As part of Project Ireland 2040 (PI2040), the National Development Plan (NDP), published on 4th October 2021, sets out the Government’s over-arching investment framework and broad direction for investment priorities for this decade.
My Department allocates expenditure on a departmental basis, not a geographic basis. This is the case with both the NDP and Budget 2022.
The NDP therefore includes indicative Exchequer allocations for each Department for a five year period (2021 to 2025) and overall capital expenditure ceilings out to 2030. This expenditure is aimed at supporting the delivery of the ten National Strategic Outcomes (NSOs) identified in the National Planning Framework (NPF), which sets the overarching spatial strategy for the next two decades. The ten NSOs are Compact Growth, Enhanced Regional Accessibility, Strengthened Rural Economies and Communities, Sustainable Mobility, A Strong Economy, supported by Enterprise, Innovation and Skills High-Quality International Connectivity, Enhanced Amenity and Heritage, Transition to a Climate-Neutral and Climate Resilient Society, Sustainable Management of Water and other Environmental Resource and finally Access to Quality Childcare, Education and Health Services.
The NPF targets 75 per cent of growth to take place outside Dublin, with 25 per cent of growth to be across the four regional cities combined (Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford) and 50 per cent of growth to occur in key regional centres, towns, villages and rural areas, as determined in the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSESs) and local authority development plans.
As the NDP is a high-level financial and budgetary framework it does not outline a comprehensive list of all the public investment projects that will take place over the next ten years. However, where sufficient planning and evaluation has already taken place, the NDP contains a large range of expenditure commitments for a range of strategic investment priorities which have been determined by the relevant Departments.
Additionally, it should be noted that DPER, in carrying out its role in coordinating the NDP Review, does not consider the merit of individual projects or sectoral policy strategies as this is primarily a matter for individual Departments and Agencies. Individual projects are generally selected by Departments or Agencies based on a detailed process which begins with setting their own sectoral strategy and goals, and then subsequently identifying specific needs or challenges to be addressed, whether that be through regulation, taxation, education or potentially expenditure on an investment project. Appropriate options are then assessed in line with the Public Spending Code.
For an extensive list of projects that are currently planned as part of PI2040, the Deputy might consider the publications that were published alongside the NDP, particularly the updated Investment tracker, which provides a composite update on the progress of all major investments with an estimated cost of greater than €20 million. The NDP is also accompanied with MyProjectIreland mapping tool which provides details on specific projects by county, including smaller investments such as schools and social housing projects. Please access the gov.ie/2040 page in order to check out the tracker and map.
The earlier these projects are in the project life cycle the higher the level of uncertainty in relation to risks and costs. It wouldn’t be wise to try and provide a false sense of certainty on exactly how projects will fare as they proceed through all the necessary approval processes. As such, projects which are further along the project life cycle have more accurate cost and timeline estimates. A project without a finalised business case, a developed design, or planning approval is unlikely to have accurate estimates, particularly where these projects are potentially large and complex.
An analysis of this data was undertaken as part of Phase 1 of the NDP review published in April 2021 on gov.ie/2040. The analysis examined whether investment in the NDP was aligned with the targets set out in the NPF. The data examined shows a clear spread in the number of investment projects across the three regions, largely in line with the NPF growth targets. The regional cities in particular appear to have a lower share of investment projects over €20 million and €100 million compared to their planned growth, suggesting investment may be taking place in the wider regions rather than within the regional cities at present.