer. The answer is the same as the one I have given to the Deputy and to others in the House many times and this remains the case.

On the issue of public transport generally, it is not true just to come in with a broad sweep and be a foreteller of doom. The situation has improved. It had been on a terrible downward spiral for a very long time, but the Deputy will know that in recent years public service obligation, PSO, funding has increased in each of the last two budgets. Budget 2016 provided for a 13% increase and budget 2017 provided for a further 11% increase. In 2017, almost €263 million has been made available to the NTA to support the PSO in bus and rail services. Things were pretty bad but they are improving. I am looking forward to increasing the PSO this year also.

The Minister has said, and he has stated repeatedly, that he is not in favour of privatisation and that he has no intention of privatising. He has not, however, answered my question on whether he would give a commitment that no further routes would be put out to tender to protect the existing services. Will the Minister give that commitment? As I said earlier, we do not know what the NTA will do next year or the year after. It could put all the routes out to tender or outsource them or whatever words the Minister wants to use other than privatisation, although it is still privatisation at the end of the day. Will the Minister give a commitment in that regard? I am sure if he is in disagreement with the routes being put out to tender, the NTA would have to adhere to his wishes. Will the Minister give the commitment that no further routes will be put out to tender to protect our public services? Is the Minister truly in favour of protecting, preserving and enhancing our public services, as opposed to outsourcing, tendering or privatising?

It has been absolutely clear what the situation is. It is up to the NTA what it does as provided for in the Act and within the legal constraints under which the authority operates. I have made it absolutely clear that there will be no move towards privatising routes in the headlong way described by the Deputy. There is no obligation on the NTA or anyone else to privatise all the routes in 2018-2019. I will introduce legislation to ensure this, as the Deputy is well aware. I have made that commitment, it is being done and has been committed to many times in the past.

Airport Development Projects

Robert Troy


42. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the need for a second runway at Dublin Airport; and the way in which plans are progressing in this regard. [22357/17]

This is the third time I have raised this question or a similar question in the last four or five months. Will the Minister provide an update on the progress of the second runway at Dublin Airport? What are his views on when we can expect the work to commence and be completed and the plans to ensure residents' concerns are also being taken on board?

The Dublin Airport Authority, DAA, holds statutory responsibility for the management, operation and development of Dublin Airport, including the north runway project. Passenger traffic at Dublin Airport in 2016 increased to almost 28 million, making it the second fastest growing airport in the EU in 2016, growing at three times the EU average. The airport is now the fifth most important European hub for connectivity to North America, ahead of such competing airports as Rome, Munich and Zürich.

New capacity at Dublin Airport is essential to meet growing demand and delivery of the runway is urgently required to minimise constraints on service expansion. The north runway project is a critical piece of airport infrastructure which will ensure Ireland's international connectivity into the future. Moreover, despite the challenges presented by Brexit and the wider international geopolitical uncertainty, international aviation associations forecast demand for air travel to nearly double over the next two decades. Ireland, as an island and a small, open economy, must be well placed to expand our connections with the rest of the world. Failure to build the runway now would incur the loss of a major economic opportunity for Ireland to support trade, foreign direct investment and tourism. Increased costs, more delays and more congestion at Dublin Airport would offer reduced service levels for the travelling public.

Work on the project has commenced with the runway scheduled to be operational in 2020. On 6 March, Fingal County Council approved an extension to the time limit of the planning permission in relation to the second parallel runway. As I am sure the Deputy will be aware, this is a very sensitive issue because it is now the subject of judicial review proceedings taken by local residents against Fingal County Council and the State and is listed for hearing in the Commercial Court in October. It would be inappropriate, therefore, for me to comment any further on the issue to which these proceedings refer. Whereas there are constraints on that, the enthusiasm of the Government, me and my Department, and everyone in the House for this runway is undiminished.

We can all agree that it is a critical piece of infrastructure that enables economic development, supports job creation and supports international connectivity. We all know the difficulties the airport faces in capacity issues.

The Minister alluded to the statutory instrument. His Department gave the authority to the Irish Aviation Authority, IAA, in September 2016. We are unaware of where that statutory instrument currently stands. The residents do not know how they can engage in a structured manner with the appropriate authority to make their views known in respect of noise. The delay is impeding the progression of the runway in terms of the DAA. Where exactly do we stand in respect of the statutory instrument? Has the Department completed its work? Will secondary or primary legislation be necessary? When will the concerned citizens know how they can engage with this process? When will DAA know it can progress with the development of a critical piece of infrastructure, not just for the Dublin region but for the country as a whole?

The residents have been engaging on the noise and planning issues, maybe not as constructively as they wished but certainly frequently, not only with DAA but also with me. I have met a large number of delegations on the issues to which the Deputy refers and on other issues as well. The issue of primary legislation and statutory instruments is very delicate. It has taken longer than I had wished. I apologise to the Deputy. I think I gave the impression on the previous occasion that it was imminent and I certainly felt that was the case. It is now with the Attorney General's office. There are some fairly detailed and difficult legal problems in determining what is decided by statutory instrument and what is decided by primary legislation in respect of the noise issue. I think that a draft of what looks like the final stages of the statutory instrument was seen by my Department on Friday last. We are absolutely determined that the noise issue and the appointment to the IAA will go ahead as soon as possible. As matters stand, the runway is going ahead and is on target still for 2020.

The Department has given the authority for controlling the noise level to the IAA. Concerned residents wishing to engage in a structured manner do not know how they may do so. The DAA does not know how it can progress with the runway. I understand that it is not on target because of the delay on the part of the Minister and his officials to have the statutory instrument published.

I have looked back at the previous oral questions I tabled in respect of this matter. In December 2016, the Minister said that the secondary legislation would be before the Oireachtas by the end of the year. That is on the record of the Dáil. In March of this year, he said he would expect to be in a position to sign off on it in the coming weeks. Does the Minister know what is going on in his Department at all? What is the delay? It is not as if the Department is bringing out a raft of legislation in other areas. There is nothing coming from the Department. This is delaying the progression of a much-needed, critical piece of infrastructure that supports job creation, economic development and international connectivity. It is being impeded by the Minister and his officials.

The Deputy is absolutely right. It has been delayed and that is a great pity. It has been delayed much longer than we expected. However, he is also absolutely wrong. The delay has nothing to do with my Department. Taking this as an opportunity to have a swipe at the Department and everything else it is doing is absurd. The project has been delayed because there are serious legal problems and the matter is with the Attorney General's office. I respect the right of the Attorney General's office to do a thorough and exacting job.

The Minister respects the Attorney General's office when it suits him.

There would be nothing worse than having flawed secondary legislation come before this House. This matter is complicated and difficult, and progress on it has been delayed. However, the Deputy should not say it has been delayed in my Department. That is factually untrue and the Deputy knows it. It has been delayed because the lawyers are looking at it and it is a difficult problem.

The Deputy is right; I did say I hoped to have it by the end of the year. I also still hope to have the secondary legislation within weeks.

That is what the Minister said in March.

I am not, at the behest of the Deputy or anybody else, going to demand that flawed legislation be put before this House. I would rather that they got a thoroughly robust piece of legislation to bring before the House and that is what will happen.

It was made flawed by the Minister's Department. Who wrote the legislation? It was the Minister's Department that wrote it and referred it to the Attorney General's office.

Local Improvement Scheme Funding

Michael Healy-Rae


43. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22364/17]

I thank the Minister most sincerely for giving very generously of his time in coming to County Kerry recently. My question is in regard to roads in the county and local improvement schemes. This year, Kerry County Council has allocated €100,000. This will be enough to complete four roads. That is not good enough. Kerry County Council is only taking money from other funding to finance this. We want to see specific funding made available centrally and allocated to local authorities specifically for the local improvement schemes.

I thank the Deputy for his question and for hosting part of my trip around Kerry, when he showed me many of the roads to which his question alludes.

As the Deputy is aware, the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads including those in County Kerry 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. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for local authorities. Maintenance of laneways and roads not taken in charge by local authorities is the responsibility of the landowners concerned. Due to the major cutbacks in roads funding, it was necessary for my Department to cease making separate allocations to local authorities in respect of the local improvement scheme, LIS. The approved scheme remains intact and local authorities can use a proportion of State grant funding for LIS should they wish to do so. While there is a modest increase in funding for roads this year, it will take some years yet under the capital plan to restore steady-state funding levels for regional and local roads. The primary focus has to continue to be on the maintenance and renewal of public roads. All grant funding in respect of regional and local roads for 2017 has been allocated. In light of the provision in the programme for Government indicating that, as the economy recovers, the Government will promote increased funding for local improvement schemes, I will review the scope for making a separate grant allocation once the planned review of the capital plan is completed.

In respect of hedge cutting, section 70 of the Roads Act 1993 sets out the responsibility of landowners to take all reasonable steps to ensure that trees, hedges and other vegetation growing on their land are not, or could not become, a danger to people using a public road or interfere with the safe use of a public road or the maintenance of a public road. This section also allows the relevant road authority to step in where a landowner fails or is unable to remedy a hazard. 

I thank the Minister. I am glad that he referred to the programme for Government. He and I, along with others, were there for every day of the negotiations to form this partnership Government. During those negotiations, I continually stated that the local improvement scheme grant should be reintroduced. What happened, happened. I am not in the business of looking backward; what I am interested in doing is looking forward.

The most important part of the road to a person's property is the part that leads up to it. An individual must use the latter before he or she can get onto any other road. Some people say that the local improvement schemes are not really all that important. They are actually of paramount importance.

My local authority, Kerry County Council, is an organisation that I am proud of and that does great work. The management, in conjunction with the excellent councillors, do great work in our county. However, they need funding. They need a specific local improvement scheme grant like what we had before, whereby every year we were able to do 40, 50 or 60 roads leading up to people's houses. We had at list of approximately 300 or 350 roads and we were able to make good solid progress in respect of that list. We cannot do that now because we are only robbing Peter to pay Paul. As the Minister can see, doing four roads is ridiculous.

I understand the importance attached by Deputy Michael Healy-Rae and others to the local improvement scheme. In fact, I think the Deputy is partly responsible for it being in the programme for Government because of his work before he departed from that aspect of the talks. Others were involved as well but I think the Deputy was responsible and he can claim credit for some of that.

It is in the programme for Government. Certainly, the objective is to restore it as soon as is practicable, possibly by the end of 2017, but I cannot guarantee that. It is certainly my intention to assess the scope for ring-fenced funding for the local improvement scheme once the capital plan review is concluded. That should be done at an early date.

While there will be a modest increase in funding for roads in 2017, it will, under the capital plan, take some years to restore steady-state funding levels for regional and local roads. Therefore, the primary focus in 2017 continues to be on the maintenance and renewal of public roads. Having said that, we have a commitment and we intend to keep it.

I wish to comment briefly on hedges. While landowners and occupiers of land are responsible for ensuring that trees, hedges or other vegetation growing on their land do not become a danger to people using a public road, road authorities have the power to require landowners or occupiers of land to do any necessary works. Where landowners or occupiers do not do this, road authorities can carry out such works themselves. There is no proposal to amend the statutory provisions in this regard.

I very much welcome the Minister's statement on LIS funding. That is terribly important.

The Minister referred to hedges. A great system was in place previously, as the Minister is aware. Every councillor in the country gets a councillor's allocation. In the past, councillors were allowed to use some of their allocation to cut hedges. That system worked. Unfortunately, forcing farmers to cut their hedges does not make sense. Some farmers are unable to cut their hedges. Some may be elderly. Others may own property and be away - they might be out of the country. Let us suppose there is a roadway where one farmer is cutting his hedge and another person is not doing so. This means there is no uniformity. Our roads are being narrowed. The Minister saw it himself when he was in Kerry. The roads are becoming so narrow because of year after year of growth. It is proving impossible. It is true that some farmers make an effort and they are able to do so, but others cannot.

I humbly suggest that the Minister should allow local authorities to once again do what they did in the past, that is, allow councillors to allocate sums of money from their councillor's allocation to cut certain roads where they deem fit. That would be a solution to the problem.

I hear what Deputy Michael Healy-Rae is saying but I am not sure that I can give him the same comfort on hedges or comment with the same conviction that I can give to him on our determination to pursue the restoration of the LIS. This is because of the statutory provisions on landowners and occupiers. Section 70 of the Roads Act 1993 provides that landowners and occupiers of land must take all reasonable steps to ensure that trees, hedges and other vegetation growing on their land are not, or could not become, a danger to people using a public road and such growth does not obstruct or interfere with the safe use of a public road or the maintenance of a public road. Section 70(2) provides that if a tree, hedge or other vegetation is or could become a danger to those using or working on a public road, or obstructs or interferes with the safe use or maintenance of a public road, a road authority may serve a written notice on the owner or occupier of the land requiring action to be taken to removal the danger or potential danger within the period stated in the notice. Whereas the Government has a large amount of discretion on the LIS and what it produces after the capital review in the budget, it does not have the same discretion on hedges because of the statutory requirements.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Eamon Ryan


44. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to set out the expected emissions from the transport sector in 2020 and 2030; and the reason the national mitigation plan has a number of gaps relating to reductions in emissions from the transport sector. [22362/17]

I am asking the Minister about his ambition in terms of the transport contribution to reduce climate change emissions. Everyone else is saying that they are going to expand. The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport was absent without leave at the recent formation of the national climate mitigation plan. We can see it in the plan. Large sectors are supposedly going to have plans to reduce emissions, but there is nothing from the transport sector.

I am keen to hear the view of the Minister and the Department. What does the Minister believe his responsibility to be? What target is the Minister setting himself for emissions in 2020 and 2030? How does he envisage achieving it? Everyone else in the system is coming with one message: the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has opted out. I do not believe that is good enough.

I do not believe that is the case because the plan has not been published. I do not know how Deputy Eamon Ryan can say that.

The draft plan was published-----

A draft plan is very different to a final plan.

I look forward to hearing the details.

Deputy Eamon Ryan will hear about the final plan in the coming weeks. He should not quote something to me that is not true. It has not happened yet. That is the Deputy's anticipation. I hope he will not be disappointed.

In order for Ireland to effectively and equitably contribute to the EU emissions reduction commitments in line with the Paris agreement and the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, a low-carbon development strategy is being developed. My Department is working closely with the Departments of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and Agriculture, Food and the Marine to prepare this national mitigation plan. The responsibility for emissions reduction is collective and Ireland's emissions reduction targets are national rather than sectoral in nature. Transport is one of four key sectors requiring development of sectoral plans, each forming a key component of the overall national plan.

Ireland's first national mitigation plan will set out the challenges to meeting emissions reductions targets and chart a clear and quantified path towards Ireland's long-term objective of transition to a low-carbon and climate resilient economy by 2050. Transport will, of course, have to play a significant role in the national mitigation effort. Transport emissions are projected by the EPA to show growth over the period to 2020, with a 10% to 12% increase on 2015 levels. This reflects forecast strong economic growth and growing transport demand.

In 2015, transport accounted for 27% of Ireland's non-emissions trading scheme emissions. By 2020, under the EPA projected scenario of 10,000 electric vehicles on the road and further development of the biofuel obligation scheme, transport will have increased its projected sectoral share of non-emissions trading scheme greenhouse gas emissions to 29%, rising further to 32% by 2030.

A draft national mitigation plan, including transport proposals, was recently released as part of an extensive public consultation process. I figure that this draft plan is what Deputy Ryan is referring to, and that is fair enough. The public consultation has now come to a close and submissions are currently under review. Alongside this, officials in my Department have been working with key stakeholders such as the Climate Change Advisory Council in developing the proposed final transport elements. The measures under consideration for transport will be wide-ranging and will focus primarily on modal shift to public transport in urban areas, movement to alternatively-fuelled vehicles, and targeted behavioural change.

Is the Minister happy that the transport projected emissions are due to increased from 27% to 29%, then to 32% and to continue rising after that? If not, what does he intend to introduce that is not in the draft plan but that might start to reverse those figures? In the process, such measures should improve our economy and free us from the €2 billion congestion costs that we face in this city alone because of the absolute inadequacy of our investment in public transport, including cycling and walking infrastructure.

I was shocked when I looked at the draft plan because there is effectively next to nothing relating to cycling or other projects that could vastly improve capacity and help our cities to work. No such projects are funded by the Department at present. I was also shocked at a recent meeting of the Committee on Budgetary Oversight. The commissioning authority for new infrastructure admitted that there is not a single rail-based public transport project ready to go to tender that would influence how our emissions develop in the coming five, ten, 20 or 30 years.

If the Minister states that I have got it wrong and am just reading the draft plan, I have to put a question back to him. What will the Minister change in the final plan? What will the Minister change in his budget provisions so it is not 3:1 in favour of roads to public transport? How can the Minister state that we will introduce a smarter travel plan when he has no money in his budget for it? It cannot be built on thin air.

I know Deputy Ryan will hate this but he will have to wait until it is published. I am sorry but I cannot reveal it in advance and the Deputy will have to accept that. I will tell the Deputy the progress we are making and give him some broad outlines. This Friday, in accordance with the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, I will submit the transport mitigation measures which I propose to adopt to the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Naughten, for inclusion in the national mitigation plan. The Minister will collate the mitigation measures from the four participating sectors, namely, agriculture, built environment, energy generation and transport, into a final draft of the first national mitigation plan. This will be considered by Government for approval and publication no later than 10 June.

I expect to include increasing the capacity and quality of public transport, particularly in urban areas; measures to encourage the transition to alternative fuels in private cars, electric vehicles and HGVs; using a green public transport fund to support the uptake of low-carbon energy-efficient technologies within the public transport sector; working with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment on progressively increasing the biofuel obligation rate; and encouraging more efficient driving within HGV and bus fleets.

Among the measures the Minister mentioned and that I specifically cited are some of the projects which could be built next year. They could be included in the 2018 budget. They include projects such as a Dodder greenway, a Liffey cycle route or a Clontarf-to-the-city-centre cycle route. All those projects, which have been designed and planned for years, have no budget. If the Minister wishes to extend his list, he should take 10% of his budget for transport next year and put it into such cycling and pedestrian measures. They are achievable, deliverable and give huge bang for their buck in terms of making the city work again, as well as cutting our emissions.

Why did the Minister exclude that from the list of projects he is considering, given that it is the most practical, achievable and immediate response he could make? He should do it at scale and start putting hundreds of millions into that sort of investment rather than blowing everything on big intercity motorways and other roads, which we have done a lot of in the past 20 or 30 years.

The Minister has no latitude this time. He has one minute.

I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for his latitude in the past few minutes. I have stated perfectly clearly that the Deputy will have to wait. He should not assume anything is omitted or included. However, he must not for one moment doubt our commitment. I have also stated that the Government investment must support emissions mitigation in the transport sector by financing additional public transport capacity; by using alternative fuels within the public transport sector; and funding leadership and demonstration projects and the uptake of alternative technologies.

The smarter travel initiative has been allocated €100 million in funding under the capital plan, Building on Recovery. I have made a strong case for public transport investment to be both increased and accelerated as part of the mid-term review of the capital plan to address ongoing transport needs. On the further development and promotion of cycling as a viable mode of transport, to which the Deputy referred, a review of the national cycle policy framework is currently under way and will be published later this year.

We will move on to Deputy Clare Daly. It is no latitude day, Deputy.