Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Ceisteanna (22)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

22. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the progress to date on transport initiatives and proposals under the action plan for rural development; and the input has he has had with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in this regard in relation to road projects and maintenance works to be carried out. [3027/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

As the Deputy will be aware, the provision of transport services is the responsibility of the Minister of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

There are several actions in the Action Plan for Rural Development in relation to transport services that are delivered by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and agencies under that Department's remit. These actions include progressing major roads projects, reviewing public transport policy, improving access to rural transport links and examining the scope for increased investment in regional roads.

Progress Reports on the implementation of measures contained in the Action Plan are published twice a year on my Department's website. The most recent, Third Progress Report, which was published in November 2018, outlines the progress on all actions due for delivery in the first half of 2018, or which are being implemented on an ongoing basis over the course of the three year Action Plan. It would be a matter for the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to provide the Deputy with more recent updates on the status of specific actions relating to the transport.

My own Department provides funding to Local Authorities for the Local Improvement Scheme to carry out works on private or non-public roads in predominantly rural areas. Over 1,200 roads have benefitted from investment by my Department of over €35 million under the Local Improvement Scheme since 2017.

The LIS was previously funded by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, but due to constraints on the public finances, no specific funding was ring-fenced for the scheme for a number years prior to my Department re-launching it in 2017. There is, therefore, a huge built-up demand for the scheme in rural areas.

In this context, I wrote to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in February 2018 enquiring if his Department could provide match funding for the LIS to help meet the demand. However, the Minister's 2018 budget had already been allocated with a focus on funding for regional and local roads under the charge of the Local Authorities.

I was later in a position to re-allocate savings from elsewhere in my Department's Vote to the LIS in the second half of 2018 and will continue to fund the scheme in 2019 through my Department's Vote.