As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. The implementation of individual national road schemes, including Public Private Partnership projects, is a matter for the National Roads Authority in accordance with the Roads Acts 1993-2007.
In particular, the statutory power to levy tolls on national roads, to make toll bye-laws and to enter into toll agreements with private investors in respect of national roads is vested in the NRA under Part V of the Roads Act 1993 (as amended by the Planning and Development Act 2000 and the Roads Act 2007).
The contracts for the privately operated toll schemes are commercial agreements between the NRA and the Public Private Partnership (PPP) concessionaires concerned. There are eight toll based PPP schemes. Two PPP contracts, the M3 Clonee-Kells PPP and Limerick Tunnel PPP incorporate a traffic guarantee mechanism, the purpose of which within the overall financial package for the project was to enhance the fundability of these projects and obtain competitive funding terms to the benefit of the taxpayer over the life of the PPP scheme. The level of payments under the traffic guarantee provisions will depend on future traffic volumes.
As the Deputy will appreciate there are two sides to all contracts, and seeking to reduce the State's liability on any contract will necessarily involve some other form of compensation being offered. It is not simply a matter of dictating terms. In the case of the other toll based schemes, the traffic risk remains with the operator. The PPP contracts also include provision for revenue sharing with the NRA where traffic levels exceed specified thresholds.