Dáil Éireann - Volume 537 - 30 May, 2001
Written Answers. - Roads Funding.
Mr. McGinley Mr. McGinley
72. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government if he is satisfied himself current tolling policy contains adequate safeguards to protect the integrity of the national road network for the public; and his views on whether that there should be some element of public accountability in formulating tolling policy. [15654/01]
Mr. Dempsey Mr. Dempsey
Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Dempsey): The statutory power to levy tolls on national roads, to make toll bye-laws and to enter into toll agreements with private investors is vested in the National Roads Authority, NRA, under Part V of the Roads Act, 1993. Road authorities have similar powers in relation to the tolling of non-national roads.
Under the Planning and Development Act, 2000, ministerial approval is no longer required for toll schemes, bye-laws and agreements. In accordance with the revised Part V of the Roads Act, 1993, these matters have been brought fully within the discretion of the National Roads Authority or the relevant local road authority in the case of national and non-national roads, respectively. NRA and local authorities are, however, required to engage in an extensive consultation process before adopting a toll scheme, which includes a requirement to hold an oral hearing into any objection to a proposed toll scheme. A comprehensive statutory public consultation process in relation to toll schemes is provided for in the Roads Act, 1993.
In addition, the Planning and Development Act, 2000, provides for the possibility of policy directives to the National Roads Authority or local authorities by the Minister for the Environment and Local Government regarding the exercise of their road tolling functions. Any such policy directives may not relate to particular tolling schemes and must be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. While no such directives have been issued to date, Chapter 4 of the NRA's  review 2000 and programme for 2001, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas Library, sets out the key principles established by the NRA for its public private partnership, PPP, programme. I am satisfied that these principles, together with the broader policy framework set out in the NDP in relation to public private partnerships, establish a satisfactory framework for the continued development of the NRA's PPP programme.
The Government has made clear in the national development plan its plans for considerably greater use of public private partnerships in the implementation of the current national roads programme. That approach is now being taken forward by the NRA. I am confident it will improve the efficiency and the speed of delivery of the national roads programme, while at the same time ensuring public accountability.
Dáil Éireann 537 Written Answers. Roads Funding.