Dáil Éireann - Volume 591 - 02 November, 2004

Public Transport.

  118. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Transport the infrastructure projects under his Department’s remit, current, planned or proposed, which will be funded by PPPs; and if he will make a statement on the matter [27009/04]

  Mr. Cullen:My Department has an involvement in public private partnerships both in the national roads and in the public transport sectors. The planning, design and implementation of national road improvement projects, including projects being implemented on a PPP basis, is a matter for the National Roads Authority.

I understand from the NRA that ten national road projects are being implemented on a PPP basis. The second Westlink bridge has been completed. PPP contracts have been awarded for and work is under way on the Kilcock-Kinnegad, Dundalk western bypass and Fermoy bypass projects. The procurement process is under way for the Clonee-Kells, Waterford city bypass and the M50 upgrade projects. The PPP projects for Limerick southern ring road phase two, Ballinasloe to Galway east on the N6 and the Portlaoise-Cullahill project on the N7-N8, are at earl[735] ier planning stages. The use of the PPP approach on national roads will ensure earlier delivery of vital national road infrastructure. Through PPPs, private sector innovation will be harnessed in the areas of project design, construction and long-term operation and maintenance.

The Railway Procurement Agency has submitted a detailed PPP business case to my Department for a metro from the city centre to Dublin Airport. I am examining this proposal in the context of the overall needs of the greater Dublin area and I expect the Government to give consideration to these matters at an early date.

  Ms O. Mitchell:I have two brief questions. What is the Minister’s response to the concerns expressed by IBEC of an over-dependence on private investment to make up the Government’s target of 5% of GNP spending on capital investment and infrastructure? Disappointment has been expressed at the failure of PPPs to develop in the manner anticipated. Many of the benefits of innovation, expertise and skills that are available in the private sector have not been capitalised upon because of the over-prescriptive nature of Departments and the manner in which environmental impact assessments are carried out prior to the involvement of the contractor. Does the Minister intend to deal with those problems in order to capture more of the potential benefits of PPPs?

  Mr. Cullen:I disagree with the Deputy. The involvement of the private sector in roads development is very successful. It is regarded as a standard that is being examined by many other countries who wish to achieve the same success——

  Ms O. Mitchell:The Minister misunderstands my question.

  Mr. Cullen:——in investment in roads projects. I do not accept the Deputy’s point of an over-dependence on private sector money invested in projects in order to supplement public sector moneys. A good balance exists between the two. The benefit of private sector funding is that investment in projects can be increased——

  Ms O. Mitchell:Above the 5%.

  Mr. Cullen:——and projects can be delivered. The Cashel bypass is eight months ahead of schedule. The Monasterevin bypass will be opened next week, ten or 11 months ahead of schedule. All concerned in the system, contractors, building firms, the State, are giving value for money. Contracts are finished on time or ahead of schedule and on budget. Delivery is currently excellent. That pace must be continued as well as quality and value for money.

Written Answers follow Adjournment Debate.