Derry features heavily in €165 billion Project Ireland 2040 - National Development Plan

The updated National Development Plan - Project Ireland 2040 published today by the Dublin government contains renewed commitments to the A5 and the development of Magee College, as well as to better rail and air links into Derry.

Monday, 4th October 2021, 4:53 pm
Taoiseach Micheál Martin (second from left), with, from left to right, the Minister for the Environment, Climate Communications and Transport, Eamon Ryan TD, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD, the Minister for the Environment, Climate Communications and Transport, Eamon Ryan TD and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath, launched the new National Development Plan 2021 - 2030 in Páirc Uí Chaoimh this morning.

The plan, if realised, will amount to a €165 billion investment with a particular focus on priority solutions to strengthen housing, climate ambitions, transport, healthcare, jobs growth in every region and economic renewal for the decade ahead.

Strategic investment priorities in the document include enhanced cooperation on higher and further education.

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The government pledges to 'further develop third-level education infrastructure of the North West region in integrated and sustainable ways, including with Ulster University Magee Campus in Derry, working with Letterkenny Institute of Technology and other Higher and Further Education institutions in the region.'

The plan commits to 'supporting cross-border approaches to attract investment, including through the North West City Region and the Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor initiatives'.

Connectivity in and out of Derry by road, rail, air and bike are among the explicit aspirations detailed.

"Enhanced rail connectivity taking account of the all-island strategic rail review to be completed in 2022. The review is examining improved interurban and inter-regional connectivity on the island, including the potential for high-/higherspeed links; rail freight potential; and, improved connectivity for the North-West of the island.

"An early priority is the introduction of an hourly rail service on the Dublin-Belfast line through investment in new and additional rolling stock, with funding under the PEACE PLUS programme and by the Government and Executive.

"Potential for increased air connectivity on the island, taking account of the outcome of a review on the viability of air routes from Cork to Belfast and Dublin to Derry.

"Road infrastructure improvements to support all-island and border region connectivity, with a particular priority to the A5 Transport Corridor to the North West, where the Government has already committed £75 million," are all listed as strategic priorities.

The document projects the delivery of 'an island-wide greenway network, linking the Atlantic coast with the Eastern seaboard through greenway projects across the border region, creating a transformational green infrastructure asset, benefitting residents and growing sustainable tourism'.

"Current greenway projects include: Inishowen; Foyle Valley; North-West, Sligo-Enniskillen; Cavan-Leitrim; Cavan Railway; Ulster Canal and Carlingford Lough," it states.

The document points to important progress on implementation to date citing Dublin's support for 'the North-West Strategic Growth Partnership between Donegal and Derry, including through the North West Development Fund, with a further commitment to the Fund in 2021 confirmed by the Government in July 2021, and projects funded under the PEACE IV and INTRREG VA programmes'.

It states: "Priorities for the North West City Region in cooperating on and delivering public investment in the decade ahead include: enhanced high-quality transport links for the region by road, rail, air and sea; investment in innovation and skills through strengthened third level education access with increased collaboration between third level institutions and innovation hubs; implementation of a Green Growth strategy, developing the region’s potential in clean and renewable energies; and, enhanced cross-border healthcare provision, including shared patient catchment and e-health opportunities."

Cross-border cooperation in health is also pledged as the plan commits to 'working for a healthier island.'

"As we emerge from the biggest public health challenge in decades, the Government is redoubling our commitment to deepening and strengthening North-South health links, to deliver better health care and outcomes for people on the island.

"We can build on the successes of recent years, including all-island provision of paediatric cardiac surgery in Dublin and cross-border provision of radiotherapy and coronary intervention services in Derry.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the value of both health services working closely together to share technology and expertise in ICT and eHealth.

"We will seek to work with the Executive, including through the NSMC, to together develop an overarching strategy for healthcare cooperation, to better identify needs and opportunities and set priority actions; to share experience, innovation and support more all-island research; and, to ensure that specialist health services are available on the island for all who need them," it states.

Speaking today the Taoiseach said the plan will prepare the country for population growth of approximately 1 million between 2016 and 2040, and help deal with the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and Brexit.

Government is committing significant additional funding and an increased level of ambition for collaborative cross-border investment under the Shared Island initiative. The €500m Shared Island Fund will be doubled out to 2030, and total all-island investment, including through the Shared Island Fund, the Project Ireland 2040 funds, the Government’s annual funding for North/South cooperation, and the PEACE PLUS programme delivered with the EU, UK and Northern Ireland Executive, is more than €3.5 billion."

The Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said: "We need to anticipate what the Ireland of 2040 will look like - what our jobs will be like, how we will travel, how we will live. With a rapidly rising population, Ireland needs to invest big in infrastructure.

"Since 2017, the percentage of Gross National Income committed to public infrastructure has risen from 2.5% to about 4.5%. That's now substantially higher than the EU average and well ahead of our peers like The Netherlands and Denmark.

"This updated NDP will see this level of investment continue and grow to 5% of GNI, from €12.7bn this year to €19.3bn in 2030. We are investing in the future and going for growth"

Minister Ryan said: “This is a plan for a cleaner, greener, connected Ireland, a plan that supports communities and our climate goal - to cut emissions in half by 2030 - and creates a new green and digital economy.

"We’re making the biggest investment in transport in the history of the State - €35 billion over the decade - prioritising walking, cycling and public transport.

"Up to 80% of our electricity will come from renewables by 2030, and the NDP includes enhanced investment to make half a million homes warmer and cheaper to heat. We’re also bringing broadband to all parts of rural Ireland no matter how remote. This is a plan for a new Ireland; this will be a decade of change."

Minister McGrath said:"With an investment of €165 billion this will be the largest and greenest National Development Plan in the history of the State. The NDP is the culmination of significant analysis and consultation, with extensive engagement across Government Departments and stakeholders over the past year. It is built on a strong evidence base that allowed Government to shape this strategically important Plan for our country.

"The NDP is ambitious, with record levels of investment, but it is achievable. This ten year plan will deliver for our country. It will build a more resilient, sustainable future to improve lives and living standards for all of our people".