Fine Gael TD for Kildare South Martin Heydon, has today (Thursday) raised questions in the Dáil about the Service Area Policy of the National Roads Authority (NRA), questioning why it is taking a state led approach to the provision of online service areas, which are the service stations directly accessible from motorways.

“Today in the Dáil I questioned Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar TD, as to why the NRA is charging ahead with a state led approach to the provision of online service areas on our national roads.

“The NRA propose that the service areas are built as Public Private Partnerships and do not consider the potential for private enterprise to develop them first.

“There is no reference in the draft policy to Junction 14 on the M7 at Monasterevin which is very successful, did not cost the taxpayer a penny and I believe is a good model for the provision of service areas around the country.

“The NRA’s policy makes reference to the Trans European Transport Networks (Ten-T) policy which actually doesn’t require the provision of such stations until 2030. I acknowledge that we need some service areas sooner than that, but rather than having the taxpayer on the hook for the cost involved, we should give some time and consideration to offering the development opportunities to private industry first.

“At present the NRA is developing a site between junctions 2 and 3 on the M9 at Kilcullen, Co. Kildare. A previous tender failed to get a private investor to part fund this in a PPP arrangement as it is only 25km from the nearest service station. One wonders why they are developing this, spending taxpayers money on a site that will require a new motorway bridge and is 25Km from the nearest station, when Ten-T policy advises a distance of 100 km between such stations.

“The NRA is looking to compete on a commercial basis in the provision of services on or next to our main roads, which is not actually in its remit. The NRA’s role is to develop a safe and efficient national road network. State intervention should be the last resort where the private commercial sector fails to provide service areas.

“The public consultation on the draft policy is open until the 23rd of June and I encourage private enterprise to make submissions on the role they can play in providing these service areas for our national road network.”