I thank the Deputy for his interest in this important project and his implicit support for its delivery.
At the outset, let us all be clear that any “megaproject” like this requires careful planning and design and must rightly conform to a very high standard of statutory requirements in areas such as environmental protection or procurement for example.
In addition to those statutory requirements, both Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the National Transport Authority have held two significant non-statutory public consultations on the project. I am sure that the Deputy welcomes the fact that the public has been consulted at this early stage in the project’s development and the level of engagement that has been facilitated by both agencies.
The submissions received during the last of those two public consultations are still being considered and will inform the overall development of the project as it moves into its next phase.
This next phase is essentially composed of two elements –
1. Ensuring compliance with the Public Spending Code; and
2. The statutory planning process.
I would like to think the Deputy agrees both are of fundamental importance.
TII and NTA will in early 2020 present a business case for my consideration in line with the Public Spending Code. My Department will ensure appropriate and rigorous analysis of the business case as one would expect for a significant investment project.
A project of this scale requires Government approval and that approval will be sought once that analysis of the business case has been conducted.
The project is then expected to move into the statutory planning system during 2020 and again, given the scale and complexity of the project, it is probable that a decision will be made during 2021 which would allow the project move into its construction phase in 2021.
This is a huge and complex project with all of the requirements such scale imposes.
I am satisfied with progress to date and the timescale I have set out and am unclear as to what expedited measures the Deputy has in mind but am happy to hear of any suggestions.