I propose to take Questions Nos. 243 and 246 together.
The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads (RLR) in Donegal is the statutory responsibility of Donegal County Council, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority. Donegal County Council has been allocated grant funding of €29,613,720 in 2019 under my Department's Regional and Local Road Grant Programme.
Before the financial crisis, local authorities could apply on a regular basis for grants for Specific or Strategic Improvement Grants for the strengthening, widening or realignment of regional and local roads. However, the extent of the cutbacks in grant funding during the crisis meant these grant schemes had to be curtailed after 2013 because expenditure on maintenance/renewal was falling well short of what was required to adequately maintain the regional and local road network.
Project Ireland 2040 does provide for the gradual build up in funding for the road network but it will take time. For this reason there is limited scope at present for funding projects under the Specific or Strategic Grant Programme.
Any projects proposed by local authorities for consideration under these Grant Programmes are assessed by the Department on a case-by-case basis. All projects put forward by local authorities for consideration must comply with the requirements of the Public Spending Code and my Department's Capital Appraisal Framework and it is important for local authorities to prioritise projects within their overall area of responsibility with these requirements in mind. In this context no funding application has been received by the Department in relation to the Portsalon to Fanad Head Road.
It is important to reiterate that the role of Exchequer grants for regional and local roads is to supplement local authorities in their spending in this area and it is open to Donegal County Council to fund work on this road from its own resources. It is also open to the Council to undertake rehabilitation works on this road under it's Restoration Improvement Grant programme.